Despite the roller-coaster of a year that 2020 has been, the Emmys took place as scheduled. On 20 September, Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards. While shows like Schitt’s Creek and Watchmen were heavyweights, Ru Paul’s Drag Race ruled the Emmys in its own way.
With a whopping total of ten nominations and six wins in 2020 alone, the show has now become the most awarded competition show in Emmy history. The nominations range from Outstanding Cinematography to Outstanding Casting. The host, Ru Paul Charles, himself has won the Outstanding Host Emmy five years in a row.
Nominations & Wins
But Ru Paul isn’t the only one that has been landing consecutive wins. The series Ru Paul’s Drag Race (or RPDR) won in the Outstanding Competition Program category for the third year in a row. The show also won Emmys for its editing, casting, and hairstyling. Season two runner up Raven got to pick up an Emmy for Outstanding Makeup as well. The series was also a nominee in the Best Costume, Sound Mixing, Directing, and Cinematography brackets.
In par with the unpredictability of this year, the show had suffered quite a few setbacks. The finale of season 12 had to be filmed virtually and Sherry Pie had to be edited off of the entire season after a series of catfishing allegations. Regardless, it was a night of immense success for the show as Ru Paul’s Drag Race totally ruled the Emmys. Ru Paul, complete with his signature blonde wig, stood on the iconic runway to deliver his acceptance speech for his fifth Outstanding Host win. He was decked out in a sheer black number with long black gloves and blue lipstick.
In keeping with Ru Paul’s persona, the speech was a beacon of hope through a comedic lens. “I’ve always said, every time I bat my false eye-lashes, I’m making a political statement.”, he said. He went on to say that his message for the occasion was that of love- love for the queer community and queens of colour and he also urged the viewers to vote. He dedicated the award to the season 8 queen that recently passed away- Chi Chi DeVayne. “May you rest in power and perfection”, he said.
The show and its history of pushing for queer acceptance
Produced by World of Wonder, the reality TV juggernaut has a total of 12 regular and 5 All Star seasons under its belt and a cult following to match. Wow Presents, the YouTube channel of the production company, also features shows headlined by different queens. Fashion Photo Ruview and UNHhhh, hosted by duos Raven-Raja and Trixie-Katya are some of the most popular ones.
Despite occasional transphobic allegations, the show continues to push for acceptance of queer identities. It has been able to bring queer entertainment into mainstream media. The show artfully weaves scripted and unscripted moments together to create balance. There is almost a constant undertone of tension and drama due to the competitiveness of the show. In juxtaposition, we also have moments where the queens have heart-to-heart interactions with each other. They talk of the childhoods they spent questioning themselves and their ongoing battles with homophobia. Queens of colour also often talk about how it is further difficult to be gay when you are a POC. Many queens speak of familial tensions and support as well.
The queens and Ru Paul himself often talk about the superficial nature of acceptance. The late Chi Chi DeVayne stated in her season that she could not be an advocate for marriage equality, where she is from, without getting killed. While shows such as RPDR continue to be exemplary in pushing for visibility, in many ways, it does not pierce through to the masses and remains limited within media. Above all, it most certainly does not reflect the general reality of the heteropatriarchal world that we live in. That is precisely why shows such as RPDR need to continue running. Not only does it battle ignorance, but it also shows queer youth that they have an accepting community to look up to.