There’s a new HBO series out and I need everyone to watch it immediately so we can hold hands and watch it together. It’s so good that it’s basically required viewing, TBH. Picture the scene… a combination of Queer Eye and Ru Paul’s Drag Race? Are you imagining it? Does it sound amazing? Well, it’s even better than you’re expecting.
Shangela Laquifa Wadley, Eureka O’Hara and Bob the Drag Queen travel to small towns across the United States transforming participants into drag queens and kings. Each episode brings you a completely different set of characters, circumstances and experiences. In other words, each episode is going to make you cry in new and interesting ways.
About the only thing each episode has in common is the structure . First, we meet the town and some of the inhabitants – and it’s a mixed bag. While there are those that welcome our drag queens with open arms, they are also invariably faced with injustice, prejudice and hurtful comments from some of the town’s residents. Personally, I found these segments really tough to watch. There is something so visceral about seeing the joyful exuberance of drag held up in sharp juxtaposition to the cold, unforgiving glares of some.
Blessedly, the next people we meet are the participants, and I’ve fallen in love with each and every single one of them. Each of them is so vulnerable and open with their mentors and with us, the viewers, that any resistance crumbles. There are straight dads, trans men, gay Christians, moms and their sons and so, so many more. There’s space for everybody on this show. And it’s not just the participants wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Our mentors put their hearts front and centre. Each of the drag queens forms a unique and meaningful bond with their participant. They mentor and support their participant through all the emotional highs and lows of being in drag for the first time and putting on a performance for their friends, families and communities.
Each episode concludes with a drag show starring the three mentors and the episode’s participants. It’s impossible not to smile and joyfully laugh your way through their performances. There were even times, I confess, when I stood up and cheered at my computer screen, such is the impact of this show.
This is feel-good TV but you’ve got to put in the emotional labour and hey-sha-wow, it’s some intense emotional labour. It is also more than that; it’s an educational, revelatory TV show. You’ll learn things about small towns, prejudice, drag, foundation garments and, most importantly, love. Stay hydrated folks, because you might well cry just as much as I did.