With England entering its third national lockdown after such a horrifically dull year, reality and RuPaul fans alike have been eagerly awaiting RuPaul’s Drag Race UK‘s second series, desperately hoping it will provide the fun, campy make-over 2021 already needs.
Drag Race’s British cousin arrived on BBC Three in 2019, and while sceptics initially doubted whether our UK queens could bring the same level of glam, skill and humour as their American counterparts, series one made a triumphant debut nonetheless. From drag girl-band Frock Destroyers topping the charts and a snatch-worthy Snatch Game, to the show crowning its very first victor with worthy-winner The Vivienne, Drag Race UK’s first series still set the bar high despite falling short of the US show’s latest season.
Series two, however, reaches a whole new level. Forget Vinegar Strokes’ hodge-podge couture and Divina De Campo’s red-wig-silver-dress combo – season one’s queens sissied that walk, so that this year’s cast could sissy that run.
Made up of 12 queens from Dundee to Darlington, the Drag Race UK contestants list is the fiercest the series has seen so far, with the hopefuls bringing refined make-up skills, over-the-top outfits and trademark Britishness to the competition.
Fans won’t be disappointed with this year’s larger line-up and its eclectic mix of drag, from comedy queens (the catchphrase-laden Ginny Lemon) and beauty queens (the polished Ellie Diamond), to dancing queens (choreographer Asttina Mandella) and even vegan queens (Norfolk’s very own Bimini Bon Boulash).
Series two marks another first, with Wales and Scotland finally getting the drag representation it deserves thanks to Glasgow’s Lawrence Chaney, Dundee’s Diamond and Newport’s Tayce – three queens who immediately become ones to watch judging by the first episode. The standard of UK contestants is finally beginning to reach the dizzying heights of RuPaul’s US title, even if the prizes – the chance to star in a digital series and the measly RuPeter Badges – still don’t.
As for the show’s format, season two’s tasks are just as fun, cheeky and entertaining as before. The first episode opens with a Wimbledon-themed mini challenge which results in as many tennis-based double entendres as you’d expect; It’s not truly an episode of Drag Race until you’ve heard one of the queens shout, “Give me your big green balls,” whilst dodging sporting equipment thrown by semi-naked men.
Moving onto the main challenge, the wannabe drag superstars are tasked with designing two fabulous looks – a tribute to a British gay icon and a homage to their hometowns. As a result, we end up with a number of David Bowie’s and Freddie Mercury’s storming the runway (which turn out miles better than their cake counterparts on GBBO’s most recent series), while drama ensues as two queens realise they’ve both chosen to channel the iconic Naomi Campbell for the same challenge.
Aside from the workroom drama and behind-the-scenes chatter, episode one jumps straight in with an emotional moment in which Glaswegian performer Lawrence Chaney opens up about feeling under-confident out of drag. These moving scenes are what make Drag Race such a multi-faceted show, providing a softer side to the otherwise cheeky camp extravaganza, and if episode one is anything to go by, there will undoubtedly be more to come.
When it comes to celebrity guest judges, the ever-stylish Elizabeth Hurley kicks off series two’s impressive line-up, joining staples Michelle Visage, Graham Norton and RuPaul – all of whom deliver with the witty one-liners throughout the queens’ catwalks. Hurley is effortless in the role and clearly knows her stuff, showering the contestants with constructive comments and glowing praise whilst occasionally coming out with a surprising raunchy remark.
Series two’s debut is a fitting ‘Welcome Back’ party for Drag Race UK after a year-and-a-half off our screens, delivering all the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent we’ve been in need of throughout the pandemic. With entertaining challenges, touching moments and a cast of hugely talented queens, Drag Race UK’s second series is set to be an unmissable sickening spectacular.