RuPaul's Drag Race
|RuPaul's Drag Race|
|Directed by||Nick Murray|
|Theme music composer||RuPaul Charles
|Opening theme||"Drag Race Theme"|
|Ending theme||"Fly Tonight"
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||99 (as of June 1, 2015)|
|Running time||42 to 48 minutes|
|Production company(s)||World of Wonder Productions|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Original release||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 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.
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. On March 20, 2015, RuPaul's Drag Race's Facebook page confirmed that the show was renewed for an eighth season.
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 be 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. Monica Beverly Hillz (a season five contestant), became the first transgender woman to reveal her status during the competition. 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 maximum a season has started with) down to the final 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), the judging panel, and the elimination of a contestant. There have been some exceptions to episodes, including double-elimination episodes, no-elimination episodes, and the disqualification of contestants.
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, having a high-powered fan turned on during the shoot, or being photographed while jumping on a trampoline). Another recurring mini challenge is dedicated to "reading," which is a drag term for making insulting observations about one's peers for comic effect. The winner of a mini challenge is sometimes rewarded by being given some kind of advantage in the main challenge. Though most episodes have a mini challenge, select episodes do not and go straight to the main challenge.
The requirements of the main challenge vary across each episode, and can be individual or group challenges, and initially grant immunity to the winner in the next challenge (until RuPaul announces the discontinuation of that policy mid-season). However as of season 6, immunity is no longer granted to challenge winners. The winner of the main challenge also receives a "special" prize for their win. In the past, challenge winners have been rewarded with prizes including custom designer clothing, vacations, cruises, and quality cosmetic items.
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. Other challenges focus on the contestants' ability to present themselves on camera, perform with music, or perform humorously. Some challenges become a tradition across seasons. For instance, "Snatch Game" is a challenge where the contestants re-enact Match Game: the contestants impersonate celebrities of their own choosing, RuPaul stands in as host, and two celebrity guests stand in as Match Game contestants.
- A yellow cell indicates the participant was a guest judge in respective season(s).
As of season 7, Michelle Visage, Ross Matthews and Carson Kressley are the staple judges alongside RuPaul. Visage joined the show at the start of season 3, while Matthews and Kressley joined at the start of season 7, and alternate each episode on who joins RuPaul and Visage. Past fixtures on the panel include Merle Ginsberg, who was a regular judge in the first two seasons, and Santino Rice, who held his position from the first season until the conclusion of the sixth. To date, Rice is the only person, apart from RuPaul, to take part in every season of the show, serving as a main judge for seasons one through six, and all stars, and guest judging for season seven. In certain instances, Rice was absent and replacement judging has been provided by make-up artist Billy Brasfield (better known as Billy B), Mike Ruiz, Jeffrey Moran (Absolut Vodka marketing executive), or Lucian Piane. However, due to Brasfield's numerous appearances in seasons three and four, including appearing in the Reunited episodes both seasons, Rice and Billy B are considered to have been alternates for the same seat at the judges table throughout the two seasons.
Prior to the grande finale, the three main judges are joined by two celebrity guest judges each week. Guest judges have included Paula Abdul, Pamela Anderson, Eve, Ariana Grande, Neil Patrick Harris, Kathy Griffin, Khloé Kardashian, La Toya Jackson, Adam Lambert, Demi Lovato, Bob Mackie, Rose McGowan, Olivia Newton-John, Rebecca Romijn, Sharon Osbourne, Dan Savage, John Waters, and Michelle Williams.
The judges each provide their opinion on the contestants' performances in the main challenge and on the runway before RuPaul announces which 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 Drag Race was accompanied by a seven-episode web series, titled 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 re-titled it to RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked. Logo broadcast 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. FormDecor sponsored the Lounge for season 6. These two backstage areas allow for separated group conversation.
In the seventh season of the Drag Race, Untucked reverted to a webseries, as part of the World of Wonder YouTube page. Instead of two decorated rooms, Untucked was moved back to the one room, an empty backstage space that connects to the main stage, with couches for contestants to chat on. The newly renovated version also follows contestants following their elimination from the show, documenting them packing their belongings and leaving the set.
Each season, the winner of RuPaul's Drag Race receives a selection of prizes, these prizes have increased in value each season as the show has become more popular and received a bigger budget. The prizes won for every season were:
|Season||Premiere||Finale||Winner||Runner(s)-up||Miss Congeniality||Number of contestants||Number of episodes|
|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
|BenDeLaCreme (Benjamin Putnam)||14||14|
|7||March 2, 2015||June 1, 2015||Violet Chachki
(Joshua Eads Brown)
Songs used while the contestants walk the runway have been:
- "Cover Girl" from Champion (season 1)
- "Jealous of My Boogie" (Gomi & RasJek Mix) from Champion (season 2)
- "Champion" (DJ BunJoe's Olympic Mix) from Drag Race (season 3)
- "Glamazon" from Glamazon (season 4)
- "Sexy Drag Queen" (dootdoot 'doot-swift' Remix) from Sexy Drag Queen (Remixes) - EP (All Stars)
- "I Bring the Beat" from Glamazon (season 5)
- "Sissy That Walk" from Born Naked (season 6-)
The Covergurlz & Covergurlz 2
RuPaul confirmed on Twitter that a new album, in which each of the Season 6 contestants covered a song from his catalog, would be released. The album, titled RuPaul Presents: The CoverGurlz, was released on January 28, 2014
Similar to Season 6, each of the season 7's contestants covered a song that was previously recorded by RuPaul. The album is titled RuPaul Presents: CoverGurlz2 and was released on February 3, 2015. The album also features the single "New York City Beat", a song by RuPaul featuring Michelle Visage.
Two promotional singles have been released from the show's respective casts. The first single, titled "Can I Get an Amen" was released in 2013, and featured the eight remaining contestants of the season 5 cast. "Can I Get an Amen" was a parody of the charity single "We Are the World", and featured Alaska, Alyssa Edwards, Coco Montrese, Detox, Ivy Winters, Jade Jolie, Jinkx Monsoon, and Roxxy Andrews. The second single to surface from the show was titled "Oh No She Better Don't," and was released in 2014. The single featured the remaining eight contestants of the season 6 cast. "Oh No She Better Don't" was a rap song, and featured Adore Delano, BenDeLaCreme, Bianca Del Rio, Courtney Act, Darienne Lake, Joslyn Fox, Laganja Estranja, Milk, and Trinity K. Bonet.
Following Drag Race, many contestants from the show have delved into music careers, with some garnering moderate success. Albums released by the shows alumni include PG-13 by season 4 winner Sharon Needles and Till Death Do Us Party by season 6 runner-up Adore Delano.
|Season||Release date||Special features||Discs|
|2||December 6, 2011||
|3||December 6, 2011||
|4||June 26, 2012||
|January 22, 2013||
|5||June 10, 2013 ||
|6||October 21, 2014 ||
Awards and nominations
|2009||NewNowNext Award||Most Addictive Reality Star – Ongina||Won|
|2010||GLAAD Media Award||Outstanding Reality Program|
|NewNowNext Award||Best New Indulgence|
|Most Addictive Reality Star — Jujubee||Nominated|
|2011||NewNowNext Award||Most Addictive Reality Star – Carmen Carrera|
|Critics' Choice Television Award||Best Reality Series – Competition|
|2012||NewNowNext Award||Most Addictive Reality Star – Willam|
|Critics' Choice Television Award||Best Reality Show Host – RuPaul|
|TV.com's Best of 2012 Awards||Best Reality Show Judge/Host – RuPaul||Won|
|Best Reality Competition Series|
|2013||RyanSeacrest.com's Favorite TV Show Awards||Best Reality Series|
|POPrepublic.tv Awards||Favourite International TV Shows||Nominated|
|2014||Critics' Choice Television Award||Best Reality Show Host – RuPaul|
|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 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" intro from new episodes of the series. This was replaced with, "She done already done had herses!"
- Australia: 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.
- Canada: The series airs on OUTtv in Canada at the same time as the US airing.
- Germany: During Summer 2009, TIMM – a former gay television channel from Germany – aired the first season every Friday night.
- Hungary: In Hungary the show aired on FEM3 channel as RuPaul – Drag Queen leszek! ("RuPaul – I'll be Drag Queen!").
- Latin America: On january of 2011 VH1 Latin America aired season 2 followed by season 1, season 3 and season 4.
- The Philippines: 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
- UK: E4 aired season 1 in 2009, followed by season 2 in 2010. In March 2015, it was announced that TruTV would air seasons 4 and onward, including Untucked episodes previously broadcast on TV.
RuPaul's Drag U: RuPaul's Drag U is the first spin-off of the franchise, in which 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.
Beyond Belief: On April 15, 2013, RuPaul confirmed on Twitter that he would be the executive producer of a spin-off show featuring Alyssa Edwards from season 5. Alyssa Edwards confirmed on Twitter that his spin-off would be titled Beyond Belief and in an interview with Queerty, revealed that the series will be centered around his dance company based in Mesquite, Texas.
RuPaul's Drag Race UK: 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!’" In May 2015, RuPaul hosted a competition to find a UK Ambassador for Drag Race. The Vivienne, a drag queen from Liverpool, won the competition and will create vlogs to accompany Drag Race episodes on truTV as well as visiting the Drag Race US set for season eight.
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