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Broken Base / RuPaul's Drag Race

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  • Pageant queens vs comedy queens is a frequent one, both in-universe and out. Ru lampshades this in Season 6's musical theater challenge.
  • Seasoned queens vs Ingenue queens has become more prominent in recent seasons. As drag has become more mainstream, older queens accuse younger queens of being lazy as they are granted many opportunities to boost their career. In contrast, older queens have had to find drag mothers, work in the underground and perform in clubs for many years before finding success. Also, older queens will state that younger queens don't take drag seriously or that they are all focused on aesthetics instead of performance ability. Younger queens hit back saying that the older queens are being bitter and take drag, which is meant to be fun and exciting, too seriously. Furthermore they will state the older styles are becoming outdated and are not as fresh as what a younger queen can offer. This has divided the fanbase as well, with some thinking that seasoned queens should respect newer styles of drag whilst others believe that ingenue queens do not offer as much as the older ones.
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  • In-universe, the idea of drag queens having a romantic/sexual relationship with each other ("kai-kai"). Some do it all the time and it's often argued that the queens have to be in drag during sex to call it a kai-kai. Meanwhile, others have absolutely zero interest in having sex in drag or being involved with another queen. Sharon Needles' and Jiggly Caliente's argument in Season 4 is a great example of this divide, with Jiggly saying she thinks it's nasty, which offended Sharon because she was in a long-term relationship with Alaska at the time.
  • Who was the Designated Villain of Season 2? Rude and snarky Raven? Pretty but boring Tatianna? Tyra Sanchez? While Tyra may be considered The Scrappy of Season 2, it's hard to really claim her as the "villain" (especially since she won the season). In the end, it usually comes down to whichever queen fans have a personal issue with, and not the editing for once.
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  • Milk's out-there genderfuck drag has become a hot topic among the queens, judges, and fans. In two of her runway struts (Party Box Eleganza where she wore a billy goat beard, and the RuPaul Runway in which she dressed as boy Ru) the judges say outright Milk is either absolutely brilliant or completely off the mark in delivering too much masculinity and weirdness in her look.
  • The removal of the "You've got she-mail" soundbite in the wake of the "Female or Shemale?" controversy. An appreciated gesture towards the transgender community, or Political Correctness Gone Mad? Flame wars over the loss of this two-second clip got ugly.
    • Trans contestant Monica Beverly Hillz speaking out against the term "Ladyboy", which has always been an accepted nickname for a naturally feminine queen out of drag and is a translation of "kathoey," the Thai term for a trans woman or effeminate gay man (hence why a lot of Asian queens are known as such). While "She-Male" and "Tranny" are understandably offensive, is trying to dismiss ladyboy as an acceptable term taking things too far?
  • On that topic, the question of whether or not transgender women belong on the show. Ru has explicitly addressed it and stated that the only requirement for being cast is to be fierce. Some of the queens, however, have spoken out against casting trans women, saying that this is unfair competition since they get to rely on hormones and surgery, and that it's a show about men dressing up as women, not women dressing up as women. It should be noted that transgender women have always been part of drag culture and history, and a lot of the queens aren't cis and identify as genderqueer (Raja, Jinkx, Courtney, Violet, to name a few) so there's no clear point to draw the line. Plus, a number of the queens (Detox, Chad, Venus, etc.) are cis and have had plastic surgery to look more feminine, so the point is moot in the end.
    • Ru made several remarks regarding trans queens and bio queens (cisgender women who perform female drag) in an interview that freshly re-opened the old rifts in the fandom and in the community at large. It was an unexpected turn for people who thought that Peppermint's inclusion and rise to 2nd place in Season 9 had put the debate squarely to rest. Long story short, Ru says he would prefer not to accept bio queens in the competition, and trans queens would need to have not surgically transitioned yet to female (basically, what it has been the entire run of the show, but just not said out loud until now). Further, trans women that have competed have stated that the producers told them to stop taking any hormone-replacement medication during their time on the show.
  • The fact that since Season 4 RuPaul asks for fan input regarding who they think should win has caused a split in the fandom. Half the fans enjoy the change, believing it is important for a queen to be considered the "Next Drag Superstar" they need to be popular with the fans, and avoid a winner that will ultimately be considered The Scrappy (See: Tyra Sanchez). On the other hand, the other half of the fandom firmly believe They Changed It, Now It Sucks! applies here, and that despite Ru stating the choice is her's alone, she's influenced to pick the fan favorite as the winner which is what Miss Congeniality was supposed to be, and that the winners are, in the end, not the best choice.
  • The permanent teams twist that was shoehorned into the first All Stars season was unpopular with a lot of fans, since it often seemed superfluous at best, and completely unfair at worst, especially in the light of fan-favorites Latrice Royale, Nina Flowers, and especially Pandora Boxx being eliminated in the first few episodes. Tom & Lorenzo of Fabulous & Opinionated, who do one of the most popular online recaps for the show, didn't hide the fact they pretty much hated the season and considered it the weakest in the history of the show. However, this did not stop fans from begging Ru for an All Stars 2.
  • The trailer for Season 7 has caught some flack from fans who question why Ru decided to do something so minimalist and without an obvious theme, especially when compared to the last few seasons (Season 4 had a gold and silver robotic theme, Season 5 had the queens as Grecian Goddesses, and Season 6 was awash with purple). While some fans have decried the trailer as underwhelming and evidence that the show is running on No Budget, others defend the whole "Realness" as its theme, and that Ru is trying to bring Drag Race closer to its roots, or that the trailer was going for an American Apparel-style look.
  • The new Untucked format introduced in Season 7 has divided the fandom. While many fans like the documentary feel and see it as more real and intimate, others think it has No Budget, is far less polished, and it seems to lack the little games and video messages from previous seasons. Others have questioned the purpose of making it online-only since the swearing is still bleeped, even though being "Uncensored" was a selling point.
  • Did Trixie Mattel deserve to be the queen who returned in Season 7, in comparison to veteran queen Mrs. Kasha Davis who almost won the challenge, or Max who previously had two wins under her belt? #JusticeForTrixie or not, the fact Trixie didn't really show anything noteworthy after she came back and was re-eliminated just two episodes afterwards certainly made her return seem like a waste.
  • Season 4's "RuVealed" re-airing has irked a number of fans. Many fans assumed when the season would be re-released it would be with real commentary similar to what was done with several of the Season 7 episodes, instead it is exactly the same as how they re-released Season 1, with RuPaul pop-ups and random trivia about the queens or themes of the challenge. While there are those who enjoy the additions and love learning new bit of knowledge to be gleaned about their favorite queens, there are those who feel Ru's inserts are nothing more than in-character buzzwords that add nothing to the substance of the season, and the trivia isn't anything someone couldn't just find online. In fact, some have even gone as far as to say the RuVealed cut ruins Season 4 and makes it nearly unwatchable.
    • As a side note, it was also not helped that Ru re-dubbed the "You've got she-mail" quote that was in this season with the new one made in light of criticism from the transgender community, already a hot button with fans. Add to that the fact Ru herself gets some of her facts about the Season wrong, such as saying the wrestling challenge was in episode 4, when it was in episode 2, giving the impression she doesn't really care about the re-airing.
  • The reason for Season 7's failure. Most fans agree that it wasn't the show's shining moment, but everyone has their own opinion as to why. Some felt that there were no memorable or likeable queens; others felt the queens by themselves were fierce but they lacked chemistry with each other; others felt the editing didn't flatter anyone; still others felt that there were a few too many acting challenges, which didn't play to everyone's strengths. And of course plenty think it's a combination thereof.
  • With Season 7 and 8's Snatch Game, the argument of whether the acceptance of "boy drag" in the challenge after Kennedy Davenport's Little Richard and Thorgy Thor's Michael Jackson is a good thing or not. Some argue that 'drag' was never supposed to be about being a convincing woman, and 'genderfuck' and 'boy drag' have as much substance in the community as 'fishy' drag; not to mention these fans cite the only clear rule Ru has ever made on Snatch Game is the contestants just need to make her laugh (it doesn't matter who you play, but how you play them). There's also the fact that the men impersonated—Little Richie and Michael Jackson—are both known for their over-the-top aesthetics, so imitating them wasn't much different than, say, doing another drag queen. Other fans, of course, argue the show is called Drag Race so it should be featuring Drag Queens, and that since Season 4's Milan and Season 5's Alaska got read by the judges for doing boy drag, so why is it suddenly alright in Snatch Game?
  • Ever since Season 4 when Ru decided to open the Top 3 to fan input, the bickering over who should win has gotten insane. Every season, there are generally two queens who are in the running and a third who is either the Scrappy or plainly in third place. The most epic fandom battles thus far have been Sharon vs Chad, Jinkx vs Alaska, and World War 3 aka Bob vs Kim.
  • All Stars 2's cast reveal caused a break in the fandom; some fans loved the cast as is, and were excited to see the chosen queens return, while others were unhappy with the fact half the cast was from Season 5, with only two queens prior to then (Phi Phi from Season 4 and Tatianna from Season 2), and no Season 8 queens at all! (although, some fans do understand it was unlikely the Season 8 queens would be included since their season only just wrapped up before AS2 would be filming) Some fans instead argue that Coco Montrese is the only real issue, as her inclusion is the clear tipping point of Season 5's over-representation, and that she should have been omitted for perhaps another Season 6 queen (such as Courtney Act or BenDeLaCreme) since Adore Delano is the only queen from that entire season to be included.
    • Of course, the fact that Phi Phi O'Hara, Roxxxy Andrews, and Ginger Minj were the villains of their seasons caused some fans to still resent them then, wishing they would have been left out of the cast. Others, however, were well aware of the fact these queens had grown a lot since their seasons, and were thrilled they were being given a chance to redeem themselves.
  • The controversy with Phi Phi O'Hara and All-Stars 2 brought up another fan-splitting topic in regards to just how staged and forced the show is, and how much editing really plays into it. After her once-again portrayal as the major villain of AS2, Phi Phi claimed the producers would ask a lot of leading questions, outright stitched together replies from different confessionals, and even at points yelled in her face to stop talking or not try and lay blame on them to the other queens when she went against what they wanted on-camera. Of course, there are many fans who feel Phi Phi is grossly exaggerating the lengths the show went to turn her into the bad guynote , and that Phi Phi is just trying to pass the blame to the producers for her behavior. Others, however, said that between Phi Phi's recount, as well as criticism levied against the show by previous queens like Willam, Laganja, India Ferrah, Jasmine Masters, and Darienne Lake, that they started to see the cracks in the show and can very well believe the producers set up Phi Phi for failure, promising her a redemption arc only to tear her down for entertainment purposes. The fact Ru herself threw shade against Phi Phi on Twitter before abruptly unfollowing her certainly made some fans scratch their head, as it seemed strange and even immature on RuPaul's part. There are also a third league of fans who think both parties are at fault, that the show did go out of their way to give Phi Phi an unnecessarily harsh edit, but that Phi Phi still said the things she said and gave the producers the footage to use in the first place.
  • Season 9's Finale. Ru changes the game and orders the top four to a lipsync battle for the crown. On one hand, the three one-on-one lipsyncs created some of the most iconic moments of the season. On the other hand, fans were outraged that the results forced both Shea Coulee and Trinity Taylor out of the running, despite having the most challenge wins of the season. The argument boils down to how much the statistics influence the show versus respecting the twist in format.
  • Another from Season 9, invoked in the reunion and discussed afterwards by fans; is the title of Drag Race Miss Congeniality supposed to be given to a queen because she was the nicest and least shady (meaning, given for actually being "congenial"), or because they are the fan favorite? Winners such as Ivy Winters and Cynthia Lee Fontaine were more part of the former, yet other queens such as BenDeLaCreme and Valentina are more the latter. Some fans also say there shouldn't be any clarification, if a queen gets the votes then they deserve the title, and some winners such as Nina Flowers and Latrice Royale fit comfortably in both categories.
    • Still another subset of the fandom says that having fans vote for Miss Congeniality by nature turns it into a Fan Favorite category, and the queens themselves should vote for Miss Congeniality, the way actual pageants do. Katya has said that if the Season 7 queens had voted for Miss Congeniality, it would have gone to Jaidynn. This changed in Season 10, when an anomaly in the online voting system caused producers to scrap the results and have the contestants vote instead, which led to Monet X. Change winning the title, which was accepted by fans. The practice was brought back in Season 11.
  • All Star 3's Diva tribute effectively sees many of the issues present in All Star 2's "HERStory Of The World" challenge amplified: Did production really set Thorgy up to fail by giving her Stevie Nicks to play? Did the fact that the queens were given their roles well in advance of filming mean that Thorgy should have had plenty of time to figure out a way to elevate her part? Were Shangela and BenDeLaCreme handed their wins on a golden platter because of the attention their parts got in the pre-written script? (It should be noted that over half of the Mariah Carey routine was devoted to her New Year's Eve 2017 gaffe and gave Shangela plenty of time to flex her comedic chops and ham it up. Virtually none of the other parts had such overt references and gags baked in.) Is the entire fact of the script being pre-written a thinly-veiled excuse for production to throw particular queens under the bus? And on a lesser note, did BeBe really deserve to be in the Top 3 for her Diana Ross performance?
  • Really, the whole of All Stars 3 could be counted as this. On one hand, it got the highest ratings of any season to date. On the other hand, many of the fans saw the judging from episode to episode as wildly inconsistent, and popular opinion was that the nature of the season's final twist, the eliminated queens voting on the Top 2 from the Top 4, delegitimized the season as a whole. It's telling that Aja took to Twitter after the finale to say she regretted her vote. In fact, multiple queens on that jury have gone on to express their regret for their votes.
    • One major criticism of the finale episode was that because of the vote being conducted at the end of filming rather than at the airing date, not only did it render the usual #TeamX fan feedback on social media almost totally pointless, it meant that the eliminated queens largely didn't get the opportunity to base their votes on a full picture of the queens' performances throughout the season. This is assumed to be a major reason for why Kennedy was voted into the Top 2 instead of Shangela, widely considered to be the primary frontrunner of the season after BenDeLaCreme.
  • The sheer frequency new seasons are being released, between the regular seasons, the All-Stars seasons becoming a yearly event, a holiday competition one-off which landed right before the premiere of All Stars 4, and now as of 2020 a celebrity edition and a UK spinoff, making it all seemed cluttered. In fact, as of 2020, Drag Race seasons are starting to overlap, with Secret Celebrity launching during Season 12, which was then immediately followed by All Stars 5, with Canada's Drag Race premiering halfway through that and Drag Race Holland premiering a mere two weeks after Canada's finale (for a total of five Drag Race seasons in the span of seven months). While there are of course fans who are thrilled they get more Drag Queens, and argue the regular seasons focus on newcomers and All-Stars focus on fan-favorites, there are others who fear so much new material will cause the show to quickly grow stale, and accuse VH1 of furiously milking the Drag Race franchise just because of its sudden mainstream popularity. These fans believe VH1 have no real interest in the good the show does for the drag/gay/trans communities and instead want to burn through its potential as quickly as possible while mainstream (heterosexual) advertisers and audiences are so enamored by it.
  • Related to the above, the move of the show from Logo, a more specialised but dedicated LGBT network, to VH1, to capitalize on the show's growing popularity with heterosexual audiences. For some, increased exposure and acceptance of gay culture in the mainstream can be seen as a good thing, not to mention a huge career booster for Drag Queens, both on the show and outside the seasons. On the other hand, there can be contention with the idea that straight audiences are only now getting on the Drag Race wagon now that A-list celebrities reference it and it has won an Emmy, queer audiences afraid turning the show fully "mainstream" will dilute what gave the show its charm in the first place in order to provide a more palatable product for the non-LGBT masses. The fact that when the show first made it's way to VH1 the network brought on Wendy Williams (who was, and still is as of February 2020, in the hot seat for making transphobic comments) to host the viewing party made older fans fearful that the new network just didn't get it.
  • All Stars 4's double coronation was a hotbed for this. Some people thought that Monet and Trinity both equally deserved the title in different ways, others felt that Trinity was the rightful winner of the season, and Monet's win was a token move meant to address the lack of diversity in the Hall of Fame. An Instagram post accidentally made the morning of the finale congratulating Monet as the sole winner of the season only further complicated things, indicating that Monet was supposed to win but that Ru split the win between Monet and Trinity for some reason. Others were fine with the outcome, but had criticisms of the choppy editing for the coronation segment, where Monet and Trinity's individual coronations were spliced together to appear like both had been crowned (especially considering the show had filmed actual, unused, double coronations as alternate endings in the past). Others continued the oversaturation argument that had been levied at Drag Race in the preceding years, saying that having two winners at once lessened the sanctity of being in the winner's circle. And yet another camp was still upset over Manila's elimination and were apathetic towards the double win altogether.
  • The UK spinoff, at least to American viewers, many of whom harshly read the British queens for being unpolished. UK viewers—as well as Americans familiar with British drag—point out that the UK scene isn't as obsessed with looks. Whereas American drag is heavily influenced by pageantry and ball culture, British drag is more about smokey pubs, crass humor, and valuing performance over appearance, and it's only Drag Race's international rise in popularity that has caused UK drag to become more look-focused.
    • Depending on who you ask, Cheryl Hole's elimination was either the most fair, or most unfair choice ever. On one hand, she had the worst track record of a top 4 finalist in Drag Race history against 3 Queens with 3 wins each, and was against Baga in an Amy Winehouse lipsync. On the other hand, she arguably did a far better job with making up her sister into an identical look than Baga or Vivienne had with their mothers. To add to that, Baga infamously kept insulting her own mother's appearance on stage in that episode, drawing visible disgust from everyone in the studio.
  • All-Stars, ever since its second season, introduced the rule where the other queens decide who to eliminate out of the bottom two/three. While the rule itself has been a welcome twist among fans (much more than the permanent teams from All-Stars 1), the contestants themselves are divided into two camps regarding who to send home: get rid of the weakest queen because she's not a Worthy Opponent, or get rid of the strongest because of the threat she poses. This leads to another broken base among viewers because any queen who eliminates the strongest competitor is sure to draw the ire of fans, especially if the eliminated queen is favored to win and a mediocre queen gets further ahead than she should have. However, other fans will point out that hey, it's a competition and a queen can't be blamed for wanting to secure her own chances for the crown.
    • While the news of the lipsync assassin rule brought a lot of praise at first, the audience soon got disappointed. The likes of Trinity K Bonet, Coco Montrese, Chi Chi Devayne, or Kandy Ho were expected, which did not happen. Fans were further disappointed when news that when Morgan McMichaels was brought on to be an assassin, she was purportedly asked to tone down her lip-synch, so that the queen she was up against her share a double-win with her. This makes the whole "Lip-synch Assassin" twist lose all meaning for many fans since production can just rig the results like that.
    • As of Episode 5, many fans have accepted the fact that the term "Lip-Sync Assassin" really means "Fan Favorite" before any lip-synching credentials. Vanessa Vanjie Mateo is invited as the episode's assassin … except, while Vanjie may be known for being a beloved and hilarious favorite, she has only lip-synched four times in the entire series and lost two of those lip-synchs (eliminated S10 first episode, and eliminated S11 penultimate episode). Even Vanjie herself jokes on camera how she never thought of herself as a lip-synch assassin and pretends to be shocked they asked her back.
    • The format got mostly gutted and set on fire by trade once Kennedy, the Dancing Diva, got a slow country song to lipsync to. In fact, during Untucked they actually show Cracker and Shea specifically calling out the lip-synch song as being one of the hardest and worst songs to lip-synch to due to its pace and abundance of words to actually synch to. Prior to this, the show had never broken the fourth wall prior to a lip-synch song to have the queens criticize it (although sometimes they will complain about it during or after).
  • With the sudden increase in popularity of the Drag Race franchise worldwide, with 4 international versions premiering since 2018 (Thailand, UK, Canada, Holland) and two more following soon after (Spain, Down Under), whether or not a future All-Stars season should include international queens. Some people say that US queens would have Home Field Advantage, especially regarding the language barrier which has already proved to be a problem with US queens who aren't native English speakers (like some Puerto Rican queens, or Nicky Doll), and of course the travel restrictions put in place with the COVID-19 Pandemic. Those in favour maintain that all versions are close enough in format to bring international queens to the US with little disadvantage, that the language point is not an issue for queens who are native English speakers (British and Canadian queens obviously; even Drag Race Thailand includes native speakers like Vanda Miss Joaqim or Genie who's actually American) and that featuring them in the flagship series can give them a popularity boost.
  • The Season 13 premiere opened with a massive twist: the queens enter in pairs (and one trio), and almost immediately are called onto the main-stage to lip-sync for their lives in their entrance looks, with the losers being led to believe they have been eliminated minutes into the show, and then being told by Ru to vote for which one of their fellows to eliminate. This almost immediately split the fanbase in two:
    • A side of the fans loved the twist, describing it as one of Drag Race's biggest gags ever, and a way to put the queens through their paces from day one of the competition and force them to immediately show their performance chops (as in the past several queens had reached the finale without lip-syncing once).
    • Another side hated it, however, seeing it as rather mean-spirited to the losing queens, who are led to believe their dreams, hard work and money spent on outfits have been for naught, and then told to chop someone they barely know if they want to stay. Some also saw the lip-sync twist as unfair, since many queens did not have entrance looks that were performance-ready (special mention goes to Denali who had to do it in ice skates).
      • Not helped that one of the fake eliminated queens was Tamisha Iman, a queen who advertised as a cancer survivor who was forced to give up her spot in Season 12 to undergo treatment, and had spent the last year learning to walk again. That fact Tamisha was one of the queens who took it the hardest after she thought she was eliminated was also heartbreaking.
  • Tamisha Iman's elimination in episode 6 of Season 13; it was obvious to the judges that Tamisha just seemed physically incapable of performing on the same level as her competitors, but they also knew the reason why what with Tamisha being fresh off of cancer treatment. Ru even posits on if it would be fair to judge Tamisha differently than the other queens because of her disability, although ultimately decides against it. Not only that, but Tamisha herself never asked for special treatment, even hiding the fact she had an ostomy. That being said, fans have been divided since Tamisha was such an early fan favorite, and bring up concerns of ableism from Drag Race. While disabled queens such as Yvie Oddley or Tamisha never asked for unfair exceptions due to their health, it does raise the question if the show would ever include a drag queen with a more severe disability, such as being wheelchair-bound or one who used sign language to communicate.
  • Ru yelling at Joe Black over wearing an H&M dress for the RuRuVision challenge. Many viewers and alumni called Ru cruel for this, especially considering these queens were out of work for seven months prior due to the pandemic. Queens going into debt to buy outfits for Drag Race is a known issue, and many felt Ru tearing someone apart for not breaking the bank for the show just indicated how out of touch he had become. However, others felt that the point of Ru's argument was misconstrued: it wasn't just that it was an H&M dress, it's that Joe did nothing to make the dress special or unique to her. Many argued that Ru's argument was in good faith and out of a desire to see the queens reach their full potential; it was also pointed out that Joe's dress & styling was indeed bad, and if 21 year-old Ellie Diamond who makes all her own outfits can routinely turn out good looks, seasoned performer Joe Black should also be capable of this. Terrible timing also plays a part here, Black has gone on record stating she sold most of her high-end looks after her elimination to make ends meet, and only discovered she was returning to the competition three weeks before filming started up again.

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