How RuPaul’s Drag Race is dragging me through fifth week

As the darkness approaches earlier each evening and the essay crises (or problem sheet calamities – not that I know about those, instead hiding in the depths of the library to study literature) grow more frequent, there’s a glimmer of light in the shape of BBC iPlayer at 8pm every Thursday. You can find me, on a quiet night in, refreshing from 7:50 or so, waiting for it to pop up: RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.

It’s almost enough to make you forget a deadline

Baga Chipz (saucy, sassy and bubbling over with confidence), Crystal (a self-described “freak show” who can do aerial circus and put cigarettes out on her tongue, cracking a whip and whipping out the angle-grinder during the runways for maximum fear-factor), Scaredy Kat (a purr-manently shocked ball of energy, prissy in pink) and many other queens started competing for the crown on 3 rd October – of Mean Girls fame. Since then, we’ve had a Queen Elizabeth II themed runway; one for the patriots, as Sum Ting Wong glides across the runway dressed as a postage stamp with “lick me” haphazardly
stuck across the back.

A show of car-boot sale couture followed. Most recently, a girl group challenge ended up with the Frock Destroyers and Filth Harmony facing off, singing their first and last single, playing upon the girl group tendency to split and seek the spotlight individually.

There’s nothing better than wrapping yourself up in the glitz and the glamour… Especially when you’ve got an essay to avoid.

There’s something fantastic about the spirit of it all. Snapping out of a day of work to watch 64 minutes of neatly packed reality TV in which something is achieved – even if that is the unfortunate elimination of a drag queen. Seeing the incredible talent of a couture gown being made from velvet curtains and beachballs is intensely inspiring.

Snapping out of a day of work to watch 64 minutes of neatly packed reality TV in which something is achieved.

The camaraderie between the competitors is heart-renderingly wholesome; Divina (opulent and bold with a brilliant laugh) and Baga clash over impersonations, both wishing to be Margaret Thatcher for a challenge. Divina yields and then gifts Baga her intended outfit, which Baga then goes on to win as a cackling, vaguely demonic Maggie. It’s almost sickening. In those instants, there’s so much comfort and joy and fun. It’s almost enough to make you forget a deadline.

However, it’s not all celebration and incredible fashion. There are also serious, grim moments. Blu Hydrangea (who chose to dress as an eye one week,  illustrating veins through red lace) discusses marriage equality in Northern Ireland – vowing not to get married until legislation is passed. Vinegar Strokes (smutty, I know) describes her scar from heart surgery. Divina, after overcoming her confusion at Blu’s ignorance, explains the impact of Section 28 upon young people, especially due to the AIDS crisis. There’s also education here – an indication of how much progress has been made.

The show’s exclusion of those who do not fulfil the image of the ‘typical’ drag queen – a gay cisgender man – is far less wholesome and educational but some improvement is being made. Scaredy Kat shocked the other queens by revealing a girlfriend… who also did drag. It’s not enough but it’s certainly a start. With RuPaul’s Drag Race UK recently renewed for next year, we can only hope that more diversity will be included in future seasons.

There’s a glimmer of light in the shape of BBC iPlayer at 8pm every Thursday

At the moment, though, there’s nothing better than wrapping yourself up in the glitz and the glamour of beauty and illusion, fun and friendship. Especially when you’ve got an essay to avoid.

Image Credit: BBC3