Welcome to my review, recap, and power rankings of the first episode of Drag Race Sverige (AKA Drag Race Sweden) Season 1 – “Start Your Engines.” This is a standard-issue international Drag Race first episode, with a silly photo shoot and a two-look runway that includes a hometown theme.
I love getting to know the drag scene and queer culture of a new country through the lens of Drag Race (which I realize isn’t always 100% accurate or representational).
One of the first things that stuck out to me about Sverige is that it’s international… but not in the same way as some of the other European seasons.
Franchises like Drag Race UK and Drag Race France have felt international because they have centered immigration stories from their cast members. Drag Race Sverige has that from the Brazilian Fontana, but they also have the opposite story – an emigration story! The cast features a pair of returning expats in Antonina Nutshell and Endigo, who live in the UK and Japan, respectively.
I think that said something interesting about Sweden and the relative size of its drag scene. On one hand, of course you’d want to come back to your home country to participate in Drag Race given the chance! On the other hand, with both of these returning queens ranking in the bottom this episode (alongside a queen with little experience), it was giving “We barely filled the cast” vibes.
That’s pure speculation on my part. Plus, first seasons of any reality franchise can be hard to fill with contestants. Once the host country sees the show, then more players emerge from the woodwork for a second season. But, there definitely a sense in this cast that there are a few major contenders and then some obvious fodder for early eliminations.
(I won’t call them “filler,” because they’re each a talented, worthy queen – but, it seems pretty plain who is meant to last past the halfway point in this cast.)
The other interesting aspect of this first episode is that Sweden’s drag aesthetic seems to de-emphasize the familiar form of glamourous pageant drag for something a little more edgy. Out of 18 total looks this episode across two runway themes that openly invited a pageant aesthetic, we only wound up with two looks that fit that vibe. And, the queens took a decidedly dark and twisted view on the benign, “One Night at the Castle” theme which could easily invoke royalty and princesses.
Even Admira Thunderpussy, who turned in a gorgeous pageant-ready look in the first runway, took a more martial approach to the second.
I’m curious to see if this diversity in runway fashion holds up across the season. We might even see a “fashion girls vs. punk queens” divide begin to emerge amongst the frontrunners.
The runway this week made absolute chaos out of my pre-season power ranking, with an unexpected queen on the top and a highly-ranked queen slipping down the rankings. That could go topsy turvy all over again next week, where the challenge is a Talent Show that could see several queens at the middle and bottom of the rankings score high placements over this week’s top queens. I can’t wait to see how this one turns out!
(Want to watch Drag Race Sverige outside of Sweden? For most of the world, it’s available as part with a Wow Presents Plus subscription as soon as the episode is done airing.)
Läsare, start your engines. Och må den bästa Drag Queen vinna!
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