Oh, Honey! This Reality Competition Show Is Far From A Drag
I’ve come to notice lately that just about every major network has some form of reality TV show. Whether it’s scripted reality TV, reality competitions, or game shows, everywhere I look a new one seems to sprout up. If it’s not evident, I’m not really one for reality TV shows. I find much of them lack any real substance.
Granted, I do watch a lot of tvs, but I just never understood reality TV’s popularity. Until a friend recommended a new kind of reality competition show for me to watch. This reality show easily changed my understanding of what reality TV could represent. Not only could a reality show be a competition, but it could be funny, uplifting, a voice for underrepresented groups of people, and altogether entertaining. This show being VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is produced by production company World of Wonder (which was founded by filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato) in association with famous drag performer RuPaul (The RuPaul Show). This show first began airing in 2009 on Logo TV, and in 2017 moved to Logo TV’s sister channel VH1. The premise of RuPaul’s Drag Race is relatively simple: a group of drag performers competes to be “America’s Next Drag Superstar”. The drag contestants are judged by a panel that usually consists of RuPaul, Michelle Visage (former member of girl group Seduction), Ross Mathews (Hollywood Today Live), Carson Kressley (Queer Eye), and a guest judge(s).
Still having trouble grasping the show’s concept? Think of this reality show like America’s Next Top Model. But instead of the contestants being judged on taking a pretty picture, the contestants are judged on the week’s main challenge and runway outfits. Unlike America’s Next Top Model, the runway outfit themes, as well as the main challenges, vary weekly: ranging from designing/constructing custom runway outfits, performing in skits and/or choreographed dance performances, to showing themselves on camera.
If you’re finding yourself intrigued, then the way in which the queens are voted off the show will also intrigue you. Instead of just being eliminated and sent home, the week’s bottom two queens must battle it out on the runway in what is known within the show as a “lip sync for their lives”. In other words, it’s basically a lip sync battle. Then RuPaul himself decides which of the two contestants performed the weakest within the lip sync, and subsequently sends that one home. Clearly, not your typical reality show elimination.
As with most reality competition shows, there can be, and usually is, backstage drama with or between the contestants. The backstage drama I could live without, but I understand that it makes for “great” TV. For the most part, you have the typical contestant types: the nice one, the arrogant one, the insecure one, the bitchy one, the pretty one, and so on. In case you were wondering, RuPaul’s Drag Race definitely meets its quota of TV reality. But, there is certainly more depth to the show than the TV reality alone.
For one thing, the show is very open about addressing LGBTQ+ issues. It addresses them with the intent of creating conversations or dialogues to discuss with LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ members. This show also sends the deeper message that it’s okay to love yourself as you are because we’re all good enough. In the past, the show has also touched on eating disorders, coming out, AIDS/HIV, PTSD, and traumatic life situations. Once again, this is not your typical reality TV show.
Now, before you assume that the show is just regular reality TV with a deeper message, it’s also quite entertaining. This show is both funny as well as glamorous. The funny parts usually come from the week’s main challenges, with the queens having to show off their comedy skills. But, it’s also glamorous in that every week’s runway outfits show off how elegant and fashionable the queens can be. Think of it like hilarity meets high fashion couture.
I’m glad that my friend recommended this show to me. It’s surpassed my reality TV show expectations, as I’m sure it will surpass yours. This is a show that I’ve come to look forward to seeing each and every week. This show is glamorous, hilarious, inspirational, and wonderfully LGBTQ+ friendly. As an LGBTQ+ member myself, I absolutely recommend that you give this show a watch. I know that if you do, you will end up a lifelong fan of VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race.
*RuPaul’s Drag Race is currently in its tenth season at the time of this article’s publication.