RuPaul's Drag Race
|RuPaul's Drag Race|
|Directed by||Nick Murray|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||7|
|No. of episodes||85 (as of May 19, 2014)|
|Running time||42 to 48 minutes|
|Production company(s)||World of Wonder Productions|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Original run||February 2, 2009– present|
|Related shows||RuPaul's Drag U|
RuPaul's Drag Race is an American reality competition television series produced by World of Wonder for Logo. RuPaul plays the roles of host, mentor, and source of inspiration for this series, which details RuPaul's search for "America's next drag superstar."
The show was greenlit in May 2008, according to a press release by MTV Networks. It premiered in the U.S. on Logo on February 2, 2009, and in Canada on the MuchMore network on February 15, 2009. In Fall 2013, Logo re-aired the first season (renamed The Lost Season), which had been unavailable for telecast or on home media. Season 1 was never on Netflix nor has it been available for years, hence The Lost Season. On February 17, 2014, a seventh season was confirmed after the Facebook page of the show hit 1,000,000 likes.
In the show's first season, it was the most-watched series on Logo, and in its second it became the most-streamed series ever on LogoTV.com. The title of the show is a play on drag queen and drag racing, and the title sequence and song, "Drag Race," both have a drag-racing theme.
Casting calls are announced online, where prospective contestants submit audition tapes in hopes of being cast. All contestants selected must be 21 years of age or older at the time of taping. They may have any sexual orientation, although most contestants to date have been gay men. Transgender women are eligible, and have become more common as seasons have progressed. Sonique (a season two contestant) became the first openly transgender contestant of the series when she revealed her status as transgender during the season two reunion special. E-2.12 Monica Beverly Hillz (a season five contestant), became the first transgender woman to reveal her status during the competition.E-5.02 The other transgender contestants have begun transitioning after their elimination. Carmen Carrera, a season three contestant, announced her transition during an episode of ABC's Primetime: What Would You Do? Season four contestant Kenya Michaels announced her own transition via Facebook and Twitter.
RuPaul plays dual roles in the show. USA Today's Lifeline explains: "RuPaul the drag queen will be the final word in judging and eliminations, while RuPaul the man will offer guidance to contestants for each challenge." RuPaul's Drag Race uses progressive elimination to reduce the number of drag queens in the competition from the initial field of fourteen contestants (the number established beginning in the fifth season) down to the three who will compete in the final challenge. Each episode (with the exception of the casting special, "recap" episode, and reunion special) follows a format consisting of a mini challenge, a main challenge, a runway walk (where the contestants model fashion on a runway, usually with a theme based on the main challenge), and the judging panel.
In the mini challenge, each contestant is asked to perform a different task with varying requirements and time limitations. Certain mini challenges are repeated from season to season. For instance, the first mini challenge of each season is a photo shoot with the photographer Mike Ruiz that includes some kind of special twist (such as being doused with water while in full drag,E-1.01 having a high-powered fan turned on during the shoot,E-2.01 or being photographed while jumping on a trampoline).E-3.02 Another recurring mini challenge is dedicated to "reading," which is a drag term for making insulting observations about one's peers for comic effect.E-2.07 E-3.08 The winner of a mini challenge is sometimes rewarded by being given some kind of advantage in the main challenge. For example, if the main challenge will be a "makeover challenge"—where contestants must put a random individual with characteristics atypical of a drag queen (such as an elderly manE-2.08 or a very masculine male athlete)E-3.12) into drag—the advantage awarded to the winner of the preceding mini challenge is to be allowed to choose which guest they will make over and which guests each of their competitors will make over. E-1.05 E-2.08 E-3.12
The requirements of the main challenge vary across each episode, are usually individual challenges (though group challenges do occur in each season), and initially grant immunity to the winner (until RuPaul announces the discontinuation of that policy mid-season). The winner of the main challenge receives a special prize for their win. In the past, challenge winners have been rewarded with custom designer clothing, cruises, and quality cosmetic items.
RuPaul has jokingly said of the show: "Tell Tyra [Banks] that the Queen has returned, and while you're at it have Heidi Klum clear the runway. I'm going to pump some 'realness' into reality. To be a winner on this show the contestants need to be a fashion designer, an American Idol, and a top model all rolled up into one. And they definitely have to be smarter than a fifth grader." The goal of each main challenge involves a new theme and outcome. Contestants are often asked to design and construct a custom outfit, sometimes incorporating unconventional materials.E-3.11 Other challenges focus on the contestants' ability to present themselves on camera,E-1.03 perform with music,E-2.06 or perform comedically.E-3.08 Some challenges become a tradition across seasons. For instance, Snatch Game is a challenge where the contestants re-enact Match Game: the drag queens impersonate celebrities of their own choosing, RuPaul stands in as host, and two celebrity guests stand in as Match Game contestants.E-2.04E-3.06
As of season six, Santino Rice and Michelle Visage are the staple judges alongside RuPaul. Visage replaced fashion journalist Merle Ginsberg, who was a regular judge in the first two seasons. Prior to the grande finale, the two are joined by a celebrity guest judge and an extra-special guest judge each week. Celebrity judges have included Kathy Griffin,E-2.01 Henry Rollins,E-2.06 Jackie Collins,E-2.07 Sharon Osbourne,E-3.12 La Toya Jackson,E-3.04 Eliza Dushku,E-3.07 and Rick Fox. In certain instances, Rice has been absent and replacement judging has been provided by make-up artist Billy Brasfield (better known as Billy B),E-3.04 Mike Ruiz,E-3.13 Jeffrey Moran (Absolut Vodka marketing executive),E-3.10 or Lucian Piane.E-4.08 However, due to Brasfield's numerous appearances in seasons three and four, including appearing side-by-side in the Reunited episodes both seasons, Santino and Billy B are considered to have been alternates for the same seat at the judges table throughout the two seasons.E-3.04E-3.05E-3.07E-3.08E-3.16E-4.04E-4.06E-4.14
The judges each provide their opinion on the contestants' performances on the runway and in the main challenge before RuPaul announces which drag queen is the episode's winner and which two had the weakest performances. The day before judging, the contestants are all provided with a song that they must learn the lyrics to. The contestants deemed as being the bottom two must "lip sync for their lives" to a song by a female artist in a final attempt to impress RuPaul. After the lip sync, RuPaul alone decides who stays and who leaves. RuPaul describes the qualities the contestants must have to be crowned the winner of the show as "Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent... These are people who have taken adversity and turned it into something that is beautiful and something powerful." The phrase "charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent" is used repeatedly on the show, the acronym of which is CUNT. On the All Stars season, "synergy" was added to provide an explanation behind the contestants being sorted into teams (expanding the acronym into CUNTS).
The first season of RuPaul's Drag Race was accompanied by a seven-episode web series called Under the Hood of RuPaul's Drag Race. LOGOonline published a webisode of Under the Hood after each episode of Drag Race. In this companion series, RuPaul presents a documentary of contestants' conversation in the green room, replays pertinent moments from Drag Race, and airs deleted footage.
Starting with season 2 of Drag Race in 2010, Logo reformatted Under the Hood, increased its production budget, moved it from the web to television, and retitled it to RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked. Logo broadcasts an episode of Untucked after each episode of Drag Race. Untucked replaces the basic green room of Under the Hood with two decorated rooms that were until season 6 sponsored by Absolut Vodka and Interior Illusions, Inc.: the Interior Illusions Lounge and the Gold Bar. Currently FormDecor sponsors the Lounge for season 6. These two backstage areas allow for separated group conversation.
|Season||Premiere||Finale||Winner||Runner-up||Number of contestants||Number of episodes||Miss Congeniality|
|1||February 2, 2009||March 23, 2009||BeBe Zahara Benet
(Nea Marshall Kudi)
|2||February 1, 2010||April 25, 2010||Tyra Sanchez
|3||January 24, 2011||May 2, 2011||Raja
|4||January 30, 2012||April 30, 2012||Sharon Needles
Phi Phi O'Hara
|All Stars||October 22, 2012||November 26, 2012||Chad Michaels
|5||January 28, 2013||May 6, 2013||Jinkx Monsoon
(Justin Andrew Honard)
|6||February 24, 2014||May 19, 2014||Bianca Del Rio
|14||14||BenDeLaCreme (Benjamin Putnam)|
Almost all music used comes from RuPaul's albums, generally Champion, Glamazon, and Born Naked. Exceptions are songs used during the lip-sync portion of the show.
Essentially, Champion is the series soundtrack, but an EP album called Drag Race, was also released to iTunes and other digital markets. Composed of remixes from RuPaul's Champion album, it also serves as a soundtrack.
- Main Event (Matt Pop 80's Tribute) (4:16)
- Let's Turn the Night (Matt Moss' Vidon Remix) (5:11)
- Never Go Home Again (Moss Moss' Vidon Remix) (3:20)
- J.O.M.B.2.0. [Jealous of My Boogie] (RevoLucian's Redux) (3:35) – featuring [Tilly Key]
- Destiny is Mine (Matt Moss' Vidon Remix) (3:35)
- Hit the Floor (Matt Moss' Vidon Remix) (3:20)
- Champion (DJ BunJoe's Olympic Mix) (3:42)
- LadyBoy (DJ BunJoe's Bangkok Booty Mix) (3:08)
- Main Event (Joe Carrano's TKO Mix) (3:41)
- Let's Turn the Night (Matt Pop Bootleg Mix) (6:43)
- Never Go Home Again (Matt Pop Amsterdam Jam) (4:01)
- Main Event (Matt Pop 80's Tribute Extended) (8:37)
- Cover Girl (Matuchi's Taterz Deep Edit) (4:49)
- Main Event (Chris Thomas' Hi-NRG Mix) (5:07)
The song Champion (DJ BunJoe's Olympic Mix) was used during the show and was the basis for the final video challenge. After the closing of the third season, the album, Glamazon was released through iTunes. Songs from that album that were used in the season were:
- The Beginning
RuPaul confirmed on Twitter that a new album, in which each of the Season 6 contestants covered a song from his catalog, would be coming out. The album, titled RuPaul Presents: The CoverGurlz, was released on January 28, 2014 On February 24, 2014, to coincide with the season premiere, the album Born Naked was released. "Sissy That Walk" from Born Naked is used during the Season 6 runway segment. Following episode 6 of Season 6, RuPaul & DJ ShyBoy released the single "Oh No She Better Don't", featuring the queens still standing as of episode 6: Adore Delano, BenDeLaCreme, Bianca Del Rio, Courtney Act, Darienne Lake, Joslyn Fox, Laganja Estranja, Milk and Trinity K. Bonet On March 31, 2014, the song became available on iTunes.
|Season||Release date||Episodes||Special features||Discs|
|2||December 6, 2011||12||
|3||December 6, 2011||16||
|4||June 26, 2012||14||
|January 22, 2013||6||
|5||June 10, 2013 ||14||
DVDs for seasons 2 and 3 are only available in Region 1 and are produced on demand by Amazon.com. Season 4 will be available in Region 1, produced on demand by Amazon.com, is expected to play back in DVD Video "play only" devices, and may not play in other DVD devices, including recorders and PC drives.
Awards and nominations
|2009||NewNowNext Award||Most Addictive Reality Star – Ongina||Won|
|2010||GLAAD Media Award||Outstanding Reality Program||Won|
|NewNowNext Award||Best New Indulgence||Won|
|Most Addictive Reality Star — Jujubee||Nominated|
|2011||NewNowNext Award||Most Addictive Reality Star – Carmen Carrera||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Television Award||Best Reality Series – Competition||Nominated|
|2012||NewNowNext Award||Most Addictive Reality Star – Willam||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Television Award||Best Reality Show Host – RuPaul||Nominated|
|TV.com's Best of 2012 Awards||Best Reality Show Judge/Host – RuPaul||Won|
|Best Reality Competition Series||Won|
|2013||RyanSeacrest.com's Favorite TV Show Awards||Best Reality Series||Won|
|POPrepublic.tv Awards||Favourite International TV Shows||Nominated|
|2014||Critics' Choice Television Award||Best Reality Show Host – RuPaul||Nominated|
|TCA Award||Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming||Won|
RuPaul's Drag Race has been criticized for appearing to favor glamorous drag queens over comedic or camp queens. For example, Popbytes commented Drag Race has been accused numerous times of keeping some of the more unpleasant but feminine queens in the competition for the sake of keeping the drama high. However, Common Sense Media commented, "RuPaul's Drag Race combines the fashion design drama of Project Runway with the modeling excitement of America's Next Top Model to create an entertainingly voyeuristic glimpse into the performance art world of drag queens. There's plenty of over-the-top stuff, but rather than simply treating drag performers as people to be laughed at and/or scorned, the show also focuses on the hard work and talent that goes into drag performances." Entertainment Weekly cited the elimination of comedian and eventual season two fan favorite Pandora Boxx as the season's most controversial. In response, RuPaul has said, "What we're looking for is someone who can really follow in my footsteps: Someone who can be hired by a company to represent their product, someone who can put together a sentence on television and present themselves in the most incredible way."
New Yorker critic Emily Nussbaum has praised Drag Race as "simultaneously sincere and self-mocking" in its approach to the reality format: "In many ways, it is just another copycat talent show, mashing up product integration, quasi-scripted banter, and themed competitions...But, even in this context, the show is mighty queer. Rupaul -- who appears first in a suit and serious eyeglasses, then in full femininity -- parodies both Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum, 'queering' Bravo's Project Runway, which was already the gayest thing in town." In March 2014, Drag Race sparked controversy over the use of the term "She-male" in the Season 6 Mini-challenge "Female or She-male?". Logo has since removed the episode from all platforms and has addressed the allegations of transphobia by removing the "You've got she-mail" Mini-challenge intro from new episodes of the series.
- The series airs on OUTtv in Canada at the same time as the US airing. MusiquePlus is also airing the first three seasons.
- During Summer 2009, TIMM – a former gay television channel from Germany – aired the first season every Friday night.
- In Australia the fourth season will air early 2013 on cable television channel LifeStyle YOU. In addition, free-to-air channel SBS2 began screening the first season on August 31, 2013.
- RuPaul's Drag Race has also been aired in Denmark, on the channel TV2-zulu, where the two first seasons have been aired in the time-frame of a couple of weeks, including the "extras" of the show.
- In Israel, the show aired on yes stars Next in Summer 2010.
- In Finland the program started airing on TV Viisi as Huippu- drag queen haussa ("Searching for the Top Drag Queen") on Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 20.00.
- In Hungary the show aired on FEM3 channel as RuPaul – Drag Queen leszek! ("RuPaul – I'll be Drag Queen!").
- In Latin America, The second season premiered in January 2011, while later that same year, the first season was made its debut in May 2012. The third season made its premiere on April 5, 2012 and wrapped up on July 19, 2012. Season four starting airing on July 26, 2012 and wrapped up on October 25, 2012. The entire series has aired on VH1 Latin America.
- In Brazil, VH1 Brazil aired seasons 1 to 4 under the name RuPaul e a Corrida das Loucas (RuPaul and the Race of the Crazy Women), "Loucas" in Portuguese or "Locas" in Spanish is a term commonly used for "Queens" throughout Latin America.
- Season 1, immediately followed by season 2, started airing in Sweden on TV11 early 2011. All four seasons have since aired.
- In honor of Manila Luzon, the Philippines aired season 3 on the Velvet cable network every Tuesday at 11 pm with RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked, airing directly after the show. Season 4 started airing on April 17, 2012
- In Italy, the third season began airing as "America's Next Drag Queen" on FOXlife on July 13, 2011 at 21.55 with dialogue dubbed in Italian.
- In South Africa, seasons 1 to 5 have been aired on the DSTV channel VUZU from early 2011
- In the Netherlands Out TV NL broadcasts all seasons every year before starting the new season.
- The first 5 seasons, along with All Stars, are available on Netflix in Europe and South America.
- The show was first aired on E4, a UK entertainment channel, with the first episode airing on Wednesday September 9, 2009 at 11:00 pm. Season 2 followed on E4 in 2010. While E4 didn't broadcast any more episodes Seasons 1 - 5 became available on Netflix UK in December 2013.
RuPaul's Drag U is a spin-off, in which biological women compete to discover and develop their female potential through drag. They are counseled, mentored and given makeovers by Drag Professors, who are contestants from "Drag Race." As the series is filmed in Los Angeles over a month's time, the majority of the professors are queens who reside in Southern California.
In March 2012, it was confirmed by Entertainment Weekly that an All-Star edition of "Drag Race" would commence this summer, and would air in the fall, as well as a fifth season of "Drag Race". A new fan page on Facebook was created, asking fans to pick the queen(s) they would like to see in this spin-off; Chad Michaels, Yara Sofia, Mimi Imfurst, Jujubee, Nina Flowers, Manila Luzon, Shannel, Alexis Matteo, Tammie Brown, Raven and Latrice Royale were selected. Sharon Needles was initially also selected, but declined to participate and was instead replaced by runner-up Pandora Boxx. Logo scheduled six one-hour episodes of the All-Star series for the fall of 2012.
On April 15, 2013, RuPaul confirmed on Twitter that he will be the executive producer of a spin-off show featuring Alyssa Edwards of Season 5. Alyssa Edwards confirmed on Twitter that her spin-off is called Beyond Belief and in an interview with Queerty revealed that the series will be centered around her dance company based in Mesquite, Texas.
On April 3, 2014 UK chat show host and presenter Jonathan Ross told UK newspaper Daily Star that a UK version of the show was in the works. With Ross's company producing the show and with it being fronted by Jodie Harsh rather than RuPaul. Ross said “I’ve been working with Jodie on a UK version of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Unfortunately we have had to take a break because of some family issues. But we’re hoping to pick it up again in the near future. I am definitely serving ‘middle-aged-realness!’” 
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