Drag Race fans treated to two new seasons

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Drag Race fans treated to two new seasons

2021 kicks off with the second season of Rupaul’s Drag Race UK and season thirteen of Drag Race US. Spoilers ahead.

It is safe to say that Rupaul’s Drag Race has taken over the world. The US series first aired in 2009, and since then it has popped up in the UK, Canada, Holland and Thailand. There are also rumours that a new series in Australia is on its way. Spin offs include Drag Race All Stars, Untucked and Secret Celebrity.

Not only is it a treasured TV show for the makeup, challenges and lip syncs, it shows viewers some of the hardships the contestants face. They share with each other challenges in their relationships, family life and coming to terms with their identity.

Being a contestant on Drag Race provides a life-changing opportunity for the contestants to turn what they love into a career. They can raise their platform through social media, world tours, and in their own shows afterwards. A lot of these queens use their platform to highlight social and political issues such as Black Lives Matter and the importance of registering to vote.

Drag Race UK

Drag Race UK came to BBC iPlayer in 2019 and it quickly became a hit. Following the same format as the US version, the British queens went through their challenges and the infamous lip syncs. Only this time, Rupaul and Michelle Visage got to grips with different British accents and slang. The Vivienne was crowned as the first UK winner. We had the birth of The Frock Destroyers with their incredible song Break Up Bye Bye. Cheryl Hole crowned herself as the mediocre queen of Essex.

One of the most notable things about Drag Race is the way a queen’s hobby or side hustle turns into a full-time career after being on the show. For the season one queens, this included a group tour which was also filmed for iPlayer (God Shave The Queens).

Given the on-going challenges of the pandemic, things may be a little different for this season’s cast. There have already been difficulties with filming due to national lockdowns and routine COVID testing. The pandemic will also impact the way they work after the winner is revealed.

Season two currently airs a new episode every Thursday evening on iPlayer. We were recently treated to the surprise challenge, where the queens reveal a new outfit within their original one. It’s challenges like these which showcase British humour at its best. Ginny Lemon’s surprise had everyone cracking up.

There has already been a lot of uproar amongst viewers in the judges’ decisions to crown the tops and bottoms. So far the fan favourites seem to be Lawrence Chaney, Joe Black and Asttina Mandella. The power of social media means we can stay connected with queens even after they leave the show.

Is the new format of Drag Race US a toot or a boot?

Season thirteen of Drag Race US kicked off very differently to previous years. The first episode (shown on Netflix to UK viewers) brought in the queens in pairs, and within five minutes of meeting one another they were on stage lip syncing for their lives. Up until the latest episode, the queens were divided into two groups completing their challenges. Now they are all together again, and one queen has recently sashayed away.

The main message in the immediate divide was to show the queens that it doesn’t matter if they lose a challenge, they can still rise and become a star. Ru often uses returning queens as an example, such as Shangela and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo who were the first to leave in their seasons but quickly became international sensations.

Another thing that is joked about on the show is age. Tamisha Iman is one oldest contestants on Drag Race and the pockets of her life she has shared with us so far reveal so much talent, resilience and vibrancy. She has also been doing drag longer than some of the other queens have been alive, such as Gottmik who is 23. One thing that has always been celebrated on Drag Race is diversity. This comes in the forms of age, race, religion, sexuality and identity.

So far, it appears that Symone, Gottmik, Olivia Lux and Kandy Muse are the fan favourites for this season. We will wait to see if there are any more surprises in store.

Where can I watch?

Drag Race UK airs every Thursday at 7pm on iPlayer and Drag Race US airs every Saturday morning on Netflix (it airs in the US on Fridays).