If you didn’t already have enough Drag Race content, you’re in luck because Deadline announced a new addition to the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise yesterday. A new miniseries, RuPaul’s Celebrity Drag Race, has been greenlit by VH1 and will air sometime in 2020.
When All Stars 5 and Season 12 were announced in August, I expressed some frustration at the pace at which the Drag Race franchise was pumping out shows. Since that time, the list has only grown and now includes Drag Race Canada, Celebrity Drag Race, and even a Live Vegas show! Even though I still feel like the Drag Race franchise is capitalizing on its recent success at an unsustainable pace, Celebrity Drag Race is a bit different. A) it’s a unique format so there’s a little variety to the content, and B) it’s a call back to Drag U, which feels a little more nostalgic and closer to Drag Race’s roots.
Celebrity Drag Race will have four episodes and feature three celebrity contestants per episode who receive drag makeovers by Drag Race alumni (including some of my favs Bob the Drag Queen, Monét X Change, Nina West, Trixie Mattel, and Ms. Vaaaaanjie). The celebrities will compete for the title of “America’s Next Celebrity Drag Superstar” and the winner will win prize money for a charity of their choice. I’m a little unclear on whether there will be a series winner like the normal seasons, or a winner each episode like in Drag U.
RuPaul’s announcement is a smart one, especially as a way to continue elevating the Drag Race brand. The show’s probably going to be successful because audiences love the celebrity twist to reality shows – see Celebrity Big Brother, The Masked Singer, and Lip Sync Battle. Those are popular probably for the same reasons we’re all on this site. But Celebrity Drag Race’s success will largely depend on who Ru gets as contestants. Like those other shows, the best episodes are going to be the ones where the celebs commit fully to the transformation. Like Miz Cookie.
I wonder whether the celebrity roster will be only open to men, or include some women as well? If it’s the former, I think I’d definitely want Andrew Garfield (see video below), Harry Styles, and omg Keiynan Lonsdale would KILL IT. In the comments of a Buzzfeed article, someone suggested Dan Levy which I think is an excellent choice. But let me one up it: the entire Rose family from Schitt’s Creek on the same episode. A ridiculous notion, I know, but just let me have this.
If it’s women, I think Anne Hathaway, definitely Gillian Jacobs (for her dedication to the show), and maybe even Tracee Ellis Ross, who would be stunning AND funny.
One interesting thing about Celebrity Drag Race is that it puts celebrities and drag queens together in one show. We’ve seen a lot of drag queens in the world of celebs recently. They’ve been on carpets, in movies, getting their own shows, and appearing in commercials. But now, we’re getting to see celebs in the world of drag queens. That’s a conscious association. That’s an important cultural exchange. It’s one that asserts that the queens themselves are celebrities in their own right since they are the experts on the show. In the past few years, especially after the explosion of Reality TV, we’ve seen a shift in how we decide who can be a celebrity. While drag queens are part of that shift, Ru’s show is the only example I can think of where the interaction is a two way street. Where traditional celebs are invited onto a platform that’s contesting their elite status. What does that say about the state of celebrityhood today? What does it say about drag?
Attached - Ru speaking with Whitney Cummings yesterday at 'Long Live the Queen: The Business of Being RuPaul' at Vanity Fair's 6th Annual New Establishment Summit.