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This episode of Drag Race plays with the idea of reality in multiple ways.

Read the two readings and watch the two screenings, then answer the four questions.

Readings:

1. Joshua Gamson, “It’s Been a While Since I’ve Seen, Like, Straight People”: Queer Visibility in the Age of Postnetwork Reality Television” (2014)

2. Jonathan Ward, “Serving ‘Reality’ Television ‘Realness’: Reading RuPaul’s Drag Race and Its Construction of Reality” (2020)

Screenings:

1. RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 5, episode 9 (2013)

2. Queer Eye, season 6, episode 3 (2021)

Please respond to the following four questions in full sentences. Each response should be around 100 words. When possible, make specific references to the original text or media object.

1. Gamson writes that “LGBT people continue to be an especially tight fit with the reality TV genre” (233). What does he mean by that? What reasons does he give for the prominent representation of LGBT people on reality TV?

2. Ward explains that “realness,” which is referenced often in RuPaul’s Drag Race, had different connotations in the ball cultures it originated from. What did “realness” originally mean in ball culture (see pages 24 – 26)? How has Drag Race adapted the term and what does Ward say makes that problematic (see pages 26 – 27)?

3. Writing in the early 2010s, Gamson talks about shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as representing gay men as stereotypical “style mavens” (see pages 235 – 237). The episode you watched is from Queer Eye (2018 – present), an updated reboot of the earlier show. In what ways does the episode match or not match Gamson’s description of the original show?

4. This episode of Drag Race plays with the idea of reality in multiple ways. Ward talks about the “crying game” sequence as blurring the divide between real and unreal (27). Think about the other challenge in this episode: making the telenovelas. Keeping in mind that telenovelas themselves have a lot in common with reality TV, what are some ways that this sequence plays with reality?

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