“You familiar? Eighteen murders, maybe more.”
If you’ve never seen Dragula, don’t let the number 3 keep you away. New viewers can certainly begin here, as these are standalone seasons. Dragula is a reality competition in the vein of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but much—and I do mean much—more transgressive, with fountains of blood, “live” murders, and kitschy film spoofs. It’s Suspriria, but with drag instead of ballet.
Our season begins with a cinematic skit that introduces new audiences to show creators, the Boulet Brothers. These twin queens serve as judge, jury, and executioner (seriously! The losers are “murdered” in elaborate ways). The eleven national contestants include Evah Destruction (Dallas, TX), Maxi Glamour (St. Louis, MO), and Dollya Black (Orlando, FL).
Dollya is an early favorite of mine, but the “character arcs” in Dragula don’t guarantee stability — take (the brilliant) Season 2’s Abhora who entered beak-first with much aggression. Our perception of her changes as personal dramas come to light and the rest of the cast call her out, forcing her to rethink her behavior.
The contestants in Dragula are far from one-note, often showing compassion towards each other, a rare thing for reality TV. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of shade too.
The show’s production sports a new confidence—the sets are gorgeous. The audio mix is much improved. This season looks to be just as promising story-wise, as the Extermination Challenge offers a glimpse into the bond that only drag mothers and daughters can know.
As (spoilers) Violencia! struggles with the fact that she has to jump out of a plane to continue, Louisianna Purchase, who comes off as cutthroat for most of the episode, rushes over to fiercely whisper into Violencia!’s ear with an impromptu pep talk. It’s a very touching moment amidst all the gore and punctured flesh, showcasing the complexity of those involved.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Each episode begins with a mini-challenge, then a themed floorshow. This time it’s Supervillains, so while not the scariest display, there are standout looks. Maxi Glamour brings the cyborg with a Borg/Terminator/Steel blend, even though it’s deemed unsatisfactory by the judges, which I should mention includes legendary artist Phil Jimenez (The Invisibles). Glamour appears to have oodles of talent, so here’s hoping they’ll stick around. Priscilla Chambers gags as straight-up Tank Girl. Dollya brings Lady Death realness so hard that you’ll believe in Bad Girl comic books trends again.
As an opener, “The Lesser of Two Evils” is a solid start. If you’re a fan of sci-fi horror, glam, and practical special effects (some seriously impressive makeup work here), then add your body to the pile. Whether or not it’ll surpass S2 is unknown, but viewers have already been given a great slew of drag artists to side with.
Or to hate. I hope you’ll join me for round 2, as Dragula will undoubtedly spill more juices in the coming weeks. Let’s rip that band-aid off.
Episode reviewed via Amazon Prime