Hello Crispy Nation!
Once again, it's Crispy Chicken Wing Wednesday, and this week, we're taking a fierce look at the hit reality show RuPaul's Drag Race. While I won't be focusing on any particular season, I will be focusing on what makes this show Crispy. Put on your stilettos and check your lipstick, because this show has a lot of Crispiness to offer.
Part Project Runway, part American's Next Top Model, and part something totally unique, the competition revolves around the art of drag. Each week, the queens will be asked to create a runway look based on an inspirational prompt. The queens show off their runway looks to a panel of judges, which include celebrity guests, fashion moguls, and of course, RuPaul. The queens who performed the lowest challenge each other to "lip synch for their lives" as they try to impress RuPaul and stay in the competition another week. There are also several fun games played by the queens to challenge them as performers. It can be anything from choreography to comedy to celebrity impressions. In the end of each season, there is one winner crowned as America's next drag superstar, and they are awarded a myriad of prizes.
The contestants of Season 11 play "Snatch Game", a game of celebrity impressions.
The first aspect that really struck me about this show was how unique it was. Yes, the inspirations from other runway competitions was obvious, but I had no idea that drag could be such an elevated art form. The queens spend hours, and sometimes even days, creating the perfect couture gown and making sure their hair and makeup is just right for the runway. As someone who is self-taught at sewing, I can definitely understand the frustration of creating wearable art. Let's face it: things can and do go wrong. And the Drag Race workroom is no exception. I really like how they don't shy away from the emotional side of being glamorous.
There can be no overstating how groundbreaking this show is for the LGBTQ+ community. Before seeing this show, my only real exposure to drag was the occasional drag queen I'd see at a comic-con and the character of Angel from Rent. Not only does this show introduce and inform about the art of drag, but makes it mainstream. Visibility is so important for underrepresented communities, and this show does it so well. Not only are the queens given a chance to be seen, but also to shine.
The colorful cast of Season 9.
I think what I love the most is the creativity. I've watched several seasons, and no two are the same. One week could be creating an outfit inspired by Madonna, the next it could be creating a dress inspired by a dessert. Or they could show off their celebrity impressions chops in "Snatch Game". Since each season has different contestants, there's no telling what they'll come up with. It's so inspiring to see a simple prompt be turned into fashion that would be a joy for any magazine to photograph.
The queens compete in the "Herstory of the World" challenge.
My biggest critique is that the pacing feels very uneven. At times, I feel like we don't see enough of the behind-the-scenes moments. In any competition, there's going to be alliances, rivalries, and drama. There are a lot of moments where I feel like it what? the drama scenes? transitions too abruptly. In contrast, I also feel like at times they just use uneventful footage to fill in air time. If I were editing, I would give the drama and relationships ample time to develop naturally.
I also would like to see more on the history of drag on the show. I'm very interested in where the queens draw their inspiration from, how they got their start, and what their goals are. Every participant is different, and I'd love to see more of their individual stories.
Overall, I give RuPaul's Drag Race 4/5 Crispy Chicken Wings. It has its flaws, but there can be no doubt that this show is groundbreaking on a number of levels. What I enjoy the most about this show is that it gives us a glimpse of the humanity behind the glitz and glamour.
Stay Crispy. - Reba
*Make sure to tune into The Crispy Soul Podcast, where we go more into depth on this topic, available on all major streaming apps.