*** SPOILERS AHEAD***
This is all my own opinion. I do not claim omnipotent knowledge of Drag Race, and nothing I say is definitive fact – but I am obnoxious enough to expect you to want to read what I have to say about the debut of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.
When Drag Race was announced to be coming to the UK I was admittedly apprehensive. Would it be funny? Would it encompass the Drag Scene of UK accurately? The cast had some degree of diversity with BME queens among the roster, so there was at least a glimmer of promise.
I must admit, the show was awkward to begin with. The immediate entry of Baga Chipz (and I apologise Baga Chipz fans for not being sorry about my dislike of this queen) made my blood run cold. Was this going to be it? Forced British stereotypes and jokes that felt cheap and gratuitous (and don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy cheesy British humour) to really drive home the idea that “this is Drag Race in the UK!”. Maybe Baga was playing up the stereotype to make herself more likeable – which could be the case – but I’m really hoping if that is the case she drops the act before I throw a crumpet at her head.
All the queens looked like they were bringing a different drag aesthetic to the table so my worry about the diversity of the drag scene was quickly extinguished. Some queens definitely stuck out to me, Sum Ting Wong (who is my personal favourite), Divina De Campo, and The Vivienne were the three queens that struck me as ones I was personally going to watch closely.
My concern with Scaredy Cat may be a controversial one to pitch, but the fact that he has NEVER been to or been involved in a drag performance in his life not only worries me when he comes to having to lip-sync, but also worries me in terms of whether he qualifies for the crown. Yes, he may have an excellent drag aesthetic and is absolutely serving looks on the runway, but, and call me an elitist – why does he deserve to be the UK’s first ever drag superstar without really being involved in the drag community? I don’t know, I’m not really sure what I’m trying to say – and maybe I’m just being a bit judgemental. We’ll see.
The mini-challenge was odd, and I definitely found more comedy coming from RuPaul laughing *at* the queens rather than with in addition to his struggle with processing British humour. The Vivienne’s impression of Kim Woodburn was a highlight of the mini-challenge, so I was shocked when Scaredy Cat came away with the very first win of the series and I frankly found it undeserved.
Moving swiftly onto the runway/main challenge of the week (which is the better part of Drag Race regardless of if it’s across the pond), I was interested to see what was going to be brought to the runway, considering the themes were something we as British viewers can fully understand. A look based off the Queen’s hometown (which we all have at least basic information about most of the towns that were shown) and then a look based off Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II herself. Iconically British for the debut, this was definitely a smart move. I must also add that I’m absolutely here for Alan Carr and Graham Norton being regular and alternating judges – and I’m so excited for when Cheryl Cole inevitably ends up behind the Judge’s panel and her meeting with Essex’s Cheryl Hole.
Surprisingly however, there was not one runway I actually despised this week other than the few that I already have an undeserved and subjective bias towards. Baga’s looks did nothing for me, Vinegar Stroke’s outfits didn’t look right (and we’re not going to talk about the River Thames look), and Gothy Kendoll was.. Well.. very plastic. I adored Sum Ting Wong’s runway looks the most, with her Birmingham bull and her First Class postage stamp, she seems to be the most creatively comic with her looks and I’m definitely finding it appealing. Alas, this was not Sum Ting Wong’s week as The Vivienne snatched the win – receiving the first ever “Ru Peter” badge as a prize – with her Pete Burns-inspired Liverpudlian look and her Balmoral Queen Elizabeth II outfit. They were definitely well-made and the transformation between the two was exceptional – but I still feel that there was something wrong about Sum Ting Wong’s robbed victory… Thanks, I’m here all year.
Implementing RuPaul’s Drag Race Untucked (the behind the scenes conversational interactions between the Drag Queens whilst the judges deliberated which in America is a standalone series) into the regular episodes was a smart move, as I feel that British audiences will enjoy the “reality” behind the Drag Queens expressing their thoughts and feelings over the critiques of the week more than an American audience would.
The episode started awkwardly and I was initially concerned, but about halfway through my worries transformed into excitement. This season holds a lot of promise, and with the next episode being an acting challenge which parodies Downton Abbey, I can see that the UK references aren’t going to be melodramatically poop and cringeworthy.
And for the record: I’m Team Sum Ting Wong.