Some media empires are so vast, and so ubiquitous, they simply demand creating a vast streaming service for all their wares, IPs, and appendages (see: Disney). Some, however, are slighter, but no less scrappy, hoping that a few beloved cult properties will keep paying customers enthralled. That is the modus operandi of WOW Presents Plus, the streaming service of a veteran production company now best known for being the team behind the Emmy-winning RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Drag Race is not a hard show to find. Not only does it air on TV all over the world (VH1 in America at present), but depending on your home country (or your familiarity with a VPN), you can find a lot of it on Netflix. But! WOW Presents Plus instead offers watchers a single hub to find everything and anything connected to the queerest entertainment dynasty this side of Ryan Murphy. Spinoffs, offshoots, international editions (don’t sleep on Thailand!), and now even the series’ aftershow, Untucked: WOW collects them all in one convenient, glittery binder for your easy streaming purposes.
Though its offerings differ depending on your location, WOW’s supposedly comprehensive offerings are not as complete as you might hope. While it does offer a lot of hard-to-find international Drag Race series, there are still gaping holes in the service’s arsenal, and inessential chunks of the service’s short form content seem to exist merely to fill the gaps and obfuscate WOW’s search function.
But maybe you want to watch a video in which reigning Drag Race UK queen Lawrence Cheney and the Frock Destroyers from UK Season 1 choreograph a dance to the inescapable pop confection “UK Hun?” together. Maybe you’re so desperate for new episodes of Trixie Mattel and Katya’s YouTube series UNHhhh you’re willing to pay a monthly fee to get them a mere week early. Or, maybe, you just want to finally watch Drag Race franchises from international territories you’ve never been able to find, and, in doing so, celebrate drag talent that isn’t part of the English-speaking world. If so, here’s everything you need to know to make the most out of this particular streaming service.
What exactly is it?
WOW Presents Plus is a bare bones streaming service. There is no algorithm to tailor the front page to your tastes; the search feature only really allows you to find things if you already know the name; there are links to download WOW Presents Plus apps for other platforms, and to share links to the episodes (which seems somewhat quixotic when said videos are behind a paywall) but otherwise, this is truly a minimalist platform. That might be your cup of tea! But if you’re used to your streaming services providing something a bit more bespoke for your money, this might be a bit of a surprise.
The buckets on the homepage won’t change based on your viewing habits, as you might be wont to expect from other services, but they do provide some helpful fixed playlists of content if you’re new to the service and looking for something to plunge into. While some playlists feel like they’re scraping up quantity rather than quality — you can usually tell these based on how many of their YouTube exports are visible at the top of the list — the documentaries playlist has a lot to explore, and their beauty and fashion playlist contains several of their best series, including Fashion Photo Ruview and Transformations With James St James.
The only feature that might aid your searches is the ‘tags’ feature below certain videos (mainly episodes of Drag Race) which allow you to search all videos featuring that drag queen, guest, or certain adjectives. If there’s a queen you love, it’s worth searching by their name even if you don’t use the tag to lead the search, though you will have to trawl through every episode they’ve ever appeared in.
The main perk: Drag Race international access
There’s one primary reason to pay for WOW Presents Plus — which currently costs $4.99 a month, or $49.99, after a seven-day free trial — and, truly, it is the fact that so much of Drag Race is available to you in one place. For most international viewers, every episode of the original American version, plus All Stars and Untucked, lives here. U.S. and international subscribers can also finally indulge in Drag Race from Canada, Thailand, Spain and Holland (as well as Down Under and U.K. for the American readers out there, which both otherwise lives on the BBC iPlayer for U.K. residents) with full subtitles — though the subtitles are not automatically set up, and they do take a few seconds to get going. This is the one place where you can get to watch every different language’s version of the show as an English-speaker.
There are also Drag Race accoutrements
When it comes to Drag Race subsidiaries, WOW is disappointingly no less patchy. The oft-maligned early spin-off Drag U, in which former contestants tutored civilians on how to become drag queens, is nowhere to be found. The much more recent, and more enjoyable, Celebrity Drag Race is also not available here. You also won’t find RuPaul’s Drag Race: Vegas Revue, the reality show behind the scenes of the series’ Vegas show.
Think of WOW instead as early access (and an ad-free) version of your favorite Drag Race YouTube videos. Shows like UNHhhh are here and uploaded a week ahead of their social releases, as is the biting Fashion Photo RuView. The excellent docuseries Werq The World, which follows several of the show’s biggest queens on tour, is also all here to watch.
There’s also a lot of other archived Drag Race adjacent material here: Drag Con convention panels (useful viewing as the world starts to shutter again), a series in which a PT trains series alum, a dubious Zoom-centred Golden Girls parody. Let’s just say … you’re probably not going to find many hidden gems here. If you have a queen you love, however, search their name and you’ll find hours worth of videos. Whether they’re worth your time is another question entirely.
Enjoy (non-Drag Race) classics from early WOW
Long before the minds at World of Wonder were pumping out 11,000 versions of Drag Race around the world, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato were making British TV shows out of a studio in South London. Some of these gems from their past have found their way onto WOW Presents Plus, such as The Adam and Joe Show, a late night British sketch show that featured major motion pictures remade with toys, “police interrogations” of pop stars and their record collections, and — in one dubious moment — smashing up an unsuspecting shop owner’s stock with hammers. It’s a real reminder you could do anything on TV in the 1990s!
The Adam and Joe Show is a bit of a cult classic, but there’s not much more to be found. Alongside Drag Race, WoW have also produced some other classic reality shows. But we regret to inform you Million Dollar Listing is nowhere to be seen (although the significantly less captivating and boujie The Fabulous Beekman Boys - picture Harvest Moon but IRL - is.)
The front page of WOW Presents Plus makes clear documentaries are one of their main pillars; non-fiction has historically been crucial to the production company. Early forays into documentary making in the ‘90s created a solid repertoire of lengthy docs on interesting, often queer-adjacent, subjects.
Some of their greats are here, such as The Eyes of Tammy Faye, a documentary about the American evangelist narrated by RuPaul. Others, like Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, are notably absent. Big Freedia is prolific on the service, with the documentary Freedia Got a Gun looking at gun crime following the murder of the New Orleans bounce legend’s brother, and four seasons of Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce, which explores said musical genre (seasons 1 and 2, inexplicably, are absent.)
Perhaps the most interesting gem in the documentary pile, however, is Died on the 4th of July: Nelson Sullivan’s World of Wonder. Compiling footage by New York club legend Sullivan to paint a portrait of him and the city’s art scene in the ‘80s, it aired in the UK in 1994 and helped remake Sullivan’s legacy as a historian and documenter of a pivotal, intoxicating moment. If you’ve ever secretly wished you lived in Manhattan back when it was more Pose than Girls, this is well worth searching out on WOW Presents Plus as soon as you sign up.
What else does it have?
In among the Drag Race spin-offs available on WOW are some genuinely quite fun exclusive original series made for this platform. The aforementioned Werq The World documentary series, following some of the show’s most iconic queens, makes for fantastic viewing. Losing Is The New Winning, also, is a lovely series in which former queens give messages of comfort and encouragement to those who have sashayed on another season. Canada’s Drag Race’s current reigning queen Priyanka also presents a surrealist game show called What’s My Game? Which thrusts together unlikely duos like Alaska Thunderfuck and Brittany Broski to guess how many noses a slug has. Perfect, mindless viewing in the best way possible. Others, like the short animated series Drag Tots, are bold experiments you can probably survive without. But isn’t it nice to have options?
While WOW Presents Plus does feel like it’s attempting to enter the subscriptions race a bit prematurely — clock the slight content pool and dodgy UX - there is a lot of intriguing comedy and queer content on here that, especially for Drag Race completionists, does offer a month or two of good watching. You might find yourself at a loose end once you’ve finished each of the national competitions, but in the mean tie? It’s the only place to see the entire RuPaul Cinematic Universe in one place, and that’s worth a punt.