BY Eric Rezsnyak
It sounds insane that we could have a Top 10 ranking of “Drag Race” seasons that aired in one year. But gals, it’s true. In fact, counting the international spinoffs, there were MORE than 10 — 14 by my count. It is truly amazing to think that what started off as a little reality show shot in, seemingly, someone’s garage, featuring men in dresses and a camera lens smeared with Vaseline would, 15 years later, become a bona fide global entertainment brand delighting millions of viewers around the world. But here we are.
Below find my personal rankings of all the “Drag Race” editions to air in the past year, ordered from least best to the most exceptional. You disagree? To quote Detox: well, that’s on you. But by all means, drop your thoughts in the comments on this article.
NOTE: We will absolutely be spoiling these seasons in this article, so if you haven’t seen them yet and you care about being spoiled, Molly, you in danger, girl.
Dishonorable Mention: “Canada’s Drag Race” Season 4
It’s too early to fully rank the fourth outing for “Canada’s Drag Race,” as only three episodes have aired as of this writing. The first was solid, and showed promise with a super likable, energetic cast. The following two were among the worst “Drag Race” episodes of the year, possibly any year. This cast may be charming, but the majority of them seem incapable of performing in what have become fairly standard “Drag Race” challenges. To quote my colleague Curtis Creekmore, “Where. Is. The Talent?” “Canada” had three excellent seasons. I guess it was due for a dud. One third of the way in, it looks like we have one.
13. “Drag Race Belgique (Belgium)” Season 1
I don’t think that “Belgique” was bad, but it committed the greatest “Drag Race” sin of all: it was unmemorable. Possibly even boring. It certainly doesn’t help that “Belgique” aired early in 2023, from February through April. I binged the whole thing shortly after it completed, and there just wasn’t much there. Rita Baga, runner-up from “Canada’s Drag Race” S1 and a finalist on “Canada vs. the World,” is a fine host. The other judges exist. Eventual winner Drag Couenne did well throughout the competition, and Peach, Athena, and Susan (nee Susan From Grindr) were all solid or better. But there was also a LOT of chaff in that group. We’re getting a second season in 2024, so I’ll be curious to see if there’s any “there” there with “Belgique.”
12. “Drag Race Brasil” Season 1
I’m ranking “Brasil” so low because my expectations were so high, and the end result was such a disappointment. The issue with “Brasil” was very clear: the cast was, on the whole, unlikable. Aside from the lovely Bettina Polaroid and Naza, there was a LOT of attitude, and none of it was cute. More than one of the early boots was furious at their elimination, despite failing at pretty much every challenge — one couldn’t even wear heels, on a drag competition, yet still felt entitled to continue. Unfortunately the cast remained exasperating to the literal bitter end. In the finale I was shocked when the judges referred to Miranda Lebrao as a comedy queen, as she had been insufferable for weeks. Ultimate winner Organzza seemed to operate in three modes: braggy, irritated, or crying. There was some ugly ganging up on both Naza and Dallas De Vil. It was a chore to get through the entire season, which is a shame because host Grag Queen — winner of S1 of the late, lamented “Queen of the Universe” — is excellent. Season 2 is almost certainly happening, and I’m really hoping casting can find queens who are…pleasant? Seem to be enjoying themselves? Have even a fleeting sense of joy? Do that challenge.
11. “Drag Race Espana” Season 3
It is shocking to have “Espana” falling out of the Top 10. The first two seasons of “Espana” are top-tier “Drag Race,” producing a slew of stars and two outstanding winners. But what a falling off we had for Season 3. You knew it was going to be rough when the first two episodes included host Supremme De Luxxe telling the entire cast that they sucked. I’m not joking. And Supremme was right. Sloppy make-up and wigs. Underwhelming runways. Challenge bombings all over the place. And ultimately, just not a lot of competition, and some very aggressive, irritating queens. La Macarena, the Espana version of Porkchop, returned for an underwhelming run that exhausted just about everyone’s patience. Pinkchadora was supposed to be our comedy queen, but the only joke were her undeserved challenge wins. Hyper queen Clover Bish could not do anything right per the judges, while Vania Vainilla had to be begged to stay in the competition and Kelly Roller somehow made the finale despite being gone half the season. It was WILD. Winner Pitita is a great queen, but she won in one of the least-competitive finales in “Drag Race” history. A lousy season.
10. “Drag Race Down Under” Season 3
This was a bummer. “Down Under” S2 was a quantum leap over the disastrous Season 1, so I was hoping to continue that trend. Alas, “DU3” was a real step down. Again, I think the issue was cast. There seemed to be a lot of very green queens in this group, who lacked either the performance chops or the nerve (and in some, the talent) to be successful in the competition. While there were some memorable moments — Hollywould’s age kerfuffle, the entirety of Bumpa Love’s unhinged dog-piss comedy routine — much of the season and its queens were sadly forgettable. Isis Avis Loren is lovely, talented, creative, and fully deserved her win, but she lacks impact when compared to almost any other winner of which I can think. “Down Under” is currently casting for Season 4, so I’m hopeful things can be righted on the bottom half of the globe.
9. “Drag Race Mexico” Season 1
There are great episodes of “Drag Race Mexico,” and some terrific queens — Matraka is a star in the making — but there were also a lot of bum episodes and weak castings. It’s a frustratingly uneven season. Much conversation has had about the dual-host situation with Valentina and Lolita Banana. Personally I enjoyed them both and thought they worked well together. Valentina grew into the host role as the season went on, but thank god Lolita was there in the beginning or I don’t know how it would have worked at all. But it did, and ultimately I think the winner, Cristian Peralta, brings something new to the winner’s circle, and was an undeniable force in the competition. Rumor has it there are significant changes in store for Season 2, which is currently filming. Hopefully that extends to a better mix of cast members.
8. “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” Season 8
In fairness, it was going to be difficult for any season to follow up “All Stars” 6 and 7, both of which gave us drag excellence in a variety of ways. But this season? Not it. I actually liked the cast, a mix of contenders from their original seasons and earlier outs who deserved a second chance. I thought the idea behind the Fame Games twist was cool. Unfortunately it all got fucked due to blatant favoritism. Viewers talk about riggory with “Drag Race” every season, but this was on another level. And I’m not even talking about Jimbo — who was spared a B2 placement here or there so as to never be at risk, but who absolutely clobbered most of the challenges and brought it just about every runway. But both Lala Ri and Jaymes Mansfield were given a LOT of grace by production, and Kandy Muse being protected up to the Final 2 AGAIN?! Insanity. Meanwhile other queens were doing strong work and being paid dust — for instance, Alexis Michelle was great this season, I find the pushback toward her really unfair. The season had its good moments. In addition to just about everything Jimbo, that Joan Crawford rusical was next-level, and Jessica Wild gave us lots of memeable content. But the fix was obviously in, and by the time Heidi N. Closet quit in one of the most tense moments I can think of on “Drag Race,” I think most of the the remaining players knew it. (Aside from Heidi, Kahanna also threatened to walk out, and reportedly other girls did, too.) That 3x Fame Game multiplier in favor of LaLa was the last straw. If you’re going to make it so obvious who you want to win a season, don’t be surprised when viewers — and the other contestants — call you out on your bullshit.
7. “Drag Race Italia” Season 3
“Drag Race Italia” may be the most chaotic franchise. The first season is unquestionably the worst season in “Drag Race” history — yes, even worse than “Down Under” 1 — but S2 was a lot of fun. The show really stepped up its pussy in Season 3. It looks EXPENSIVE, honey, from the new mainstage to host Priscilla, who is serving the children every episode and finally getting the flowers she deserves. The overhaul of the panel has brought the welcome Paola Iezzi and the sexy but less useful Paolo Camilli, and the essential Chiara Francini remains the best international sidekick. The cast is bigger than ever, with 13 queens who have a surfeit of talent and have given us some truly jaw-dropping runways. As I write this, we are at Final 5, so we’re a few episodes from crowning a winner. But the season has been a lot of fun and this cast is loaded with stars. The major negative is the baffling judging, including several majorly suspicious calls in favor of La Sheeva, who is being pushed by production at the expense of several other queens at this point. But bottom line: it’s fun, the queens are memorable, and this franchise continues to improve.
6. “Drag Race Germany” Season 1
“Germany” came out of the gate really strong — casting for this season was spot on, we got some terrific looks on the runway, host Barbie Breakout is an absolute treasure, a solid judging panel (I know she’s polarizing, but I adore Diane Brill). After a few great episodes — the “CSI” Rusical is fucking wild — the middle of the season sagged significantly. I blame the multitude of comedy/improv challenges, which almost always devolved into the queens making out or fake fucking. It got very repetitive, very boring frankly, and even with the great queens and panel, it was still a chore. Things ticked back up in the last few episodes of the season (after the elimination of Lorelay Rivers, who was in my opinion treated very poorly by several of her castmates — that behavior has to stop), and the finale gave us a historic winner in Pandora Nox, the first “hyper” (assigned female at birth) queen to win “Drag Race.” I hear Season 2 is coming, and I am confident they can improve from a solid start and continue to give us a surprising, sexy franchise.
5. “Drag Race Sverige (Sweden)” Season 1
This one took me totally by surprise. Sweden’s edition of “Drag Race” came out swinging, with a great cast, a terrific host in Robert Fux, and an engaging, memorable first season. There are numerous stars in this group of nine queens. Vanity Vain, Santana Sexmachine, Elecktra, Imaa Queen, even Antonina Nutshell, who has an iconically bad track record that she is owning, bless her heart. You should absolutely expect to hear from runner-up Fontana again; she is a breakout sensation waiting to happen. And ultimate winner Admira Thunderpussy gave us high drag all season long, a soap-opera villain anyone can love — absolute perfection. As of this writing there’s no word on a second season, and I will be deeply disappointed if this franchise is one-and-done. It deserves so much more love.
4. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 15
I’ll be honest, I was cool on Season 15 as it was airing. I wasn’t connecting with a lot of the queens, who skewed very young. There seemed to be a LOT of filler queens and a very clear group at the top. I think a big part of the issue were the 60-minute episodes, which I hope we never have deal with again — if you’re going to have a 16-queen cast, you cannot hope to showcase them all in 60 minutes (technically 40, not counting commercials). But having watched some of the extended episodes later released on Paramount+, and having gone through the season as a whole, there’s a lot to love here. We have a slew of new stars in the “Drag Race” pantheon. Anetra reliably gave us some of the most amazing moments from the season. Luxx Noir London is a terrific queen, and I’m curious to see her with a few more years of maturity under her belt. Loosey LaDuca had one of the most aggressively awful edits in recent memory but I think she’s a very special, very talented queen. Ditto for Marcia Marcia Marcia. The kids sure seem to love Mistress Isabelle Brooks, and while I agree that she is great at drag and a formidable queen, I just can’t with the whole trolling-as-a-personality thing (like, who has the fucking time?). The main issue with the season is that it was always going to be Mother Sasha Colby winning it. Was it deserved? Absolutely. Did it still mean the 16 episodes were kind of pointless? Also yes. Almost as pointless as Sugar and Spice, a casting stunt that lasted far, far too long. But overall, in hindsight, I do think the good of Season 15 outweighed the bad. But maybe not the meh.
3. “Drag Race Philippines” Season 2
Philippines’ second season gave us the drama, mawma, right from the jump. The queens were throwing shade and getting messy from Episode 1, and for the first 5 or 6 episodes, the show itself felt like a mess — it just wasn’t gelling, and I think it’s pretty clear SOMETHING was going on with judge Paolo Ballesteros, whose aesthetic presentation cratered between the first and second seasons. But around the midway point, everything started to click, and “Philippines 2” became one of the best “Drag Race” seasons of the year. It felt very much like the golden age of U.S. “Drag Race.” We had memorable characters, some shocking moments, spicy fights, heartwarming work room moments, and one or two unapologetic villains in the mix. I think it has one of the best F6 line-ups of any season of “Drag Race,” and a terrific Final 4. The crowning of Captivating Katkat has been controversial, but the last few episodes were riveting. Bernie, OV Cunt, and Arizona Brandy are all stars, but the one to watch out for is M1ss Jade S0. I have never seen such a mesmerizing character on reality TV — the closest approximation I can make is Tiffany “New York” Pollard, not from behavior, but because of the mega-watt magnetism. There is nobody like Jade. Her speeches in the last few episodes are legendary, as are her batshit crazy confessionals. She got almost fully nude during a lipsynch! Her exit? High camp. She may be my favorite new RuGirl of 2023, and I am absolutely fascinated to see what happens with her next. She is the moment! #dolldomination
2. “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” Season 5
I was low-key dreading UK5 prior to its premiere. Seasons 3 and 4 of the franchise were disappointing, to say the least. I had read about two of the queens dropping right before the start of filming, meaning yet another smaller-than-expected cast (a huge problem for “Drag Race” in 2023 — virtually any 11-queen season was meant to have more, meaning some shit went down behind the scenes). Then of course there was the queen who was booted from the competition AFTER it started filming, and digitally removed from footage entirely. And then a frankly underwhelming promo concept. So, all signs pointed to UK5 being cursed. But it ended up being bloody amazing. We didn’t need any more than 10 queens. In fact, 10 queens was arguably too many, because almost every elimination hurt. By the time Banksie went home, you knew this season was going to be brutal because EVERYONE was delivering. They gave us looks. They gave us comedy. They gave us lipsynchs. They gave us personality. It was 10s across the board for me, and it says something that “Snatch Game” was the least entertaining episode of the season. I know several friends who gave up on UK5 by midway because early faves were going home too soon, or they found it boring. I honestly don’t get the boring critique, at all, but regarding the early faves getting axed before the finale — I think every elimination this season was justified. I really do. That’s what happens when you have a cast as stacked as UK5. While the likes of Michael Marouli, Tomara Thomas, and Ginger Johnson might not seem the most exciting at first glance, watching week after week, I fell in love with them and their drag. In fact, I fell for just about every queen this season, hard. A wonderful return to form for “Drag Race UK,” and boy did the franchise need it. It was a real tough call between 2nd and 1st place for me.
1. “Drag Race France” Season 2
But ultimately I give my top spot to “Drag Race France,” which is currently giving us “Drag Race” better than any other country. I enjoyed the first outing of “France,” but S2 was an improvement in every way. Season 12’s Nicky Doll has blossomed into a great host — she cares so much for these queens, you can practically feel it; the vibe is so genuinely maternal compared to some of the other hosts. And this cast? Incredible. A ferociously competitive Final 6, and even some of the early-outs were very memorable (I hope we see Rose, Moon, and Ginger Bitch in a future All Star competition). “Drag Race France” is so popular in France that it had a live finale, and it was a SPECTACLE. The final lipsynch between Keiona and Sarah Forever is Sasha Velour vs. Peppermint levels of intensity. A wonderful season with wonderful queens. If you have been sleeping on “Drag Race France,” fix that immediately. Go back to Season 1, it’s also very strong. I’m so excited to see where the franchise goes from here. Vive la France!
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