“RuPaul’s Drag Race” has its secrets, drama, and high cost to make all the glittery magic happen. Along with the secrets, it also has its fair share of scandals, which shouldn’t be a surprise as the show has been on the air for over a decade and spawned 13 seasons along with five “All Stars” seasons and numerous spinoff series, such as the latest iteration, “Drag Race Down Under.”
In fact, the growing franchise’s scandals have existed for its entire run on the air, and they’re probably not going anywhere any time soon.
For example, one scandal is the evergreen rumor that the series is rigged, with host and creator RuPaul knowing who will win each season before it even starts. For instance, Willam from Season 4 has said in interviews that Season 4’s winner, Sharon Needles, was always going to the win the season no matter what happened in the challenges or on the runway, (via WatchMojo).
We’ll likely never know if the allegation is true, but the idea of the show being rigged is widely discussed during each and every season of the reality series. But there’s so much more scandal behind the makeup, wigs, and glamour of the reality competition show.
This scandal completely rocked Season 12
One of the biggest scandals from “Drag Race” in recent memory deals with Season 12 contestant Sherry Pie. The controversy surrounding this queen came to light between the time she filmed the show and when Season 12 actually aired, so when the news about what Sherry Pie had done broke, “Drag Race” took quick action to edit Sherry out of a lot of the season.
Furthermore, Sherry Pie, who made it all the way to the finale, was not welcomed back to compete in the finale and instead immediately disqualified, (via Screen Rant). But just what did Sherry Pie do?
Well, as it turns out, Sherry Pie catfished a total of five men by posing as a casting director, per Screen Rant. She built their hopes and dreams, making them believe they were landing roles that could change their lives forever. However, during the catfishing process, Sherry Pie had the men send sexually-explicit casting tapes. Screen Rant reports that one man submitted a video of himself masturbating to the drag queen even though he felt like this wasn’t the type of video a casting director would need.
The show immediately made clear the fact that this type of harassment was unacceptable by removing Sherry Pie and not bringing her back for the reunion or finale. Though the producer’s reaction was swift, the scandal still loomed over the season nonetheless.
These scandals focused on diversity
Other scandals surrounding “Drag Race” deal with diversity. The hit series seems to have had issues with racism since the beginning. For example, Season 3’s Raja wore a traditional Native American garb that many deemed to be cultural appropriation. In retrospect, various contestants throughout the years have employed racial stereotypes either on the runway or in the weekly challenges, (via Mirror).
Fans of the show believe the “All Stars 4” finale fell into this realm as well. As of writing, the only three contestants so far in the Drag Race Hall of Fame are all white. So when a Black contestant, Monet X Change, finally won an “All Stars” season but only in a double win with another white contestant, Trinity the Tuck, some fans took issue with the show not allowing Monet to have the win on her own, (via WatchMojo).
At the same time, the series struggled with its acceptance of transgender drag queens. Trans performers have been on the show, such as Season 9 finalist Peppermint and Season 13 finalist Gottmik, but RuPaul reportedly had an issue in the past with transgender women appearing on the show.
In 2018, he told The Guardian, “It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing. We’ve had some girls who’ve had some injections in the face and maybe a little bit in the butt here and there, but they haven’t transitioned.” He later took to Twitter to express that he is always learning, but the comment stuck with a lot of fans.
These scandals revolve around the series' production
Some scandals about the series deal with the style of show overall, from the way the series is produced to how RuPaul allegedly acts on set. These scandals include Season 4’s Willam being disqualified from the show. In Willam’s elimination, RuPaul says that the drag queen had broken the rules of her contract but does not specify which rules were broken. However, Willam later explained that her husband had been visiting the hotel, which breaks the rule about being isolated from the outside world, (via Mirror).
Also according to Mirror, Season 7 contestant Pearl was upset about RuPaul’s handling of the queens on set. Pearl had her own scandalous moment on the series when she asked RuPaul, “Is there something on my face?” But it turns out that before that scene, RuPaul had told the young queen that their interactions only matter when the cameras are on after Pearl expressed gratitude to her.
RuPaul has also been shown to not know contestants’ names on camera, so the magic of the show may not be exactly as we see it at home, (via WatchMojo).
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