Reality TV: We love to loathe it. The last few years have seen the death (and subsequent Channel 5 rebirth) of Big Brother; Simon Cowell emigrating from The X Factor; and the rise of “structured reality shows” like the intellect-sapping The Only Way is Essex. And then there’s RuPaul’s Drag Race. And what is that, I hear you cry? Well, it’s probably the greatest reality show ever made, and I defy you to disagree with me.
Imagine a show that combines the catwalk glamour of America’s Next Top Model (minus Tyra “Crazy Bitch” Banks) with the creativity and sartorial genius of Project Runway, and which gets its contestants doing things that even the most fame-hungry Britain’s Got Talent reject would think twice about. Imagine that, and then add drag queens. Now just starting its fourth season on American television, Drag Race is the fabulous, stiletto wearing, wig-snatching saviour of the genre of reality TV, hosted by the internationally famous drag queen, the inimitable RuPaul him/herself.
In the first episode we meet the thirteen contestants (or “racers”) who are going to be battling each other for a grand prize of $100,000 and the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar. And what a battle this will turn out to be. Within the first three minutes we’ve already had a “Oh no, you didn’t” moment, when Willam, a queen who has done a lot of television acting, manages to severely piss off fierce “Asian plus-sized Barbie” Jiggly Caliente. And they’re off!!
This show is all about big emotions – whether it’s Latrice Royale’s tear-filled confession of how her local community helped her get back on her feet after she got out of prison, the laugh-till-you-cry spectacle of pint-sized Puerto Rican queen Kenya Michaels dirty dancing in a pair of denim shorts, or the spine chilling sight of Sharon Needles spewing forth a mouthful of fake blood in her zombie-tastic “RuPocalypse” catwalk look.
Oh yeah, did I not mention that the first episode involves the girls snatching dress-making materials for the main challenge off a horde of zombies (including some past racers)? Well, it does. That is a thing. An amazing thing.
The basic format of the show is thus: the racers are given a mini challenge, the winner of which generally gets some kind of advantage in the main challenge, which usually entails the creation of a themed drag look to be walked on the runway in front of the fabulous RuPaul herself and a panel of celebrity judges. Last season’s challenges included the contestants dragging up a straight athlete to be their drag sisters; writing and performing their own stand-up comedy act and even constructing an entire outfit made out of hair. God only know what they’re going to come up with this year.
From this first episode though, I know I’m going to be completely hooked for another season. I’ve already picked out my favourites, my ones to watch, and the bitches I can’t wait to watch sashay away. So what about you? Who, in the immortal words of honorary drag queen Kelly Rowland “put it down”, and who just needs to put it away? Did the right queen get sent home?
See you next week gurrrlfriends.
Word by Roy (@badlydrawnroy)