Why I Stopped Watching "RuPaul's Drag Race"

I used to be a big fan of RuPaul's Drag Race. I started getting into the franchise in late 2016 with the release of season two of the spinoff series RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars, where queens who lost the crown on their season are invited back for a second chance. RPDR is one of the few high-profile, primetime shows that displays queer people, and the early seasons were entertaining and iconic. But something about the way it has commodified queer culture and the art of drag doesn't sit right with me.

RuPaul's exploitation of the queens who compete on his show has been called into question, as he wins Emmys for a show that's carried on the backs of queens competing for the crown. He's made transphobic comments, and several queens who have appeared on the show—Willam, Phi O'Hara, Pearl Liaison, The Vixen, just to name a few—have spoken negatively about their experiences competing, how they were portrayed by the editing, and O'Hara and The Vixen in particular unfairly being made into the "villains" of their respective seasons.

Nina West (Season 11) and Monet X Change (Season 10, All-Stars Season 4 co-winner) both came under fire recently for appearing on an episode of The View that celebrated panel member Meghan McCain's birthday. What does it say about drag queens, and queer people as a whole, when we're still made out to be props for straight people's amusement? Especially for McCain, who isn't exactly cherished by the LGBT community. Her husband runs the conservative publication The Federalist that regularly publishes transphobic rhetoric.

Finally, oversaturation. RPDR used to have one season every year, and All-Stars seasons 1 and 2 were separated by four seasons. (AS1 premiered after season 4, and AS2 premiered after season 8.) Now, everywhere you look, there's a new spinoff being shoved down our throats. Seasons 9, 10, and 11 were followed immediately by season 3 and 4 of All-Stars. We had a holiday special. Now we have Drag Race Thailand and Drag Race U.K. And next year, in addition to the normal season, we'll have Celebrity Drag Race. How are we ever supposed to develop an appetite for the show during the off-season when there is practically never an off-season?

RPDR made drag mainstream, and now drag is becoming legitimized as an art form. But why is it considered "legitimate" only now that it is accessible to straight people?