By J1 Reporter Courtney Kilroy
“Trixie Mattel, you went for the comedy gold, but all we got was bronze… Trixie, my dear, I’m sorry, but you are up for elimination,” RuPaul said. I sat up from the large couch-crevice I had settled into marathoning eight seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race. No, I thought, not Trixie.
The summer between freshman and sophomore year, I was scouring Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, any and every streaming service in existence for a new TV show to watch. There had to be something.
Then, clothed still in my bright green leopard-print pajama pants and an oversized T-shirt, and buried in empty Cheetos bags, I remembered something. On a podcast I’d listened to recently, the hosts had been discussing their favorite “queens” from a show called RuPaul’s Drag Race. In the face of having to watch American Horror Story for the third time, I gave it a shot.
For about the next two weeks, I got up from the couch only to make more popcorn. I was obsessed. I had entered a world I never knew existed. There was more makeup than I knew was possible for one person to wear. There were outlandish outfits with sequins and feathers and lights from time to time. The shoes, the wigs, the comedy, the dancing, the singing, or rather, the lip-syncing. I just couldn’t stop. It bears repeating, I was obsessed.
In short, RuPaul’s Drag Race is a reality TV show in which drag queens compete in various performance, costume, and intellectual challenges for a prize of a one-year supply of Anastasia Beverly Hills cosmetics, $100,000, and the title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar.” And it is the only show that matters. The only one.
This show is everything. Because reality TV is reality TV, there’s plenty of drama, but this is one show that balances drama with levity and seriousness with sensitivity. That’s another reason I like it so much. The performances are flashy, the outfits are unbelievable, from Courtney Act’s extendable set of 12-foot wings to Alyssa Edwards’s evening gown made entirely out of functioning cameras, and the makeup is so transformative I would call it magical.
But as many of the men behind the queens are gay, the show is an important voice for the LGBTQ community. Now-model Carmen Carrera came out as transgender in season three, Roxxxy Andrews talked about how she still struggles with her mother abandoning her as a child in season five, and Trinity K. Bonet went public about being HIV positive in season six. Drag Race brings to the forefront of pop culture the struggles that still exist within the gay community. And that’s important. It’s those moments that make the show feel more authentic than all other reality TV shows. You remember that these are real people with real lives and real stories and real struggles, and you appreciate what they do even more.
What I like best about Drag Race is that it makes you feel like part of a community. You learn all the catchphrases, you become part of the inside jokes, you grow to care about these people who’ve dedicated their whole lives to making people smile. You find yourself laughing until your sides hurt and your jaw hitting the floor during every lip-sync. You can’t feel bad when watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s not possible. Even if your favorite queen sashays away, like mine did. (#justicefortrixiemattel)