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.)
As the show has evolved and grown, so too has the talent, making it harder and harder for those early queens to edge their way in. Not that they're not trailblazing and legendary in their own right. It's just that, when you're whittling the list down to 20, you've got to make some cuts somewhere.
So without any further ado, it's time to put your reading glasses on and find out which queens made our Top 20—and which one came out on top.
Can we get an amen?
To see if RuPaul's Drag Race comes out on top again this year, be sure to tune in when the 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards kick off live on Sunday, Sept. 20, on ABC.
(Originally published on February 8, 2018 at 11:57 a.m. PT.)