Drag Race Down Under

Drag Race Down Under: A car crash that can’t stop crashing

‘It’s just truly nonsense at this point’

It was the design challenge on Drag Race Down Under this week, and when RuPaul wheeled in the big box of garbage the queens were going to have to make an outfit from, previously eliminated contestant Art Simone was also inside. Ru announced she was returning to the competition, and that was just that.

No explanations. No logic. Just a production move that has left people questioning are there even any rules when it comes to RuPaul’s Drag Race anymore.

When contestants have returned to Drag Race in the past, there’s usually been an explanation – even if the reason is some thinly veiled disguise for the producers to get a big character back on the screen. When Trixie rejoined the competition in season seven, it was because she won the main challenge with Pearl and earned her place. When Joe Black came back in Drag Race UK season two, it was because Veronica Green couldn’t return to the competition due to her Covid diagnosis – and felt fair because the remaining queens voted Black in themselves.

None of this logic or fairness was found in Drag Race Down Under. And it’s just the latest in a long line of messy production choices, problematic actions from queens and dodgy TV editing that is making this latest franchise instalment borderline unwatchable.

Everything just feels… off?

From the start of this season, the production has just felt weird. The werk room feels smaller and unfinished, the way the episodes are shot feels strange – with the talking head parts shot extremely and disorientatingly close up.

There’s weird sound effects being shoved in every two minutes that make the whole production feel overdone. RuPaul feels barely there – instead of walking around the werk room talking to the queens he just stands ominously by a table and waits for each competitor to come to him.

Add in that weird first episode situation where RuPaul had no drag and you’ve got yourself a shambles.

The judging is just bizarre?

Elektra Shock spent the start of this week’s fourth episode of Drag Race Down Under a bit unsure of what she could have done differently in last week’s girl group main challenge. Her critiques surrounded her apparently pulling focus from the other queens by showing off. Shock said she wasn’t really sure what the judges were looking for at this point.

She’s honestly not the only one.

It’s completely unpredictable who will be in the bottom two on Drag Race Down Under. It feels like RuPaul puts all the names into a hat and whoever gets plucked out goes home. Coco Jumbo getting eliminated just felt off – she did nothing to deserve a bottom placement, and fan fave Anita Wigl’it going home this week despite having a runway look that was well put together and executed just felt unsatisfying.

Wtf was with that Bogan Prom runway theme?

Drag Race Down Under, Etcetera Etcetera

It was literally just classist. No question about it.

In the Australian dictionary, ‘bogan’ is defined as “an uncultured and unsophisticated person; a boorish and uncouth person”. There’s just something that doesn’t sit right at all with multimillionaire RuPaul asking queens to dress up like this for laughs.

If there was a Drag Race UK runway theme along the lines of “Jeremy Kyle chic”, there would rightly be uproar. So why was it allowed on Down Under?

Too many of the queens are straight up problematic

The queens are getting a lot of backlash on social media for the mean spirited nature of the werk room, with nearly all of them attacking each other with petty jibes that seem to go beyond the usual expected shade.

But sly digs aside, there’s queens in this cast who have problematic and racist pasts that make rooting for them on the show completely invalid.

White queen Scarlet Adams was called out on Instagram by Aussie queen Felicia Foxx for numerous drag looks where she was culturally appropriating and in blackface. The post featured pictures of Scarlet Adams with her skin darkened, teeth blacked out and wearing an aboriginal flag. There’s also pictures of her doing a Bollywood performance in a sari and a performance playing up to Asian stereotypes. Scarlet Adams has apologised for the offence caused and has been trying to make amends.

Karen From Finance had a collection of golliwogs, a doll that depicts minstrel performers that has long been condemned for their obvious racism and culturally insensitive nature, that she was photographed with for a magazine. She also had a depiction of one tattooed onto herself that she says she now has had removed. Karen has since apologised,  also said on Instagram the dolls had been taken to a landfill.

It’s hard to justify behaviour like this as just an ignorant error or not knowing the reality of how offensive Scarlet and Karen’s behaviours are. It’s hardly rocket science to know blackface and collecting golliwogs is racist behaviour, and to see them being frontrunners on Drag Race Down Under just feels wrong.

Art Simone returning means that the only two queens of colour were booted out first

There is a race issue with Drag Race Down Under that’s just been amplified with the two aboriginal queens Jojo Zaho and Coco Jumbo being the first two out.

Coco tweeted this on seeing Art Simone’s unexplained return to the competition:

There’s no question Art Simone is talented and was a frontrunner, but her return just feels unfair when she was eliminated for a poor Snatch Game performance and didn’t have to do anything to earn her place back in the competition.

Queens like Priyanka and The Vixen have called out the Drag Race fandom for having a race problem for years; often, queens with colour have significantly smaller followings on social media and endure more scrutiny for their behaviour than white fashion queens.

This has never felt more prominent than it does in Drag Race Down Under. The cast seems extremely lacking in diversity, especially with Coco and Jojo going first. What are the reasons for the casting of this season being so white?

And honestly, fans just haven’t taken to it

If Drag Race Down Under returns for a second season, let’s hope it addresses all these issues and gives us a season of Drag Race that’s diverse and well represented, and one that feels less like a slapdash, rushed, producer-lead mess.

The Tab has reached out to World of Wonder for comment.

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