Emmy-winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” host and media superstar RuPaul is a trove of pop culture knowledge. “Everything I know I learned from TV,” he recently told Variety‘s “My Favorite Episode” podcast. “I love TV so much.”
RuPaul’s current TV diet is a mix of new shows like the second season of “Big Little Lies,” and classics like “Mission Impossible.” But when asked to choose a favorite TV episode of all time, RuPaul immediately gravitated to one from “The Golden Girls.”
“The writing on ‘The Golden Girls’ is so brilliant,” he said. Added his longtime friend and “Drag Race” partner Michelle Visage: “The jokes still hold up. ‘The Golden Girls,’ even though some of the stuff would be considered off color today, it still makes you laugh every single time, just like ‘All in the Family.’”
On this edition of the podcast, we talk to RuPaul and Visage about their favorite episodes of TV. RuPaul went classic, with a hysterical “Golden Girls” Season 2 episode where Dorothy discovers her date is actually a priest. And Michelle goes more recent, with a moving Season 2 episode of “Pose.” Listen below:
RuPaul’s pick is “Forgive Me Father,” the 18th episode of Season 2 from “The Golden Girls,” which first aired Feb. 14, 1987.
In the episode, written by Terry Grossman and Kathy Speer, Dorothy (Bea Arthur) asks out a fellow teacher (John McMartin), but later discovers he’s a priest.
“Having seen that episode probably, I don’t know, 50 times in the past 30 years, the joy of watching them set up the jokes is so brilliant,” RuPaul said. “Just watching how these brilliant actors are the best at setting this material up, I love it.”
RuPaul’s appreciation for “The Golden Girls” is also personal, having spent time with the actresses from the show over the years. “To this day, I still have Bea Arthur’s phone number in my phone. I cannot bring myself to delete it, ” he said. “I think I got to meet a know all of the ‘Golden Girls.’”
As for Visage’s pick, she went with a recent episode, “Love’s in Need of Love Today,” from the second season of FX’s “Pose.” In the episode, Pray Tell (Billy Porter) finally agrees to take AZT but has an allergic reaction, forcing him into the hospital. Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) organizes his annual cabaret show for AIDS patients in his place. Brad Falchuk and Our Lady J wrote the episode, which was directed by Tina Mabry.
“Pose” is personal for Visage, who was a part of the 1980s ball culture in New York. “It’s literally my life,” she said. “It’s seeing that time of my life being played out and it’s kind of crazy. But it’s telling important stories. [This episode] was just touching in so many ways, about family, about love and about the battle that gay people had to face and the discrimination that still happens. But in those days it was that it was worse than even what they’re showing.”
Among the performances in this episode were songs by Porter, Rodriguez, Sandra Bernhard and Patti LuPone. “Oh my goodness,” Visage said of her idol, LuPone. “I swear, that was a live performance that was not pre recorded.”
Meanwhile, “Drag Race” is once again nominated for competition series at the Emmys, while RuPaul is up for another Emmy as reality/competition host. Last year, “RuPaul” and “Drag Race” became the first host and series to win both in the same year; now they’re looking to repeat.
RuPaul and Visage are also waiting on whether they’ll continue with RuPaul’s daily talk show, which received a tryout this summer. “I want to get the best out of people,” RuPaul said. “I’m interested in what makes them tick, what makes them get out of bed in the morning. I’m interested in how a person is able to navigate this life, which nobody mentions enough — the fact that life is so hard. Everybody walks around like they have the instruction book and that they’ve got it all together. But I never felt that way. I want to know how people are managing it.”
Variety‘s “My Favorite Episode with Michael Schneider” is where stars and producers gather to discuss their favorite TV episodes ever — from classic sitcoms to modern-day dramas — as well as pick a favorite episode from their own series. On “My Favorite Episode,” some of the biggest names in TV share their creative inspirations — and how those episodes influenced them.
Be sure to subscribe to “My Favorite Episode” on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every week.
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