RuPaul's Drag Race Season 1 Episode 1: Drag on a Dime

RuPaul's Drag Race (Photo: Logo)

Logo has finally cleared up whatever rights issues were keeping the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race off of our screens! The show is back for a repeat run of the original search for America’s Next Drag Superstar.

Having watched the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race entirely online way back in 2009, it is shocking to see just how bad the filming quality was on this show. I mean, there’s low-rent, there’s living out of your car, and then there’s EXTREME CLOSEUP with vaseline-smeared lenses. Although this is a season-long trope/production style, it fits perfectly with the challenge that starts off the season: trash-to-treasure Drag on a Dime.

After a sexy car wash photo shoot with Mike Ruiz, the nine contestants are tasked with creating looks using materials from the dollar store. Nina Flowers wins the challenge with a red, tartan-ish ensemble and impeccable makeup. Ongina also receives praise for her loofa-infused flapper number. Rebecca Glasscock gets dinged by Bob Mackie for going too low in some places and too high in others.

However, it is Victoria “Pork Chop” Parker and Akashia who have to perform the first ever Lip Synch for Your Life to RuPaul’s “Supermodel.” Pork Chop’s look is a total mess and her lip synch was not on-point (in that we didn’t see her lip synch at all) and she was asked to sashay away.

Here are some thoughts on the episode:

  • Where is RuPaul’s Freakout? In the clip package at the beginning of the episode with highlights from the season, we see RuPaul scolding someone. “How dare you?! I flew you first class for this…COMPETITION!” I suspect this diatribe is delivered to Shannel toward the end of the season, but this clip is the only time we see the incident. Oddly, it was this clip that got me to check out the show when it was featured on The Soup. I have a hunch as to why it was edited out later, but we’ll save that conspiracy theory for later.
  • Shout out to Pageant. Logo’s current re-airing of the season is sort of a Pop-up Video version, with RuPaul and text bubbles letting us know factoids, twitter accounts, and ass alerts. One of the factoids I appreciated was mentioning that Victoria was featured in the documentary Pageant, which looks at the drag pageant scene. It’s no Paris is Burning, but you should still check it out if you can find it.
  • “It was $20,000? I thought it was $5,000.” It should come as no surprise that the, uh, compromised production values are about on par with the prize budget for this show. I mean, Logo is still struggling as a niche network, but this was back in the days when it was on the verge of folding. I recall seeing the premiere of the second season and remarking “whoa, they have a budget now!” It pays to be a hit.
  • “Put your sunglasses on now.” Thank you Pop-Up Ru. Seriously, the lighting on the mainstage is hilariously nauseating.
  • Too Regional. For the upcoming season of drag race, I would love to see one of the following as the makeover challenge. 1: Take a “regional queen” and transform her into a superstar, or 2: Makeover the first eliminated contestant from the previous five seasons. Although the main critique that Victoria was “too regional” has some truth to it, I find it fascinating that particular critique has not been mentioned on the show since. I think I also like the idea of there being a majors/minors separation in the drag world.

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv