Thursday, May 24, 2012

RuPaul's Drag Race Season 4

A few months ago, I watched all of seasons two and three of RuPaul's Drag Race in about two days on Netflix. I'm still trying to figure out why I can't watch Season One on Netflix or Logo. People say they're there, but they're not there when I look.

But that's beside the point. I recently sat down to watch all of season 4 over the course of a couple days. I learned a few things doing it this way: first, that Logo's web player is terrible. It is one of the most wretched I have ever come across. It frequently glitched out, it would play commercials on repeat for ten minutes sometimes because it got stuck in a loop, and if I muted things half the time they wouldn't unmute. Which became a big problem because I was muting those horrible anti-smoking ads they played EVERY SINGLE BREAK. I really wish there was a button for "I'm not a smoker and never have been, stop trying to scare me straight."

Anyway. All of that is still beside the point. The thing I really picked up from watching the show so quickly though was that more than 2/3 of the people on it make absolutely no impression on me. When I first started reviewing Project Runway episodes, I noted that in the first two or three episodes of the season I have no idea who anybody is, and I rarely remember the people who were eliminated first. I always have to look up their names a million times to write a recap.

Drag Race has that, but it persists through at least half of the season. When Ru said that the judges could bring back one Queen that had already been eliminated, they went through the list and I couldn't for the life of me remember more than two or three of them. Those I could remember, it wasn't very fondly. Which just makes me wonder about who is making the casting decisions for the show.

Listen, I'm the first to admit I don't really know that much about the drag scene. Being a cisgender hetero woman, I enjoy watching drag shows but it's not a culture I'm really ever going to be IN. But it baffles me sometimes who gets chosen to go on the show, especially when they make it to the final five and I have no clue what anybody sees in them because their personality flops like a dead fish. Maybe it's different in person, that's definitely a thing. One major lesson I learned when I was casting one of my short films was that an audition can feel one way in person and it's ENTIRELY different when you watch it on camera. If you're in the room, you're not really seeing what the camera sees unless you're watching on a monitor.

I was pretty happy with this season's winner, but as usual I loved a lot of the runners up more than the winner. I won't spoil it for people by talking about details, but I will point out again that this particular crop wasn't really resonating with me. When Pandora Boxx was eliminated in season two, I was mad. I had several favorites that season, and season three was just as strong (though Pandora Boxx is still my favorite of all of them). But I can only think of one elimination this season that made me grumpy, and even I could see it was fair.

I think the show itself is darn near perfect. There is no better host than RuPaul, who somehow manages to capture that Tim Gunn mentor-quality AND the no-nonsense judge mentality. The mini-challenges are fun, and the winners usually get something that is useful bot not over the top advantage. The design of the set, the wardrobe for the regulars, Snatch Game, everything is honed to perfection. Even the fabulous product placement is perfect. So why they aren't populating this perfect reality competition world with the perfect contestants too, I don't know.

Of course this season also had the "controversy" with Willam. One thing that I hate in reality tv is being vague, it's nobody's friend. Not being vague and being clear cut is one of the reasons Top Chef is a success. When a contestant was sent home for breaking the rules in season two, they showed the offense, they explained it, and Tom said specifically what rule was broken. When Project Runway sent a contestant home, they explained in great detail what exactly they did wrong and why it was wrong.

But in the last year both America's Next Top Model (which I don't watch but read blogs that talk about it) and RuPaul's Drag Race have mysteriously eliminated a contestant without explanation. Sure, they had the reunion where Willam said he was eliminated because his boyfriend was visiting him at their hotel. But first of all, they should have just put that out there in the episode itself and second, did anybody else think that rang so completely false and made up? And then they've signed Willam to be a professor on Drag U, so I have no idea what's going on but by being coy about it everything seems sketchy.

I'll keep watching the show anyway, I love RuPaul and I love Santino now (which is hilarious if you go back to my original posts about him on ProjRun). If nothing else, maybe I can learn some makeup tips because goodness knows these guys make better women than me.