Our power ranking of all 14 seasons of ‘Drag Race’ that aired in 2023

From the lead-footed Belgians to the high-flying French, we rate the world in heels 

You’d be forgiven for not keeping up with every single season the Drag Race franchise had to offer this year. At 14 different series—five premiering for the first time—it was certainly a lot to keep up with. But for someone with too much time on their hands and a mind that is tied to the RuPaul’s Drag Race industrial complex, it was a joy to keep up with and watch these more than 100 queens enter their seasons and show us the very best of themselves. Some series were less than successful, while others rose to the top, which is why we’re bringing you a definitive power ranking of every single Drag Race season that aired this year. Buckle up and get your passports renewed, and maybe sign up for Duolingo while you’re at it.

14. Drag Race Belgique, Season 1

The first iteration of Belgium’s entry arrived under the guidance of Rita Baga, two-time Drag Race finalist and perfectly acceptable host. With a diverse, eclectic mix of queens competing for the crown, the season suffered because it never really knew how to handle them. It became a running joke around the top seven that the queens were waiting for a dance challenge, which only arrived at the finale. Let our Belgian queens do a choreo challenge, instead of acting sets that ultimately never work!

Where the queens showed their skills was on the runway; avant-garde and chic professionals Drag Couenne and Athena Likis (unsurprisingly the top two of the season) dominated. With a weak Snatch Game, unexciting challenges and odd judging at points, there wasn’t much drama. Season 2 is just around the corner, and we hope it’s a little less drab.

QUEENS TO WATCH: Drag Couenne, Athena Likis

OUR VERDICT: Wait for Season 2

13. RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, Season 3

Credit: World of Wonder

Down Under seasons are notoriously hit or miss (we covered Season 1, only). The first was a trainwreck full of poor decisions and insensitivity, the second flaunted a talented cast, but there’s little to discuss with Season 3. An uncompetitive cast paved the way for the top four to easily march their way to the head of the class, all while dominating ill-fated challenges like the “BMX Bitches” girl group where queens had to perform … bicycle choreo. If you’re thinking that the smallest stage in Drag Race history isn’t equipped to handle queens riding around on bikes, you’re right! 

 

Isis Avis Loren had a clear path to the crown with her fashion knowledge and level-headed charm, but you didn’t really get an opportunity to understand who she is as a person. Not quite her fault, as she flew by the competition with little to no flaws. More rounded-out characters comprised the rest of the top four, who performed well enough, but when the most exciting moment of a season is a finger almost snapping during a lip sync, it might be time to move onto different countries. 

QUEENS TO WATCH: Isis Avis Loren, Flor

OUR VERDICT: Skip

12. Drag Race Sverige, Season 1

Credit: World of Wonder

Nordic stoicism dominated the first (and seemingly last) season of Drag Race Sverige, whose host, Robert Fux, rarely cracked a smile and treated every lip sync with a seriousness not even RuPaul conjures. Some obvious newcomers to drag took up a lot of space on the cast roster, with some staying longer than intended or predicted—two frontrunners eliminated back-to-back sucked the wind out of the season. One warm spot was Fontana, a Brazilian firecracker whose energy propelled the season and had one of the greatest reactions of all time to winning a maxi challenge (and a mini-challenge, and just being in the werk room).

Admira Thunderpussy (the best drag name in existence?) took the season by storm with fierce wit, professionalism and heart that peeked out in opportune moments: think of a more stern Bianca Del Rio. But the season had a flat conclusion when the final lip sync was skipped in order to award Admira the crown over Fontana, forgoing any drama or tension build-up. Come for the intricate designs and comedic werk room banter, but the season makes you work to hold your own attention. 

QUEENS TO WATCH: Admira Thunderpussy, Imaa Queen

OUR VERDICT: Worth a look

11. RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8

All Stars 8 followed the same cast formation as All Stars 6—a few noticeable frontrunners, but mostly complete wildcards. While Season 6 was miraculous, with an unpredictable group that rose to the top and had tremendous redemptions, All Stars 8 fell flat, with more convoluted storylines, another clear favourite for the crown and a supremely uneven playing field. Comedy legend and three-time Drag Racer Jimbo dominated every single comedy challenge, winning four challenges before anyone else even got their second. With her out-of-the-box but fashionable runway looks, the only thing stopping her from getting the crown was her lip sync abilities—to which she provided a serviceable redemption, after tripping and fumbling on the stage through the whole season.

Werk room drama was intense after Heidi N Closet’s infamous quit, but entertaining with the sheer amount of times Alexis Michelle cried on camera. Even if the competition trotted along, it was still interesting TV. This season’s twist was the Fame Games, an over-explained but not-understood game-within-a-game that was billed as a runway show, but proved to be a popularity contest. LaLa Ri, a breakout superstar whose charisma made the season infectious, eventually took it home. A “fan favourite” vote made the season interactive, and the eliminated contestants being able to showcase their entire wardrobe was a welcome change, but All Stars 8 lacked the vitality and freshness that comes with an unpredictable season. My oft-repeated solution: have All Stars every two years, get a solid grouping of queens and take some time to reinvigorate the magic and newness of a battle royale. Otherwise, it’s a slow march to the finish.

QUEENS TO WATCH: Jimbo, LaLa Ri

OUR VERDICT: A frustrating but entertaining watch

10. Drag Race España, Season 3

Spain once had a complete dominance over every single international season due to its electric pacing and killer cast of queens, but this year, production riggory screwed over an immensely talented cast and ultimately left a bad taste in people’s mouths. Production sidecasted contestants they didn’t see as potential winners, even though they often did better than the so-called stars of the season. In Season 3, fashion student Pitita benefited most from this interference, though she could have proved her talent without any outside help. España 3 might go down as the season of robberies, the most egregious being: Clover Bish, Espana’s first cis woman competitor, who brought heart and personality to every challenge; Bestiah, an arresting fashion star; and Hornella Góngora, a charismatic comedy professional who held her own with fashion as well.

An ill-timed comedy challenge brought back a competitor who made it to the end, and the finale was so clear-cut it almost wasn’t worth watching to see Pitita bring it home. As with any season hindered by production interference, it had nothing to do with the queens (who were actually quite a strong group), but it sure does make it hard to pay attention when the rules are constantly sidestepped. Hopefully, with its upcoming fourth season and All Stars iteration, the judges are back to whatever they did to make España’s first two seasons so electric.

QUEENS TO WATCH: Pitita, Bestiah, Hornella Góngora

OUR VERDICT: Worth a look

9. Drag Race Italia 3

Melissa Bianchini. Credit: World of Wonder

Like Down Under, Italia was a problem child in its first season. Its acclaimed second season brought the fun back to drag, and Season 3 is currently holding its own (like Canada’s Drag Race Season 4, the series isn’t finished, yet). With the biggest international cast size of all time—13 queens—a lot of early-out contestants weren’t able to showcase their stories as well as hoped, but it made way for a dominant top five that the season revolved around.

Italy native Priscilla’s long-winded and dramatic monologues during deliberation don’t distract from her glamorous, high-concept drag. Runway superstars like Melissa Bianchini and Lina Galore consistently deliver excellence in the challenges as well—this season’s choreo, design and roasts were pretty high-tier. Despite a solid showing, Italia 3 had an unfortunate slot in autumn, where it aired alongside powerhouses like UK, Canada and Brasil—admittedly, I prioritized watching these before seeing what our Italian queens were up to. There’s still room for disaster (meaning not crowning Melissa at the finale this week), but so far Italia has had a massive redemption from its beginnings.

QUEENS TO WATCH: Melissa Bianchini, Lina Galore

OUR VERDICT: Worth a look after the midpoint

8. Drag Race Germany, Season 1

Of all the seasons that aired this year, Germany 1 might’ve had the best premiere. Introducing us to an immediately even playing field of queens and the warmth of newcomer host Barbie Breakout, we seemed on track for a great season filled with superstars. This was half-true. The first couple episodes delivered on drama and spectacular runways, but then the queens hit a rough middle patch of three comedy challenges in a row, when humour was clearly not their strong suit. After one of the weakest Snatch Games of the year, they picked it up immensely with a ball so solid it could have been a non-elimination episode.

The end game was momentous, making up for the weak middle half, due to the strengths of the top three queens: Pandora Nox, an excellent and confident performer, also the first cis woman winner of a Drag Race franchise; Metamorkid, an artsy newcomer who dominated the runway; and Yvonne Nightstand, a quirky underdog who rose to become a real power player near the end. Germany 1 had formative rises to the top, a fun and exciting slot of contestants and a competitive top three—everything that makes a first season great. While other franchises delivered a little more, Germany is one to revisit if you’re on the lookout for great drag.

QUEENS TO WATCH: Pandora Nox, Metamorkid, Yvonne Nightstand

OUR VERDICT: Skip the comedy challenges, watch everything else

7. Drag Race México, Season 1

Credit: World of Wonder; Elham Numan/Xtra

Mexico’s hugely anticipated first season was rife with fantastic looks, fun challenge performances and thoughtful judging. But one thing stood in the way of a perfect season: how Cristian Peralta was handled. The talented professional racked up five challenge wins before eventually snatching the crown, leading to accusations of production favouritism. But honestly, she just was that talented! Like Pitita, favouritism only undermined appreciation for her—had she been awarded fairly, she still would’ve come out on top, and with a better audience reaction, too. The magnetic and charismatic performer won the judges over with her storyline of being a pansexual father and husband, wanting to bring the prize home to her family. In consistently incredible performances like the Snatch Game and Rusical, she proved she was the complete total package, rivaling the likes of Sasha Colby and Keiona for best, most well-rounded talent displays of the year.

Cristian narrowly beat out Matraka, an artsy newcomer who was as charismatic as she was fashionable. Her design and performance skills propelled her to the finale, and with better storytelling skills from the production team, it could have been a nailbiter between the clear top two of the season. This season had a truly incredible cast, with some of the best runways to come out of the entire year from the top four. Challenges like the Mexican Girl Band and the Telenovela Ball were shining displays of Mexican culture, helped by Drag Race alum Valentina and Lolita Banana, whose critiques were succinct and warm. México also had the fiercest array of lip sync songs this year to which some electric performances were had, particularly to Rosalía’s “BIZCOCHITO” and Gloria Trevi’s “Ábranse Perras.” A fun, dynamic season with a lot of heart, Mexico was a celebration of drag talent infused with culture.

QUEENS TO WATCH: Cristian Peralta, Matraka

OUR VERDICT: Watch for the lip syncs and high drag

6. Canada’s Drag Race, Season 4

Canada 4 isn’t over quite yet, but its opening episodes have been some of Canada’s best. This is the most dynamic group of queens since Season 1 and, recently, it’s provided some glorious results—the fight in Episode 4 will go down in history as one of the series’ messiest and most delicious. Melinda Verga, perpetually dunked on by clever editors, makes and retracts statements within a moment’s notice, which the other queens don’t let pass by. Everyone jumps in, other queens start drama with each other, and it even continues onto the next episode where Melinda flips a table out of anger, comes in the next day calmer, then proceeds to win Snatch Game. It’s a truly perfect series of events that makes one realize why they even watch a show full of dramatic queer people in wigs in the first place.

The tension all started because of this season’s pseudo-All Stars twist: the winner of each maxi challenge has the power to save one of the bottom three. While the first couple saves were unfussy, things have been getting more complicated due to alliances, paybacks and even sabotage—it’s a brilliant add-in that has made for unmissable TV so far. But even apart from all that, this season’s drag is great. Some extraordinary garments have been coming down the runway due to Aimee Yonce Shennel, Kiki Coe, Denim and Venus—a current frontrunner and bubbly performer who is as fashionable as she is willing to play the game and have fun. While some challenges have veered into so-bad-it’s-good territory, the season seems to be on track for an excellent mid- and end-game. After an exciting and iconic lip sync tournament episode, it seems to be anyone’s game.

QUEENS TO WATCH: Venus, Denim, Melinda Verga

OUR VERDICT: Watch starting from Episode 4

5. Drag Race Philippines, Season 2

@m1ssjadeso TW: Fake Body The void ate me! 🌟 Mama Pao you didn’t just eliminated me, I eliminated myself. #DragRacePH Finale Lip-sync Elimination S2E10 #DollShenanigans #DollDomination #Dollification #SuSos #TeamM1ssJadeSo ♬ original sound – M1ss Jade So

This year, Philippines took everything that was entertaining with its first season (insane contestants, off-the-walls energy) and heightened it to extraordinary levels. Unpredictable and action-packed, this season had the most instances in a series this year of someone winning a challenge, then immediately going home the following week. There was drama, too (helped by its own Untucked series), starting with the first episode, where the infamous “Who should go home tonight?” question is asked. It was a split premiere, so two groups of six had to answer based on knowing each other for 48 hours, but it made for some delicious TV.

The Philippines is known for putting on a show, and Season 2 of course delivered. High drag, high concepts, entertaining lipsyncs—it’s honestly worth watching just because of what the runner-up, Arizona Brandy, eventually does on that stage (there is literally no way to predict how she performs, an ode to her charisma and lunacy). There was a less-than-celebrated winner, beating out drag professional and superstar Bernie, whose heart matched the sheer talent she displayed on the stage. A dynamic performer, she ended up choking near the end, a heartbreaking way to go out. Another magnetic icon was M1ss Jade So, the most quotable of the season, with her iconic monologue where she declares, “You didn’t just eliminated me, I eliminated myself.” Each challenge—and contestant—brought some unforgettable Philippinx quirk. Drag Race Philippines is always a top choice for entertainment.

QUEENS TO WATCH: M1ss Jade So, Bernie

OUR VERDICT: Must-watch

4. RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, Season 5

Ginger Johnson. Credit: Courtesy World of Wonder

After a few rocky years, UK seemed to have lost its sparkle. With a diminished cast size and alleged disqualification, Season 5 was primed to be another dud, but an excellent and competitive cast saved the series from predictability. This was the season of comedy—the season truly exploded at the DisasterClass challenge, where a trio of Geordie girls (from northeast England) provided one of the best group performances of the entire year (“Coats are for what? Shoplifting!”). Comedy professional Ginger Johnson decimated each challenge she was in, and could have easily garnered six badges, a remarkable turnaround from the first-out impression she gave via only her promo image. But her underdog arc, fuelled by a relentless wit and charisma, was an instantly alluring and gratifying storyline when she ended up taking it all.

Whereas Season 4 was an easy march to the finish, anything could have happened this time. Four former frontrunners were eliminated back-to-back, all while holding a badge and a shot at the crown. The lipsync is what it should all come down to, and it felt exciting when Ru was actually honouring this rule of the game. Tomara Thomas provided werk room (and challenge) insanity along with roommate Cara Melle, where they bickered until their inevitable, but exciting, lip sync. Series 5 was the best kind of season—unpredictable, shocking, but still full of talent and correct decisions, truly invigorating the franchise.

QUEENS TO WATCH: Ginger Johnson, Tomara Thomas

OUR VERDICT: Watch for the comedy, maybe stoned

3. RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 15

Sasha Colby winning Season 15. Credit: Courtesy MTV

Drag Race’s flagship franchise kicked off the year with a whopping 16 contestants, the most of all time, to mixed results. While early-out contestants weren’t given enough time or storyline to be memorable (see: Italia 3), this was largely due to a scheduling conflict with MTV-mate The Real Friends of WeHo. Social media war aside, the 40-minute episodes alloted to Drag Race made it difficult to receive a well-formed season, but it also stiffed the queens who had worked so hard to get there. 

With that aside, Season 15 was stacked with fierce competitors, and the expanded cast list made for some truly incredible names and personalities to come through. The entire top 5 controlled the narrative and were a joy to watch, from Loosey LaDuca’s unfettered delusion to Luxx Noir London’s confidence that matched it. Newcomer Anetra cemented herself as one of the best performers to come out of Drag Race, and the legendary Sasha Colby arrived to give a drag masterclass: fashion, performance, star quality—her eventual win was an uncontested celebration. But I’d argue the breakout star might have been Mistress Isabelle Brooks, a Texas queen who mixes big pageant drag with a modern twist. Her talking heads were consistently entertaining (we beg of you, start a podcast) and with her loudmouthed but usually correct opinions, she brought an authenticity to Drag Race that’s rare in modern seasons—and made audiences immediately connect with her.

The MTV era of the culture-defining show had a great kickoff, with an exorbitantly talented finale grouping and a season that has endless replay value. Season 16’s on the way, and we can only hope it’s as thrilling.

QUEENS TO WATCH: Sasha Colby, Mistress Isabelle Brooks

OUR VERDICT: It’s long, but a must-watch

2. Drag Race Brasil, Season 1

Miranda Lebrão. Credit: World of Wonder

With a rocky start incongruent to the high energy we know from Brazilian performers in the past, Brazil’s first season tripped a little. After two girl group challenges with no immediate standouts, we dove into an acting challenge that was similarly forgettable. But finally, one of Drag Race’s most anticipated seasons kicked off at the design challenge, of all things. After a spectacular garment by instant frontrunner Hellena Malditta, the season finally turned interesting, with an emotional and heartfelt ad challenge followed by the best non-English-speaking Snatch Game of the year. The end game was spectacular as well, featuring basic Drag Race challenges with a Brazilian twist. The Ball actually didn’t require a made in-house look, but was judged on three designs from home representing carnavals from Brazilian culture. The runway challenge just prior had some of the best designs of the year, and the roast was one of the best.

What really set Brasil apart, though, was its cast and storylines. Superstar model Organzza killed every single runway she stepped on, validating her rightful part as the season’s winner. Her runner-ups were dynamic as well—Hellena was gorgeous and showed her heart as well as drop-dead glamorous runway looks, Miranda Lebrão’s clever comedy got her far and the iconic rise of underdog Betina Polaroid (lipsyncing in the first episode to winning two challenges back to back) made for an instantly rootable character. Grag Queen, the only winner of a drag franchise to come back and host, did an excellent job providing a mix of warmth and sternness, almost like a mini-RuPaul. Brasil was one to tune into week after week, and its second season is likely to be one of the most anticipated next year.

QUEENS TO WATCH: Organzza, Hellena Malditta, Betina Polaroid

OUR VERDICT: First three episodes are optional, but watch everything else

1. Drag Race France 2

Keiona. Credit: France TV

Whereas France’s first season flew a bit under the radar due to España 2’s dominance earlier that spring, France 2 was an unmissable, instantly legendary with its mix of an All Stars-worthy cast and perfect performances. Truly incroyable, France 2 had everything a drag fan could want: electric lipsyncs, alluring storylines, some of the best episodes of reality TV this year and the statistically best track record of all time. Keiona, the eventual winner, placed in the top every single week in the competition, a truly dominant force who had no weak spots but was also warm and inviting as a person.

The season’s top four might have been the best of all time—Sara Forever’s wackiness and comedy chops would have certainly won her the crown on any other season Keiona hadn’t participated in, fashion maven but new performer Punani actually delivered some great lipsyncs (and runway moments) and Mami Watta, underdog from the start, never won anything or was in the bottom, getting by on a mysterious but charming persona and arresting fashion choices. They were a truly dominant cast, yet the competitors who didn’t make it that far still had something to offer. 

Every challenge was classic Drag Race—the roast, girl groups, talent show, Rusical—but nearly every performance was so flawless, the judges constantly split hairs in order to decide who to save. Nicky Doll, the Drag Race alum-turned thoughtful host, was brought to tears multiple times (particularly the emotional Rusical where Keiona played a petrified closeted hunchback). But the crown jewel of the season came with the live finale, where they adopted the U.S. seasons’ format of original songs, followed by a lipsync battle. Keiona is a bona fide superstar—she has the pull, the it factor that makes it impossible to keep your eyes off her. France 2 produced some of this year’s must-watch episodes—a total knockout that has a lot to live up to for its upcoming third season.

QUEENS TO WATCH: Keiona, Sara Forever, Punani, Mami Watta

OUR VERDICT: Unmissable 

For more Drag Race coverage, follow our ongoing recaps and power rankings and subscribe to our Drag Race newsletter Wig! for exclusive additional content.

Sam Franzini is a freelance arts and entertainment writer based in Washington, D.C. His writing been featured in Nylon, Office Magazine and Shondaland, and he is a staff writer at The Line of Best Fit, Our Culture Mag and Northern Transmissions.

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