‘Rupaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race’ Was Secretly Better Than This Week’s Main Episode

Last week, I wrote a lil explainer on all things RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race. At the time, I mentioned I didn’t know many of the celebrities and didn’t have high hopes for it, bar from seeing some of my favourite RuGirls return to our Stan screens again..

But, after watching the first episode, which sees Trixie Mattel, Bob the Drag Queen and Monet X Change makeover Riverdale’s Jordan Connor, comedian Jermaine Fowler and Younger’s Nico Tortorella, I actually kinda fell in love with it.

In fact, dare I say, I enjoyed it more than this week’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 12 (which, btw, I need Rachel Bloom back as a guest judge and hope you’re now stanning a one Jaida Essence Hall). 

And why? Well, because it’s nice to watch something with a more wholesome edit than the OG show. 

It really is good to see the queens having fun

Fact: RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race shows the queens at their best. 

When Trixie, Bob and Monet first meet their future drag daughters, they watch them get into abysmally horrid quickdrag and compete in a drag-centric marathon, dragging their faux breasts across the workroom and sticking their hairy hands into a ball pit to find a good pair of heels. It’s all met with the veteran RuGirls’ cheeky commentary, shady nods to each other’s drag personas and alleged busted outfits, puns and iconic lines from the show.

And, it really does set the tone for the rest of the episode. 

Instead of judges dissecting every layer of the queens’ outfits, Michelle Visage, who’s notorious for being critical and nit-picky, praised them for their courage and how they were madeover. 

Instead of seeing someone sadly go home each week, we get to experience three different people’s journey of gender expression and gender fluidity. 

And, instead of arguments in the workroom that feel like bullying and cruel comments said to the camera alone, these drag queen mentors are throwing around playful shade and their celebrity drag children are gradually opening up in their talking heads.

Srsly, it’s the wholesome content I need right now

RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race is a bite-sized version of the main competition, stripped of the catty comments, the multilayered drama and the pressure created by locking 13 queens in a warehouse called “the workroom” for two months. 

Sure, sometimes it’s nice to see some drama on a reality TV program (I won’t lie, it’s why I watch Untucked), but it’s also nice to see a show that’s uplifting and inspiring. When Bob (or rather, Shannel) finishes making over Mimi Teapot’s (Fowler) face, he looks at himself in the mirror and admits he sees his late mum. Then, there’s a heartwarming conversation between Trixie and Connor about how getting into drag has helped him be more comfortable with his masculinity (and explore his femininity), ending the episode by saying, “everyone should get into drag at some point.”

Trixie, much like myself as tiny tears shed down my face, was speechless. We’ve had makeover challenges in RuPaul’s Drag Race before, but there’s something uniquely wholesome about the makeovers in RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race. Within it’s first episode, we’ve been gifted with conversations about gender expression from heterosexual men, non-binary representation and how drag has helped someone re-connect with their late mother. 

In the same week, RuPaul’s Drag Race season 12 guest judge Jeff Goldblum asked Jackie Cox a question about their faith and middle eastern heritage and how that ties into them being queer. Jackie, who was dressed in a gorgeous red, white and blue star-patterned hijab for the Star and Stripes Realness runway theme, made a poignant statement on the night about how the origins and DNA of American society is multicultural. So, in a rather senseless and awkward tone, Goldblum asking Jackie about their middle eastern heritage and how their family and culture sees their drag and gender expression felt a bit in poor taste.

In this sense, it’s nice to watch a show that, despite being very heavily produced, shows the fun and freedom drag can have. It’s hard to say whether the remaining three episodes will make me feel the same way, and if watching nine other people discover drag for the first time will be as different from Nico Tortorella, Jordan Connor and Jermain Fowler, but, during all this Covid-19 pandemic mess, I’m here for something unapologetically trashy yet wholesome.

Julian Rizzo-Smith is a writer and producer. He also claims to be a vine historian, avid connoisseur of low-fi beats, indie hip hop and Kermit memes. In a perfect world, he’d be married to Tyler the Creator, own an Arcanine and a Lapras, and don his own Sailor Scouts uniform. He tweets @GayWeebDisaster, which is also, coincidentally, how one might describe him.

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