Open source idea: A reality TV „makeover“ format for the climate crisis decade

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Source: Netflix

In Queer Eye’s season five, episode five, the Fab Five work with Abby and give her a makeover for her climate activism life.

Why not make every episode about this?


Humankind still gets a lot of their education from TV. As much as social media is impacting this, the broad mainstream of society is still heavily impacted by what they watch on their TVs. Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+ are still very much about bringing entertainment to the living room or bedroom in the home. And as much as they bring forward important human rights issues that before have been niche and underestimated in audience potential, the climate crisis has so far been covered in the typical scientific documentary format.

All of them, however, also have reality TV formats and most have some kind of makeover show. The makeover since the nineties fed all our voyeuristic sides and the we-know-better-what-you-need supremacy we feel when we look at other people’s homes, clothes, food and lifestyles.

Most of the shows take people who were nominated by a peer, and give them a more now lifestyle – most of the time, this means new clothes, new home decor, a different diet, and a new haircut. They also flavor the coaching with some personal and cultural input, mostly picking up stereotypes of self love and mindfulness.

In general, the shows are about weird people who don’t fit a certain contemporary cliché. After the makeover, they fit in again. They have brand new fast fashion shoes and clothes, they have furniture from one of the big retailers, they ought to cook imported meat and fish a certain way, and should use plastic-bottled body care products on a daily basis.

Why not turn this around?

I think TV shows have great influence, and it seems the world is ready for different kinds of makeover shows. So let’s make one.


Instead of making a makeover that strives for having more and better things, make a show that focuses on having less and just the things needed.

Make a show that helps people understand what in their life they need to change in order to live sustainably.

Make a show that, in typical makeover fashion, over the course of a week gives households all they need to kickstart an ecological lifestyle.

Make a show that stops excuses and instead executes.

Make a show that gives people hope that they can really change for a sustainable lifestyle, showing that is not hard when you have help.


Lifestyle for an Ecologically Sustainable Society – that’s what we can promote with this show.

All we need is hosts like in Queer Eye, one focusing on a homegrown or locally sourced vegetarian diet. One on a second hand fashion style. One on DIY and easily repairable furniture. One on zen-like practices to be happy with needing less. And one on natural body care with as little product and as little water as possible. All care for reducing or avoiding waste, all care for clean energy and installing fitting solutions in the homes, all care for micro mobility.

People get nominated like in other shows, but for their unhealthy lifestyles. They get the week-long treatment that finishes in a big event for the whole community where they are being celebrated as leaders who everyone can follow.


The show is funded on a green budget and the whole production is run in a climate neutral way. It is set in the regions with the most overconsumption: The northern hemisphere, southern Africa and Australia.

It covers local people like you and me, but it is also going to celebrities and politicians, challenging them openly in social media.

The show also does „revisits“ to have a look at how people are doing six months later. Not to judge but to nudge, in case they need more help, eventually giving them another makeover.

Nobody expects everyone to comply immediately, but to comply eventually.

A show like this would further take the issue mainstream.

A move we all need.

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Abby and the Fab Five

Director Consulting at Virtual Identity. I spent a decade on automotive brands in digital, and blog about #strategy, the #ClimateCrisis, and #AppleCar.

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