If you’ve spent any amount of time on the right side of the internet, you’ve probably witnessed the pop culture phenomenon that is RuPaul’s Drag Race. From iconic viral moments to RuPaul himself being, well, RuPaul, Drag Race offers an explosive watching experience like no other. It can be overwhelming to try and choose where to start your Drag Race journey, so we’re here to show you the best seasons to launch into first.
You’d be forgiven for assuming you should start watching RuPaul’s Drag Race from Season 1, but as any seasoned Drag Race fan will tell you, that’s a bad idea.
It’s not that Season 1 is bad, the queens are actually some of the best across the franchise. It’s just that the production value is stuck in 2009 (read: strange orange filter), and it won’t leave you wanting more, like the newer seasons do.
Regarding my qualifications on the matter, I’d like to consider myself a Drag Race aficionado, mostly because I won’t shut up about it. I reference Drag Race quotes on an hourly basis.
I’ve also watched every single season of Drag Race, ever. That includes the 14 regular U.S. seasons (with season 14 just ending), six All-Stars seasons, UK vs The World, three UK seasons, two Canadian seasons, two Holland seasons, three Thai seasons, as well as both Drag Race Down Under seasons, Italian and Spanish seasons and the newest All Stars 7 All-Winners season.
Oh, how could I forget? There’s even a mobile game. Yeah, it’s a lot.
If I gave you a guide to all the seasons from the franchise, we’d be here a while. Lucky for you, however, our good friends over at Pedestrian.TV already have that list ready.
Here are the best seasons to start your Drag Race journey with so you can jump split straight into it.
So c’mon, Lifehacker readers, let’s get sickening.
The best seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race to watch first
Season 8 is, in my opinion, the best season to start with when watching Drag Race for the first time.
Many people overlook this season, but so many elements make it such a perfect starting point.
First of all, the cast is incredible. From Bob The Drag Queen to Kim Chi to Naomi Smalls, Season 8 is filled with so many talented and iconic queens.
Secondly, the challenges are some of my favourites across the entire franchise, including one of the strongest Snatch Games in herstory.
I think Season 8 is one of the best places to start watching Drag Race from because it’s not as catty or drama-filled as other seasons, so it doesn’t go too over the top and won’t scare you away.
My mum started Drag Race by watching Season 8, and she loved it, so that should be enough to convince you, too.
If you were to ask any Drag Race fan to list their top seasons, Season 6 will probably be on that list.
It’s widely considered the magnum opus of Drag Race, and for very good reason.
Season 6 is probably one of the strongest seasons of Drag Race that has ever graced our televisions which makes it an ideal choice for the early stages of your introduction to the franchise.
Out of all the Drag Race seasons, Season 6 offers the best introduction to the format of the show, especially the variety of challenges that occur. From acting to sewing to musicals to Snatch Game, Season 6 has got it all.
The cast is top-tier. Truly, every single queen in this season is iconic. Plus, Australia’s very own Courtney Act is on it. Represent.
As most lovers of Drag Race will tell you, the episodes of Untucked that accompany each regular episode are usually pretty skippable, but that isn’t the case for Season 6.
The behind-the-scenes drama between the queens is absolutely wild. Many fights and breakdowns play out, so it’s essential viewing.
I’d say season 6 is the most quoted in the franchise – many thanks to Bianca Del Rio, Laganga Estranga and Gia Gunn for that.
All Stars 2
Okay, yes, this is an All-Stars season where you probably should know the queens before you watch it (it sees former competitors return for another shot at the crown). But All-Stars 2 is one of the best seasons of Drag Race to start off with.
It also introduces you to a new All-Stars format, so it doesn’t feel like you’re missing out on anything because the queens don’t even know what’s going on.
This cast of this All-Stars season is still yet to be topped. You may not know them all yet, but these queens do an incredible job at evolving from their past seasons it’s a super entertaining watch, even if you’re coming to it with fresh eyes.
It’s also fun to meet these queens when they are at the top of their game and then go back and watch their original seasons afterwards. It helps you appreciate the growth.
I think this season captures the hilarity and stupidity that is Drag Race and pairs it with a healthy dose of drama, which makes it an excellent season to watch early.
All Stars 6
Much like All-Stars 2, All-Stars 6 is another one you can get away with watching without knowing exactly who the queens are.
The queens have all grown so much from their original seasons, that it’s almost rude to compare them to when they first appeared. I think almost every queen completely changes their narrative around (in the best way possible).
It’s also probably one of the most inclusive All-Stars seasons we’ve had, so it’s great to see all the representation on the main stage.
Speaking of main stages, All-Stars 6 has some immaculate runways. I mean, you’d hope so, they all have money now.
Drag Race UK Season 2
Three words. Bing. Bang. Bong.
That is all, now go watch UK Season 2.
Although it’s the second season in the UK franchise, it’s the best place to start your UK drag race journey because it’s a lot more polished than Season 1, and the queens are mega-talented.
There’s something about Season 2 of Drag Race UK that feels so fresh, vibrant and current. The runways are to-die-for, and the queens definitely have their fair share of shade-throwing.
I also think it’s universally agreed upon that anything in a UK accent is ten times funnier. And it helps that these queens are genuinely hilarious.
It’s been two years, and I’m still singing ‘UK Hun’? You will understand why when you watch it.
Need more convincing? Here are three more words for you, Bimini Bon Boulash.
That is all, moving on.
Drag Race Thailand Season 2
If you really want some next-level drag, then add Drag Race Thailand Season 2 to your early Drag Race education.
What makes Drag Race Thailand Season 2 one of the best ways to learn about Drag Race is how the international season sets itself apart from the rest of the franchise.
From actual fire on the runway to disqualifications to killer runways and face-cracking twists you don’t see coming, Thailand proves that it is a strong contender against the U.S. versions of the show.
Drag Race Thailand Season 2 is an entirely different species of drag itself.
Last but certainly not least is Season 5, one of the strongest Drag Race seasons of all time.
I know, I’ve basically said that about every season so far, but I really do mean it this time.
Season 5 has very intense drama because some of the queens know each other IRL and have very real issues outside the competition, which obviously finds its way onto the show.
Not only that, but this season is the season of fierce lipsyncs. I think I’ve rewatched every lipsync from the season multiple times and will continue to rewatch them for the rest of my life.
The runways are also truly a time in history (2013), so while they aren’t the most fashionable, they are still iconic.
The intensity of Season 5 really sets you up for the rest of the Drag Race franchise that follows on from it, making it one of the best seasons to start with.
The cast also packs a punch with big names in the franchise, like Alaska Thunderfuck 5000, Detox, Jinx Monsoon and Alyssa Edwards.
Bonus best season – Drag Race Down Under Season 2
Because I’m not selfish, I thought I’d give you a little bonus season of Drag Race. It may not be the best one to start your journey with, but it is close to home, and it’s worth a watch (after you’ve worked through the above).
It’s Drag Race Down Under Season 2.
Down Under Season 1 was definitely rough around the edges, but that’s understandable because it was the first season, and it was still finding its bearings. However, Season 2 is the perfect combination of bogan queens, Aussie and NZ humour and some really incredible runway looks.
If you’re looking for some loveable Aussie larrikins, Down Under is the season for you.
It’s also great to see some of our classic party anthems being used as lipsync songs.
There you have it, all the best seasons Drag Race seasons to start your journey with.
If there’s a season on this list that you really want to start with, then go for it! There isn’t really too much of an art to this, it’s just nice to know that the world of drag is expanding.
Now, I’ll leave you with the words of wisdom RuPaul speaks every episode:
“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen up in here?”
Happy drag racing!
This article has been updated since publication.