Sep 30, 2012

[TV] A Little Love for RuPaul's Drag U

I've never been too big a fan for reality TV - it gets tiring after a while and the need to edit things down significantly in order to introduce drama and other subplots leaves you with a lot of cookie-cutter plots rehashed season over season. And as a gay man, I don't have all that much patience to offer the shows "typically" popular among my fellow queers like America's Next Top Model or whatever.

But strangely enough, I have developed a bit of a soft spot for RuPaul's Drag U along with a decent respect for its parent show, RuPaul's Drag Race. And it's not exactly a totally brilliant show or one that deserves extensive rewards (or even critical thought), but they really mean well and the end results are pretty interesting, to say the least.

And with the third season of the show already complete, you have to admit that they're really making a little headway for themselves.

The basic premise of the show is simple enough - every episode focuses on three women in serious need of a make-over in terms of their physical appearance and perhaps to some extent their lives. Thus at Drag U, RuPaul and his talented professors (who are all past contestants from RuPaul's Drag Race) will try to help these girls through the miracle of drag to transform them stronger women by releasing their inner divas.

But more than just a makeover show, this is also a competition of sorts. Students are evaluated based on their Drag Point Average (DPA), which covers the aptitudes of Drag Transformation, Performance and Attitude Adjustment. As of the more recent seasons, draguating with top honors also means getting a cash prize and other goodies.

The show has a various of elements that are repeated across each episode that often border on being running gags or even tropes of its own show. I know that last bit doesn't make much sense, but hey it's my blog so let me run it as I see fit! Anyway, one of the biggere elements that helps kick off each episode is having each contestant go through the Dragulator. This complex device (which has also evolved across the seasons) determines a drag look and a drag name for each participant. The contestants, with the help of their drag professors, can then try to copy the recommended look or go in a different direction if they so choose. It's all very complicated queer science indeed.

Apart from the main competition, the show is littered with other distractions in the form of helpful tips, which does keep things interesting beyond just watching the transformation of our three brave students. Depending on what season you watch, you may run across segments like a special drag tip for all the viewers (like how to choose your makeup brush) or a word from RuPaul (initially random words that sounded funny like gherkin to queerspeak neologisms like dragnificent).

Of course for followers of Drag Race, this is yet another opportunity to see all your favorite drag queens dress up in their over-the-top outfits, give their particular brand of advice to their students and of course fight among themselves. It's thanks to Drag U that we will forever have the brilliant image of Manila Luzon dressed in a Cookie Monster inspired outfit.

We also get to see these straight women perform in true drag queen style with the help of ever-changing dance professors who guest on the show. Naturally the songs are typicall major gay anthems (depending on your generation) and it does provide a unique avenue for self-expression.

What also makes the show so appealing outside of the crazy antics and colorful costumes is the fact that the show does try to maintain a very positive angle to things. There's a rather sincere effort to help these women rediscover their sexuality and awaken them to the reality that they are in fact beautiful and have a lot to offer the world. Thus dressing up and trying to look better isn't something reserved for those who fit the model of stereotypical beauty - everyone has the right to look better and thus feel better about themselves.

Thus over the course of each episode, we get to see each contestant face some of their inner fears and personal challengs that have been holding them back in recent years. While I don't expect them to go in drag every single day after their appearance on the show, but I'd like to think that they do walk away with a bit more confidence than they had before and that should help them more in the long term.

So yes, your Geeky Guide is quite the Drag U followerer and probably a believer in the miracle of drag at this point. Don't expect me to try to appear in drag anytime soon - I'm not quite that brave just yet (but I'll admit it would be unfair and probably unrealistic to say that it will never happen) but you can count on me to support my drag friends and continuously support them for helping make the world a more fabulous place to live in.


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