It’s finally happened. After almost seven months straight of Drag Race gracing TV screens across the world, it has finally concluded for 2018. RuPaul, Michelle, VH1, you took us on quite some journey, and you DELIVERED. Season 10 was easily, in my opinion, the most impressive so far - and for that, we can only thank you. Now, a brilliant production of media does three things. First and foremost, it has to tell a story, and secondly, it has to represent and reflect the world’s political climate. Finally, it has to entertain. And RuPaul’s Drag Race does that and then some, honey! And at no point this season were those three points confirmed clearer, than at the season 10 finale which aired last week.
The lip-syncs had fireworks, confetti, butterflies (let’s not even go there...), and the usual - splits, cartwheels and knee kicks. The show was full of unexpected surprises too, from special messages from Oprah and Dame Judi Dench, to a season 1 Vs season 10 reunion extravaganza performing a ‘RuMix’ of the best RuPaul songs over the years. Needless to say, it was a jaw-dropping hour from start to finish. Snatched, gagged, etc.
This season has been the most-viewed of all time and has arguably given us some of the most iconic queens yet (I know my favourites...). The show has clearly enjoyed tremendous amounts of money and effort thrown at it from the production company, World of Wonder, and channel host VH1, and social media alone has shown just how successful the show has been with the millions of followers engaging in the weekly episodes. RuPaul’s Drag Race is now truly a worldwide phenomenon. With that success, however, does come the pitfalls.
Along with being the most successful series yet, it’s also been one of the most controversial and thought-provoking. The Queens regularly discussed the issues America (and the world) face in 2018 - namely race, homophobia and acceptance of the drag and LGBT community. As fan favourite Monique Heart shared in one episode: “You don’t get to be a black, gay, drag queen in today’s America. You just can’t.” And although that may be true for some, these girls clearly showed that you can.
Issues of race and LGBT ‘norms’ seemed to boil away under the surface throughout the entirety of this series, despite the queens generally bonding well and the odd explosion from self-proclaimed ‘fighter’ of the season, The Vixen. It wasn’t until the turbulent Reunion episode which aired some weeks ago now, where these issues truly came to light. In a stand-off between The Vixen, Asia O’Hara and RuPaul, the cast passionately pulled apart the struggles they have individually and collectively faced in getting to their position now, and even during the show. Many fans were left feeling agitated, upset and distressed by this particular episode, namely because it highlighted incredibly real issues. That homophobia, racism, sexism, are absolutely present in 2018, and there’s still a humongous fight ahead.
I personally am an incredibly keen fan of Drag Race, and drag itself. It is a beautiful means of self-expression, storytelling and entertainment, and the fact that the show (and drag as a concept) now reaches audiences in the millions all across the globe truly warms my heart. The growing success of the show however, obviously brings the responsibility to acknowledge the pressures of the world we face currently. With certain political leaders around the world seeming as if they are on a determined mission to drive their countries into the ground, I cannot stress enough the importance of shows like Drag Race, and opportunities to showcase the strains and the successes of LGBT folk across the world.
Sure, not all fans watching may truly understand and appreciate the history of drag, and more just watch it for the entertainment. But how can we complain about that? As long as the voices of LGBT+ people and drag artists around the world are getting heard, who really cares?! Yes, we as the LGBT community have achieved wonderful things in recent years. Our very being isn’t illegal in many countries anymore - win! We can marry the people we love now - double win! (You can sense the sarcasm in my tone…) But honey, the fight isn’t over yet. As Pride season concludes in America and continues in the UK and Europe in July and August, we can only be thankful for shows like Drag Race and the individuals and groups that stand for our community and our people. As RuPaul herself would say… “Everybody say love!”.