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  • Writer's pictureNoah Yard

How Drag Race UK is Revitalising the Franchise

This season of Drag Race US has frustrated me to no end. The constant twists and turns, the overproduction, it all overshadows what is actually a great collection of queens, who on a regular season of Drag Race, without the lip-sync twist, then the winners and losers twist, and the no elimination twist, would really shine. It’s starting to feel quite forced. Meanwhile, across the pond, the same show in the UK with the same basic format and rules feels like a totally fresh show. Drag Race UK is the thing that needed to happen to revitalise the franchise. But why is it so good if it’s basically the same show, just somewhere else?

Back to Basics

The first two seasons of Drag Race UK are for the most part without dramatic twists. A group of queens complete a challenge every week, someone wins the challenge, two lose and have to lip-sync to stay in the competition. It’s a formula that the US version has made famous for the past decade, but recently the US show’s focus has shifted. It’s much more about overproduced drama, whether it be between queens, or crazy twists, whereas the UK version hasn’t gotten to that stage yet.

It kind of feels like it’s on a parallel with the US versions first couple of seasons. Where the show was finding it’s footing and what it’s going to be. It lets the queens shine in a way that the American version hasn’t organically done in a good number of years.

Rupaul seems to care again.

At first, I thought that Rupaul going across the pond to host the new UK version himself was dumb, but it’s actually seemed to revitalise the host's interest in his own show again. The US judging panel seems mostly interested in churning out repetitive puns, as it cycles through season after season Rupaul just seemed bored. But in this new version Rupaul seems to be genuinely charmed and excited to be a part of the show again. He’s animated when talking to queens, laughs more and seems really to love the culture and the queens he’s working with again. His decision making when it comes to who wins challenges and who goes home still leaves a lot to be desired, but at least he’s trying.

God Love these Queens!

The major difference, the thing that gives the show it’s exciting flavour, is the actual queens that make up the cast of the show. In America we’ve seen many queens, all worthy of praise because drag is friggen hard okay? But trends begin to emerge, in makeup and performance style, based on where each queen is from and how old they are.

With Drag Race UK the slate has been wiped clean, and there is a whole new culture of drag to enjoy. Whether they're from Essex, Glasgow, London or Northern Ireland each new queen brings with them not just a new accent but a different style of drag altogether. It’s clearly a different playing field, with fewer egos but with very vibrant personalities. To hear a very polished, beautiful queen speak in a Scottish accent is a beautiful thing.

So if you haven’t already I really encourage you to watch the first and the newest second season of Drag Race UK. It’s a bucketload of fun, with tonnes of talent and particular humour you couldn’t find in the original series.

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