Drag Race Tia Kofi

Let’s face it: The deranged fan reaction to Drag Race winners has put the show in crisis

Tia Kofi should be enjoying victory, not getting daily racist abuse for it

Unfortunately, what you’re about to read is a tale as old as time. But it shouldn’t be. For years, the queens who literally make RuPaul’s Drag Race the cultural phenomenon that it is have spoken in great length about trolling, backlash and death threats – nary a controversial moment or a Werk Room scrap can pass without the queens having to come on to social media and remind fans that this is indeed a TV show, and silly squabbles don’t actually need people who have no clue how telly works to tell them that they’re the scum of the earth. But whilst this kind of backlash was once reserved for the queens the show deemed villainous, it’s not the case anymore. As the response to Tia Kofi winning the recently concluded second series of Drag Race: UK Vs the World proves, the backlash for winning when a weird corner of a rabid fanbase can sadly be a tough burden.

Tia Kofi has had a journey. ‘Baroness Basic’ on season two of Drag Race UK, one of the most beloved seasons of all time, despite a patchy runway selection the talented Tia Kofi carved out a fanbase by being lovable. A camp, classic British queen with a big heart and a lot of talent who was a bit too green to be a major threat to other more polished queens she was up against. In the years since the show, Tia has evolved, invested in her drag and returned with the All Stars glow up she needed to prove she’s a winner.

Four wins on UK Vs the World and a lot of reverence from RuPaul herself was not enough for a particularly jobless corner of Drag Race fandom to accept Tia Kofi as the worthy winner of the show. Marina Summers was the queen who felt like the frontrunner and who the online fanbase clearly wanted to take the title, but in the finale it was Tia who bagged it.

Marina Summers and Tia Kofi

In the days since Friday’s finale, you don’t have to look far on Twitter to find resentment towards Tia – who has sadly had to literally call it out because some people have been tagging her and telling her how much they think she did not deserve her win. Over a bank holiday weekend that should have been for celebration, Tia has had to defend herself to people who don’t deserve her time. A lot of this criticism is unkind, untrue – some of it bluntly racist. I’m not going to platform any negative tweet here, because they don’t deserve any exposure.

I think my main disbelief about how these deranged fans have made winning Drag Race a scary position to be in is because to me, I cannot imagine caring. Who wins Drag Race is completely irrelevant to me or my enjoyment of the show. I literally don’t care. It is a show whose victor is determined by one person: RuPaul. It’s not like I’ve voted for the winner like Big Brother or something, and I’m sat fuming at the general public for being idiots. This is a show truly about the journey. It’s about all the fun and silliness and amazing drag we’ve seen along the way. Whether Tia Kofi, Marina Summers, La Grande Dame or Hannah Conda took the crown in the end… I did not care. Happy for any, happy for all. It’s a shame these weirdos online can’t muster up the same mindset.

Not only is it just bewildering to me that the jobless and unhinged and notably juvenile corner of the fandom get like this, it’s having huge ramifications on the show. Tia’s former partner turned pal Pixie Polite – who competed on season four of Drag Race UK – has implied she’d be unsure if she wanted to come back and compete again because of how harsh the fandom can be.

Drag Race is being plagued enough by fan fatigue and never-ending seasons. The queens are the only thing making the show feel different and exciting these days – fans making them fear winning because of the backlash that might loom could be Drag Race’s final nail in the coffin. What a vile shame.

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