By SERENITY PALMERIN
Season 15 of RuPaul’s Drag Race premiered on Jan. 6 in the form of a special two-part episode a year after the premiere of season 14. This season is set to air hour-long episodes on Music Television (MTV) every Friday at 8 pm. The newest cast features a record of 16 contestants competing for a cash prize of $200,000, the highest prize to date. Ariana Grande made a special appearance in the two-part premiere episode eight years after her first appearance in season seven. Viewers are excited to see what else the new season has to offer for its long-time fans.
The premise of RuPaul’s Drag Race is for drag queens from all over the world to compete in a series of challenges related to drag, most often including acting, singing, dancing, cat-walking, and talent shows. Each season takes about a month to record and a winner is crowned after a final challenge, typically a lip sync, with the prize being thousands of dollars.
The first mini-challenge was a photoshoot and a drag-themed car wash as a throwback to the first-ever mini challenge, the prize was $2,500. The main challenge in part two of the premiere was a talent show with a cash prize of $5,000. For the newest episode, the main challenge was to write and perform an infomercial with a cash prize of $5,000.
Unlike in other seasons, a queen was eliminated in the premiere episode, and another later on in episode three. Beginning episode four on Jan. 20, there will only be 14 queens left to compete in the competition.
RuPaul’s Drag Race has experienced much controversy and hardship since its first debut on Feb. 2, 2009. The most recent and shocking is RuPaul’s transphobic commentary during an interview with the Guardian. He stated that he would most likely not let trans women compete on the show because “Drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it.”
Since then he has apologized for his commentary and stated that he “understands and regrets the hurt I have caused. The trans community is the hero of our shared LGBTQ+ movement. You are my teachers”. Although five full seasons have aired since his transphobic comments, the show still faces criticism for it today.
In terms of general hardship during the pandemic, the show had to go through many changes to combat the lockdown. The finale of season 12 was almost completely derailed due to strict lockdown regulations. The reunion episode for the cast that season was also online which in many ways took away the purpose of a reunion.
The show itself in many ways is a beacon of hope for the LGBTQ+ community, especially in times of hardship, making the crew and cast under extra pressure to perform through the struggles of the pandemic. They succeeded in making season 13 a success even after the hardships of season 12. Season 13 was one of their longest seasons and it came with multiple spin-offs and international versions.
RuPaul’s Drag Race shocks its viewers every new season, from bringing world-renowned celebrities as guest judges to making a tremendous comeback. Through controversy, drama, and worldwide pandemics the show has continued to thrive. Although the show has been around for nearly 14 years the crew still manages to come up with new ideas to keep things interesting. This provides an easy way for new viewers to jump into the show as every season is unique. The show’s multiple Emmy awards prove that it is worth the watch.