A Completist's Guide to the WoW Presents Plus App, by 2 Experts Who Watched Every Single Show

Illustration for article titled A Completist's Guide to the WoW Presents Plus App, by 2 Experts Who Watched Every Single Show
Screenshot: WOW Presents

If you are a RuPaul’s Drag Race fan who misses Seasons 4-8, it’s likely you downloaded RuPaul’s WoW Presents Plus streaming app to watch Drag Race UK, currently, the best iteration of the series available, though by no means the only option (more on that in another post). But with Drag Race UK having reached its disappointing conclusion, you may be tempted to save $5 a month by deleting the app until next year. Not so fast, hun!

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In case you missed it, there are roughly 4,000 other shows of varying degrees of goodness streaming on the app, starring past Drag Race favorites along with some queens you probably forgot ever existed. And because I have an adult custody arrangement that mandates care of my beautiful daughter Joan Summers every other weekend, along with alternating-year holidays, despite the fact that our relationships is strained because she says I am an overbearing pageant mother while I maintain that everyone looks nicer in a little bit of lipstick, we’ve passed several weeks watching every single series the app offers in icy but companionable silence.

Here are the shows that require your full attention, a few you can watch while arguing via email over child support, and those that are unsuitable for any purposes beyond background noise to a Postcards From the Edge-style row.—Emily Alford


Alyssa Raw with Alyssa Edwards

Watch All of It: Alyssa Edwards is undoubtedly in the pantheon of tried-and-true Drag Race breakouts. Her personality—on Alyssa’s Secret, her seasons, in other people’s videos, on that terribly short-lived Netflix show, and now on Alyssa Rawis simply infectious. I can’t get enough of it, because there very few queens that make interesting television subjects. No shade, but the transition from Mickey’s runway to a cyclorama with a camera crew or confessionals in a hotel bathroom with violent overhead lighting isn’t easy! It’s not, but Alyssa Edwards managed. So much that Wow Presents Plus saw fit to give her a reality tv show after Netflix canceled hers, and that’s ok! I’m just glad to be terrorized by her presence on television again. -Joan

Watch All of It: Alyssa’s got her little paw in every honeypot on this network, with two dedicated shows and appearances on nearly every other, but this is my favorite. I watched the simple silliness of Alyssa busting an illegal U-Turn in traffic to buy an Easter Bunny piñata in a Popeye’s parking lot twice, and I may just watch again because it’s my motherfucking happy place. -Emily

Alyssa’s Secret

Watch All Of It: LEGENDARY DRAG TELEVISION AND HERSTORY! It’s Alyssa Edwards just talking about whatever, and that’s all it needs to be. Stay for her fashions, keep at it for the one-liners, but really, hang in there until her two-part episode with fellow icon Latrice Royale and the jaw-dropping story she tells about letting a man eat her ass out. (And the Joan Crawford monologue she sends him out of the house with when he comes in seconds.) -Joan

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Watch All Of It: As Alyssa would say, “Come on, now.” Alyssa was made for the prolonged talking head because she’s got about 4,000 personalities in there and does nothing but monologue anyway. -Emily

All the Queens Men

You Don’t Need To: So we’re really just watching this zoom call between the partners of performers we like? Why again? -Emily

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It’s Fine: Sure! Fine! I get that Wow Presents Plus probably thought 2020 was going to be the year it mattered in the streaming wars, and that those plans were soon interrupted by a worldwide personal pan pizza, but come on! I simply cannot watch another fucking zoom call. -Joan

ASMR Queens With Derrick Barry and Nebraska Thunderfuck

You Don’t Need To: ASMR makes my skin crawl and there is nothing in this world I want less than to experience the sensation of Derrick Barry whispering in my ears. -Joan

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You Don’t Need To: I certainly didn’t. -Emily

Bro’laska with Alaska Thunderfuck

It’s fine: There’s something soothing to me about watching Alaska beef with her brother, who definitely looks like a contestant on Real World or The Challenge. It’s fine! It’s fine. These two are nothing special to me. -Joan

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Cool Mom with Jinkx Monsoon

It’s Fine: Some people like this bitch, so I’m sure they will be pleased to see her up to those old theatrical antics with her gay homosexual son, whose name I can’t remember. -Joan

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It’s Fine (But I Wish It Were Better): The joke isn’t strong enough to merit so many episodes. I would much prefer a sketch comedy show for Jinkx where “Cool Mom” is a recurring bit alongside the other characters I know she’s got hiding in that drafty little Grey Gardens attic brain of hers. -Emily

Drag Tots

It’s Fine! Listen, I do not have children except for Joan, who burst from my head fully formed, 25, and stunning, like Athena from Zeus. So I struggle to understand what they want or enjoy because their little voices are grating and most of the media intended for them is boring and doesn’t have any swears in it. But this My Little Pony rip-off might just be close enough to fool a small child left in one’s care, and just as my father used to laugh his ass off at Ren and Stimpy jokes I didn’t quite grasp, I feel that my nieces, nephews, or any wayward urchins I capture pulling gumdrops off my candy house, and I could come to better understand one another should we bond over little cartoon drag queens learning to read each other from a unicorn RuPaul. -Emily

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Fashion Photo RuView

Watch All of It: I love to get angry at notably too-tan drag queen Raven’s opinions about… practically everything! But really though, this is the textbook successful drag spin-off, and if you’re not watching it, you’re already late to the party. -Joan

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It’s Fine: This show has been around long before it was collected all in one place for the app. Most interesting to me is watching Raven’s tan slowly deepen to the alarming jaundice we saw when she appeared on Drag Race UK Season 2, which prompted me to, perhaps shamefully, google “Is Raven white?” (She is.) -Emily

Follow Me

Watch All Of It: This series is the opposite side of the Werk the World coin, with each episode following queens you may have forgotten about, like Mariah Balenciaga, along with queens you definitely think about often, like Alyssa. There’s something heartbreaking about watching a day in the life of someone hustling to gather every crumb of attention scattered about the West Hollywood sidewalk but also humanizing and pyrrhicly lovely. This is a job, and it’s both difficult and beautiful to watch the actual grind. -Emily

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Watch All Of It: Personally, I love depressing drag content, because television makes the art form one of glamour while removing the often tedious backstage elements that happen when the cameras go down. There are highs like Aja’s come-up, the early days of Gia Gunn after coming out, and Miss Vanjie’s ascendance to legendary status. But there are quieter moments too, like Mariah Balenciaga’s episode, in which she reckons with a career that no longer makes her the kind of money it used to, and where exactly she slots into the drag world. A particularly harrowing scene comes when she must talk to her team about why they can’t afford as much merch that year for Drag Con. Depressing stuff, but necessary, I think.

As an aside, isn’t it “interesting” that Kandy Muse’s makeup hasn’t changed a lick since 2018. -Joan

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Illustration for article titled A Completist's Guide to the WoW Presents Plus App, by 2 Experts Who Watched Every Single Show
Screenshot: WoW Presents Plus

Gap Chat with Heidi N Closet

It’s Fine: It’s honestly extremely hard for someone to sit in front of a camera alone and be interesting. Heidi N Closet is only moderately successful at it in her Wow Presents debut. -Joan

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You Don’t Need To: Heidi is my precious little angel baby, and I would fistfight for her honor, which is why I would say skip this meandering, prolonged talking head if you’d like to stay a fan. Heidi just doesn’t have the frenetic charm of the Alyssa Edwards variety to make the format work, nor does she have the quick-fire wit (or a dynamic pal) of Trixie and Katya. I watched this to like it but couldn’t. -Emily

God Shave the Queens

It’s Fine: I find it absolutely wild how stark the talent difference is between season one and season two of U.K. Drag Race. But to be fair, these new bitches were just figuring it out, and thrust post-Drag Race into a documentary series and national tour, mere weeks after the ending aired, with no real “drag architecture” behind them, and an only very recent interest nationally in the art form as it had been televised. Hopefully, when things pick back up again, the season two girls can film a new entry in the docu-series, and show these other girls how it’s done. -Joan

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You Could Skip: This far-too-long series misses everything that’s good about Follow Me and Werk the World, there’s no narrative structure, so I found myself desperate for a through-line but instead confused by the jumble of voices that seemed to be clamoring for my attention all at once. Unlike Joan, I adored Season 1 of Drag Race UK and was awfully disappointed when not only did I not get more of that charm and wit, but also didn’t get anything new. -Emily

Hows Your Head, Hun with Michelle Visage

Watch All Of It: Turns this on at your own peril because you’re not leaving the couch until you’ve relived quarantine in the most pleasant way possible: With Michelle Visage, her normal, yet hilarious family, her charmingly candid friends, and her perfectly suburban dark wood cabinets. Ru has been hiding Michelle under a bushel, likely because she’s a much better talk show host than Ru ever was (notice reruns of The RuPaul Show are NOT featured at WoW). This show reminds a bit of how refreshing The Osbournes was in the early days of reality TV before we learned they were all racist and horrible and just thought they were a quirky but loveable family unit. Unlike Sharon O., Michelle is never going to let us down, and post-covid, World of Wonder show throw some real money at this series because I can see this being cornerstone programming. -Emily

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Watch All Of It: Michelle Visage is not-so-secretly better at hosting television shows than BFF RuPaul. Where the queen comes off wooden these days, Visage is bursting with life and energy, and most shockingly, whopping amounts of fame over in Londontown. No joke, I actually screamed with laughter when I realized that the Brits take Strictly Come Dancing more seriously than even their royal obsession—who knew! Mostly, I was infatuated with just how regular Visage’s life is. Her house is regular, her kids are regular, and she lives in the most regular part of Los Angeles: the Valley. Run to the television and watch this immediately! -Joan

Lemme Pick You Up with TS Madison

Watch All Of It: There’s not another bitch on the planet like TS Madison and I live! This lady got herself a television show driving around drag queens and trans entertainers while eating McDonalds. I think that’s iconic! I devoured it all in one sitting. -Joan

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Watch All Of It: James Corden could never but tries like he can. I could watch TS Madison and Bianca yell one-liners into each other’s faces in a McDonald’s drive-through for days. Possibly weeks. -Emily

Manic Moments With Monique Heart

It’s Fine: This lady is really trying her best and I will give it to her for that and that alone. -Joan

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M.U.G. with Kim Chi and Naomi Smalls

Watch All Of It: When I talk about masters of the craft, I’m referring to Naomi Smalls and Kim Chi, who blow me away each and every episode of their all-too-short-lived makeup show. Their personalities are infectious, their best-friendship aspirational, and I couldn’t help but be charmed by their goofy antics and genuinely fierce painting skills. Go girls go! -Joan

Monet’s Herstory X-Change

Watch All Of It: I came into this initially hesitant, because these other comedy queens just haven’t managed to transition to camera work as well as other notable dragsters have—ahem, Trixie and Katya—but this was actually fun! The American Revolution episode made me cry laughing if only for: “That poem was full of shit, just like the Bible! Made up facts!” or “The regular hoes are coming! The regular hoes are coming!” -Joan

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It’s Fine: This feels like a diluted Drunk History based on a Wikipedia search, but Monet is funny enough to carry it and the episodes are quick. -Emily

Morning T&T with The Vivienne and Baga Chipz

You Don’t Need To: And I’m begging you not to. This series puts The Vivienne and Baga back into their Snatch Game personas of Donald Trump and Margaret Thatcher, then pairs them as unlikely morning shows hosts. And that’s it. That’s the entire joke. If this were an elimination challenge they would both be lip-syncing for their fucking lives. -Emily

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Party Monster (The Macaulay Culkin One)

It’s Fine: It’s certainly a historic film to the girls and gays but also, the entire thing just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. God bless, though! -Joan

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Watch All of It (Again): The fact that Joan doesn’t like this is probably the closest I’ll ever get to being a former high school athlete whose child has asthma. Party Monster is Trainspotting for people with taste, and Joan, mommy has a secret she’s been waiting a long time to tell you: Macaulay Culkin is your real father. -Emily

Party Monster (Documentary)

You Don’t Need To: Why torture yourself with this, when it should be left in the garbage bin where it belongs. -Joan

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Truly, just watch Joan’s father give the performance that helped conceive her. -Emily

Tea With Tati

It’s Fine: Tatianna………...girl……… -Joan

UNHhhh with Trixie Mattel and Katya

Watch All Of It: I mean, what can I say. You either love these two and their outsized impact on the drag world or you hate them. But one thing that cannot be said, however, is that UNHhhh is anything less than pure comedy gold. Smoke a blunt, sit on the couch, and fall asleep to the sweet sounds of Trixie’s dolphin call of a laugh, while Katya tells a story about shoving a semen-filled sex doll’s torso down the garbage chute of her apartment complex. -Joan

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Watch All Of It (Again): If Trixie and Katya hadn’t taught Ru that YouTube chitchat could be monetized we wouldn’t even have WoW streaming. It’s helpful to go back and see where it all began with all the episodes collected in one place. -Joan

The Vivienne Takes On Hollywood

You Don’t Need To: The more I watch content featuring Drag Race UK performances, the more I’m convinced Ru is actively doing these queens dirty. This show drags in a boring way, not in a drag way, and its attempts at scripted(ish) jokes aren’t awkward enough to be that particular brand of UK cringe humor but they also aren’t clever enough to make sense as a reality TV parody. I want my English queens to shine and right now they’re just sort of throbbing like bunions. -Emily

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It’s Fine: I sort of forgot what this was about, but I guess it’s good for a laugh if anyone needs reminding just how confusing the Drag Race-to-fame pipeline really is. -Joan

Wait, What? With Derrick Barry and Kimora Blac

You Don’t Need To: Again with the Derrick Barry. Not to give Kimora an unfair judgement by association, but there has to be literally anyone else but Derrick Barry in the drag-verse to play stupid on camera. -Joan

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When the Beat Drops

Watch All Of It: I absolutely loved this documentary on bucking, j-setting, and Southern dance culture. It’s full of heart, but also instructive, which is a hard tone to balance. There’s also quite a bit in it about the culture war in the South over explicitly femme, queer presentations of art, and white, religious anxiety. Not to mention it’s full of incredible choreography. A little bit of everything! -Joan

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Werq the World

Watch All Of It: Can’t lie, I was extremely charmed by this documentary series about the extremely successful Werq the World tour. Each episode charts a different queen’s experiences on the road, with some absolute stand-outs, like Kim Chi, Shangela, Naomi Smalls, and Miss Vanjie, whose episode made me actually fall off the couch laughing. It’s a harrowing look at the machinery that’s been built around RuPaul’s once-small empire, and the realities many queens now face having to adjust to a rapidly changing industry. It’s often slow, and a tad depressing, but instantly a success from the very first episode. At least in my opinion! -Joan

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Watch All of It: This series is, to me, the epitome of what WoW will be able to do once it gets its feet. The setup is so smart—Each episode gives Drag Race aficionados another (or multiple) facet of queens viewers thought they already knew from their seasons, simultaneously revealing their soft underbellies and the thick skin they’ve cultivated to survive a brutal industry. Unlike other series, the narrative structure, which follows a single queen each episode while still taking time to focus on the relationships between the queens, doesn’t create drama where there is none but takes a comprehensive look at the drama built into such a grueling tour schedule coupled with each fan favorite’s grim struggle to remain relevant when fresh queens are popping up all the time. It’s funny, smart, and compelling without being contrived -Emily

Working Out Is a Drag

You Don’t Need To: Unless you, like me, have just begun an at-home workout regime and are bad at it. In which case, I have truly picked up some helpful intel by watching a personal trainer tell queens everything they are doing well and poorly in their personal workouts. My pushups were bad, I now know, and I feel bad. -Emily

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Yvie’s Odd School

Watch All of It: Ok, hear me out: I thought I was going to hate this and then I didn’t. Iconic! Instead of the usual route these queens take, the ever-polarizing Yvie gives step by step instructions on how to recreate her most iconic looks. I was instantly charmed! There’s some growing pains, but I say stick with it. Who knew her jellyfish was made of trash bags! -Joan

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Watch All of It: Yvie Oddly, while also never a favorite of mine despite the fact that I recognize she might just be unbeatable in a lip-sync, made her little corner of WoW her own strange little world. While others seem to simply hope talking at a camera is enough to create a compelling content snack, Yvie reminds of a drag Mr. Rogers or some other iconic local television hero. Each episode sees Yvie learn, try, and grow, from crafting a wig of construction paper to learning aerial acrobatics, coupled with her demented little laugh, she’s PeeWee Herman without the chair or Lawrence Fishburn, and I fucking love her now. -Emily

DISCUSSION

Other than Golden Girls watching and re-watching UNHhhh has singlehandedly gotten me through some of the roughest patches of this pandemic. Trixie and Katya are just so endlessly charming and hilarious and joyfully unhinged that you can’t help but cackle along with them every minute of every episode. Trixie & Katya Save the World is also available on Wow+ and it was the Zoom pandemic version of UNHhhh before regular filming resumed. It was also hilarious and the only type of remote content from anyone I was able to get through.

I’ve watched my fair share of content on Wow+ - I enjoyed God Shave the Queens way more than season two of Werq the World and about as much as the first with all three still being great watches - but I maintain my subscription for Trixie and Katya.