A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this reality series -- in which gay male drag performers compete for a title, money, and commercial opportunities -- includes lots of sexual innuendo (including references to various sex acts and blurred nudity) and a fair bit of strong language (the term “bitch” is used continuously, while curses like “f--k” and “s--t” are bleeped). The show supports the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community, while simultaneously sending the message that drag queens must be overly sexualized in order to succeed. It also promotes self-acceptance.
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What's the story?
RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE is a reality competition designed to find America’s next drag superstar. Hosted by actor/model/drag queen RuPaul, the series follows 12 male performers as they compete in a variety of designing, modeling, dancing, and acting challenges to show off their drag queen personalities and style. To move to the next round, they must electrify a panel of judges made up of RuPaul, journalist Merle Ginsberg, Project Runway finalist Santino Rice, and weekly guest celebrity judges like Kathy Griffin and Kim Coles. The two contestants who least impress the judges must face-off in a lip-synching performance to remain in the competition. The winner receives $25,000, a lifetime supply of makeup, a public relations contract, and the opportunity to be featured in various advertising campaigns.
Is it any good?
RuPaul's Drag Race combines the fashion design drama of Project Runway with the modeling excitement of America’s Next Top Model to create an entertainingly voyeuristic glimpse into the performance art world of drag queens. There's plenty of over-the-top stuff, but rather than simply treating drag performers as people to be laughed at and/or scorned, the show also focuses on the hard work and talent that goes into drag performances.
This gender-bending show isn’t for everyone, and there's enough strong language, sexual innuendo, and over-the-top catty and diva-like behavior to make it an iffy choice for younger viewers. But it does offer some positive messages about overcoming adversity and about self-acceptance. In the end, the series' goal is to celebrate men who are willing to follow their passions and be true to themselves.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about stereotypes. Do the contestants in this show reinforce or undermine stereotypes typically associated with the LGBTQ community? How are other communities stereotyped, both in the media and out of it?
Over the years, notable actors like Milton Berle, Tony Curtis, Tom Hanks, and Robin Williams have famously performed in drag in films and on TV. Do you think their characters and performances are looked at differently than the ones given by the contestants here? If so, why?
For kids who love reality TV
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