5 Reasons Why Season 10 Feels So Lackluster
As a dedicated Drag Race fan, I feel like I'm making Sophie's Choice when ranking all the seasons of the show. Every single season is packed to the brim with talented hard-working entertainers who should be commended for their bravery to be their honest selves (well, except Laganja) on national television. But let's be real. Not all seasons are created equal. Sometimes it has to do with the combination of contestants, but many times the budget, challenges, runway themes and overall tone/scripted drama are what can make or break a season.
Many times, I would watch a season and feel like I was seeing history in the making, (like Season 4 when they had the most diverse cast,) sometimes I would be glued to my TV for the drama (like Season 9,) and sometimes I'd be sitting back with my arms folded saying "hmm..." after every episode (Seasons 7 and 8.) And I'm sorry to say that Season 10 is yet another season where I'm not quite as invested as I usually am. Don't get me wrong, I still watch it religiously, study Untucked and share memes with my friends. But I'm just not standing at the bar with my cocktail yelling at the screen like I have been before.
And I don't think it has anything to do with the queens. They're funny, they're charming, they're heartfelt, they're talented...so what's making this season so lackluster? I have my guesses...
1. The Show Makes Its Favorites Known
Back in the early years of Drag Race, the drag community - while strong and supportive - wasn't as well connected as they are today. Since the show began 10 years ago, the LGBT community has made great strides in this country, RuPaul's Drag Race has given the artform visibility like it's never had before and technology has made it so that we can peep into anyone's life at any time. Now Drag Race is an international brand with a community woven around it. While this has been great for the community and given these drag artists the opportunity to perform around the world and make a great living, it has made Drag Race nepotistic. (I know I know. Whoop dee doo. Not saying that it's not worth all these artists' exposure. Just giving the facts that this was an inevitable effect of the times.)
Now we have a multitude of contestants every year who are close friends or drag family members with past contestants. It almost feels like you have to have worked with former Drag Race girls to get on the show. Think about the first episode of this season where they had to work the runway in front of all those past queens. So many of them knew people personally or were best friends/drag family members with them. And it was a huge advantage to the challenge as the people who knew the most queens were cheered on the most. And especially if these queens have worked with Ru or Michelle in the past, they will have the advantage that they understand who the queens are as performers and can judge accordingly, compared to how the judges might tear apart a queen they've never heard of or don't understand the style and personality of.
It's very clear who the judges like. They get along with Miz Cracker, (who coincidentally is Bob's drag family member) always giving her the benefit of the doubt (not that I mind, because I love me some Miz C,) and they have made such a big deal over the presence of Mayhem Miller (a household drag name,) Aquaria (for the Miz. Cracker rivalry storyline) and Eureka O'Hara (the returning queen.) So you already know those queens will get precedence over the others automatically. And that makes for a snoozefest until all of the contestants the show doesn't favor, go home.
2. The lipsync winners are obvious
Adding to my last point about favoritism, now two weeks in a row, a queen we knew they wouldn't let get away too soon has lipsynced for her life, making it immediately obvious that the other girl was going home. Eureka vs. Kalorie? Psh don't tease me, VH1. I know you're going to drag out Eureka's redemption storyline for as long as you can. And Mayhem vs Yuhua? How could you-hua bore me like that? Like I said, at least once it gets down to the wire and the show is left with only its favorite contestants, it'll start to get exciting.
Funny enough, Miss Vanjie vs Kalorie has been the best lipsync so far this season. At least it wasn't a give-in who was going to stay. Speaking of which...
3. There's no.................Miss Vaaaanjie!
Miss...Vanjie...Miss...Vaanjie...Miss Vaaaaanjie...Miss...'stake sending her home first. Named by Miz Cracker as "The Gilbert Gottfried of Drag," Miss Vanessa Vanjie Mateo stole our hearts in a single episode with her sassy, positive and loud-mouth ways.
I remember watching episode 1 thinking "Oh so this will be our aside queen. She's the one we'll be quoting for years." Then when Kalorie sent her home, I turned to Steven and said "Are they serious? She's the whole show." I also remember feeling very sad for her when she cried during her exit. Many people think of this show as just a way to get famous quickly. But when she cried, I really felt like she had been trying to make her drag mother (and Season 3 finalist) Alexis Mateo proud. This is why I personally don't believe sewing challenges should be the first of every season. While I think they’re fun, they limit how much one can show what they’re capable of to the judges.
One Barbie doll/loofah dress and now we pay the price of a Vanjie-less season. That is, unless they decide to bring her back! I think Miss Vanjie would have brought a lot of excitement, T, and positivity to the season. Sort of the way that Cynthia Lee Fontaine brought good feelings to both of her seasons. While Miz Cracker compared Vanjie to Gilbert Gottfried, I actually compared her to Junior LaBeija (from the House of LaBeija) in my mind. They have the same ability to command a room, provide encouragement and liven up any situation. Hopefully we haven't seen the last of her. But in case we have, Lord I pray that we turn the energy levels up a few notches this season.
4. Season 9 Was Just So Juicy
After the strange tone of Season 7 and the Bob the Drag Queen Festival of Friends in Season 8, I really wondered if this show was losing its steam. Then suddenly, Season 9 came along and had me hooked once again. Aja's rant to Valentina, Eureka's injury, the fantastic fashion on the runway, the hunger of competitors like Shea Coulee and Trinity to win it all, mask-gate, and the Valentina call-out were just some of the things that kept me gagging that season. I couldn't miss seeing an episode at the club, I talked about each episode non-stop with everyone around me and I studied Untucked like a hawk. Finally the show felt exciting again like seasons 4-6.
But I knew it'd be a tough act to follow. The girls in every season are talented, but that particular group had a great chemistry, a lot of humor and some really memorable and unique traits to them. Season 10 just doesn't have quite the same chemistry so far. However, I will of course keep an open mind and see if that changes throughout the rest of the season. After all, we're only on episode 4.
5. We're Still Traumatized from All Stars 3
I don't know about you, but All Stars 3 got me salty as hell, and it'll take all the Fiji water in the world to get me settled down. And only giving me 6 days and 22.5 hours to recover from all the tom foolery of Season 3 of All Stars was downright disrespectful. All Stars 3 was an emotional rollercoaster. Ben had the best stats even after dropping out, and Shangela who had the second to the best stats wasn't allowed to lipsync for the chance to win because of a last minute Drag Race legal loophole. And then all of a sudden Trixie is our reigning champion!
Now I've talked about why I believe Trixie won in a whole other article. Check it out if you haven't already seen it. But then just one week after that ridiculous ending, I suddenly had 14 new queens to meet, get used to and follow the storylines of. It was just sloppy scheduling. There are probably new rules to their release dates now that they're on VH1. But I think after spending a few months at the bars watching the drama between queens we've loved for many years, it's been hard to just keep up with Season 10 immediately afterward with brand new people we're still trying to figure out the personalities of.
I think if they had given us a few months break, we would have all been more excited for Season 10. However, in that case, the Season 10 queens would not have been able to make money at Drag Con based on timing. Business is business after all.
What do you think? Are you enjoying Season 10 just as much as any other season? Do you think there are other reasons why people feel this season is lacking in excitement? Let me know. To follow my future Drag Race articles, please give me a like on Facebook. Until we meet again.