Even though we learned about the Canadian version of Drag Race almost a year ago, it has felt like some sort of dream or conceptual project because we’ve heard nothing about it. Yesterday, Entertainment Weekly gave us our first look at the show, as well as an interview with judges Brooke Lynn Hytes, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, and Stacey McKenzie.
Yaaaaas Canada, you look SO good! Although there are only a few photos, they make the show finally feel real and tangible. It’s also a carefully curated glimpse into some of the looks, the sets, and the personalities of show. The judging panel is stunning, and I love the set and its pink brick. Brooke draping herself over a Snatch Game desk is confirmation enough for me that she’s going to be a great host. We even get a glimpse of some celebrity guests. For Snatch Game, it’s Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan, the Scottish interior design couple who are guest experts on CityLine and regular TIFF Red Carpet interviewers.
EW’s article goes into the process of putting together Canada’s first Drag Race Season. It’s a tough balance. The show has to be regional enough that it has a unique Canadian flavour, but not too regional that it alienates other audiences. The judges are aware of that. "I think that the essence of the challenges is similar to RuPaul’s Drag Race, but they’re specific to Canada," Bowyer-Chapman says. "There are instantly recognizable Easter eggs for Canadians, but they’re universally comedic enough that other audiences won’t be left out of the joke."
The show’s biggest hurdle is going to be differentiating itself from the main franchise. Canada’s Drag Race is billed as a spin-off, which means that while it is inspired by the original, it has the freedom to become its own show. Nevertheless, comparisons will be made. In the article, Brooke says, referring to the judges, “we’re all RuPaul, put together.” Bowyer-Chapman even has to justify that the show will be good! “Seeing these queens perform, this isn’t Drag Race-lite, this is Drag Race full-stop!”
I think the best comparison for Canada’s Drag Race is Drag Race Thailand. Although the cultural differences between Thailand and America are much greater than between Canada and America, Drag Race Thailand has successfully taken the show’s formula and applied it to a local version. By playing with the format and the style of the show, Drag Race Thailand has created its own identity. Queens are judged separately on their Maxi Challenge and Runway performance. The winner of the Runway is usually exempt from elimination. Instead of jokes while the queens walk the runway, the judges provide direct feedback and comments. This and a thousand other details make it unique and bring a fresh perspective to a familiar format. Canada’s Drag Race has that potential too.
There’s a lot to get excited about. Stacey McKenzie talks about the diversity of drag and of contestants. I’m hoping that we’ll get to see more cultures and artistry on screen. Bowyer-Chapman even hints at a potential Drag King, maybe even in this season! Brooke Lynn also talks about how being a contestant on the show has made her more empathetic to some of the challenges the girls are going through. That’s a unique perspective that I don’t think any other Drag Race franchise has.
Canada’s Drag Race is set to air on OutTV and Crave this summer, but we should expect a cast Ruveal any day now. I can’t wait!