RuPaul Charles‘ Emmy triumph for Best Reality Host last year was a milestone in more than one way — it was his first personal Emmy nomination as well as the first major notice for his show “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Given the reality TV program’s widened visibility now that it airs on VH1 and heightened prestige thanks to RuPaul’s victory, will the series finally be recognized with a nomination in what has become an exclusive Best Reality-Competition Program lineup? And will RuPaul become the third reality host to win consecutive awards?
Now in its ninth season, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has had a long, slow climb into the consciousness of mainstream media. The move this year from Logo to VH1 suggests a wave of support for the series from parent company Viacom and has been an immediate boom to the show’s visibility outside of its devoted fan base. For example, while the series has always featured celebrity guest judges, perhaps none from past seasons are as famous as Lady Gaga who helped welcome the current cast of queens in this season’s premiere. Then this week “Saturday Night Live” referenced the show, its contestants and its trademark “lip synch for your life” segment in a skit featuring host Chris Pine. All of this is to say that more people are aware of the show than ever before, giving it name recognition and social relevancy that could lead to its first Reality-Competition Program Emmy nomination.
The top reality category has proven to be one of the most exclusive at the Emmys. In 14 years only three shows have won the award and in the last five years the same five shows have occupied five of the category’s six nomination slots. Last year “American Ninja Warrior” was nominated for its first and only time in a spot once taken up by “So You Think You Can Dance” in the five previous years. If “The Amazing Race” (10-time winner), “The Voice” (three-time champ), “Top Chef” (solo winner), “Dancing with the Stars” and “Project Runway” are all nominated again this year there is one spot left for “RuPaul’s Drag Race” to sneak into, and on the heels of a win for its host the show feel primed for that opening.
At this point, a nomination for the show is much more expected than RuPaul’s hosting victory. Prior to the telecast we had RuPaul in third place to win, ranked behind two-time reigning winner Jane Lynch (“Hollywood Game Night”) and fellow first-time nominee Steve Harvey (“Little Big Shots”). Lynch was the second host to win in consecutive years (2013, 2014) after Jeff Probst who won the category’s first four contests between 2008 and 2011 for his work on “Survivor.” Other winners in the category are Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn for “Project Runway” in 2013 and Tom Bergeron for “Dancing with the Stars” in 2012. As a first-time nominee for a show not nominated in its own contest, RuPaul was a longshot last year, but could very well be the favorite if nominated again.
Probst has infamously dropped from the race even as a nominee following his four wins, but since then each winner has repeated for a nomination in the following year, a good sign that RuPaul will at least be nominated again. The bigger looming question is whether or not he can become the category’s third host to win in consecutive years. RuPaul’s likely competition will be the other former winners as well as Alec Baldwin for “Match Game,” but none of those hosts seem like as cool of an option as a second RuPaul victory.
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