Yesterday, RuPaul’s new talk show RuPaul premiered with guests including James Corden and HGTV’s Property Brothers, Drew and Johnathan Scott. In his opening monologue, RuPaul explains that FOX is doing three weeks of test shows to see if RuPaul is viable. Based on audience demand and reception, they’ll determine whether the show will “stick around.” That’s the big question. Will it?
It’s hard not to compare RuPaul to RuPaul’s Drag Race, because even though RuPaul launched his career as a music artist and talk show host, Drag Race is what propelled him to the next level and is the foundation for his current popularity. Drag Race has become mainstream, even beating out Game of Thrones as the most-talked-about TV show on Reddit back in December. The Season 8 train wreck foreshadowing was right there, and we ignored it!
RuPaul’s talk show is a lot like a stripped down version of his Werk Room chats. He’s out of drag and the show is focused on guest interviews, preferring not to lean on games, activities, or a revolving door of guests. He even says this in an interview with THR:
“I didn’t want to have a hype person. Michelle and Ross come out and they talk to the audience but I didn’t want to have this person, this fake circus like atmosphere. I know I’m enough.”
“I know I’m enough.” We all need some of that confidence in our lives.
RuPaul is a great interviewer. He doesn’t ask run of the mill questions, choosing instead to focus on things like fashion, inspirations, and points of view. Plus, he has this encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture (@Lainey) which means he can share personal stories, anecdotes, or additional information to enhance a conversation. I love that he’s able to show us vulnerability and personality (which is what he asks of the queens on his show) by sharing details about his life. Did you know RuPaul was in a punk band?
The only extra thing he does is walks down the runway with guests which is a GENIUS idea. Why don’t more shows have runways built into their set? This is why RuPaul is special. Back in April, I wrote about the Second Reign of RuPaul. Now that he’s conquered the primetime slot, he has his sights set on daytime.
The show is good. Really good. He even managed to get Beyonce’s dancers and Oprah’s producer! That’s some Big Dick Energy. The Oprah Show producer, Jill Van Lokeren, had this to say about RuPaul:
"I've done the best talk show with the best talent, the best ratings — tippy top of the mountain. So for me, personally, my dream was not to do another talk show until I met RuPaul because honestly, I can't say it loud enough: he has what it takes."
Even James Corden gushed about RuPaul during his interview. By the end of the episode, I was gushing about RuPaul.
Unfortunately, as we know, good shows don’t always do well (RIP Happy Endings), and RupPaul’s has some fatal flaws. For one, naming various projects after yourself makes it harder to find your work. A google search of “RuPaul” brings up either RuPaul himself or Drag Race. Search for “RuPaul Talk Show” and you’ll get The RuPaul Show from 1996.
I also haven’t seen much engagement on social media, especially with the show’s official Twitter. To date, the show has just over 7000 followers. Drag Race has almost a million. One reason might be the method of delivery. Look at this airing schedule:
New York | FOX 5 @ 7PM / My 9 @ 5PM
Los Angeles | FOX 11 @ 6PM / My 13 @ 8PM
San Francisco | KTVU FOX 2 @ 2PM / KTVU Plus @ 3PM
Houston | FOX 26 @ 3PM
Phoenix | FOX 10 @ 2PM
Minneapolis | FOX 9+ @ 8PM
Charlotte | FOX 46 @ 10AM
When FOX bounces around airtimes and slots, it usually doesn’t bode well for shows. Clearly, this three week trial demonstrates the amount of faith they have in RuPaul’s success. But I’m hopeful. Full episodes are now available on YouTube, which seems like it might have been an afterthought. A good afterthought for sure, one that should hopefully lead to more engagement with tomorrow’s episode with Paula Abdul and Adam Rippon.
I want RuPaul to have a chance. It’s a good show that challenges some of the regular formats seen on Daytime TV. But, unless the show can attract a bigger fanbase, I’m not sure it’s going to last very long. Check out yesterday’s episode and tell me what you think!