‘Get A Room With Carson & Thom’: ‘Queer Eye’ duo reunite to jazz up homes of rich and guileless
Reality TV: The glossy, home makeover show boasts quips at lightning speed and eye-watering budgets
Carson Kressley and Thom Filicia in their new series “Get A Room With Carson & Thom”.
Netflix may have changed lives by having the new Fab Five swish into our homes in their reboot of lifestyle show Queer Eye, blessing viewers with the sashaying, swivel-hipped fabulosity of glam guru Jonathan Van Ness and the endless patience of interior decorator Bobby Berk but whither the original Queer Eye crew? Are they gathering dust in a bargain basement somewhere alongside a collection of early noughties chenille throws and diamond-studded low-rise jeans?
Younger audiences may recognise Carson Kressley from his appearances as a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race but the rest of the OG Queer Eye guys have faded out of the spotlight until now, with interior designer Thom Filicia and Kressley reuniting for a glossy, home makeover show – Get A Room With Carson & Thom.
The show plays off the duo’s odd couple routine with the flimsy premise that interiors professional Thom is taking novice Carson under his wing, showing him how to apply his fashion nous to decorate homes but really Carson is there as the frou-frou furnishings to jazz up Thom’s minimalist presenting style.
Even after years in front of the camera, earnest Filicia can still come across as a nervous newbie, with his foghorn voice and curiously familiar face (like three members of the Strokes squashed together and injected into a daytime TV host) he shifts from foot to foot, slightly sweating, grinning intensely into the clients’ faces as Kressley flits about dispensing glib quips at lightning speed.
Their first job is to renovate two “spaces” for couple Dave and Sherrie whose wealth oozes out of them in the traditional American form, through their expensive-looking teeth and giant, luxurious hair, that of a shaved Bee-Gee or a doctor in a seventies sitcom. Sherrie has a vested interest in the design of the house having fired three previous decorators, leaving their “livingroom” a cavernous space the size of a barn without even a single chair for the past four years such is her indecisive nature.
The room, with its lacquered floor and french windows, houses a solitary ping-pong table and a child’s plastic goal post: it’s the apartment in Big but devoid of joy. Outside is the “Man Grotto” where Dave and his merry men can pretend they’re the Kennedys in the Playboy mansion swigging whisky and burning meat. The budget (or “boujet” as Carson calls it with a French flourish) for these two rooms is an eye-watering $130,000. Thom doesn’t even blink his bulging goldfish eyes as the couple nod in silent agreement.
As Thom takes charge of all that opulence, cleverly roping in Sherrie and her daughter to help with some of the soft furnishing so the decision-making (aka the blame) will be spread somewhat evenly, he leaves Carson and his crew to take care of the slightly less salubrious home of psychic Zenobia. Her townhouse also happens to be inhabited by the spirit of her dead mother-in-law, Mrs O’Connell who obviously has nothing better to do in the afterlife as she wants to make contact from beyond the grave to have a say in how her old livingroom is decorated. Why does this never happen on Room to Improve?
Carson attempts to be sanguine about the whole affair. “This is an usual job because I have one dead client and a live client. I might have to communicate through a Ouija board,” he laughs before adding that he’s worried that he might get “a psychic bitch slap from Mrs O’Connell” if he messes up. With a more modest budget of $5,000, he busies himself renovating the room which ends up resembling the set of a kooky Zooey Deschanel romcom much to Mrs O’Connell’s chandelier-rattling approval.
When Sherrie and Dave finally get to see what $130,000 can buy them, Sherrie begins to cry. Was there a hole in her soul waiting to be filled by a huge gold ornamental tortoise that cost $1,500? How did Dave live without settling his posterior on $4,000 worth of chairs? Why have a normal ping-pong table when you can replace it with an all black one for $5,000? The couple appear delighted with their two rooms that now have the feel of a Las Vegas hotel lobby and a restaurant smoking terrace.
Driving away from the mansion, Thom and Carson reflect on their success and joke about how they avoided being fired. The Siegfried and Roy of interiors have only just begun to practise their particular brand of magic on the homes of the rich and guileless.