Fans have high hopes for this season
By Veronnica MacKillop, Columnist
RuPaul’s Drag Race is back, with the third season of All Stars having premiered on January 25, and fans are clearly excited to see some of their favourite drag queens returning to the competition. This premiere was the most-watched episode of Drag Race to date, with 895,000 viewers tuning in on VH1, and that stat doesn’t even include those of us who watched it online later that night. The episode also boasted the highest ratings of the series.
Since moving to VH1, the show has had more viewership than ever, and it has won three Emmy Awards. According to Vice, Drag Race is now the number-one non-sports cable program among 18 to 49-year-olds. So why has this show gained so much popularity? Well, in 2016, the eighth season was put on Canadian Netflix, opening the show up to a much wider audience and gaining a new, more mainstream fanbase.
Apart from that, drag performance is been becoming more mainstream in general. It is accepted as an art form now more than ever, with artists both on and off Drag Race bringing more conceptual ideas into their drag. Queens on the show have increasingly been showcasing art, with competitors such as Nina Bo’Nina Brown and Kim Chi bringing looks to the runway that show how drag is about much more than simply presenting as an exaggeration of typically “female” gender signifiers.
The show is also a wonderful platform to talk about issues in the LGBTQ+ community. They have had gay veterans on the show discuss what it was like to have served during a time where they had to hide their sexuality. The queens have talked about coming out, challenges with their families, addiction, mental health, and loss. Season nine contained a powerful moment on the show where they talked about the devastating mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub. Also in season nine, Peppermint was the first transgender woman to make it to the final three. Sasha Velour, season nine’s winner, has used their platform to talk about LGBTQ+ issues. LGBTQ+ audiences are tuning into the show not only for entertainment, but also for these discussions, and to see queer people represented in such an interesting way. We are making progress with LGBTQ+ representation on TV, but it still isn’t quite there, and Drag Race is a perfect example of the kind of entertainment we need to see more of.
Walking into the Werk Room for All Stars 3 are queens from a variety of past seasons: Morgan McMichaels from season two, Shangela from two and three, BenDeLaCreme and Milk from season six, Trixie Mattel and Kennedy Davenport from season seven, Thorgy Thor and Chi Chi Devayne from season eight, Aja from season nine, and the mystery tenth queen, BeBe Zahara Benet from season one, the only past winner to ever compete on All Stars.
The episode began with a reading mini-challenge, won by Ben. Then the competitors brought their talents to the “All-Star Variety Show,” with Ben and Aja earning top two spots. Ben cinched the win with her hilarious adaptation of “Anaconda” in the “Lip-Sync for Your Legacy” challenge, and Morgan was sent home.
So far, it seems like the season is going to follow roughly the same format as All Stars 2, with the top two queens lip-syncing for the win and the winner choosing who goes home from the bottom two. We’ve already seen a bit of a change-up, with Ben sending Morgan home because she didn’t agree with her strategy of sending the biggest competition home. This could start a trend of queens sending each other home for reasons apart from the judges’ critiques.
This season of Drag Race should be very interesting to say the least, and fans can look forward to discussions about important LGBTQ+ issues, while watching one of the most thoroughly-entertaining shows on television.