04th Jan2021

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race 13×01’ Review

by Rhys Payne

Every year at Christmas/New Years period people constantly complains that there is “nothing good on TV” which is only exaggerated this year with all the limitations on filming with the new Covid guidelines. However, I am overjoyed that there have been numerous productions that have still be able to film and create more seasons of the shows people love. This is exactly what Ru Paul has done with her latest season of Drag Race that has just been released on Netflix! Now, some changes have had to be able for this new season commence mainly the fact that the judges’ panel is now socially distanced with full-length plastic partitions separating each judge. Now, if you have not already seen the “Meet the Queens” video that was posted on the official Drag Race YouTube channel (which can be found here) or if you would prefer to keep the queens a surprise for when you watch the new season, then I recommend you skip the next paragraph as there are spoilers contained!

The line up for this season had thirteen new queens sashay into the werk room and some very interesting connections add to the excitement. The official first queen to enter the race was Kandy Muse who is a former member of the House of Aja (for those who don’t know Aja was an iconic queen that appeared on season nine and All-Stars season three of Drag Race). It’s clear from the offset that Kandy is the loud-mouthed and brash queen that will be the one to stir up the most drama, which will make this incredible TV to watch. Also in the House of Aja was Dahlia Sin, who famously went home first in the last season of Drag Race, and so there is an excitement to see if Kandy will bypass her former sister Aja who did very well on her season or will match her other sister Dahlia who was known for going home in the first episode. The queen they called Rose was billed as a legend of New York City drag, which is a place known for the high calibre and standard of drag. Additionally, she is a close sister of Jan who was a queen who appeared in the last season. Together they and a lesser-known queen called Lagoona Bloo formed a group known as Stephanie’s Child who has appeared on The Voice and America’s Got Talent. Talking about last season, Kamora Hall on this season is the drag sister of last seasons overall winner Jaida Essence Hall. Kamora started this season by asking the queens who they were wearing and made it very clear that she was wearing an official Bob Mackie dress which, while was impressive, did come across as very show-off-ish.

Now probably the most drama-filled of this seasons drag relations is the first-ever drag mother and daughter competing on the same season! Tamisha Iman is the drag mother of LaLa Ri and started the season with a very emotional story about dealing with cancer and chemotherapy that took severe effects on her. We were told that Tamisha was supposed to be on the previous season but had to drop out due to treatment she was going through. It is fantastic that she has been given another opportunity to take part in this race and I hope she shows everyone why she has been invited twice to be on the show. I think it is very clear that at some point in this season we will see lip-sync between Tamisha and LaLa, which should crammed full of drama, although a bit predictable. Another queen that extremely interesting is Gotmik who is (I believe) the first every transgender woman, who was born a woman and became a man. This is complicated as she transitioned from female to male but dresses up as a woman for a living so it will be interesting to see how this will affect the queen. She is also a professional make-up queen and from her looks, it appears she will be the one to turn incredible looks throughout the season. Many queens stood out to me like Utica for example, who is an incredibly quirky and over-the-top queen that seems very unpredictable and I have no idea what to expect from her. Tina Burner was billed as another legend from the New York City drag scene, who is a campy comedy queen who I think will bring the theatrical and flamboyant side to drag that the rest of the fashion queens won’t. My favourite, however, was Elliott who was the receipt of a lot of shade for her entrance outfit (which I personally really enjoyed) but is also a trained dancer. I know ballet has been a trope used by many queens (most noticeably Brooklyn Hytes) but I am excited to see how Elliott blends this classic form with the modern lip syncs.

The first gag of this season is the fact that there will be six lip-syncs in this episode which would suggest that six queens will stay and six will go home … but more on that later. In the first instance, it was incredibly shocking that the iconic “Shemail” announcement played after the first two queens, Kandy and Joey Jay, had entered the werk room. This was a super exciting way to shock the audience and was very exciting. I think this is a fantastic way to start a season as being able to lipsync is a skill that all queens seem to have; so to establish who are the top performers on this regard straight off the bat was fantastic. The lip-sync are usually mine – as well as many other peoples – favourite parts of the episode so to have six in the opening episode was extremely exciting. However, after the first three pairs were informed of their lip-syncs the transitions from werk room to the main stage and lip-syncs did become tedious and way too repetitive. I didn’t think we needed the announcement every single time and they could have skipped to the “meet the queens” style chat that happened between the queens and the judges on the main stage. That conversations followed by performance was a fantastic way to learn about the queens and what they are like but the constant switching was at times difficult to watch. I enjoyed the choice of songs as it was the type of music they play in gay bars across the country; for example Lady Marmalade, Ex’s and Ohs and Call Me Maybe, which were all songs people know and love! After all the songs had been performed all the ‘eliminated’ were sent to a backstage area where they were informed that they have to vote to send home one of the losing queens. The episode finished with the queens talking about how they were going to decide who to send home and created a fabulous cliffhanger that created a wonderful sense of excitement for the next episode!

Overall, this was an exciting opening episode that showcased the queens in probably the most effective way imaginable. There are some fantastic queens with interesting stories which could lead to some very exciting scenes and drama-filled moments. I am very excited for the next to see which queens sashays away!

**** 4/5

The latest season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race is available to watch on Netflix now.


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