Ever since the first season aired in 2009, RuPaul’s Drag Race, a reality show featuring drag queens competing for the crown and a cash prize, but also highlighting issues of self-acceptance, self-expression, and the dismantling of societal norms, coupled with the popularity and strength of social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, has become a global phenomenon.
In depth, affected and repulsed by the current US political climate, it is easy to see why Drag Race has been embraced even more by the LGBTQIA+ community, but also those outside, as an observed resistance to the current climate. As RuPaul says, “Every time I bat my lashes, it is a political act”. The cultural divide has brought shows like Drag Race to the forefront, highlighting the important of diverse representation.
Produced by World of Wonder and hosted by drag queen legend, RuPaul Charles, RuPaul’s Drag Race has been expanding its viewership, moving from Logo, a network run by Viacom, to Viacom’s most popular VH1 network, which has twice the potential viewership footprint. With annual US viewership consistently rising, Drag Race went global via Netflix in 2013, making the series available in 30 countries worldwide; its popularity has risen even more with the 2016 Emmy win and global-known celebrity guest judge appearances like Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, and Ariana Grande now on its eleven season with two spin-offs.
On Dec 5th2018, RuPaul announced there will be a new “Queen of Great Britain” crowned with a UK version of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” starting on the BBC network next year.It marks the first time that the series has been adapted for the British market. It is important to note an already established fan base in the UK due to Netflix UK and drag race contestants’ UK presence during annual global tours.
BBC producers believe that the UK market is hungry for a show highlighting their unique drag scene culture and highlighting queer issues from the British perceptive. As well-known UK drag queen puts it, “We have very different reference points – seaside entertainment, pantomime, pub culture, 80s London club culture – we’re less about pageantry than our American sisters. It would be a very exciting moment.”
In order to cater to the British consumer and global obsession of UK Royal culture, Drag Race UK announced a “Royal-Mother-To-Be” runway challenge, associated with the beloved Meghan Markle. Only time will tell how the UK consumer, mainly the LGBTQIA+ target audience, will react during the premier of their first episode. The shows’ future lies with the careful analysis of the cross-cultural consumer behavior of the UK market, localizing enough to the British culture through challenges/tasks and runways, celebrity guests, and chosen highlighted issues, while keeping the essence of the American model that has brought them great success in the US.