Ahhh, Drag Race Down Under. You held the weight of the heavy expectations of two nations. But did you live up to these expectations?
Judging by the online response, it would seem unfortunately not.
But what actually went wrong, other than some ahem casting issues (we’ll get to that later)? And was there anything actually redeeming for the season?
Following Saturday’s finale, I asked my network of Drag Race watchers (do I go as far to say fans anymore) what their pros and cons of the show were:
Pro: Let’s start off with a pro. The winner. We all held a collective breath and thought “are they really going to give the crown to one of them (i.e one of the three undeserving queens in the four-person finale)? Thank f$%k they didn’t, and they crowned, the very worthy Kita Mean. What feels even more rewarding about this win is that it was probably never supposed to happen. The producers clearly had their front runners in mind and leveraged them at every opportunity but evidentially it wasn’t meant to be; as queens such as Kita and Elektra revealed themselves as powerhouse performers and fierce competition.
Con: Racism / Ru’s apology acceptance. Following the emergence of some incriminating images online of contestant Scarlet Adams in black face, mocking Indigenous Australians, Drag Race Down Under was shot into mainstream media (not the ideal coverage Stan was expecting). The articles were unavoidable. Adding fuel to the fire, an old article surfaced of Karen from Finance showing his collection of golliwog dolls and matching tattoos (which have now been removed). During the show queens started a work room conversation where Scarlet revealed her history of black face. Later, on the runway, Ru spoke to Scarlet about her racism but said he wouldn’t “cancel” Scarlet, essentially erasing all wrong in his and the show’s eyes. But was that Ru’s apology to accept? As he’s not an Indigenous Australian, resoundingly no, it was not his apology to accept.
Stan/World of Wonder
Pro: Aussie humour. Who doesn’t love being “in” on the joke! From Art’s iconic Kath look, Maxi’s Picnic and Hanging Rock and all of the subtle and not so subtle jokes here and there. Not to mention the shade and digs they made towards each-other, our culture was perfectly encapsulated.
Con: Ru and Michelle missing the humour. So, although we Aussies and New Zealanders appreciated the references and humour, Ru and Michelle just didn’t get it. Instead of trying to understand, they relied on ‘Australian-isms’ to relate or to make their own comedic moments. When they did try to understand the references and jokes, they were awkwardly and clumsily explained. It ended up feeling like a mockery of Australian and New Zealand culture and pop-culture. This leads onto a larger issue and question, should Ru and Michelle have been the judges? Would an all-Australian and New Zealand panel have been better? Thank god for Rhys Nicholson though (he’s a pro!).
Stan/World of Wonder
Pro: Untouched by the Veronicas. It was great to have the Australian national anthem performed on the show.
Con: Production Quality. From the first episode, it was apparent the production quality of Drag Race Down Under was just not up to par with the US, UK and other seasons. The audio was all over the place. The Werk Room and Main Stage were miniscule. We can assume the reason for the low-quality production was a result of the snap turn-around time between filming and the first episode airing, which was just under two-months. Whereas US seasons regularly see 10-month gaps between filming and the first episode airing.
Pro: Maxi’s bedazzled microphone moment. ICONIC.
Stan/World of Wonder
Con: The Casting. Out of two diverse nations, producers could only find two queens of colour? Really? Again, this feels like another consequence of a rushed production. If casting operated in the same way it does in the US with open applications, would we have seen a more diverse set of queens on our screen? Perhaps, instead of being guided by social media for casting choices, producers should get out and see some drag!
The result of some poor production choices has led to audiences, around the globe, dubbing this “the worst season of drag race ever”. Yikes.
It’s sad that the downfalls, predominately caused by the production of Drag Race Down Under have overshadowed some very deserving queens. The queens who competed weren’t untalented but were, as one of my friends said, “shoved into boxes of a pre determined format.”
Could these downfalls compromise the chance of a season two? Well, we can only hope that if we do get a season two, the production will “step their pussy up” and let our queens shine the way we know they can.