By Colby Etherton
This month, I’ve taken a departure from writing about current affairs to writing about a show I love but, boy, has been quite the snail race this season.
RuPaul’s Drag Race continues to expand its popularity into the mainstream, becoming a multi-Emmy winning staple of reality television. There is typically some iteration of Drag Race airing at any given time: either a traditional U.S. season, All-Stars, or one of many international seasons that have been launched, including Drag Race U.K., Holland, Thailand, and Canada, just to name a few. This has caused Drag Race fatigue among the fandom, and truly, the best thing for the longevity of the show would be for it to go off-air for a while and make us truly miss it. Alas, Drag Race’s production company, World of Wonder, insists on trucking forward and expanding the drag race universe.
As the seasons have gone on, production naturally finds new ways to keep the formula fresh, throwing in twists or gimmicks to keep the queens and the audience on their toes. World of Wonder as of late has taken a liking to the “double premiere,” where half of the cast is introduced in episode one, and the remaining half in episode two. In season 13, no one was eliminated until episode 4, and while this season saw its first elimination in episode 3, we’ve seen an abundance of non-elimination episodes that make the season feel like it’s dragging through molasses. Season 13 got flack for its slow pace, but season 14 is practically a parody of the never-ending season. There have been a staggering five non-elimination episodes, and we’re on episode twelve with seven queens still remaining. For a point of reference, some earlier seasons had wrapped up by that point. As it stands, season 14 is on track to end with fifteen or sixteen episodes.
There is a benefit to the recent trend of newer seasons taking their time to have an elimination. We get to know the collective cast of queens much better, and as a whole, the cast feels more fleshed out as they get to stay on our screens longer. But this season in particular being jammed with a non-elimination challenge, a double shantay, and a cliffhanger (after most of the queens botched the famous Snatch Game challenge) the past three weeks has really taken the wind out of its sails.
It’s understandable when recognizing that Drag Race has become wildly popular, and more episodes ordered by VH1 essentially means more money. Ever since the move to VH1, Drag Race has ballooned to be bigger, better, and longer.
RuPaul’s Drag Race continues to deliver much to celebrate; it’s a show that is unabashedly queer, pays homage to drag as an art form, and gives a platform and exposure to over a dozen LGBT entertainers every season. Through much of the pandemic, the continued presence of Drag Race gave fans something to look forward to in a time that was lonely for many. But ultimately, it would benefit the show to pick up the pace and scale back a few episodes.
Oh, and the Golden Chocolate Bar twist could still very well introduce another non-elimination week.