Yesterday, RuPaul released a video on VH1’s YouTube channel confirming that both All Stars Season 5 and RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12 would be airing “soon.” I’m a huge Drag Race fan, as you’re probably aware. I just saw Miss Vanjie live over the weekend (yes, it was awesome), and RuPaul’s Drag Race was my first post on the site. Despite all of that, I’m over here like:
Drag Race has exploded in popularity in recent years. We’ve seen drag queens on red carpets, in advertisements, in movies, and even anointed by Queen Bey herself. The show has built an empire, most notably with two massive conventions in LA and New York and a bunch of spinoffs, merchandise, and shows that have launched the careers of many queens from the series. That is all fantastic. I think it’s amazing that these talented performers can receive the recognition and compensation that they deserve, especially when for a long time, neither seemed attainable.
At the same time, I’m exhausted by drag related content. Being the businesswoman that she is, RuPaul has used this surge in popularity to accelerate the production of her shows. The first All Stars aired in 2012, and Season 2 through 4 aired in 2016, 2018, and 2019 respectively. RPDR has maintained its consistent yearly schedule, but now with the added bonus of Drag Race Thailand, RPDR UK, and soon Drag Race Canada, we could be looking at up to five seasons a year of Drag Race. And that’s not including Untucked! As a drag fan, if you’re also interested in podcasts, web shows, and the many other projects by the queens, you’re consuming A LOT of drag content. For goodness sake woman! We’re talking about All Stars 5 while Manila’s body is still warm after Naomi Smalls’s cold blooded murder! I’m still grieving.
Content exhaustion can be a major problem in the way we watch TV, because it encourages an insatiable consumption of media and prevents viewers from properly digesting and enjoying what we’re watching. It’s the same as binge-watching shows on Netflix. When I binge-watch, episodes blur together, subtleties are missed, and I quickly forget what happens because I don’t have time to absorb and reflect.
But additionally, will this production schedule reduce the quality of the show, especially for something like All Stars that requires pulling talent from previous seasons? It’s been noticeable. I thought Season 11 was good, but Season 10 and All Stars 4 were both markedly worse than earlier seasons. In some cases, lazy editing and overly produced storylines have taken away from my enjoyment of the show.
I want to say, “Enough!”
At the same time, I know that no matter what her release schedule is, I’ll be there, reporting for duty. It’s easy to just blame Mama Ru, but the fanbase plays a part in this too. As long as we continue to watch, she’ll continue to produce. Will there come a point where an oversaturation of Drag Race actually affects viewership? I hope not, because I think it’s an important show, and it provides queens with amazing career opportunities. How sustainable is it at its current pace though?