Three years ago marked a crucial point of my transition into womanhood, taking me out of what I now refer to as the dark ages. I am of course referring to the rite of female passage that is watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. I kid you not; a show that is essentially America’s Next Top Model with testicle contortion has shown me all I need to know about being a woman. This is why on January 24, which marked the return of RuPaul’s Drag Race in its third season, American women were finally able to breathe a collective sigh of relief.
But in all seriousness, I found RuPaul’s Drag Race to be one of few reality television shows that are palatable. Even putting aside that from its inception, RuPaul has used this show as a gigantic plug for his series of books and music albums, the show has found a happy medium between activism and entertainment. As a competition based on the art of imitation, RuPaul’s Drag Race not only satirizes the notion of the femininity, but also reality entertainment as a whole. As is popular in unscripted shows, contestants bicker and dramatize seemingly minute details. However, the sense of calculation that underlies these actions is what is most striking.
Contestants this season go even more over-the-top than ever, their larger-than-life female personas providing campy humor both on and off the stage. RuPaul himself a theatrical blend of Tyra Banks, Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum and more has pushed the boundaries of what many would consider is acceptable. Shake Weights, trampolines, and cat fights are just the tip of the iceberg. While past seasons have touched on serious issues facing the gay community like HIV and discrimination, season three addresses topics from a more tongue-in-cheek angle.
This early into the season, it’s hard for me to tell if this new angle will work in the show’s favor. Part of me shamefully relishes every Tuesday morning when I can go on LogoTV’s website and watch the latest episode online. Another part of me can’t get over the guilt of watching RuPaul put these drag queens into increasingly vulgar situations as the weeks go on. Either way, I can’t help but watch as the season moves forward, and I suggest you join me.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is shows on LogoTV every Monday at 10pm.