Series: Advent Calendar 2016: Holiday TV Episodes
RuPaul's Drag Race Season 3, Episode 2
"The Queen who Mopped Xmas"
Originally broadcast January 24, 2011
Just in case somebody was expecting me to start out with some episode of Frasier or The Wonder Years, I figured I would kick the Advent off with possibly the most radical selection from my list. The thing is, though, that this shouldn't be radical at all. You should all be watching this show.
What is the show?
World famous drag queen RuPaul hosts this competition reality show in which a group of queens from around the world compete to be America's Next Drag Superstar. If you have to be reductionist, it's kind of a mix of America's Next Top Model and Project Runway. I am not normally a fan of reality TV, but RPDR is one of my favorite things. In a world where we treat minorities like spectacles, here's a show where immigrants, transgendered people, and felons are just regular contestants. This is a world where "normal" doesn't exist - and it's fabulous. Come for the wild, crazy, incredible performances, and stay for the truly heartwarming compassion and community that this show welcomes us into with open arms.
If you're put off by the whole gender pronoun thing or some other silly preconceived notions about cross-dressers, there's no better opportunity to learn how to get over yourself and just sit back and enjoy something that is outside your usual comfort zone for once. It's important to remember that the holidays aren't just for straight, white, "normal" people, especially since the rest of this list mostly consists of straight, white, "normal" people - except for the ones who are yellow, that is.
What is the episode?
Technically this is the second episode of the third season of RuPaul's Drag Race, but the first episode is more of a preview of the season and its contestants, so this is really the first. That means it's a great place to start watching the show, and it just happens to be Christmas themed. It originally aired on January 24, 2011. They missed the holiday by a month, but who cares?
We are introduced to the season's competitors, and the third season of the show had some really great ones. It probably wasn't the best season of the show, but it definitely wasn't the worst, and it features some of the most noteworthy queens to ever walk that runway. We meet the super shady Delta Work and Venus D-Lite. We meet the gorgeous Manila Luzon. There's the train wreck that is Mimi Imfurst, and the stunning Carmen Carerra. Alexis Mateo and Stacy Layne Matthews are incredibly endearing, and Yara Sofia is just breathtaking and out of this world (seriously, if you aren't going to watch the show, at least look her up). Raja is in a league of her own, and of course there's also Shangela. Finally you have the usual collection of "others" who either don't make it very far or don't impress me enough for me to really remember them (my apologies to any India Ferrah fans out there).
As is the regular format of the show, we get some critiques from the show's usual judges (RuPaul and the wonderful Michelle Visage, as well as the notably less wonderful Santino Rice), and two special guest judges (spoiler: one of them is Vanessa Williams!). At the end, the two worst queens of the night have to lip-sync for their lives, and RuPaul picks one to send home. It's a fun 45 minutes, and it will most likely leave you wanting to continue straight on to the next episode.
Where can you watch it?
See it on Logo's website, since for some reason Hulu and Amazon starts at season 4.
What do you need to know?
It's the first episode of the season, so you'll catch on to the show's format. However, I feel like I should mention Shangela, because she is presented (literally) in the episode as kind of a big deal. She was in the second season and eliminated in the very first episode, but she's just enough of a wacky Reality Show Character that the producers wanted to give her a second chance. Here she is in all of her catch phrasing, hyper confident glory, poised right on that razor's edge between "edgy" and "obnoxious." For the most part she barely squeaks in on the good side of that line, in my opinion.
Look, I'm not your boss or anything, so I have no control over what you do. The choice is yours whether or not you actually watch any of my advent calendar selections. However, if you only watch one show that I mention in the next 25 days, please make it this one - especially if this is the one show you feel the most awkward about. It is incredibly important - not just because of the diversity and social justice issues, but just because it's a great show.
Plus you get to see Vanessa Williams, and how often do you get to say that? Actually, speaking of Vanessa Williams . . .