Enjoy RuPaul's Drag Race UK?

Critics: it could promote negative stereotypes of LGBT community

Independent

Opinion: RuPaul's Drag Race UK must stop embracing bitchy stereotypes

As excitement mounted in the hours before the premiere of Drag Race UK, contestant Divina De Campo tweeted a plea: "I guess what I'm trying to say is be kind to us all," she urged. "We are all only human. "

It was a simple request - some might say almost disarmingly simple. It was the type of comment that would've made viewers new to Drag Race wonder why there was any need to post the tweet at all. After all, isn't kindness the least we should all expect? Something we shouldn't have to publicly beg for?

The answer is, of course, yes.

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Sashay this way: is RuPaul's Drag Race UK the queen of reality shows?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

RuPaul is crossing the Atlantic to search for the next drag queen superstar in the UK.

The UK version of RuPaul's Drag Race aired on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer last week, and the series premiere earned its plaudits.

Some critics call RuPaul's Drag Race UK the "perfect example that you can teach an old dog new tricks".

However, others from the LGBT community warn that it could promote negative and outdated stereotypes.

The Claim

Digital Spy's Catherine Earp is a fan of the UK version, explaining why RuPaul's Drag Race UK "gets it so right".

She says that it is "the perfect example that you can teach an old dog new tricks". She notes that the show could have laid back and pump out the same, old formula - but that's not what Ru Paul's Drag Race UK wants to do.

Earp argues: "While it doesn't stray too far from the tried-and-tested formula that's been carefully crafted over a decade, Drag Race UK crucially doesn't forget where it's set.

"There are great dollops of British humour, a self-awareness that its sometimes crass and vulgar humour doesn't quite fit with the Beeb's usual standards - and even references to British soaps and sitcoms."

She adds: "And a big part of that is down to the queens themselves, who really shake up the show."

The Counterclaim

However, the Independent's Adam Bloodworth argues that the show is "wrong to embrace the outdated stereotype of queer bitchiness".

He says that the original US show has "often promoted negative stereotypes about the LGBT+ community" - and he believes the negative stereotypes have been carried over to the UK version.

While admitting that he enjoyed the season premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, Bloodworth argues that the sensation and drama had been "ramped up to an entirely unrealistic level".

He writes: "This sort of editing crassly and grossly sensationalises any small disagreements between contestants.

"By doing so, it perpetuates negative stereotypes about queer people to suggest that all they can do is argue and fight with one another."

Bloodworth asks the "big TV producer bosses" to be open-minded about making editorial decisions, telling them to "stop portraying us as an arguing, fraught and bitchy community".

He adds: "It’s honestly the last thing we need."

The Facts

RuPaul's Drag Race was first broadcast in the United States on Logo - and moved to VH1 from its ninth series.

Since 2009, there have been 11 series, featuring around 129 drag queens. They compete in a series of challenges, including designing costumes for a runway walk and "lip syncing for their lives".

The queens are judged and mentored by RuPaul, who is joined on the panel by Michelle Visage, Ross Mathews, and Carson Kressley. There have been a number of celebrity guest judges over the years, including Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, and Neil Patrick Harris, among others.

The top prize for the US version of Drag Race is currently $100,000, a year's supply of cosmetics, and a crown and scepter.

RuPaul's Drag Race UK aired on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer on Thursday. RuPaul is joined by Michelle Visage, Alan Carr, and Graham Norton on the judging panel. Celebrity judges will include Maisie Williams, Andrew Garfield, Twiggy, and Cheryl.

There will be no prize money for the UK show, but the winner will star in their own digital series in Hollywood, produced by the same team behind RuPaul's Drag Race UK.

The next episode of RuPaul's Drag Race UK will air on BBC Three this Thursday at 8pm.

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