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What 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Emmy Nominations Mean For LGBTQ Entertainment

By Jennifer Yamada ⋅ Posted on July 15, 2017 at 8:37am

Since the announcement of the 2017 Emmy nominations, one show that stands out among the usual drama and comedy series is RuPaul's Drag Race, nominated for seven Emmys, including Outstanding Reality Competition Program. Its sister series, Untucked, received a nomination in the Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program category.

The news of the show's nominations made the rounds on the Internet, from Variety to Entertainment Tonight reporting on the show's whopping feat. Drag Race deserves all of the attention. Not that it hasn't had it before: RuPaul scored an Emmy win last year for Outstanding Reality Host for Drag Race's eighth season. So, the Emmy voters were slightly open to the gender-poking series, but with the explosion of nominations this year, it's about time the show gets recognized on all fronts.

However, it's interesting to note that Drag Race has been on the air since 2009, and has established itself as a cultural force, touching on every trending topic — both past and present — including the AIDS epidemic in the '80s and the widespread discrimination against transgender people. The serious dialogue is mixed in with colorful costumes, makeup and song.

For those who don't watch the show, Drag Race has its contestants compete in challenges that test their skills in fashion, writing, acting, makeup, dancing, modeling and throwing shade. It's a cross between America's Next Top Model and Project Runway.

A Show With Heart

Drag Race is one of only a handful of shows that tackle the difficult issues the LGBTQ community faces daily. Unlike many of its straight counterparts, LGBTQ shows are educational and inspirational, and sends a message of diversity.

For Drag Race, the show draws attention to social pressure, as RuPaul told Billboard.

“Against all odds, these gorgeous and courageous kids come on our show and live their lives with no apologies to the status quo. People who watch our show, who are not drag queens, can relate to that."

More Visibility Equals More Attention

The sole reason why Drag Race has now gotten the Emmy voters' attention is largely due to the show switching from Logo to VH1 (more mainstream), which garnered Season 9 the show's most views to date. It helped that Lady Gaga was a guest judge on an episode Additionally, SNL did a skit where Chris Pine played an auto mechanic whose guilty pleasure was Drag Race. All three of these moments propelled the show to a wider audience, and the Emmy voters couldn't ignore it any longer.

The Future For Inclusion

Even though the Emmys gave the LGBTQ community its turn in the spotlight last year, nominating such actors as Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie) for their work, the television industry still has a long journey of inclusion to take.

Speaking to Billboard, a Television Academy spokesman said this of Drag Race's nominations.

“Diversity in nominations is, of course, highly valued by The Academy. The rapidly expanding nature of the television landscape and the subsequently nominated shows has certainly reflected that.”

For RuPaul, he knows that drag will "never be mainstream," but the Emmy nominations (and wins?!) might make drag more acceptable. Who knows what doors will open for the LGBTQ community in entertainment.

What do you think RuPaul's Drag Race has done for the LGBTQ community?

(Sources: Billboard, Vulture)

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