Today I am going to be discussing why Drag Race Down Under Season 1 was so problematic. I did a similar post to this about Drag Race Holland Season 2. If you’re interested in that one, click here to check it out. At the time I am posting this, Drag Race Down Under Season 2 is close to wrapping up. I think it’s safe to say, it has already been far better and more well-received than its predecessor. Aside from what I am about to share, the debut Australian/New Zealand installment of RuPaul’s Drag Race was given an overall rating of 5.4 on IMDB. This is the lowest franchise score to date. Before we begin, I want to mention two things. 1.) Please do not send hate to any queens/hosts mentioned. It’s purely a personal rant. 2.) The image displayed below of Art Simone was taken by my brother-in-law at Drag Expo. You can read that review here. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
1.) The 2 POC Queens Are Eliminated First & The Return Of Art Simone
During the premiere episode, I was overjoyed to see BIPOC representation on the very first season of Drag Race Down Under, with Newcastle’s: Jojo Zaho and Sydney’s: Coco Jumbo. However, their longevity on the show was short-lived when Jojo was eliminated first and Coco, second. Now, you may argue that Coco was eliminated third but that is actually incorrect. In the second episode, the extremely popular and prospective front-runner, Art Simone, was shockingly asked to Sashay Away after a less than stellar impersonation of Bindi Irwin in the Snatch Game. In the fourth episode, after Coco had left for good, Art suddenly reappeared and re-entered the competition at the request of RuPaul with zero explanation. All we knew was that production wanted to bring her back to continue engaging audiences. As you can imagine, a white competitor returning for no legitimate reason made audiences rightfully angry when they realised the POC queens were not going to be given the same opportunity. Please understand, this is not the fault of Art Simone. It makes complete sense that she would take up this offer. Jojo and Coco have since spoken up about this issue and have also acknowledged that their drag sister is not to blame but rather production, for not giving them the same chance. It set an extremely sour tone for the series moving forward and if that wasn’t bad enough…
2.) The Black Face Confession
Typically, audiences can pick a winner from the beginning of a season by analysing the confessional edits they are given and the way they are received on stage by the judges. It seemed pretty apparent that Drag Race Down Under was planning to crown the talented and competitive Scarlet Adams early on. However, either due to poor background checks or an intentional moment to appear woke in the face of the BLM movement, it was revealed halfway through the season that Scarlet had performed in black face during the early stages of her drag career. She also confessed to appropriating several cultures on stage. During the critiques, RuPaul called Scarlet out on her previous mistakes and declared that this be a lesson in humility. She forgave her but it was undeniable from that moment forward, that this controversial queen had no chance of winning the season. It would have caused the biggest uproar if viewers witnessed Scarlet being rewarded after such an admission. Since the show aired, Scarlet has barely posted on social media but you can find her apology video on her Instagram page. Having her dirty laundry aired on such a public forum has truly impacted her line of work and social standing. I’m not sympathising with her, I’m just reporting on what I’ve seen. I wish this had not happened in the first place but even more so, I wish they had not accepted her into the cast because it further cemented why this installment in the franchise was a joke.
3.) The Rise & Fall Of Karen From Finance
There was a rumour that production also wanted Karen From Finance to take the crown, which makes me believe they already knew what Scarlet Adams had done beforehand. This lovable, campy queen from Melbourne hit the ground running, securing a win in the very first episode but that was pretty much her only shining moment. From a very lacklustre Dolly Parton on Snatch Game to performing poorly in the design challenge and talent show act, Karen barely kept her head above water and somehow made it to the final four anyway. I don’t think the producers expected her to stumble quite so many times. At the finale, her verse in RuPaul’s: I’m A Winner was absolutely bizarre. It didn’t say anything about herself; rather it spoke about all her competitors. It was so cheesy and a bit of a cop-out. Furthermore, she had to laser off some racially offensive tattoos before coming on the show. I’m not making this up and it gets worse!
4.) The Mistreatment of Elektra Shock
Oof, Elektra Shock was treated TERRIBLY in Drag Race Down Under. Re-watching Season 1 in preparation for this post hurt so much, I actually private messaged this Kiwi queen, letting her know how unfairly mistreated she was. She never responded but the sentiments remain there. From the minute she walked into the Werk Room, her fellow competitors continuously roasted her in and out of the confessional for being basic, busted and a filler queen. If that wasn’t bad enough, her outstanding performance in the girl group challenge for Queens Down Under was negatively critiqued by RuPaul, who told her that she took over the stage and didn’t let her team members shine. However, during the choreography, the girls actually complimented her for giving great direction and dance steps. They really appreciated her talent and expertise. Elektra also broke down in this episode, revealing just how much it hurt to lose her dance studio before coming on the show. They built up her narrative to be a comeback queen, only to tear her down during the critiques. I don’t usually disagree with RuPaul but this time she got it wrong. I honestly felt bad for Elektra. She continued to prove her worth and deserved to make the top four over Karen. Elektra was my favourite contestant in the show and it may sound dramatic but she was bullied. They did her dirty. No question.
5.) Kita Mean – A Default Winner?
With all that being said, I will confess that Kita Mean was an excellent choice as a winner. Her victory made a somewhat satisfying ending to an abysmal season. BUT! Let’s be real. Kita Mean was a default winner. Production could not possibly crown Scarlet Adams without receiving serious backlash, nor could they give Art Simone the title because a.) she was given a free pass back into the competition over the POC queens and b.) she never won a single challenge. Karen From Finance was lucky to have made it that far, so all that was left was Kita. She had a great track record and all the makings of a worthy Drag Race Superstar but she was the only logical and respectable choice by the end. I want to do a post on All Stars 3 as well because Trixie Mattel (in my opinion) was also a default winner. There was a lot wrong with that season too and I definitely want to break it down in the future. Down Under was one big train wreck and a struggle to make it to the finish line. I’m really happy for Kita and can confirm (by looking at her social media) she has had a very successful reign. They had to get one thing right! Ouch!
Thank you so much for reading. What did you think of this post? Have you seen Season 1? Are you watching Season 2?
Peace & Love xoxo