“RuPaul’s Drag Race,” like many other reality shows this season, is going virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic.
VH1 ru-vealed on Friday that both “Drag Race’s” reunion episode on May 22 and the Season 12 finale on May 29 have been shot virtually.
In previous seasons, the finale was filmed in front of a live audience, and since Season 9 has involved the final four queens facing off in a series of lip-sync battles until RuPaul crowns the ultimate winner. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Season 12 finale was shot using “innovative technology that highlights the creatively of the queens,” according to a release.
The episode will still follow the lip-sync battle format with the finalists, who are expected to be determined on tonight’s episode of the show. The reunion episode will feature 12 contestants, rather than all 13 who participated in the season.
The missing queen is almost certainly Sherry Pie. The contestant, whose non-drag name is Joey Gugliemelli, was disqualified from the show before Sherry’s first Season 12 had aired, after Gugliemelli admitted to cat-fishing several young actors into providing him sexually suggestive and explicit material under the guise of auditions for (non-existent) roles. Because all but the finale and reunion episodes had already been shot, however, VH1 and “Drag Race” producer World of Wonder chose to air the full season as planned, with Sherry Pie strategically edited out of all but the most essential elements of each episode.
A disclaimer noting Sherry’s disqualification and that the queen “will not appear in the grand finale scheduled to be filmed later this spring” has played during every episode of the show.
Season 11 winner Yvie Oddly will be on hand for the Season 12 finale to help crown the new winner, who will receive a $100,000 cash prize. Season 11 Miss Congeniality winner Nina West will also appear to help award this season’s Miss Congeniality, who will earn $10,000 provided by Pantene — which, according to the release, will also have “a special surprise for the other 11 queens.”
The reunion episode, meanwhile, is being billed as a “virtual slumber party” in which the season’s queens will answer fan questions and talk with RuPaul about the season’s highlights, as well as what life has been like in quarantine during the pandemic.
The decision to film the final two “Drag Race” episodes virtually is in keeping with the virtual production of several other top-flight reality shows like “Survivor,” “American Idol,” “The Voice,” “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and “Real Housewives of Atlanta” that typically involve either live broadcasts, or tape elements of certain episodes close to when they air.