Variety Virtual TV Festival
This July, Prime Video’s new reality series “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” landed an unexpected but delightful Emmy nomination in the competition category. Explaining why she thinks…
This July, Prime Video’s new reality series “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” landed an unexpected but delightful Emmy nomination in the competition category. Explaining why she thinks audiences connected to the show, which sees plus-size dancers competing to become backup dancers for Lizzo, series director Nneka Onuorah attributed its success to the new perspective it offers in the reality series landscape.
“I think what lands with audiences, especially these days, is authenticity, nuance,” Onuorah said during Variety‘s Virtual TV Fest panel. “The amazing dancing from these beautiful women, they were very vulnerable. They were very raw. And we put the story first in this project. Typically, in reality categories, everything’s format driven, and you’re creating an infrastructure and throwing the people into it. And I feel like we let the stories of the girls lead more than anything.”
Onuorah was joined by fellow Emmy nominees Monica Aldama from “Cheer,” Jennifer Lane from “Queer Eye,” Michelle Mills from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and Chip and Joanna Gaines from “Fixer Upper,” for a conversation moderated by Variety senior artisans editor Jazz Tangcay. The group discussed working on the nominated seasons of their respective shows and how they handle bringing real stories to reality TV.
During the panel, Mills discussed how the show has blown up into a phenomenon over the course of its run, one that has helped to bring drag into the mainstream. She said that as the show has gone on, the show has learned to value authenticity and telling the stories of a diverse group of drag performers, with their personal stories being interwoven through the competition that structures the entire series.
“You have the moments where they’re struggling to do an acting challenge or to learn the words, or to sew, and then conversations happen through that process. And those natural conversations are where we sort of dig in to unveil and flash the light on the different stories that they tell about their struggles,” Mills said. “And those struggles change from the early seasons of drag race, the kinds of struggles Queens had. There are some new ones now that are a little bit different. And so there’s always new material to tell in that, but then you don’t really have to push the drama and the sort of stakes comes naturally with just the competition part.”
Watch the full conversation above.