Bring back my girls! Season 15 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is now well underway, but if you’re spinning your tires waiting for the next episode, you may want to start your engines and check out some of these other excellent shows that are sure to leave you gagging! Below you’ll find an assortment of reality and competition shows, along with a couple more that are educational and elucidating.
‘Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls’ (2022 to Present)
In the same vein as “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” aims to highlight underrepresented groups and bring them to the main stage. The premise of this competition show is a search for Lizzo’s new backup dancers to join her on tour.
The show’s title pays homage to Lizzo’s 2014 album “Big Grrrl Small World” while also emphasizing the importance of having dancers who reflect Lizzo’s artistic vision. “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” opens opportunities to people who are often eschewed, such as plus-size women, trans women, and women of color.
Unlike “Drag Race,” this show begins with a part of the audition process where dancers must showcase their talents one on one in front of Lizzo, an exciting and nerve-racking prospect for many of the girls. Along with choreographer Tanisha Scott, Lizzo chooses the season’s contestants, who move into a big house typical of many reality shows.
“Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” challenges audiences’ assumptions of what makes a dancer and encourages watchers to acknowledge the “confident, badass women” they see as they absolutely tear up the stage. You can check out Lizzo and her grrrls on Amazon Prime Video.
‘Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness’ (2022 to Present)
Named after his podcast of the same name, “Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness” takes audiences on intellectual journeys that explore topics such as the anthropological significance of hair styling, the arbitrary nature of gender, the history of architecture, and the importance of insects.
As one of the stars of the second-generation “Queer Eye,” JVN brings a lot of the same energy to “Getting Curious,” ensuring that the interviewees and audience feel the warmth and excitement with which he approaches even the most mundane topics.
Van Ness identifies as nonbinary and brings much of his personal experience to the show. Just like “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” “Getting Curious” seeks to educate as much as entertain. The show is unlike “Drag Race” in that it’s neither a reality show nor a competition, but fans of RuPaul will find common threads between the two excellent programs.
There’s no date set for a season two release, but you can check Netflix for the first season of “Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness” now, henny!
‘Last Week Tonight With John Oliver’ (2014 to Present)
Chaos. Camp. Current events. It may seem like the black sheep on this list, but this irreverent show, available on Max, is a font of progressive politics, top-notch research, and goofy gags that make much of the indigestible onslaught of bad news relatable and even enjoyable.
Like RuPaul, John Oliver isn’t afraid to make fun of himself while laughing at others. In the style of “Saturday Night Live’s” Weekend Update, “Last Week Tonight” satirizes traditional news shows but focuses on stories that might get passed over for glitzier hot topics.
Each episode covers an array of subjects, but “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” focuses on sociopolitical issues that usually stem from deep-rooted, pervasive, and oppressive systems in the U.S. and internationally. Oliver has tackled topics including global warming, the inefficacy of Donald Trump’s presidency, and the current crisis facing renters across America. The veteran comedian and his writing team pull no punches as they fight for the underdog.
The 10th season of “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” begins Feb. 19.
‘The Real Housewives of Miami’ (2011 to Present)
Now in its fifth season, Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Miami” is the sunniest, most vibrant, and fast-paced “Housewives” franchise. The series was canceled after its third season aired in 2013, but it was brought back in 2021 for its fourth season on Peacock, NBC’s streaming service.
“The Real Housewives of Miami” delivers diversity of all kinds, starring cast members of widely varying racial and ethnic identities, sexual orientations, linguistic backgrounds, and religious affiliations. Most of the women on this reality show hold the same economic status, but they are a refreshing cast sure to intrigue “Drag Race” fans.
The current cast includes Alexia Nepola, Larsa Pippen, Lisa Hochstein, Guerdy Abraira, Julia Lemigova, and Nicole Martin, with friends Kiki Barth, Adriana de Moura, and Marysol Patton. If you’re gloomy, let “The “Real Housewives of Miami” lift you up. You can watch all five seasons on Peacock.
‘America’s Next Top Model’ (2003 to Present)
If you love the edgy competition, pettiness, and glamor of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” then you’ll love “America’s Next Top Model.” Now with 24 seasons — or cycles — under its Hermès belt, this show walked the runway so “RuPaul’s Drag Race” could run.
Created by Tyra Banks and available to stream on Hulu, “America’s Next Top Model” pushes aspiring models out of their comfort zones in the perfect combination of high fashion and high drama. Contestants are often asked in the show’s challenges to recreate photo shoots Banks had to complete during her career, such as posing with live animals, in tanks of water, and being suspended in the air.
The models live in the same apartment or house, which adds to the tension but also reveals moments of compassion and burgeoning friendship. This aspect of “America’s Next Top Model” differs greatly from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which keeps contestants sequestered and relatively isolated for the sake of the competition’s surprise.
Despite some of the hairier moments in early seasons, “America’s Next Top Model” is worth a watch, especially if you enjoy fun and fashion.
‘The Amazing Race’ (2001 to Present)
“The Amazing Race,” which makes contestants circumnavigate the globe at breakneck speeds, can sometimes make “RuPaul’s Drag Race” look like a walk in the park — in heels, of course. Now in its 34th season, the show offers $1 million to the team that makes it past roadblocks, detours, yields, and speed bumps to cross the finish line.
The first season of the show is exceptionally diverse for 2001, and it promises to leave audiences asking themselves what they would do for the prize money. From rappelling down cliff faces to hang-gliding off them, there’s a lot to consider. The early seasons are particularly nail-biting as contestants try to book international airline tickets without the internet. Yikes!
The teams of two begin in the U.S. and make their way around the world, sometimes visiting up to six continents in the span of three to four weeks, each with a limited budget and severely restricted access to washing machines. But that’s just the name of the game.
Even though the general feel of the show is less glamorous than “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” it lives up to its title. It really takes audiences on an amazing journey, exposing contestants to cultures and experiences they may never have seen otherwise. Check out CBS’s “The Amazing Race” on Hulu, and who knows — maybe you’ll be tempted to give it a shot yourself.