‘Queer Eye’ airs its biggest tear-jerker when Jonathan Van Ness goes back to high school

Homecoming is always emotional. It gets a little more so when the Fab Five of “Queer Eye” are involved.

In the fourth-season opener of the Netflix revival (now streaming) Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk and Jonathan Van Ness embark on their most personal makeover journey, visiting Van Ness’s former high school, Quincy Senior High in Illinois, where his orchestra teacher Kathi Dooley gets a makeover. 

It’s a great one, as usual: Van Ness cuts off Dooley’s decades-old mullet, Berk jazzes up the teachers’ lounge and Brown tries to get her to spend some time caring for herself, not just her students. As the five keep repeating, the episode is a celebration of educators, and they show Dooley how much she’s impacted the lives of her students, and especially Van Ness. 

Queer Eye (Photo: Christopher Smith/Netflix)

It’s an emotional and sweet journey, with the usual antics. Van Ness rejoins the cheerleading squad he was a part of in his teens; Porowski teaches a cooking class to the kids; Berk enlists other students in his remodel; and Brown catches a pass on the football field. While the episode is fun, it hits the audience harder because Van Ness has such a personal stake in Dooley’s journey. 

“Quincy has had, ever since I left, a very particular, kind of painful place in my heart,” Van Ness tells Dooley after the makeover is complete, and the reveal has wowed her husband and coworkers. “Because as much I loved being a Blue Devil, my experience here was very hard. But one thing that you did for me and other kids like me, you always treated me the same as if I was like everyone else. And as an LGBT person, I think so badly we just want to feel normal and not treated differently, and you always did that. I just feel like my scars were very much healed this week.”

The cast of Netflix's Queer Eye. (Photo: Christopher Smith/Netflix)

“You literally have saved people’s lives, mine included,” Van Ness added, and the tears start flowing both onscreen and, probably, for viewers.

After watching Dooley’s journey, don’t let the autoplay skip the credits, which feature adorable pictures of the Fab Five from their school days. Plus there’s a post-credit scene. Marvel has nothing on the Fab Five. 

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