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RuPaul's Drag Race went from humdrum and derivative to its best season in years

  • "It’s been delightful — and surprising, honestly — to enjoy Drag Race so much this year," says Shannon Keating, adding: "Drag Race at its best is all about bringing artists working and living on the margins to the center. TikToker Danielle Barrett recently spoofed the serious conversations that go down in the werkroom to very funny results; even though longtime viewers have seen a million of them by now, the queens’ stories about trauma and resilience are integral to the Drag Race experience. The rivalries and shade of it all make for fun TV, as do, of course, the unforgettable performances, but the hero’s journey of overcoming one’s demons, transforming the pain of alienation into something special and profound, has always been the real buy-in for me. Now that Drag Race has been on the air for over a decade, young queens auditioning for the most recent seasons were likely to have grown up watching the show. The vibe had started to feel somewhat humdrum and derivative. Plus, there was just so much of it — arguably too much, with back-to-back regular and All Star seasons, not to mention the new international properties. I was also getting tired of RuPaul’s antics. He’s found and fostered an array of incredible talent, but he’s also had a horrible track record with anti-trans comments and an off-putting 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' mentality that suggests a positive attitude is all one needs to overcome systemic discrimination. (And then there’s the fracking.) Last year’s season was already contending with the show’s overexposure and political issues when one of its top competitors, Sherry Pie, was disqualified following a BuzzFeed News investigation into catfishing allegations brought by multiple men. Most of the season had already been shot when the news broke; after every trace of Sherry Pie was edited out, the remaining narrative suffered. But from the ruins of that disaster rose a new season’s worth of truly formidable queens. What’s more, RuPaul has finally worked on his odious views about trans competitors and expanded the show’s working definition of 'drag' to well beyond mere 'female illusion.'"

    TOPICS: RuPaul’s Drag Race, VH1, Reality TV