On Drag Race fatigue

A bunch of drag performers from various seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race that are basically unidentifiable because there’s just been so damn many. Carlos César C. Jr via Wikimedia

It’s just so much racing…

RuPaul’s Drag Race is an important piece of pop culture, especially in recent years. It’s been instrumental in bringing queer people and queer culture to the limelight. Drag Race is often seen as the Superbowl of 2SLGBTQIA+ people; people go to bars to watch episodes as they premiere.

The show has won several Emmys as well as other prestigious media awards and is generally a big deal. It has shaped drag as an art form in a major way. Those who go on Drag Race and succeed set trends for other drag artists. Social media following can skyrocket for drag artists after their time on the show.

But there’s a lot of Drag Race. Almost too much Drag Race. The main series, which focuses on American drag artists, is currently in its 14th season. The spin-off for that, RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars has seven seasons currently. All-Stars features contestants from the main show who didn’t win and who compete again for the All-Stars crown. Beyond that, each episode of Drag Race and of All-Stars has companion episodes for four different series.

Fashion Photo RuView is a web series that is based on rating the outfits worn during the runway challenge. Untucked, which is the most prominent companion show, documents the contestants backstage while the judges discuss the main challenge and the runway. The Pit Stop is a general after show, featuring various hosts by season who discuss the main episode. Whatcha Packin’ features whoever was last eliminated as they discuss their time on the show and the outfits they had, but never wore. Whatcha Packin’ and Fashion Photo RuView are only around 10-15 minutes each, the Pit Stop is currently around 30 minutes, and episodes of Untucked are 30-45 minutes each. But wait! There’s more Drag Race.

The international versions of the franchise have really taken off. Drag Race Thailand premiered in 2018 and is still airing. Drag Race UK first premiered in 2019, and recently finished its third season. Canada’s Drag Race premiered in 2020 and completed its second season in December of 2021. Drag Race Holland first premiered in 2020. In 2021, RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, Drag Race España, and Drag Race Italia premiered. In 2022, Drag Race Philippines and Drag Race France are set to premiere.

It’s a lot of Drag Race, to say the least. As of writing this article, RuPaul’s Drag Race season 14 is premiering at the same time as RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK Versus the World, which features previous contestants from several different Drag Race series.

All of this has led to something called Drag Race fatigue. Viewers are getting tired and need a break from Drag Race. Whereas most other shows have a several month period in between seasons, as soon as one season of Drag Race ends, another one begins somewhere else in the world. It’s an incredibly rapid pace and the contestants on the previous season barely have any time to enjoy the aftermath of their run before a new batch is on your screens. Drag Race has started to feel more like homework than enjoying an important piece of queer culture.

Michelle Visage, one of the main judges on RuPaul’s Drag Race, recently spoke to UK website Digital Spy, where she responded to the comments about Drag Race fatigue. Visage focused more on the importance of queer-produced television and how Drag Race has been an important piece in getting more queer people on TV. She said, “If you don’t have time to watch them all, then record them. Watch them on WOW Presents Plus.[1] It appears as if Visage wants people to ignore their fatigue and instead be “grateful” that we have Drag Race at all.

While Drag Race has been instrumental in bringing queer culture to the forefront of news and teaching people about the queer community, it’s exhausting to try and keep up with so many different iterations. Fans shouldn’t be expected to watch everything Drag Race or risk seeming out of touch.

[1] https://www.digitalspy.com/tv/reality-tv/a38704387/drag-race-michelle-visage-fatigue-complaints/#


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