‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Producers Talk Staggering 14 Emmy Nominations, The Most For Any VH1 Show In History

VH1’s popular drag queen reality competition RuPaul’s Drag Race cleaned up this morning when it came to Emmy nominations. It had repeat nominations for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program as well as Outstanding Competition Program — but the entire Drag Race franchise made history, garnering 14 nominations, the most for any TV series in VH1’s history.

“It’s always been incredibly humbling,” Executive Producer Tom Campbell told Deadline. “We’ve always been the little show that could. We were around nine or 10 seasons before Emmys came knocking we’re still in the mode of doing something outside of the mainstream. Every season was a miracle we were renewed.”

Executive Producer Randy Barbato added, “This will never become old hat — it’s emotional to hear that this show received 14 Emmy nominations. For over 10 years, we’ve pushed this show up the hill and it’s been thrilling to watch the audience grow and thrilling to be recognized by the Academy. It makes the entire team work harder to produce the best show we can.”

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Last year, Drag Race won five of the 12 Emmys it was nominated for and made history when RuPaul Charles won Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program and the show won Outstanding Competition Program — the first series to do so. This has diversified the field that is usually dominated by the likes of Amazing Race and Top Chef.

“The fact that the Academy recognizes diverse voices which Drag Race is full of and letting us tell the stories of our sweet and sensitive and brave queens is remarkable, gratifying, and poignant especially in our current climate,” said Campbell.

Barbato points out: “What excites me about these nominations the most is the recognition for the actual drag queens in the show. RuPaul’s Drag Race is unlike any other TV show in that it not only shines the light on an artists’ community that has long been unrecognized by the mainstream but it also genuinely provides them with a platform to grow their careers.”

Drag Race comes from a counterculture that has been left in the margins and now with its Emmy acclaim, it has entered the mainstream in a way it hasn’t before. “It’s always been a dream that the world of Drag Race and the world the Emmys would come together,” admits Barbato. “When I think of the Academy, I think they recognize artistry, innovation, good groundbreaking work — that’s what our show does and that’s what great drag queens do. To me, the Academy and Drag Race are perfect bedfellows. Maybe 10 years ago, it was a distant dream that our worlds would come together, today it makes sense and makes me proud of the show and the Academy.”

But don’t think that all these accolades will compromise the integrity of drag culture. When it comes down to it, drag is still exists and thrives in the countercultural space — and Campell insists that at its core, Drag Race still holds on to the values it had since it started.

“If we catch someone saying, ‘Well, this is an Emmy-winning show, we can’t do that’ then we know we’ve jumped the shark,” laughed Campbell. “We’re supposed to be irreverent and take on the mainstream and parody pop culture so we just try to keep it fresh. The queens in every season are straight from the real world and they bring something fresh every season so we don’t have to do all the work ourselves.”

As for the upcoming season, there hasn’t been a date set but Barbato guarantees it will continue to slay. “With our guest stars and creatives — we have outdone ourselves,” he teased. “People are going to be surprised and shocked at the people who are participating in this season…and the creative is gag-worthy.”

Below are all of the Emmy nominations for the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise:

RuPaul’s Drag Race
Outstanding Casting for a Reality Program
Outstanding Cinematography for a Reality Program
Outstanding Costumes for Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Programming
Outstanding Directing for a Reality Program
Outstanding Picture Editing for a Structured Reality or Competition Program
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Multi-Camera Series or Special
Outstanding Makeup for a Multi-Camera Series or Special (Non-Prosthetic)
Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program
Outstanding Competition Program

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars
Outstanding Picture Editing for a Structured Reality or Competition Program

RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked

Outstanding Picture Editing for an Unstructured Reality Program
Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program

RuPaul’s Drag Race’s: Out Of The Closet
Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series

RuPaul’s Drag Race’s: Portrait Of A Queen
Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series

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