Fresh off the heels of the excellent “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” season two, expectations were high for the next international edition of the series. It had previously been announced that RuPaul, along with Michelle Visage, would be filming the first ever Australasian iteration of the “Drag Race” franchise. Spoilers ahead.
Beginning on May 1 and wrapping up June 19, the eight week competition introduced viewers to an eclectic cast of Australian and New Zealand-born drag queens who would compete for the ultimate title of “Down Under’s First Drag Superstar” and a cash prize of 30,000 AUD.
Despite this seemingly exciting group of performers, the show began to fall flat from the premiere episode. Early season eliminations of the only two POC queens, Jojo Zaho and Coco Jumbo, resulted in an all-white cast from the fourth episode onwards, which was disappointing for a show that champions its celebration of diversity.
As the season continued, the eliminations and storylines did little to keep the viewer intrigued. A highly anticipated guest appearance from Australian Queen of Pop Kylie Minogue ended up being a mere video message, while other guest appearances from the likes of Taika Waititi and Olivia Newton-John were similarly disappointing.
Despite COVID-19 restrictions preventing in-person guest judges, new judge Rhys Nicholson proved to be one of the most exciting aspects of the season. His clever puns and stellar advice made up for a seeming lack of interest from RuPaul this season, who is juggling hosting gigs on three of the many international spinoffs.
Queens such as Kita Mean, Art Simone and the prematurely eliminated Etcetera Etcetera consistently showed off their unique fashion perspectives in their runway presentations, but many of the other queens’ looks did not live up to the high standard that is expected on “Drag Race.”
Part of what makes “RuPaul’s Drag Race” such an enjoyable watch for viewers are the dramatic situations that arise between the queens. Throughout “Down Under,” there was a lack of true drama. Confrontations between queens came off as overly-produced, while bizarre editing choices made it hard for the audience to truly get behind any of the queens.
From week to week, the show trudged through the challenges that are expected from a season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” with little new to offer. The challenge that called for the queens to separate into girl groups and perform a song was one of the lone highlights of the season, giving the queens an opportunity to work with each other and bond.
Although “Down Under” was a disappointing season, “Drag Race’s” many other international editions are worth checking out. The humor of the UK edition and the fashion of the Thailand edition rival some of the best seasons of “Drag Race.” Unfortunately for these “Down Under” queens, this season will not be remembered as one of the best.
Check out “Drag Race Down Under,” along with the other international editions of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” on WOW Presents Plus.