If you've ever tuned into RuPaul’s Drag Race (which airs Mondays at 10pm on LOGO), you might have noticed it bears a few similarities to another reality TV show hosted by another glamorous supermodel. And if, like me, you got sick of America’s Next Top Model’s tired formula many seasons (excuse me, “cycles”) ago, I recommend getting hooked on RuPaul's Drag Race now and not bothering with Top Model later this season. Drag Race has the allure of a modeling competition, but with a lot more extravaganza eleganza; here are six more reasons why RuPaul's spectacle puts Tyra's show to shame.
1. The challenges are harder.
It happens time and time again on ANTM: The girls learn four lines for a Cover Girl commercial, forget them, and cry. Tyra's gals should try being drag queens for a day: They have to apply their own (serious) hair and makeup, sew their own clothes, dance and perform gymnastics in stilettos and do it all with their gentlemen parts tucked away.
2. The girls are more fun.
While there have been a few standouts on ANTM (I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Jade), most of the girls pass through the show’s history with a hope and a dream and a bland personality. It’s maybe an unfair advantage that RuPaul’s Drag Race starts off with a cast of characters already accustomed to demanding an audience’s attention. But beyond over-the-top lipsynching and wig tossing, there’s an openness between the contestants you don’t see on other reality shows. The drag queens are the first ones to compliment each other on their beauty and attitude, yet won’t shy away from confrontation (one of my favorite quotes from Monday's episode: “I don’t start drama: I end it.”) The willingness of the girls to get real, real fast, leads to great yet strangely genuine reality TV about people with alternate personalities.
3. There is actual diversity!
Anyone who’s familiar with Top Model knows the routine. Each cycle features one or two “plus sized” models intent on breaking the mold and representing (cough) “real girls” (cough) everywhere. Then (except in one case) they get eliminated. I stopped watching when Tyra Banks began her grand experiment of featuring petite models on the show: She should have just retitled the series “America’s Next Top Pretty Girl.” RuPaul's Drag Race, on the other hand, doesn't need a special season for short girls or one for plus sized girls. The drag queens come in all colors and sizes and speak several languages. Plus, we'll probably never see a bald top model.
4. It's funny.
I always cringe when Tyra tries to be funny. It seems like she thinks, “If I act crazy and over-the-top it’ll show how unselfconscious and real I am!” But truly, she strikes me as one of the most humorless people in showbiz (just ask The Soup's Joel McHale). Ty-Ty is no match for RuPaul’s quick wit and ability to send up her industry. I was especially fond, last season, when in a Tyra-esque move, Ru invited the final contestants to sit down for a special lunch—which turned out to consist of a single Tic-Tac. And, much like last night’s guest judge, Kathy Griffin, the hosts and contestants aren’t afraid to talk trash (Kim Kardashian was a target last night). Plus, RuPaul never met a pun she didn’t like, which I appreciate.
5. There's way more male eye candy.
Beautiful women are nice to look at and all, but tossing a few good-looking men into the mix doesn't hurt. Forget the handful of male models ANTM features each cycle; RuPaul’s Drag Race is full of them. Not only are many of the drag queens very attractive men before they even get in drag, but nearly every episode of Drag Race features a handful of muscly, scantily-clad men, often bearing cocktails. With so many exposed women on TV and in magazines, it's nice to see the scales balanced a bit.
6. It means more to the contestants.
Tyra loves shoving a sob story down our throats. This girl was homeless. This girl is a single mom. This girl has some disease. Winning America’s Next Top Model will fix everything. Right. RuPaul’s Drag Race, however, gives the contestants exposure they wouldn’t have a chance of getting anywhere else. And it's easier to root for drag queens, who in real life probably don’t enjoy as many advantages as beautiful women do (how many traffic tickets do you think drag queens have batted their fake eyelashes out of?)