Get Out Of Hellevision: How RuPaul’s Drag Race Saved My Life

There is nothing that can quite compare to the satisfaction one feels during a much-needed TV Binge Session. Even before streaming content was available, I remember very clearly, as a teen, recording seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on my VCR (because who had time to wait for the box set?) and just rewatching the current season up until its finale. Then, as I got older I’d buy DVD sets and spend a whole weekend–or longer– marathoning whatever favorite show I felt I needed at that specific moment in time (I watched all of Six Feet Under, Millennium and Dead Like Me in this manner). Medicating via Television. It’s something I’ve always done in a way, and written about in the past.

Living in the era of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBONOW, etc., there’s nothing I can’t find to fill my constant need for TV Therapy. For every situation life has thrown at me, for every emotion I’ve ever felt, I can say with confidence: “Yep. There’s a show for that.” With this deep knowledge of the healing power of TV, I feel it is my civic duty to throw on my super hero cape and help the masses with my encyclopedic TV knowledge, one person at a time! Or, I can just write a TV Advice column where I can prescribe some TV shows for whatever ails you. Just think of me as the TV Doctor… Of Looove. Or, you know, just the TV part.

This week I will be talking about a very dark period in my life. I’d just gotten over a sexual assault, had started developing (at the time undiagnosed) seizures and then had my childhood best friends declare that my shit was basically “too much” for them right now and kind of break up with me. I mean, I get it now, I was in a bad place and reaching out to the wrong people who had their own shit to deal with. But it still sucked. Royally. So I went off into the deepest depression I’ve ever experienced— I’m talking staying in bed all day, not taking care of myself, not having even the motivation to take the medication that would help make me feel better. I kept going to therapy because Mark would make me go, but I simply just wasn’t there.

It was during this hellish time that I went down the roster of my usual TV Shows that cheer me up—and which I will go into detail about on a future post—but they all kind of worked out like this:

  • Law & Order: SVU — Olivia Benson is my hero and I like to pretend she’s out there, kicking ass with Detective Stabler and making sure every rapist, pedophile, and all other kinds of scumbags get what they deserve. However, it was way too soon after my own post-assault experience with the justice system (Spoiler Alert: There is no Olivia Benson) and I couldn’t make it past one episode.
  • How I Met Your Mother — A show that always cheers me up (even if it’s just for hating Ted) but the friendship stuff stung a lot, especially this being a show that my former friends and I enjoyed together. So friendship shows were officially out.
  • Twin Peaks — Better, I always relate to the late Laura Palmer way more than I should, but I think I should have stuck with Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (the movie prequel) instead since it just feels way more Lynchian — she’s actually alive and it allows me to live out her last days with her, rather than watch everyone just react to her death on the show.

Then, one day I’m browsing Amazon Prime, which is a bit strange for meI’m usually such a Netflix girland I saw that they had most seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race available to stream free. I’d been a casual viewer of the show and loved it in the past and decided to just dive right in, starting with Season 2.




For those of you not familiar with the show (You need to get on this! Quick!), RPDR  is kind of like Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model with a dash of maybe Toddlers & Tiaras (I’m guessing because of the tiaras?). Add in RuPaul searching for the drag queen who will have the Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent to be crowned America’s next drag superstar and you’ve got a show that is pure genius!

Gentlemen, start your engines…and may the best woman WIN! (Yes, I am a big fan, thank you).

What happened to me during the next few weeks as I binged the fuck out of this show is hard to put into words. I went from waking up every morning with suicidal ideations and not even making it out of bed to very slowly becoming someone who was laughing again and feeling a little optimistic. As I watched episode after episode of these talented queens make ART every weekbecause, who are we kidding? Drag is fucking Art!while also being witty, hilarious, bitchy (when necessary), uplifting, fucking fabulous and sometimes just so wise, I began to slowly feel like  myself.

The spark started to come back to my eyes. There was snark in my voice again. I started to slowly rejoin the world, taking my meds the right way, starting to take care of myself and actually getting excited about things again. Every time Ru ended the show saying “If you can’t love yourself, then how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” it resonated inside me in a way I could never have anticipated.

rupaul religious candle

My best friend Corey (who is more like my hetero life partner) even said it: “RuPaul fucking brought you back to life.”

It may seem silly or melodramatic, but Corey’s words ring true to this day. Whenever I’m feeling down, or have any self-esteem issue, Mama Ru is always there to pick me up, dust me off, make me feel like I can lip sync for my life, and fucking WIN! I’ve thought a lot about writing RuPaul a letter to thank her for all she’s done for me but then I think, she’s fucking RuPaul! She may not know who I am, but she knows what she’s doing and she’s a fucking GLAMAZON.

glamour ru

So, do you have any TV shows you binge watch for therapy? Do you need some? Trust me: any scenario in your life; I’ve got a show for that!
Write me in the comments and let’s get out of Hellevision together!!

Kat Pao
Kat Pao lives in South Florida with her Curmudgeon Love, Mark, their punk rock toddler, Francesca, their saintly dog, Bruce Campbell and their fatass dick of a cat, Bela Lugosi. She loves being a Pop Culture/TV Analyst and loves that writing about TV gives her yet another excuse to watch more of it. Did she mention she loves TV?
  • Blahblee

    So I don’t have a problem that I need TV to fix, or at least can’t think of one right now. But I have asked this TV question to a lot of people and not many have helpful answers. The kid I’m taking care of, he’s very special needs, and we’d like to find some shows that he’ll watch. He’s very particular and won’t bother even looking up for most shows. He does look up and watch only shows that have a lot of cars, driving of cars, and/or especially firetrucks and ambulances. Anything with sirens — for instance, we found he likes Cops. His favorite show is from the 70’s called “Emergency!” and it’s the only show I’ve found that consistently shows firetrucks and ambulances in every episode. But we’re having trouble finding anything else or coming up with new ideas. Not easy to find recommendations.

    • Kat Pao

      How old is he? And is it the car chase that he’s most interested in or does he like the characters involved in the car chases?

      • Blahblee

        He’s actually an adult but I say “kid” because it’s easier to explain than that he’s been diagnosed as having the mental capacity of about 2 years old. Although I don’t think it’s car chases per se, but just cars. Wheels. Sirens. He watches the characters, too, but seems to prefer that they are talking in/around cars or vehicles. I think he prefers goofy cartoonish characters, since he’s not going to follow what they say so much as what they do.

        • Kat Pao

          Try and see if he likes a couple of episodes of Sirens. It’s on USA and it’s about a group of EMTs and so they’re usually driving around all day but even tho the humor may get a little dark sometimes, it’s got a lot of heart.

          • Blahblee

            This sounds great. Thank you! Title alone suggests it will be a success.

          • Kat Pao

            I hope it does!!! Let us know!!

    • AlMiller

      Have you tried Danger Mouse? That’s back on Netflix.

      • Kat Pao

        Omg!!! Must re-watch Danger Mouse!!!!

      • Blahblee

        My boyfriend just exclaimed, “Danger Mouse! Yes!” when he looked over my shoulder as I was googling it. He thinks Gus may remember this show from when it was on in the early 80s, so I’m going to try watching this with him this afternoon during TV-time.

  • Jessica Brown

    Oh my dearest Corey. You’ve come a long way and there is still work to be done but I am so proud of you. You know I’m always here for you. Corey’s for life.

  • Veronica Ortega

    Firefly is one of my favorites when I’m feeling down – really, anything Whedon.

    • Kat Pao

      Whedon just knows how to hit all the right emotions at the right time, doesn’t he? Although (and I know this will be like blasphemy!) I thought Firefly was mostly just “Meh.” My favorite of his will always be Buffy/Angel/Dollhouse. Sorry (not sorry).

  • Steven C. Finlay

    Fiction can always help us with reality, because writers can take us to a world where people are intelligent, have friends who love them, and where relationships work. Having a reality show cheer you up surprises me, but I’m glad it worked. I love you, Kat.

    • Kat Pao

      I love you, too!!!