By Harvey Day and Dave Fawbert
RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 has just dropped on Netflix UK and, people, we are here to tell you: it is the greatest thing on television and everyone needs to watch it.
However, we understand if you’re a little, well, intimidated by the show, or simply dismissive of it: if your experience of drag queens is minimal-to-non-existent, it would be very easy to see the title and the odd gif from it and label it as another vacuous reality show full of people desperate for their 15 minutes of fame. Just another piece of brain-deadening reality trash.
But, believe us, you could not be more wrong.
Because the show has heart, humour and is full of queens who’ve often had to battle against prejudice and genuine hardship during their struggle to find a place in the world. And it’s a show that everyone can enjoy, and learn from.
If you’re hesistant, we understand - but let us take you by the hand and guide you into the wonderful world of RuPaul’s Drag Race. We promise you won’t regret it.
For the uninitiated, the show follows the world’s greatest drag queen RuPaul as he searches for ‘America’s Next Drag Superstar’ – and he’s looking for four simple things: Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent.
I mean, that’s excellent for a start isn’t it.
Here’s why it’s the perfect show for pretty much everybody…
1. It’s incredibly heartwarming and will fill you with so much god-damned joy
Drag Race is, on one-level, a show about drag queens – but in truth, it’s so much more than that. It’s a show that teaches its contestants, and by extension its viewers, how to love and to celebrate themselves.
The core message, repeated at the end of each episode, is: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”
What a wonderful message to preach.
Harvey: “While this might sound a little naive, this message really speaks to me personally, because when I first started watching the show a few years back I hadn’t been openly gay for very long. But this show - one of the few celebrations of gay culture on our screens - was a revelation! Its inside jokes, its gags and its catchphrases let me join a community of fans around the world who are all linked by a shared language, identity and sense of community. In practical terms, this means I can connect with Drag Race fans on Twitter and with a simple ‘Okkuuurrrr’ we both know we’ve found a kindred spirit.
“The show, one of the few to question and challenge ideas of gender, also inspired me to overcome my lingering shyness about my sexuality and pushed me to experiment for the first time with make-up and fashion.”
Fundamentally, though, the show is just filled with pure unbridled joy – something that appeals to everyone, regardless of sexuality.
It’s a bright and beautiful beacon of light cutting through the haze of our cynical world.
2. It’s absolutely hilarious
Drag Race is fucking funny; from the ruthless runway critiques to the deliciously cheesy puns! Oh baby… RUPAUL’S PUNS ARE LEGENDARY! And the reads (gay slang for sort-of friendly insults) dealt out by the queens and judge Michelle Visage are brutal - but hilarious.
Meanwhile, there are so many catchphrases it’s ridiculous - but they’re all brilliant. To name but two, ‘Good Luck, and Don’t Fuck It Up’ is evergreen advice we should all follow, and the heartbreaking moment when someone has to ‘Sashay Away’ with their head held high is never not an emotional experience.
3. The awe-inspiring level of skill
It’s something that would be easy to overlook and quickly forget, but the 100+ queens who’ve been on this show work INCREDIBLY hard week after week. If they’re not hot-gluing a runway look out of old pieces of curtain then they’re memorising lines for an impromptu Shakesqueer performance or rehearsing steps for a Robot-Country dance off (…admittedly that was a rough week). But our point is: the contestants on Drag Race work harder than any other reality show - and what they produce is often breathtaking.
From Tyra and Raja’s garment-making to the infectious hilarity of Jinkx and Katya right on up to the impressive pipes of Adore Delano, the immense breadth of talent you’ll see on this show dwarfs anything else on TV. And that’s because many of these queens have been honing their craft for years before coming on the show - and it’s why so many go on to build successful careers once the show ends.
3. The runway looks are out of this world
On a purely visual level, the looks these queens produce are just beyond. I mean…
And who can forget Courtney Act’s animal couture look on Season 6?
Or Sharon Needles’ gruesome end-of-the-world realness on Season 4?
4. The lip syncs
Drag Race is all about raw talent (no public votes here) and the emotional crescendo of each episode is the final, to-the-death ‘lip sync for your life’ between the bottom two queens, set to a banging track by an artist like Madonna, Taylor Dayne or Ariana Grande.
Again, you might think lip syncing is easy but, somehow, when you’ve seen someone put their heart and soul into pretending to sing a song you begin to appreciate it as a genuine art.
There were times when we were almost moved to tears by all-time top lip sync diva Latrice Royale:
And this iconic lip sync battle between Alyssa Edwards and Tatianna still gives us the chills:
5. It celebrates diversity fabulously
Over the years, people of colour have excelled on the show, and have triumphed in five of the nine seasons so far (BeBe Zahara Benet, Tyra Sanchez, Raja, Bianca Del Rio and Bob the Drag Queen).
And the show has also featured outrageously talented trans and gender non-binary contestants like Season 9 stand-out Peppermint.
Finally, the show doesn’t shy away from tackling bigger, more-painful issues like AIDS or the atrocious Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016.
But Drag Race is not without its critics, who point out allegations of racial insensitivity, unfortunate comments about trans contestants and a sometimes-uncomfortable reliance on capitalist-pop psychology. But no show is perfect, even this one. Drag Race, however, always tries to approach things from a place of positivity and for that they should be applauded.
6. You’ll fall in love with someone
With so many queens you are guaranteed to fall in love with someone. Our top queens of all time have got to be Tyra, Jinkx and Raven. But don’t worry, you’ll quickly find someone to obsessively follow on Instagram for yourself.
7. Oh y’all wanted a twist? Drag Race will shock you like nothing you’ve ever seen
The drama on this show is unreal! Where else would a contestant suddenly break down in tears with a revelation that her mother left her at a bus stop?
And yes, there is bitterness and intense rivalry (*cough* Phi Phi and Sharon Needles *cough*) but, if we’re honest, every show needs just a little a bit of backstabbing and bitchery to keep things spicy.
8. Snatch Game!!!
Every season, fans look forward to the ‘Snatch Game’ episode when the queens are tasked with impersonating a celebrity. It’s always a funny moment when we either get to watch the contestants soar… or go down in gruesomely unfunny flames.
9. The pit crew
The boys of the Pit Crew aren’t bad either… *Picks up opera binoculars*
10. The SUPERSTAR guest judges
Possibly more than any other show, Drag Race draws the biggest stars in the world (aka Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera) as excellent guest judges. Just another reason to watch, as if you really needed one.
Drag Race is now on its 10th season (plus a few epic All Stars editions in between), but it’s still as popular as ever. In fact, the latest season of All Stars that finished last week was the most watched season yet. So come on, now is the perfect time: join the party bitches…
RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 is available on Netflix UK every Friday
(Images: RuPaul / RuPaul’s Drag Race / World of Wonder)