Since its inception in 2009, RuPaul’s Drag Race has had 15 normal seasons, 8 All Star seasons, 5 UK seasons, seasons focussing on queens from Thailand, Canada, The Netherlands, Australia, Spain, Italy, France, The Philippines, Belgium, Sweden, Brazil, Mexico, and Germany. This onslaught of drag has led fans to criticise the show for becoming overproduced, with many also lamenting the perceived drop in quality of recent seasons.
All Stars 8, the most recent season in which queens from previous seasons return for a chance at Ru-demption, was announced only 5 days after the winner of season 15 was crowned, and fans complained that many of the queens weren’t ‘All Stars’, with many of them being queens who sashayed away early in their original seasons.
All Stars 2 was a season that came an entire 4 years after the original All Stars season aired, meaning that the anticipation and excitement of seeing fan-favourite queens had time to build up. Whilst the new schedule of an All Stars season every year does mean that lesser-known queens get their time in the spotlight again, it also means that fans are finding it difficult to root for queens they haven’t had time to get to know in the main seasons, and eventually the producers will run out of past queens to call back.
The more frequent seasons have also given fans bigger insight into the production of the show, with many complaining of the ‘edits’ that certain queens have received. These archetypal edits (including the ‘delusional’ edit, the ‘villain’ edit, and the ‘rivalry’ edit) have become all too noticeable for avid fans, and the producers have, in turn, been vilified by the fans for trying to invent drama that never existed.
The lack of drama has also frustrated fans, who claim that the interactions between the queens no longer have the ‘organic’ feel that they used to. This has led to fans feeling dissatisfied that there have been fewer iconic moments in recent seasons.
If you think about the best moments of Drag Race, most of them come from the earlier seasons – Shangela’s Sugar Daddy monologue, “Backrolls?!”, and Willam’s disqualification all came from the first 5 seasons. However, some queens have stated that a fear of being cancelled by fans is what made them hold back, because social media has become a more valuable resource to queens since the first few seasons aired.
Furthermore, the issue of editing, paired with accusations of queens being given strict contracts that mean they have to run all of their events past the producers for approval, as well as them having to appear at certain events after their time on the show, means that the producers and RuPaul himself are becoming rapidly less popular with the fans.
The big question now is “How do we fix this?”
The easiest solution is to go back to the previous schedule of regular seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race airing every year and All Stars seasons airing more sporadically, with at least a year of two being left between them so that anticipation can build up. However, in this consumerist age, fans could just as easily be disappointed by the lack of Drag Race content this could create.
All things considered, there is essentially a stand off between fans who want quality seasons and producers who want entertaining seasons at any cost – a situation where no one is really to blame.