“RuPaul’s Drag Race” is one of the most popular reality shows of our times, being responsible for several viral moments and memes while also being a critical darling in recent years, winning one Critics’ Choice Television Award, one GLAAD Media Award, and 9 Emmy Awards out of 23 nominations. In this article, we’ll talk about a recent controversy.
While the show has had its moments of controversy (season 2 winner Tyra Sanchez has several of those ones under her belt and there were moments in which the show was leaning to being transphobic) it’s usually seen as a show that celebrates talent and which gives drag performers a voice they didn’t have in mainstream media before.
The Sherry Pie drama
But now the show is facing a controversy as it had never before. After some men came forward about one of the contestants, Sherry Pie (real name Joey Gugliemelli), which they claimed catfished them into filming themselves for a casting audition that never existed, the producers of the show announced Sherry Pie will be disqualified.
The announcement of the producers came after the contestants published on their Facebook profiles that the accusations were true and now they were seeking medical help. This left VH1 and World of Wonder with two options: cancel the whole season which already started airing by them or start editing Sherry out of as many episodes as possible.
Sherry made her debut in the second episode and received plenty of screen time as she was in the top 2 of the episode. The third episode also featured her prominently as she won that week’s challenge, but by episode 5 she was barely seen. With 11 contestants, it’s not unusual for some of them to get less airtime sometimes.
It was the sixth episode, “The Snatch Game”, that really showed it is being edited again so that Sherry will get the least amount of screentime as possible. Even if her Katharine Hepburn impression still made the cut for the episode, her runway was completely cut off with fans barely seeing her outfit as the queens left the stage.
This led to the designer of Sherry’s outfit, Florence D’Lee, to take it to social media and complain that it’s unfair to cut her out of the editing as it won’t show the work of people who designed the drag performer’s looks. This was again met with criticism as fans believed Florence should understand the gravity of the situation.
Indeed, the whole incident and Florence speaking out has brought more attention to the designer’s work as designers usually go uncredited in this show, unfortunately.
VH1 and World of Wonder have declared that they donated 5,000 dollars to The Trevor Project which is equivalent to the cash tip that Sherry Pie won during two episodes. It is not clear if the money wasn’t given to Sherry anymore or if VH1 and WoW matched both episode wins or just the first.
The future of the show
It is unfortunate that Sherry Pie turned out to be a strong competitor as only Gigi Goode has so far a better track record.
Since it was reported that Sherry won’t be invited to the taping of the last episode in which the winner is announced, it is pretty clear she won’t win the season but it’s also becoming increasingly clear that she will be a part of the competition for a couple of more episodes which will lead to some clumsy editing and unfinished storylines.
But, at least, we know VH1 and WoW have made the right decision and that justice is served.