Want to know something that’s not even slightly unique about me? I like Drag Race. Nay, I love Drag Race. Hell, I’ve watched Drag Race so many times I can quote every season verbatim (except maybe season seven, because, well, it’s season seven). So when I found out that WOW Presents (the production company behind RuPaul’s Drag Race) announced WOW Presents Plus, a streaming network available on iOS, Apple TV, Roku, and Android, rife with original series from some of RPDR’s best queens, I whipped out my credit card, bought a week’s worth of groceries and didn’t leave the house.
This sequestered seven-day binge occurred when the service originally launched in November 2017. Now, I believe I’ve consumed enough content on the platform (all of it) to responsibly determine whether the service is worth its $39.99 annual fee (or $3.99 a month). And, as a self-elected prophet, I’ve decided to bestow this knowledge unto you. You’re welcome.
Something I noticed straight out the gate was that almost every show followed the same format as WOW Presents’ standout series, UNHhhh, featuring Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova. Essentially, queens sit next to each other (or do it solo) and wax poetic on a topic in front of a green screen while editors work their magic.
Admittedly, without these unceasing and turbulent graphic treatments, these series would be nothing more than a visual podcast. Series limited to this standard formula include: Bro’Laska (Alaska), Tea with Tati (Tatianna), Bobbin’ Around (Bob), AYO Sis (Aja), La Vida De Valentina (Valentina), Jasmine Masters’ Class (Jasmine Masters) and so on. Are they good? Yes. All of them. Have I watched every episode? Many times. Is there diversity among the series? Not at all.
I understand why: It’s a successful formula that’s cheap and easy to produce. But people are paying money for this content and we deserve more effort. The service does feature some series that veer from the haphazard setup, like His Vintage Touch (where hairstylist Tony Medina styles hair for drag queens and celebrities), Drag Tots (a minutes-long animated series featuring the voices of Latrice Royale, Adore Delano, etc.) Feelin’ Fruity (a bizarre Pee Wee Herman-esque variety series from artist Seth Bogart), Transformations (a lengthier program where celebutante James St. James is given wacky makeovers from world-renowned queens and make-up artists) and others.
The service also hosts a randomly curated collection of dated documentaries (like Party Monster Shockumentary, Becoming Chaz and Miss Navajo), slapdash Drag Con coverage and other bland, rice cake content that you will probably pass on, but fills the void if you’re super bored. Or high.
What’s arguably best about the service is that you can watch every season of RuPaul’s Drag Race (except Season 1), All Stars and Untucked. But here’s the kicker: The only reason I can watch these series is because I’m located in Canada. You cannot access these shows in the United States. But if you’re in Europe, I believe they’re also available. Admittedly, these shows only recently became available in my neck of the woods, but I continued subscribing because I fell in love with a few of the series.
My favorite of the bunch, Follow Me, is a short docu-series that follows a day in the life of some of Drag Race’s more popular queens (Gia Gunn, Aja, Miss Vanjie, for example). You learn a lot about the personality behind the make-up, some of which is not always good (coughs – Aja – coughs). Another promising series is Couple$ for Ca$h, which is kind of – scratch that, exactly – like the Newlywed Game, except it features drag queens and other queer celebrities.
While the majority of the shows are fun and entertaining, many times a season of a series (or the entire series) is only an episode or two. You might get one new episode (which, on average, run about 10 to 15 minutes) on the entire platform a day. It’s also worth mentioning that the search and browsing capabilities are a mess and many of the best series (UNHhhh, Fashion Photo RuView and Bro’Laska) are available for free on YouTube. On WOW Presents Plus, these episodes are uncensored and ad-free.
Admittedly, sometimes it feels like WOW Presents gets desperate for content and juices the crap out of any queen – the lifeblood of the service – who visits the production company’s offices. Shows like 20-Minute Makeup Challenge, Drag Queen Video Dates, Drag Queens React and Gown The House Down are ultimately Trinity The Tuck levels of filler. This clear lack of preparation can be painfully obvious at times.
Wow Presents Plus is certainly not without its faults. There are striking shortcomings and obstacles they need to overcome for a more worthwhile experience, but I’m confident it’ll happen. RPDR was similarly amateur at its inception and is now one of the biggest reality series on the planet with awards under its belt. I have faith that WOW Presents will continue to learn and improve on the service as more people subscribe. Now, is WOW Presents Plus worth the money? I say yes. Per month, it costs about the same as a cup of coffee. But does it compare to Netflix and other popular streaming services? Not even close.