RuPaul's Drag U is a Reality Show and Spinoff of RuPaul's Drag Race, in which three cis women are brought onto the show to be given makeovers ... into Drag Queens. In each episode, the women are given their own personal "Drag Professor", who is a former contestant from Drag Race, and throughout their transformation are given simple make-up and beauty tips that they can take into their everyday lives, and given a boost their confidence that regardless of how they look, they are beautiful, inside and out.
At the end of every episode the women compete in a short runway in which they show off their new Drag Queen personas, are asked a few questions to gauge their improved outlooks, and then perform in a lip-synch performance, and are graded on their D.P.A. (which stands for "Drag Transformation", "Performance", and "Attitude"). The woman who shows the most improvement wins the title of Valedictorian and a cash prize.
Although RuPaul is the host and dean of Drag U, he does not actually take part in the judging (nor does he even dress in drag during the show). Instead, he defers to his good friend, Drag Queen Lady Bunny who is the "Dean of Drag", as well as a "Dean of Dance" (who during the first season was Frank Gatson, Jr., but after that was a different choreographer weekly), and a celebrity guest judge.
Includes examples of
- Be Yourself: The drag makeovers are not to be taken seriously, the point of them is to go so far beyond what a woman would normally do to dress themselves up that they learn that doing simple things to better themselves is easy to do. Generally, Ru and the professors want every women to be themselves, but such to gain more self-confidence through the transformation.
- Beautiful All Along: The point of the show is not to change women into using a lot of makeup or products, but to just perform simple applications that improve their look and therefore boost their confidence.
- Big Beautiful Woman: It is not uncommon for a heavier women to be featured on the show, and they are always protrayed as beautiful. An episode in the final season actually revolved completely around this trope.
- D-Cup Distress: A lot of women on the show, in particular larger women, are very shy or ashamed to show their cleavage on the show. Usually their drag professors will do their best to try and turn that distress into Big Breast Pride instead.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Just like Drag Race, RuPaul sings the theme song to the show.
- Drag Queen: Lady Bunny, as well as all the drag professors. RuPaul is also a Drag Queen, but hosts the entire show out of drag.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: During the first season prior to the commercial break there would be "a word from RuPaul" ... in which he would say just one random word, such as "Gherkin".
- Homage: The first season finale featured former TV stars Charlene Tilton, Dawn Wells, and Erin Murphy, with their Dragulator looks all an homage to their original shows. (Dawn's looked like something Ginger would have worn on Gilligan's Island and Erin's looked a lot like Samantha's Evil Twin Serena from Bewitched) This is actually why Charlene Tilton hated her look, since it was based on her show Dallas it was something she had already worn in the past, and she was hoping to be something new and exciting.
- I Am Not Pretty: Quite a few of the women who come on the show feel like this, in particular ones who have been through recent trauma, like a break-up or divorce.
- The Makeover: The general concept of the show: women who don't have time, or have otherwise given up on being beautiful are given makeovers to look like drag queens in order to boost their confidence in their appearance.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: A number of the episodes would deal with taking masculine, or otherwise non-feminine women, and boosting their confidence by learning simple fashion and makeup tips from drag queens.
- The Mentor: Similar to Drag Race, Ru would meet with each of the contestants and have a heart to heart with them about what is affecting them in their lives and caused them to stop taking care in the way they looked.
- Nerds Are Sexy: An entire episode is dedicated to dragging up women who are considered 'nerds' (fittingly, the episode is actually called 'Revenge of the Nerds')
- Spinoff: Of RuPaul's Drag Race, in particular the Drag Makeover challenge in the first season in which the queens were asked to take masculine, physically fit women and feminize them as drag queens. Unlike Drag Race which thereafter only dragged men into first-time queens, Drag U exclusively stayed with the concept of turning women into drag queens.
- Split Personality: Ru encourages many of the women on the show, in particular ones who are shy about how they look, to treat their drag queen personas as a Sexier Alter Ego to boost their confidence.
- Stage Names: One the first things given to each of the women on the show is their very own Drag Queen name, which in it of itself included a number of additional tropes, such as:
- Up to Eleven: The point of the drag transformations was to take the women far beyond what a woman would normally do to make herself beautiful (to the point to female impersonation) to help teach them that doing simple things (as as apply eye make-up or fix their hair) is easy to do in their everyday lives.