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With Anetra walking that fucking duck, TikTok twins Sugar and Spice ‘tormenting’ the werkroom with their exuberant energy and Jax delivering peak drag as she used her hair as a jump-rope, the season 15 premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race was one of the best-received in years. While many on social media predicted this season would be “one of the most sickening in herstory”, perception soon faltered with the release of episode three.

As opposed to the Ariana Grande-assisted double premiere and every single episode of Drag Race since the series sashayed over to VH1, which have all been one hour plus, ‘All Queens Go to Heaven’ clocked in around 41 minutes as a result of MTV’s brand-new – and poorly received – reality series, The Real Friends of WeHo. Yes, that’s the time of an average television episode, however it simply doesn’t work for RuPaul’s Drag Race anymore – here’s why. 

Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it runways

Okay, the subheading for this section is admittedly quite dramatic but this is a Drag Race-related article that you are reading, thus drama ye shall receive. Described as the length of an “Instagram story” by one viewer, the runway this episode was… non-existent. One fan said they “blinked once during the runway and missed two girls” while another tweeted that it was “so fast” that they “don’t remember any look”. BREAKING: We identify with these tweets. As mere seconds passed by for each queen, fans weren’t able to bask in their creations, which is a – harsh word incomingdishonourbut we stand by it – to the cast and their collaborators, who spend thousands upon thousands concocting these garments over several months.

In an episode of Untucked, Miz Cracker said she “took a loan out against my asshole” to get on Drag Race and that she “spent more” for season 10 “than I did on college”, adding: “I put it on the line because this is so important.” The financial burden was the same for Kameron Michaels, who added: “I spent more coming into this competition than I did as the down payment on my house.” Spending less than 10 seconds on their runways is a huge disservice to their drag. We’ll wait for their Instagram posts, I suppose?

“Silence! Bring back -” deliberations, like now

Deliberations is a Drag Race staple. The camaraderie between the panel often results in some of the most knee-slapping – and unhinged – moments of the episode, while also allowing the guest judge more time to shine (and showcase the full breadth of their drag terminology). Unlike the runway, however, deliberations weren’t granted the same mercy of simply being shortened. It was entirely erased and with it, RuPaul’s signature call-to-action: “Silence! Bring back my girls.” Sacrilege!

One fan who admitted to not liking deliberations – again, sacrilege! – said its omission from the episode “felt off’ and that “everything is so rushed”. Another tweeted: “I can’t get over not seeing the deliberations! Like Ru said we’ll deliberate and call you back and they were already back! My mind couldn’t process it! I had to rewind to make sure I wasn’t trippin!” Circles Around This Town hitmaker and GLAAD donator Maren Morris deserves an apology. Now!

Too much C.U.N.T. for 40 minutes

Fifteen queens in 40 minutes? It! Doesn’t! Work! For their second maxi-challenge, the cast were separated into three teams to create infomercials for a queer afterlife. As we’ve seen throughout herstory, filming these bizarre acting challenges doesn’t always go as planned, and the various hiccups that occur can be gut-bustingly hilarious. Examples incoming: Alyssa Edwards’ concerning depiction of an orgasm; “Can’t you see I’m trying to get some sun? Sunlight on the skin…” – Monica Beverley Hillz, 2013; Nina Bonina Brown and Valentina’s universally acclaimed and Emmy Award-winning (?) pilot presentation; and Team Kennedy Davenport’s ShakesQueer flop. We didn’t get much of that in this episode as, once again, it was severely cut down.

Unsurprisingly, the queens aren’t too happy about it either. Salina Estitties tweeted, “We worked too hard and invested too much money for a 45 min edit,” and, “I say this as a viewer and fan of the show. I just wanted to see more of the gals.” Aura Mayari issued an apology to fans for missing “out on a lot of fun chaotic things that happened that day for this week’s episode.” Mistress Isabelle Brooks joked about the controversy with a Twitter poll asking whether the episode was shorter than “my kitten heel” or “Luxx’s wig”. 

Obviously, not everything can go into the edit, but an extra 20 minutes allows the queens more time to showcase who they are, from their performance in the challenge to the runway and even the little werkroom interactions. One of the most memorable scenes on All Stars 7 belongs to Shea Couleé and Trinity the Tuck impersonating horror film victims, with Yvie Oddly and Jaida Essence Hall offering their best serial killer realness. Moments like that, from now on, might be left on the cutting room floor.

How will two Snatch Games in 40 minutes work?

For the first time in Drag Race herstory, next week’s episode will serve up a double helping of the Snatch Game, with the queens split into two groups. With the new runtime, how will that work, realistically? On All Stars 7, the cast competed in two different Snatch Games and, although the episode received high praise – particularly for Jinkx Monsoon’s iconic impersonation of Judy Garland – the edit showed no more than two answers per contestant, and that was with eight queens total and a one-hour runtime.

Next week will, presumably, be 40-odd minutes and there will be 14 queens to spotlight. With this ruthless new edit, we wouldn’t be surprised if they erased an entire queen’s performance altogether. “Snatch Game will air Friday. The episode will be an hour. We’re being robbed of content,” said one viewer. “An hour show for these many queens isn’t enough time.” Alongside a photo of season 13 winner Symone embodying confusion, another fan wrote: “Me trying to figure out how 14 queens are going to play Snatch Game, get ready in the werkroom, walk the runway, lip-sync and get critiques [sic] in 45 minutes.”

Alternatively, there are some who weren’t fazed by the new runtime. Canada’s Drag Race host Brooke Lynn Hytes tweeted hours after the episode, “Am I the only one who didn’t mind how short that episode was?” while Canada season one contestant Juice Boxxx said “they got rid of the fluff” and “got straight to the point”. Other alum who were in favour include Spankie Jackson and Eve 6000. One fan highlighted how 40 minutes is “just how long the episodes used to be on some of the best seasons of the show,” although it’s important to note that they were much better paced.

Some of the aforementioned examples from acting challenge blunders occurred during seasons five, seven and nine, which all preceded one-hour episodes. But again, the word here is: proportionising! pacing. Upon rewatching the earlier years, the episodes flow perfectly and the cast are all afforded an equal-ish amount of screentime, including on the runway. “Silence!” is also intact, as well as deliberations, so the omission is wholly unnecessary.

In response to the controversy, fans have launched a petition for RuPaul’s Drag Race “to return” to one-hour episodes. As of writing, over 21,000 have signed. With the – we’ll say – mixed response to The Real Friends of WeHo, it would be wise for MTV to reverse their decision, pronto.