The ultimate ranking of every season of RuPaul’s Drag Race
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We’ve been inundated with A LOT of RuPaul’s Drag Race. At this point, there’s 13 seasons of the OG stateside franchise (and six seasons of the All Stars variant on top of that), with global spin offs in Thailand, Canada, Chile, Holland, Australia and here in the United Kingdom. Drag Race España is the latest addition, which is now streaming on Wow Presents Plus for UK audiences. With all that said, how on EARTH do you even BEGIN to start ranking every season of RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Well firstly, let’s take some out of the equation. For this ranking, we’re going to focus on the franchises that have been readily available for UK audiences on Netflix and iPlayer, so US, All Stars, UK, Down Under and Canada. That gives us a grand total of 23 seasons and over 200 queens to bring into consideration, and deciding between these has been like choosing my favourite child. There will be upset. There could be uproar. There might even be back rolls. Time to rip the plaster off – here’s the ultimate ranking of every season of Drag Race:
23. Drag Race Down Under – Season 1
An absolute disaster from the off. Two contestants that production clearly wanted in the final were revealed to have a racist past including black face and a golliwog tattoo. The queens that the audience loved were kicked out unceremoniously early on which meant for an unsatisfying watch, and Art Simone’s return for no reason with no explanation meant the competition feel pointless and like there were no stakes. Kita Mean winning was deserved, but it was too little, too late.
22. Season 11
To put it bluntly, season 11 of Drag Race is hard work. It’s borderline sluggish. Despite having a decent winner in Yvie Oddly, Brooke Lynn Hytes delivering the goods and bringing back Vanessa Vanjie Mateo after the viral explosion of her “Miss… Vanjie” season 10 elimination, season 11 still manages to have a cast that on the whole just didn’t resonate with viewers. The judging seemed heavily bias to favour Silky Nutmeg Ganache despite her many shortcomings and slip ups in the competition, and when Silky managed to send home Nina West to advance to the top five the season was cancelled as far as I’m concerned. Justice for Nina!
21. All Stars 1
How to ruin a season of Drag Race: get potentially the strongest cast ever assembled, including fan faves Raven, Jujubee, Latrice Royale and Manila Luzon, and then force them to compete in pairs. Pairs!? I need to know what the producers were smoking when they signed off on that twist. A dreadful decision that threatened the existence of future All Stars seasons for years, and resulted in a lot of queens cast coming back on future seasons to have a proper go at it. Yikes.
20. Season 13
Season 13 is a difficult one. It probably has the best and most consistent high standard of runway looks ever to be seen in the franchise; queens like Gottmik and Symone really took it to the next level week after week and the fashion they were serving was LITERALLY couture. The biggest detriment to season 13 is that people had just had enough of it. It’s the longest season that’s ever aired and by the end of it everyone was just… tired. Didn’t help matters much that it was airing alongside season two of Drag Race UK – which had the entire world enamoured with it. It did feature some great queens, however, and Symone really deserved her win.
19. Canada’s Drag Race, Season 1
Canada’s Drag Race is rough around the edges, and that is both a positive and a negative. I love that there’s a sense of the unexpected that runs through it and there was a lot of great queens cast that quickly became fan favourites. Lemon and Jimbo really delivered and made great TV, and Priyanka winning was a really satisfying end and well deserved for such a likeable contestant. The judging panel really did drag this season down, and the lack of RuPaul and Michelle Visage was really felt.
18. Season 8
Why on earth was season eight only 10 episodes long!? The whole thing just feels a bit rushed – and it’s a shame, because there are some all time greats queens in this cast but the shorter nature makes it hard to place higher in a Drag Race season ranking. Bob the Drag Queen showed up and dominated and it really was hers for the taking. Naomi Smalls served some looks, but arguably became truly great in her All Stars run. It was also our first time with the late, great Chi Chi DeVayne – who had us all falling in love with her crafty queen on a budget charm and endless raw talent.
17. All Stars 4
A cutthroat rampaging season where everyone was out for blood. Pure evil TV. No one was safe.
Fell prey to its own twist. The All Stars rules of queens choosing who they eliminate from the bottom resulted in a deeply unsatisfying final stretch. Justice for Manila Luzon!
16. All Stars 5
Shea Couleé is one of the best competitors Drag Race has ever seen, and All Stars 5 in its essence was just a vehicle for her to get the win she definitely deserved. The issue here is that since the success of All Stars 2, World of Wonder has been pumping out All Stars seasons constantly, and the pool of queens that deserve to come back as all stars is getting smaller. This results in a casting where the standard of drag is so widely different it makes you think how some of these queens are ever going to even have a chance. With All Stars 6 imminent, here’s hoping something’s changed to switch up the formula – All Stars 5’s lip sync assassins twist was dead in the water.
15. Season 10
This is that point in the ranking where we start getting to the good stuff. Season 10 is a great season of Drag Race – mostly because it has a cast filled with legends. Aquaria, Cracker, Asia O’Hara, Monique Heart and Monet X Change have all solidified themselves as fan favourites and that’s before you even round the cast off with the likes of The Vixen, Eureka and Blair St. Clair. The challenges were great – especially the iconic Cher Rusical. Just don’t think about Asia’s butterfly massacre at the finale and all will be well.
14. Season 7
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a RuPaul’s Drag Race season seven apologist. But you know what? We all should be. We got Katya, Trixie Mattel, Violet Chachki, Kennedy Davenport, Pearl, Ginger Minj, Miss Fame and JASMINE MASTERS in the same season. The issue for season seven is it followed season six; the biggest and best season of the show ever at that point and that it failed to utilise its cast properly. Season seven was filled with some of the best fashion queens of all time and the producers decided to make them do a load of acting challenges… Why?
13. Season 1
Should be studied in history books, tbh. We wouldn’t have the polished Drag Race we have now without this iconic mess. The drag was rough and ready but the reality TV was so excellent nobody cared. Bebe Zahara Benet, Shannel, Ongina and Nina Flowers dominated with their cool and extravagant runways and Tammie Brown made the whole season 80 times better when she argued back with RuPaul at the reunion. If you can see past the infamous season one Vaseline screen filter you’ll be rewarded with the fieriest Drag Race season ever that’s the most underrated in this entire ranking.
12. Season 2
The jump in production value from season one to season two is INSANE. The Vaseline filter was left by the wayside, and the main stage and werk room started to resemble what we have today. Queens who competed were legendary – Raven, Jujubee, Tatianna, Morgan McMichaels and even Shangela all debuted in season two. The fiery fights that occurred with Mystique Summers Madison and controversial winner Tyra Sanchez made this season Drag Race’s most volatile.
11. All Stars 3
Okay, it was never going to be as good as All Stars 2. But AS3 has a gasp and a gag at every episode. BenDeLaCreme eliminating herself is one of, if not THEE, most shocking thing to ever happen on Drag Race. The cast is an absolute joy and the drama is nonstop. It gets a bit deflating when the All Stars rules result in a slightly unsatisfying end, with Shangela missing out on that final lip sync she deserved, but Kitty Girl is an absolute series high for the show. The production feat in the whole performance being all in one take is so good and every queen kills it.
10. Season 1 – Drag Race UK
Finally getting our own version of Drag Race was just so euphoric to fans who’ve wanted it for so long, and season one really just gave us everything we’d always wanted. It was so great seeing queens like The Vivienne and Divina De Campo get their Drag Race debut after already establishing themselves in the gay scene for years. The BBC picking up Drag Race is the best thing that’s happened to this stupid little island in years.
9. All Stars 6
All Stars 6 was just an absolute breath of fresh air. A season that when everyone clocked the lineup, not a soul had particularly high hopes for. It was hardly a queen of fan favourites, and no one was leaping out as a queen that really deserved a win. The speed in which the queens shut us up was iconic – a season bursting with talent and redemption that kept us guessing to the very end and gave us an excellent winner in Kylie Sonique Love. The first ever trans winner on a Ru-fronted season and an icon for the ages.
8. Season 12
What season 12 really did for Drag Race is prove there was no signs of it slowing down, and that reflects in its season ranking compared to other later runs. Seasons 10 and 11 got mixed responses from fans, but 12 shut everyone up. One of the strongest casts we’ve ever seen. Jaida deservedly took the crown, but the amount of queens primed for an All Stars win is plenty. Crystal Methyd, Gigi Goode, Jackie Cox, Widow Von Du, Heidi N Closet and Jan are all worthy contenders for an All Stars crown. And we have to mention the Madonna Rusical – one of the best challenges and episodes of Drag Race that’s ever aired.
7. Season 9
Another absolutely stellar cast. Sasha Velour, Shea Coulée, Peppermint, Trinity The Tuck, Aja, Valentina and Farrah Moan all in one season? Television magic. With the final top four dominating throughout the season after Valentina’s infamous “I’d like to keep it on please” mask drama, it really felt like anyone’s game. And then came THAT finale shake up: the queens, for the first time ever, would compete in a lip-sync competition for the crown.
Sasha Velour. Rose petals. So Emotional by Whitney Houston. The rest was history.
6. Season 3
The runway had never been pounded like this before! In the arguably hardest season of Drag Race, the queens were loaded with design challenges that saw the likes of Raja, Manila Luzon, Yara Sofia and Alexis Mateo rise and left the charismatic performance queens like Shangela fighting for their place. The cliquey nature of the werk room was at its peak – with the notorious split of Heathers VS Boogers dominating the season’s drama and making extremely explosive telly. This is classic Drag Race at its best.
5. Season 4
Sharon Needles’ rise to victory in season four really is what makes the whole thing so special. Her aesthetic of haunted glamour just hadn’t been seen before. The way other queens discredited her drag (particularly pageant queen Phi Phi O’Hara) made her eventual victory a big win for anyone who ever felt like an outcast or like the weird kid, even in the gay community. Top that off with a season filled with icons including Willam, Latrice Royale and Chad Michaels, a scandalous disqualification and some of the best lip syncs we’ve ever had, you’ve got yourself a stone cold classic Drag Race season that earns its high ranking.
4. Season 5
Another clique narrative dominated season five, but here, underdog Jinkx Monsoon rose to the top and took the crown. The RoLaskaTox supergroup of Roxxxy Andrews, Alaska and Detox was called out and condemned by the judges, but it didn’t stop the three smashing the competition and proving their talents. Jinkx also frequently stole the show with her acting prowess – even if her runways didn’t stack up. Round that off with the sheer ICONIC telly given to us from the feuding Alyssa Edwards and Coco Montrese and you’ve got a golden season. There’s a reason why Roxxxy, Alaska, Detox, Coco and Alyssa were ALL cast on All Stars 2.
3. Season 6
The funniest season. End of! Season six was like a Bianca Del Rio sitcom – comedy writers could literally only dream of coming up with jokes as savage and consistent as hers were from start to end, and she took the crown with ease. The whole cast are icons, from early outs like “mutha! has arrived!” herself, Vivacious, to runners up Courtney Act and Adore Delano. The challenges were all spot on; Shade: the Rusical was like nothing that had been done on Drag Race up to that point and was a massive hit and a great showcase for the talented queens.
2. All Stars 2
After the let down of All Stars 1, everyone was gasping for an All Stars one that let queens do what they were good at without the pairs twist. After years of waiting, All Stars 2 arrived with quite literally, the best cast of all time. Every single one of the queens could have easily been a frontrunner to win, and when the promo arrived nobody had a clue how on earth it would go down. Add in the twist that the weekly winner of the challenge would have the power to eliminate one of the bottom queens and the world was gagged. It was like nothing any of us had seen before. The cast delivered week after week, both in the talent and the drama department.
The episode where the queens are revealed behind the mirror and then return to the competition, resulting in Alyssa Edwards and Tatianna performing Shut Up and Drive should be preserved forever in a television museum. And lest we forget Read U Wrote U, the final four rap performance that was so good it is now a Drag Race staple. Classic telly.
1. Season 2 – Drag Race UK
Maybe it was the fact it came when we needed it most, but nothing has ever given Drag Race fans that weekly serotonin burst like the second season of Drag Race UK. The start of 2021 was tough for everyone. The novelty of lockdown had long gone once the shit weather had rolled around and things had never felt bleaker than January and February of this year. But then came Drag Race UK season two. In rolled East London’s bendiest bitch: Bimini Bon Boulash.
Never has the UK been more in the palm of someone’s hand like Bimini had us. The world was united. Top off Bimini stealing the heart of the nation with the drag excellence of Tayce, A’Whora and Lawrence Chaney and you end up with the most thrilling and fun season of Drag Race to ever air. This season really made people in the UK who’d never even given drag the time of day before hardcore Drag Race fans.
Rats the Rusical. Bimini’s Snatch Game. U.K. Hun!?!? It was cultural reset after cultural reset. Twitter came alive every Thursday night. It deserves pride of place at the top of the Drag Race season ranking. It will simply never be Bimini Bon Bettered.
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