Yesterday (at least in Canada) was the finale for the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. In many ways, the finale was satisfying. We got a lot of screen time with AJ Pritchard, who is HOT AF. I saw a lot of “flooded my basement” in comments about him and honestly? Same. Also, if you’re wondering if his brother Curtis seems familiar, that’s because he was on Love Island Series 5! Love Island crossing over with Drag Race? I can die in peace now.
But there were parts of the finale that I was surprised about. Where was the pomp and circumstance? RuPaul finales are no longer small events. The UK finale, however, was reminiscent of earlier seasons when the budget was small, and the show was still finding its footing. That nostalgia is endearing, but I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t a big live show to honour such an important moment for both RuPaul and the UK queens who have wanted a British version for years. There wasn’t even a Miss Congeniality!
Overall though, Drag Race UK was a success. As I said after the premiere, I was always a little bit skeptical of the show despite its potential. I am, however, happy to admit when I’m wrong. I felt like this was one of the best seasons of Drag Race. The talent was incredible, the personalities were all likeable, and the competition itself felt like a breath of fresh air in a room that was starting to get stale.
That’s not to say that Drag Race UK is perfect. In fact, it has some clear issues that need to be addressed. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again now: transporting a show across the pond is no easy feat. The task is even more challenging when the judge, jury, and executioner is American. A lot of the subtlety was lost on me, but British Drag Race fans often pointed out that certain cultural references or jokes were missed by both Ru and Michelle, despite Michelle’s familiarity with the UK.
A really good example of this was in the deliberations of the final episode, when Graham Norton scalped Michelle and said, “as someone who’s from here…” The point he made however was important. Asking a UK queen why they and not their competitors should win the crown is a much harder question and elicits different answers compared to American queens. Another example is that apparently, live singing is an important part of British drag. Why didn’t any of the challenges reflect that? It’s these sorts of subtleties that affect the show.
A few weeks ago, RuPaul announced that Drag Race UK Series 2 was confirmed. I have a lot of questions. Are they going to switch up the judging panel? Will there be an All Stars UK or will it be mixed between the shows (even Drag Race Thailand!) The second season of Drag Race UK is really exciting because it means that the show was successful and popular, and that drag continues to become a highly demanded artform. But that comes with its fair share of challenges.
*SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ONWARDS. Leave this article open, watch it on Crave, and come back*
Many viewers were frustrated with last week’s challenge because makeovers can be very subjective with judges and is often used to set up the competition for a certain outcome. At least that’s the only way to explain why Divina won with that outfit and Cheryl went home.
In yesterday’s episode, despite the obvious lead up for a Divina win earlier on in the season, The Vivienne became the UK’s first drag superstar. I was rooting for Divina, but I’m happy with who was crowned. Both queens are stunning and they both displayed incredible skill and talent in the final episode. I’m content.
Unfortunately, many were not.
Bullshit. Divina was far far better— Adam Barnes (@surfadam42) November 21, 2019
These were comments on a Drag Race UK post announcing the winner. It’s indicative of how Drag Race fan culture can be toxic. Saying that Divina was robbed undermines The Vivienne’s accomplishment and talent. In the past, fans of one queen have sent incredibly hurtful and malicious comments to the others. It’s especially harder because for many queens, Drag Race is the first time they’ve had a major spotlight on their career.
As we come down from the high of another great Drag Race season, it’s important to remember that no matter how invested we get in our favs, Drag Race is just another show on TV. It is but a small glimpse into the vast and diverse world of drag. For now, I’m thankful to all the queens this season for showing us a new, different side of drag. I can’t wait until Season 2!