RuPaul's Drag Race Coming to the UK, But Not Everyone Is Pleased
'RuPaul's Drag Race' Coming to the UK, But Not Everyone Is Pleased
The announcement has sparked concern over what it will mean for the UK drag community.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is headed to the UK!
World of Wonder, RPDR’s production company, tweeted the news first, along with a video from RuPaul herself announcing the upcoming search for British queens. Then RuPaul confirmed, tweeting “UK version of #DragRace is airing on BBC Three next year.”
\u201cHey super queens, who\u2019s got what it takes to be part of our royal family? \ud83d\udc51 RuPaul's Drag Race UK is OFFICIALLY headed to @bbcthree next year. Which of the Queen's queens will be crowned Great Britain's next drag superstar? \u2728 @rupaul\u201d— World of Wonder (@World of Wonder) 1544002271
The eight-part series will feature ten local drag queens fighting to become the first "Queen of Great Britain." And yes, RuPaul and Michelle Visage will both still sit on the judges panel.
“It is a dream come true to extend our royal family to the United Kingdom with our partners at BBC Three," said RuPaul in a statement. "I am beyond excited to celebrate the massive charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent of the Queen’s queens. And before anyone asks, yes, we would be thrilled to have Meghan Markle join us, as we are already preparing a ‘Royal-Mother-To-Be’ runway challenge.”
While a number of fans, particularly in the US, are obviously excited for more RPDR content, some on social media are nervous about what this might mean for the culture of drag across the pond.
\u201cThe drag community in the UK has worked very hard to have diversity, inclusion and politicality, and to offer a space for kings, queens, trans and non-binary voices. I\u2019m fearful that the UK drag race is going to erase all this work, privilege cis queens, and divide our community.\u201d— Amrou Al-Kadhi \ud83e\udd84 (@Amrou Al-Kadhi \ud83e\udd84) 1544004404
\u201cDrag Race Thailand was amazing (something this article totally ignores but lol The Sun) and part of the reason is it was showing what Thai Drag was like to the world. My fear is Dragrace UK won\u2019t do that, instead it\u2019ll push the expectations of US drag onto U.K. drag.\u201d— Hamish Steele (@Hamish Steele) 1543995185
RuPaul’s Drag Race has done a ton for visibility and helping bring drag into the mainstream consciousness, but has also been criticized for its narrow version of what makes up “good” drag, and who can be a drag queen. These issues have not been lost on those concerned about the upcoming show.
\u201cI just have this image of someone doing Dot Cotton on Snatch Game and Ru not getting it. Tbh I see the whole thing massively effecting the U.K. queer performance scene as artists desperately squeeze themselves into Drag race\u2019s super narrow goal posts.\u201d— Hamish Steele (@Hamish Steele) 1543995185
\u201cDrag race uk will be so weird cause the uk is so tiny like we all know each other and like if they don\u2019t let trans/afab queens on the show they\u2019ll run out of people that actually want to do it in like a couple of seasons\u201d— Amber\u2716Cadaverous (@Amber\u2716Cadaverous) 1543975642
\u201cHonestly if Drag Race UK is filled with young hot Insta queens and there isn't a single ropey old broad from Blackpool with a red feathery wig and blue eye shadow up to her hairline, I shall sue.\u201d— Richard Butler (@Richard Butler) 1543996640
But others remain cautiously hopeful that this will be an opportunity for good.
\u201cRuPaul\u2019s #DragRace is coming to the UK in 2019. I hope they use it as an opportunity to showcase our queens, not for cheap drama. Our country has a rich drag history and so many amazing artists. Positive #LGBTQ representation in mainstream media can do so much good.\u201d— Tom Knight (@Tom Knight) 1543996139
The first outlet to report the news, The Sun (which one Twitter user referred to as “the most transphobic newspaper in the U.K.”), quoted a source as saying the show “will follow the exact same format as the American version” and “there’ll be a huge budget for costumes and production and bosses are hoping that a star is born.”
These comments probably don’t do much to assuage dissenters’ fears, though hopefully RuPaul’s own quote in the announcement — “I am beyond excited to celebrate the massive charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent of the Queen’s queens” — signifies that there will be some room for this UK version of Drag Race to take on a life that reflects the culture its coming from.
Let’s be real, we’ll certainly be watching to find out.