Since its vaseline-filtered debut back in 2009, RuPaul’s Drag Race has become a certified pop culture phenomenon. Although a reality show documenting the ‘Blame It on the Edit’ hitmaker in his search for “America’s Next Drag Superstar” sounded like another soon-to-be cult series with a ‘save it from cancellation’ change.org petition, the series has defied all odds to become one of the most championed reality competitions of all time. Thanks to the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent (and in some cases, synergy) of the contestants, who bring it week after week with their innovative runway presentations and lip-sync performances, RuPaul’s drag empire has been honoured with 24 Primetime Emmy Awards – including six consecutive wins for Outstanding Host. The franchise has also branched out into international territories including Thailand, Chile, the UK, Canada, Holland, Australasia, Spain, Italy, France, the Philippines, Belgium, Sweden and Mexico, with new versions to follow in Brazil and [insert any country here, honestly]. C’mon worldwide domination (dragination?)! To celebrate Drag Race’s expanding herstory (and Jimbo’s win), we have ranked all 30 seasons of the show (with RuPaul on hosting duties) from worst to best. We did not consult with the judges, the final decision rests with us, GAY TIMES. There’s bound to be some pushback with a few of our choices, but remember: it’s just drag! Water off a duck’s back and all that.
30. Season 1 (Drag Race Down Under)
Most iconic moment: “That means nothing” – Art Simone
From the offset, the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under was mired in controversy. Two of the contestants, Karen from Finance and Scarlet Adams, were exposed for their racist pasts pre-season; igniting a conversation surrounding Australasia’s long-standing issue with people of colour while also begging the question: do the producers, y’know, background check? The situation exacerbated when both queens made it to the final and Scarlet, who was called out for blackface on the main stage by RuPaul, dominated the season with three challenge wins. (Awkward.) And while Art Simone was mourned by fans after her infamous exit – her delivery of “that means nothing” was, like her namesake, art – her return was… confusion. Unlike past alum such as Carmen Carrera, Trixie Mattel and Naysha Lopez, who all returned in the same season, RuPaul failed to explain her reasoning to the cast and viewers at home, while Jojo Zaho and Coco Jumbo were paid dust. Down Under did, however, introduce us to loveable queens such as Kita Mean, Maxi Shield and Anita Wigl’it, as well as a fierce lip-sync assassin and underdog storyline in Elektra Shock. But sadly, with the amount of favouritism towards some of the queens and the racist scandals, the first season of Drag Race Down Under was doomed from the start.
29. All Stars 1
Most iconic moment: Raven vs Jujubee – Dancing on My Own
Collecting contestants from the first four US seasons, All Stars 1 had the potential to be the best season of RuPaul’s Drag Race due to the sheer amount of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent that sashayed back into the werkroom. Regrettably, the producers felt the need to add ‘S’ to the aforementioned C.U.N.T. for ‘synergy’ and thought we’d be enthused to see the queens perform in teams of two. Incorrect! No tea, no shade, no pink lemonade etc, but if the contestants competed as individuals, the season would look vastly different. Manila Luzon? Top three, that’s a given. Nina Flowers? Top five, possibly. Mimi Imfurst? Still last place, but in the words of Yara Sofia, “Someone needs to go home first!” Although we’ve ranked All Stars 1 so low, the lip-sync battle between Rujubee still stands as one of the most poignant scenes in the show’s herstory while the first episode of Untucked gifted viewers with some of reality TV’s most iconic quotes that deserve to be displayed in The Louvre for all eternity: “Mimi Imfurst was number third in the voting? I could not believe it,” “Act a fool girl, act a fool,” and, of course, “Well c’mon Teletubby! Teleport us to Mars!” And whether you were team Raven or Chad Michaels, the latter is arguably the ideal queen to represent RuPaul’s empire as the first-ever All Stars winner. It was about time this legend got a crown.
28. Season 1
Most iconic moment: Shannel – “I am beautiful”
The season that started it all. While the inaugural season of the franchise – also known as the “Lost Season” – is responsible for catapulting over three hundred drag entertainters to mainstream success and launching a drag empire, it doesn’t feel like quintessential Drag Race. Snatch Game didn’t exist and, because of that vaseline filter, it’s impossible to watch without our retinas taking a bit of a hit. Oh, and the budget? Non-existent. Nevertheless, we couldn’t possibly think of a more fitting competitor than Bebe Zahara Benet to represent Drag Race as the franchise’s first-ever crowned queen (stream ‘Jungle Kitty’ now or suffer a fate worse than death). Ongina also broke boundaries for queer visibility on the small screen when she bravely came out as HIV-positive to RuPaul and her fellow queens, igniting a much-needed discussion re attitudes and stigmas towards those living with the virus. The beauty of season one, we should add, is how the contestants didn’t come equipped with hit-or-miss catchphrases to solidify their brands or reign in their personalities out of fear of how they would be perceived by fans. If this was a ranking based on authenticity, season one would easily take the top spot.
27. Season 11
Most iconic moment: Brooke Lynn Hytes vs Yvie Oddly – Sorry Not Sorry
Compared to all the other shows on our screens at the time, Drag Race season 11 still reigns supreme. But when you place it within this line-up, it was – in the words of Ru after witnessing Nina West and Silky Nutmeg Ganache’s whelming showdown to No Scrubs – “meh”. The drama felt mean rather than shady, Snatch Game was a bust (bar Silky and Nina) and the challenges were… lacklustre. Did we really need a Trump Rusical? It’s a no! Regardless, Brooke Lynn Hytes and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo memorably provided viewers with Drag Race’s first-ever on-screen romance (Jinkx Monsoon and Ivy Winters doesn’t count), Mercedes Iman Diamond made history as the first Muslim queen and “OPPALANCE” dominated the brains of queers around the world. Let’s not forget the Gay Super Bowl of 2019: after bombing Snatch Game, Drag Race’s most significant challenge, Brooke and Yvie Oddly embraced their inner Cirque de Soleil in a sickening display of acrobatics and reveals for Demi Lovato’s dance-pop anthem ‘Sorry Not Sorry’. It went viral and was met with accolades from lip-sync assassins such as Kennedy Davenport, Alyssa Edwards and Tatianna, while almost causing an earthquake of epic proportions after gays across the globe let out a collective “YAAAAAAS!” It was a moment.
26. Down Under season 2
Most iconic moment: Being renewed
The second season of Down Under needed to be controversy-free after the various missteps of the first season (revisit the 30th entry for details), most notably the simple slap on the wrist for Scarlet Adams for her racist past rather than an on-the-spot elimination. While season two didn’t boast any major scandals, Down Under still feels like the forgotten child of the Drag Race franchise as a result of the confusing production value (what is with that blur?) and lack of promotion (did anyone know it was coming back?) “Wait, Drag Race Down Under season 2 already aired?” tweeted one viewer, three months after Spankie Jackson defeated Kween Kong and Hannah Conda in the grand finale. Those who did watch, however, praised season two for its more authentic representation of Australian and New Zealand drag culture, in addition to the dichotomy between older (Spankie and Minnie Cooper) and newer (Yuri Guaii and Beverly Kills) drag aesthetics. Minnie also, very memorably, clashed with the entire cast and crew plus the werkroom wallpaper, Kween showcased why she’s the “superhero” Down Under needs as she soared (literally) across the stage in her lip-sync smackdowns and Spankie dominated the season with – insert “aww!” moment – kindness. It may have not been the best season of Drag Race, but Down Under season two definitely qualifies as an answer to, “When was the sequel better than the original?” by a long shot.
25. Season 13
Most iconic moment: Denali vs Kahmora Hall – 100% Pure Love
Season 13 is a tricky one. Like season 11, the most iconic moment (arguably) belongs to a lip-sync. Denali, who deserved to advance much further in the competition, transported us to the dancefloor as she battled against her friend (slash slaughtered) Kahmora Hall to the beat of Crystal Waters’ ‘100% Pure Love’. When compared to the Britney-dominated smackdowns in the finale, it tops – and this isn’t a controversial opinion in the slightest – all three combined. Other notable moments include: Gottmik flying the trans flag as the first openly trans male competitor on the series (and her eerily accurate impersonation of Paris Hilton on Snatch Game); Kandy Muse’s tumultuous feud with Tamisha Iman (“I said what I said!”); and Utica Queen’s unintentionally hilarious and offensive roast, which led to RuPaul giving her the finger. Upon reflection, the season was just too long – clocking in at 16 episodes – and with the excellent second season of Drag Race UK airing at the same time, it lost a lot of steam. Symone’s win, however? [Insert chef’s kiss here.]
24. UK vs the World season 1
Most iconic moment: Pangina’s elimination
The first-ever international version of Drag Race was unhinged. From Jimbo’s introduction of Casper the Baloney Ghost to Janey Jacké’s berserk arm choreography in the Vengaboys lip-sync, as well as Baga Chipz’s Oscar-worthy impersonation of Kathy Bates, the six-episode first season boasted a plethora of viral moments and resulted in many heated debates online. It will go down in the herstory books for eliminating the two strongest queens of the season back-to-back with Jimbo and Pangina Heals; prompting fans to question whether “current All Star rules” should be scrapped entirely if the strongest talent aren’t going to reach the final. Once the two aforementioned stars left the series, it felt – and this is no shade to the finalists – like a non-event. Controversies aside, witnessing some of the most legendary Glamazon Warriors from all corners of the franchise duke it for ‘Queen of the Mothertucking World’ felt like the queer equivalent of Avengers: Endgame. Didn’t quite stick the landing, but whatever.
23. All Stars 8
Most iconic moment: “That was weird for me” / “A soaking clock”
All Stars 8 received a lot of flack for its lack of… pizzazz (?), in addition to the lack of stakes with Jimbo steamrolling the competition. In spite of this, we (crystal ball time) predict this season will be remembered more fondly in the future because a) it’s the season of the titty and b) it arguably produced more viral moments than any other season. From Jimbo’s absurd impersonation of Shirley Temple in the Snatch Game (top five ever, maybe?) to Jessica Wild’s #TacoTuesday monologue (“That was weird for me”) and, of course, Monica Beverly Hillz’s “soaking clock” banger ‘MBH is Back’, All Stars 8 delivered more iconic scenes that continued to contribute to the changing tongue of queer language. Virality aside, it was the rudemption season for stars such as Kahanna Montrese and Jaymes Mansfield, while Alexis Michelle proved she is the best producer in the show’s herstory. Admit it: it’s not as weak as you think.
22. UK season 4
Most iconic moment: Baby’s departure
From the slayage of the inaugural ‘Yas-tonbury Festival’ to Dakota entering the werkroom as the British spin-off’s first trans female contestant and, of course, RuPaul missing her first-ever panelling sesh due to unforeseen circumstances, season four was…. memorable, let’s say that. The legendary Danny Beard blazed a trail for more alternative forms of drag when she became the first bearded queen on a season of Drag Race hosted by RuPaul (and the first winner), while Baby received praise for shining a light on mental health with her powerful exit. Season four also consists of one of the most diverse top four’s ever with Jonbers Blonde representing fashion (and “sex worker pigeons” around the world), Black Peppa with performance, Cheddar Gorgeous with alternative/political drag and Danny with comedy/beards. It was a great season, although it suffered ever-so-slightly as a result of some confusing judging choices (their criteria for the makeover challenge changes every season) and its predictability (Danny and Cheddar were always going to be top two).
21. All Stars 5
Most iconic moment: Shea Couleé’s win!
With the return of early fan-favourites such as Mariah, Ongina and Jujubee, as well as newer stars like Shea Couleé, Miz Cracker and Mayhem Miller, expectations were high for the fifth season of All Stars. We’ll get the two main negatives out of the way first: the challenges weren’t all that memorable and the new twist – which saw past lip-sync assassins return to compete against the challenge winner – was an exciting change to the format, but it wasn’t utilised well until All Stars 6. Where was Trinity K. Bonet and Peppermint? Ahem? Also, you’re telling us that the Dancing Diva of Texas, Kennedy Davenport, packed her bags, flew on a goddamn plane and hitched a ride to the Drag Race studio to perform a Reba McEntire song? The audacity! Positives incoming: Jujubee cemented her status as one of the most beloved entertainters ever and the queen of one-liners (“sensible 74”); Alexis Mateo and India Ferrah’s feud gave us the following quote from the former, “You’re a liar and that’s why Derrick don’t like you”; Yvie Oddly and India’s showdown to Ricky Martin’s ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ was (in the words of Adore Delano) the “bomb.com.org.co.uk” and we blubbered with joy/euphoria when Shea finally won her crown. She didn’t come to play, she came to “wiiin”!
20. UK season 3
Most iconic moment: Victoria Scone making herstory
Season three had more twists and turns than – in Anubis’ words – “a cheese twist in a bakery” with legacy lip-syncs, double shantays, double sashays, medical-related departures and RuPaul’s decision to withhold a badge from the queens. It was utter bedlam. While it didn’t reach the same (impossible) heights as its predecessor, the season broke new ground for drag visibility when Victoria Scone sashayed onto the series as the franchise’s first cisgender female contestant. Additional top tier Drag Race moments include: Ella Vaday’s dirty, dirty, dirty impersonation of Nigella Lawson; Vanity Milan’s lip-sync to ‘Scandalous’ (and Alesha Dixon’s reaction); Krystal Versace’s innovative runways; and RuPaul’s bizarre decision to revive the dreaded double sashay for River Medway and Choriza May, two fan-favourites (Fame and Pearl deserved!). Season three definitely gave us all the ‘BDE (Big Drag Energy)’ we needed, and that’s what matters most, right?
19. Season 8
Most iconic moment: Chi Chi DeVayne vs Thorgy Thor – And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going
‘Season eight below seven?!’ Yes, season eight below seven. Here is why: there was a clear frontrunner for the crown in Bob the Drag Queen, who became one of the most formidable contestants the show has ever seen after winning three challenges in seven episodes, while viewers were robbed of an iconic lip-sync to Gloria Gaynor’s powerhouse disco anthem ‘I Will Survive’ when Laila McQueen and Dax Exclamation Point flailed around the stage and received a rare – yet deserved – double sashay. Robbed! (Still iconic, though.) Also, we deserved more than 10 episodes. Deserved! Ranking the season below season seven doesn’t mean it’s a sub-par season of Drag Race, however. Once we reached the 19th entry, we entered ‘great’ territory. With her dual Snatch Game performance as Uzo Aduba/Carol Channing and her parody of Empire’s breakout character Cookie Lyon, Bob instantly became one of the franchise’s supreme comedians. Fashion powerhouse Kim Chi demolished the main stage with her innovative presentations, Naomi Smalls devoured the runway and the late Chi Chi DeVayne’s lip-sync against Thorgy Thor is one of the series’ greatest. Then there’s Derrick Barry, who was just made for television and deserves to be on our screens each and every week.
18. Season 7
Most iconic moment: “Is there something on my face?”
Season seven receives a lot of hate from fans, and we get it. A cast consisting primarily of fashion powerhouses were wasted on a season overstuffed with scripted comedy challenges that failed to bring in the laughs. The John Waters and Shakespeare-inspired episodes were uncomfortable to watch due to the lack of queens with Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme-levels of comedic prowess, and the challenge dedicated to the disappearance of season one and two judge Merle Ginsburg was… What was that? And why does mother not play that? Viewers weren’t too kind on the season at the time, although it has been retrospectively appreciated for introducing some of Drag Race’s biggest stars in Trixie Mattel, Ginger Minj, Katya, Pearl, Kennedy Davenport, Miss Fame and Violet Chachki. It deserves its flowers for the Snatch Game alone, which saw Ginger and Kennedy become the first contestants to score a double win for the challenge as Adele and Little Richard. While we’re not keen on ties (we’ll come to that later), this was well deserved. Shoutout to Violet’s iconic tartan reveal and ‘Death Becomes Her’ runway, two of the most unforgettable fashion moments of all time, as well as Pearl’s intense confrontation with RuPaul. “Is there something on my face?” We still gasp.
17. All Stars 3
Most iconic moment: BenDeLaCreme’s self-elimination/Shangela’s downfall
Let’s get it out of the way: SHANGELA WAS ROBBED. R-O-B-B-E-D, what’s that spell? Shangela! Laquifa! Wadley! (Deserved better on Dancing with the Stars, too.) Has an elimination ever hurt this much? Manila Luzon on All Stars 4 comes pretty close. Pangina Heals on UK vs the World, too, but Shangela’s long-awaited induction into the Drag Race Hall of Fame was right… there. Daylight robbery aside, All Stars 3 was – contrary to popular belief – actually quite exhilarating. We had Bebe Zahara Benet, the first-ever crowned queen, return for a second shot at the crown, BenDeLaCreme self-eliminating after winning more challenges than any other contestant and the jury vote, which led to the aforementioned downfall of the Hallelloo! founder. (Four years later, it’s still regarded as one of the franchise’s biggest blunders. What a moment though, right?) In the memes department, Aja did “jump from there” and Vanessa Hudgens shocked the world when she declared that she’s “so into voguing right now”. Admit it: All Stars 3 is legendary.
16. Season 10
Most iconic moment: “Miss Vaaaaaaaaaaaaanjie”
Season 10 features the most viral moment for the franchise so far when Vanessa Vanjie Mateo sashayed away (backwards) from the main stage and repeatedly recited her middle name – Miss Vanjie, Miss Vanjie, Miss… Vaaanjie – spawning meme after meme and adoration from A-List stars such as Andrew Garfield. Aquaria also proved to be one of the most dazzling fashion queens the show has ever seen, several fan-favourites were controversially eliminated by lip-sync assassin Kameron Michaels and The Vixen vs Eureka usurped Sharon Needles and Phi Phi O’Hara as the most explosive rivalry in the show’s 15-year run. And although The Vixen didn’t make it as far as we anticipated, she notably stepped up for Black entertainers and helped lift the lid on the continuous racism at the hands of so-called ‘fans’. Sadly, season 10 came to an anticlimactic end with the showdown for the crown as the queens attempted to outperform season nine’s now-iconic stunts. Honourable mention to Asia O Hara’s butterflies, may they rest in peace.
15. Season 1 (Drag Race UK)
Most iconic moment: The Frock Destroyers – Break Up Bye Bye
Drag Race UK finally came to fruition after Michelle Visage generously risked her sanity by sharing a bedroom with K*tie H*pkins and P*ez H*lton on Celebrity Big Brother. That’s a national hero. (Where the f**k is her OBE?) For retaining the UK’s deadpan sense-of-humour and paying homage to British culture via lip-sync numbers, guest judges, references and so forth, season one was hailed as a breath of fresh air for the franchise. The Vivienne lost out on the Academy Award for Best Actress to Renee Zellweger after being possessed by Donald Trump, Little Mix announced their hiatus when The Frock Destroyers reached #35 in the UK Singles Chart with ‘Break Up (Bye Bye)’ and Divina De Campo’s red wig and silver dress served as inspiration for Kylie Minogue’s ‘Tension’ video (I do think). An iconic season.
14. All Stars 6
Most iconic moment: Laganja Estranja’s return
Pre-release, we had absolutely no clue how All Stars 6 would unfold. With a majority of the cast unable to place higher than seventh on their original season, there wasn’t a clear frontrunner for the title – which made it even more exciting and unpredictable. Plus, it had the biggest variety of talent, with every season represented bar one and eight, making it feel like a true amalgamation of everything Drag Race has delivered so far. While some ‘fans’ argued that it didn’t feel like a season of All Stars due to the contestants’ prior track records – because Drag Race placements clearly reflect a queen’s worth! – the level of talent was impeccable. Ginger Minj, Eureka O’Hara and Silky Nutmeg Ganache served comedy, while Ra’Jah O’Hara, Trinity K. Bonet and Kylie Sonique Love turnedt it out in the lip-sync smackdowns – special shout out to Ra’Jah’s battle with Brooke Lynn Hytes and Trinity’s face-off with Laganja Estranja. Can you believe these epic performances happened in consecutive weeks? We were truly spoiled. Although we would’ve been happy with each of the finalists taking home the crown, it was about mothertucking time we saw a transgender queen win a season of Drag Race hosted by RuPaul. Kylie winning felt… It felt correct.
13. Season 14
Most iconic moment: The trans sisterhood
Admittedly, we thought Ru’s Willy Wonka-inspired chocolate bar format would flop harder than season eight’s Shade Tree but – and this might not be an opinion shared by many – we had a great time with it. What’s camper than a drag queen unwrapping a RuPaul-branded chocolate bar on stage to discover if she’s in possession of a golden ticket, followed by the sound of a trombone if aforementioned ticket isn’t gold? That! Is! Camp! In addition to the chocolate bar, the season featured some other exhilarating curveballs such as the return of Daya Betty and Orion Story, Snatch Game-gate, the subsequent lip-sync smackdown and RuPaul’s decision to accelerate five queens to the grand finale – one of the best final five’s of all time, we should add. More importantly, season 14 was the most “transtastic” season ever with five openly trans contestants: Kornbread “The Snack” Jete, Kerri Colby, Bosco, Jasmine Kennedie and Willow Pill, who became the first trans winner of a regular US series. With this gorgeous trans sisterhood, and Kylie Sonique Love breaking boundaries as the first trans entertainer to win a RuPaul-led season on All Stars 6, we entered the trans age of Drag Race – officially! – and it’s about goddamn time.
12. All Stars 4
Most iconic moment: Double crowning/The downfall of Manila Luzon
Has a season of Drag Race ever been this controversial and enjoyable at the same time? Enjoyables first: Trinity the Tuck! Monét X Change! Mo Heart! Naomi Smalls! Jasmine Masters! Valentina! Farrah Moan! Gia Gunn! As the plethora of exclamation marks suggest, this cast is the embodiment of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent. Add on the aforementioned ‘synergy’ that we previously raved about (?) with the return of Latrila – Manila Luzon and Latrice Royale – and you have a near-perfect line-up of fan-favourites, fashion powerhouses, lip-sync assassins and comedy giants. Gia Gunn gave us the villain we need and deserve while also flying the flag as the first-ever out transgender All Star, Valentina transformed Drag Race into a telenovela (a telenovela in which she is the only viewer) and Manila proved she hadn’t gone soft as she swept the competition with three challenge wins. Controversies: Naomi going where no other All Star has gone by eliminating the frontrunner (it was Manila’s first time in the bottom, what a goop/gag) and the double crowning between Monét and Trinity. While we’re not opposed to a double crowning – in fact, we championed it with Cheddar and Danny – and both queens deserved the crown for their varying reasons, the crowning itself was sloppy. Stellar season overall.
11. Season 12
Most iconic moment: Jan’s face
Despite several setbacks, including COVID and Sherry Pie being ousted by production because of her unforeseen disqualification, season 12 was truly that bitch (now available on streaming services). Like some of the contestants stated during its run, season 12 felt like a season of All Stars because the amount of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent? Far too much. Snatch Game and Madonna: The Unauthorized Rusical redeemed season 11’s whelming efforts, the Superfan Makeover left us in absolute tears and the lockdown finale put the top three’s creativity to the test with three ingenious lip-sync showdowns. Crystal Methyd regurgitating the life cycle of a bird lives in our heads – say it with us now – RENT FREE. And while we usually live for the drama and conflama between the contestants, this season really was RuPaul’s Best Friend Race, and we loved to see it.
10. Season 15
Most iconic moment: “You better walk that fucking duck!”
Once Anetra took her duck for a stroll in the season 15 premiere, we knew we were in for a hell of a season. While we’re still bitter over the reduced runtime from episodes three until 10, it’s impossible to deny the amount of herstorical moments: Anetra’s aforementioned relationship with the quacker community; the Sasha Colby strutting into the werkroom; Anetra and Marcia Marcia Marcia showing us all who’s “boss, bitch”; Drag Race reaching 200 (regular) episodes; Wigloose! coinciding with anti-drag legislation; Loosey LaDuca’s viral track ‘Let Loose’; Luxx Noir London’s main-stage monologue; and Sasha becoming the first-ever trans woman of colour to take home the crown. Also, please give Mistress Isabelle Brooks and Luxx their flowers for, not only slaying the season, but for paying homage to the earlier, more dramatic years of Drag Race with their endless shade. Ranking it this high might be a case of recency bias, but whatever, we’re in our season 15 era.
9. Season 2
Most iconic moment: “I don’t think you’re seeing that Tyra is a complete bitch”
Drag Race’s sophomore season is when the show came into its own. Thanks to the contestants’ unfiltered personalities, it’s the bitchiest of them all with legendary throwdowns such as Mystique Summers Madison vs Morgan McMichaels (“Bitch, I am from Chicago!”), Tatianna vs Tyra Sanchez (“I don’t think you’re seeing that Tyra is a complete bitch”) and Tyra against, well, everyone. Season two also featured the first-ever Snatch Game – and the best impersonation of Britney Spears to date (sorry Derrick Barry) – the lip-syncs were turned up a notch thanks to Jujubee, and the maxi-challenges weren’t solely focused on whether the queens can triumph over Meryl Streep at the Oscars. We will admit: the budget wasn’t entirely there and the fashion wasn’t earth-shattering, but whatever, it’s an absolute classic.
8. All Stars 7
Most iconic moment: Snatch Game
Following years of rumours and anticipation as to which previous Hall of Fame-r would emerge supreme, the first ever winners’ season of RuPaul’s Drag Race premiered in 2022 to overwhelming praise. Thanks to the unified charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent of former champions Jaida Essence Hall, Jinkx Monsoon, Monét X Change, Raja, Shea Couleé, Trinity the Tuck, Yvie Oddly and The Vivienne, All Stars 7 was an absolute knockout. From SNL-worthy impersonations on the staple Snatch Game challenge to the electrifying lip-sync smackdowns, as well as runway presentations that would put the Met Gala to shame (to shame!), viewers were constantly fed by the most accomplished performers drag has to offer. Although there was some criticism over the panel’s reluctance to offer the queens constructive criticism – which was later disputed by Trinity, who confirmed negative critiques were edited out – viewers welcomed how All Stars 7 celebrated each entertainer’s growth and their reverence for the art-form. While Jinkx deservedly won the title of “Queen of All Queens” with an astounding five maxi-challenge wins, a feat only matched by her Seattle sister BenDeLaCreme, every single contestant slaughtered the competition and proved that, after 14 years on air, there are no signs of Drag Race slowing down.
7. Season 9
Most iconic moment: Valentina – “I would like to keep it on please”
Lady Gaga. Eureka O’Hara’s injury. Valentina refusing to take off her mask (so ahead of her time!). Sasha Velour’s rose-petal extravaganza. Charlie Hides telling kids to get off her lawn. LINDA EVANGELISTA! We were not prepared for the plethora of iconic moments on the ninth season of Drag Race. It was unprecedented, really. How many shows out there reach another peak in their ninth run? Every single contestant came to play and slay, hence why three of them – Sasha Velour, Trinity the Tuck and Shea Couleé – went on to win crowns and $100,000 doollahz each. All Stars 9 winner Peppermint (we, like Shangela, see it in the cards) also broke new ground for the series as the first openly transgender contestant (Kylie Sonique Love and Monica Beverley Hillz came out as trans during their stint), the lip-sync showdown for the crown spiced up the finale format and Valentina’s love for telenovelas resulted in the most severe reunion in all 15 seasons. Valentina may or may not love Farrah Moan, but we love this season.
6. Season 3
Most iconic moment: “GET HER OFF OF ME!”
In hindsight, season three is probably the most difficult season of Drag Race. It had more obscure sewing challenges than any other season, such as: holiday thrift store drag; couture cake-inspired outfit; three outfits for a hair show – one made entirely of hair; and a dress made out of money. Like Raja said on the Pit Stop with Bob the Drag Queen, it’s the “last season” that utilised the contestants’ craftiness. That’s what we loved about it, seeing these queens concoct high-fashion garments out of crap, basically. More of this, please! Manila Luzon also blessed viewers with the first batshit crazy lip-sync when she threw down to ‘MacArthur Park’ against Delta Work, Raja and Carmen Carrera served soft porn as they gyrated on each other to the beat of Paula Abdul, and Mimi Imfurst proved that drag is not a contact sport as she catapulted India Ferrah over her shoulders. It was – in the words of Alexis Mateo – a “BAM!” of a season.
5. Season 4
Most iconic moment: Willam’s disqualification
Although RuPaul and Michelle Visage continuously claim that drag will “never be mainstream,” Drag Race season four is when the show started to make its presence known in the mainstream. Sharon Needles became – as cliché as it is to say – a beacon of light for young fans who were ostracised for being different. The horror queen’s relationship with Phi Phi O’Hara is still the most iconic rivalry of the entire series (Yvie vs Silky and Kandy vs Tamisha were more explosive, however), boasting the now-iconic line: “Go back to party city where you belong!” The season also featured the debut of Willam – who became the first contestant to be disqualified from the series – as well as Chad Michaels and Latrice Royale, who both cemented their statuses as drag legends. We can’t forget Dida Ritz and her lip-sync to Natalie Cole’s signature hit ‘This Will Be’ in her gladiator-esque couture. Like Latrice said, it was “high drag at its finest!”
4. Season 5
Most iconic moment: “Back rolls?!”
We’re gonna throw it out there: season five is Drag Race at its peak when it comes to funny. From Jinkx Monsoon’s impersonation of Little Edie in Snatch Game to Roxxxy Andrews’ mispronunciation of “sequins” and Coco Montrese’s lack of hope in ‘Can I Get An Amen?’, it was a barrel of laughs. The feud between best frenemies Alyssa and Coco resulted in some of the show’s finest cases of unintentional comedy (“Look how orange you fucking look!”) and the consistent goopery in the lip-syncs left us floored. Roxxxy vs Alyssa, anyone? Jinkx vs Detox? Alyssa vs Coco? And we all stan an underdog storyline, don’t we? Although Jinkx competed in a season chock-full of heavyweight drag competitors, her quirky aesthetic and wit saw her make history as the first (and only) contestant to place in the top for nine consecutive weeks, paving the way for one of the most satisfying finales in Drag Race herstory.
3. UK season 2
Most iconic moment: UK Hun?
Drag Race UK provided a much-needed reprieve for viewers in the first lockdown with a bing and a bang, as well as a bong. Season two was perfectly cast, with an eclectic mix of characters who have gone on to become LGBTQIA+ British icons. ‘Shock elimination’ permeated headlines throughout the season with shock exits from Joe Black, Asttina Mandela and Ginny Lemon; the latter of which sashayed away from the stage mid-performance and failed to return. Runways were turned up a notch thanks to the likes of A’Whora and Bimini, while baked beans advocate Tayce rightfully earned her status as one of Drag Race’s fiercest lip-sync assassins. Let’s not forget RuPaul’s (confusing but highly entertaining) takedown of H&M, COVID’s interruption halfway through the season – which resulted in Veronica Green contracting the virus – and the takeover of the United Kingdolls. It hasn’t been topped. Can it be topped?
2. Season 6
Most iconic moment: “I feel VERY attacked!” (Untucked)
Now this is quintessential Drag Race. Season six was the perfect blend of comedy and drama and had an equal amount of design and performance challenges. It’s often considered to have the most iconic top three in Bianca Del Rio, Adore Delano and Courtney Act, and the lip-syncs were unmatched thanks to Trinity K. Bonet, who may have not slain every challenge, but established herself as the most versatile lip-syncer in herstory. It was also the season of the catchphrase thanks to Gia Gunn (“Absolutely” / “Feeling like pussy, feeling like cunt” / “I don’t jump guns, I am the boom boom gun”) and Laganja Estranja (“C’mon season six, let’s get sickening!” / “Yas gawd!” / “I’m young, hung, and clearly march to the sound of my own drum so props to ya mawma”). There was just one other season that did it better…
1. All Stars 2
Most iconic moment: Alyssa Edwards vs Tatianna – Shut Up and Drive
Not a joke, just a fact: All Stars 2 is the definitive season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. All 10 contestants were either fan-favourites, lip-sync assassins or second/third place on their original season – Alaska, Katya, Detox, Roxxxy Andrews, Alyssa Edwards, Tatianna, Phi Phi O’Hara, Ginger Minj, Adore Delano and Coco Montrese – making it (arguably) the strongest cast of all time (bar All Stars 7, maybe?). ‘Revenge of the Queens’, which provided fans with the fiercest lip-sync in all 30 seasons when Tatianna and Alyssa made our engines explode (explode, explode) to Rihanna’s ‘Shut Up and Drive’, often tops ‘Best of Drag Race’ lists because of aforementioned showdown and, of course, that mirror scene. Roxxxy also made it abundantly clear that she’s a future recipient of the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance trophy with her verse in ‘Read U Wrote U’, which still stands as the best musical moment in Drag Race’s herstory. Will All Stars 2 ever be topped? Can it be topped?