Mainstream success is a double-edged sword. A larger audience means more authority, but it also means a specific kind of infighting over who really owns the scene. Is it Ru, with her very specific type of aesthetic and a notable reluctance to reward queens who don’t fit that mold? (Fishy and beautiful and thin queens tend to win, year after year. It also doesn’t seem to hurt if you’re white.) Is it the fans, who have helped make drag a serious sport, but in the process have lashed out when the show doesn’t go their way? Or is it the queens, the only way the show could exist, even though they are seemingly unable to have any autonomy outside whatever narrative is determined for them in the editing room? Whatever the case, the show has reached a peak where it’s impossible not to acknowledge, or at least notice, the rampant criticism against it, particularly by those in its inner circle.
RuPaul said the show couldn't go mainstream, but now it has. Has going mainstream become mainly a good or bad thing?
It's how "RPDR" is becoming mainstream that bothers the core audience and the drag community. Many have criticized VH1 for allowing Wendy Williams to host a live viewing party of "RPDR." Many believe Williams is part of the show simply to bring in a "straighter audience," but she has come under fire for past transphobic comments.
However, the news of Williams hosting the live viewing show has been met with criticism from some former “Drag Race” contestants and other members of the drag community. On Monday, New York–based drag performer Stephanie Stone took to social media to remind people of an incident that occurred during a taping of “The Wendy Williams Show” back in 2009.
At the time, Williams came under fire after drag queen Erick Atoure Aviance was told by producers she could not appear on camera or get up to ask Williams a question, or else she would be expelled from the audience, according to Advocate. 'All I remember is when Wendy Williams had Erick Atoure Aviance removed from her studio audience for being in drag … now she’s doing the pre-show for ‘Drag Race,’ when are folks gonna realize not everyone’s your ‘friend of the community,’ Stone wrote on her Facebook page Monday.