‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Spawns a Host of Spinoffs and Imitators, But Is the Runaway Big Enough?

“Drag Race” proved what’s possible. Now everyone wants a piece of the action

Given the massive success of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” over the last decade, it’s no surprise that the show has almost unilaterally defined the mainstream understanding of drag artistry. But now that the show has done the hard work of getting people to pay attention, what becomes of drag as an art form? And can “Drag Race” continue to thrive now that everyone wants a piece of that success?

Since its debut in 2009, “Drag Race” has gone from a reality show pseudo-parody on a niche cable network to regularly coming in as the most-watched cable show among young adults on Friday nights. The multi-million dollar franchise has raked in the cash for producers World of Wonder, expanding to include not only spinoff television series, but also several digital series, the $3.99 per month streaming service WOW Presents Plus, and live events like the 95-city “Werq the World” tour and a lucrative pair of annual conventions in New York and Los Angeles.

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Reid Nakamura

Reid Nakamura

TV reporter • reid.nakamura@thewrap.com • @reidnakamura