In the last decade, the art of drag has catapulted from a seemingly underground culture to mainstream media. RuPaul’s Drag Race has launched a platform for hundreds of drag queens to become beloved reality television stars, but the show is only the beginning. RuPaul has opened a Pandora’s Boxx (pun intended) and drag has strutted its way into contemporary pop culture. This year, in addition to having a successful Drag Race and All Stars season, drag queens can be found in movies (A Star is Born, Hurricane Bianca 2), music (multiple queens have released singles and albums this year, including Blair St. Clair and much of the cast of Season 10), and television shows (America’s Next Top Model and Alyssa Edwards’ Dancing Queen on Netflix). In the midst of what seems like the dawn of the Golden Age of Drag, drag queens enter a new territory: an animated superhero series.
Netflix’s Super Drags is not the first animated series to feature drag queens. Season 5 winner Jinkx Monsoon voiced Emerald on Steven Universe and World of Wonder premiered Drag Tots, an animated show about students in an academy for queens. It is, though, most likely the most publicized, drag-focused animated show, given that it falls under Netflix’s umbrella of original movies and series. The Brazilian animated series stitches together the Power Puff Girls, Sailor Moon, and RuPaul’s Drag Race to create a one-of-a-kind series that “embraces” queer culture.
Now, I use the term “embrace” very lightly. The show doesn’t actually “embrace” queer culture as much as it shoves it in your face. Super Drags is a campy animated show about three gay men who become drag superheroes and save the day. It sounds almost fitting for young adult television, right? Something with a similar potential as Steven Universe to bring queer culture and acceptance into the light.
That’s not Super Drags. It’s a raunchy, Teen Titans Go-esque miniseries that you definitely should not show your children. The animation is absolutely stunning, but 9 out of 10 characters or objects you will see are phallic. From the R2D2-like robot, Dild-O, to one of the main heroes’ powers literally being a condom, and the endless amount of bulges on every frame, there are no shortages of phallic references on Super Drags.
The show does have central, positive queer themes though. It tackles prominent issues within the community: self-acceptance, the toxic dating app culture, body image, conversion therapy, religion, being a queer minority, and choosing your own family as a queer person. While these are definitely central to the plot, the problem is that the show is so obnoxious that it’s almost hard to see the point. It swings back and forth between social commentary and becoming an adult cartoon for queer people.
While the show is definitely entertaining and visually stunning, it suffers from poor localization as well. The English dub features the voices of Drag Race alumnus Shangela, Trixie Mattel, Willam, and Ginger Minj, all of whom do their part to save it. A lot of jokes attempt to death drop but never land in the English dub, but clearly, they do in the subtitles. I can only assume that the original Portuguese writing didn’t translate well in English, but based on what I read versus what I heard, I would have preferred the original writing on Netflix.
Overall, Super Drags is visually stunning, entertaining, and has some social commentary enough to give it substance. Though I love anything Drag Race-related as much as the next gay, I admit to being a little disappointed in these five episodes. It is a caricature of contemporary gay culture and clearly wants to appeal to its demographic. There were just a few times when it felt like it was trying too hard. But, just as we do each other, we just have to accept this show for what it is: unapologetic, self-aware queer entertainment.