Twelve seasons. Five All Stars off-shoots. 126 queens. That’s a whole lot of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent, mama.
But not all RuPaul’s Drag Race queens are created equal.
With the show returning to the Emmys on Sunday, Sept. 20 to see if it’ll take home its third consecutive trophy for Outstanding Competition Program—not to mention a potential fifth Outstanding Host Emmy for RuPaul—we thought the timing was right to open the library, read these queens to filth, and determine which of Mama Ru’s girls deserved to be in our Top 20. Why? Because reading is fundamental. (And also, because any opportunity we get to talk about Drag Race as “work,” we’ll take it.)
Which queens made the cut and which had to sashay away? It wasn’t easy narrowing this down. The sheer magnitude of talent among the amazing drag queens that the show has introduced the world to is truly a force to be reckoned with. This show hasn’t spawned an industry unto itself, complete with a yearly bi-coastal weekend-long fan convention, for no reason. And as you take a look at our list, you’ll notice that simply winning a season wasn’t enough for some queens to make the cut. (You’ll also notice the list is limited to queens who’ve appeared on the U.S. flagship. Someday we’ll consider the queens from the U.K., Canada, Holland and Thailand—but today ain’t that day.)