Season 11 has unfairly copped flack for being the present’s worst but, arriving on the peak of our mass ‘Drag Race’ fatigue. The place can the present go from right here?
You won’t comprehend it, however there have been three crowns up for grabs on the Drag Race finale. Positive, we anticipated a struggle for the winner of S11, and Miss Congeniality was nonetheless technically up within the air (even when it was clearly Nina), however who knew the actual blood, sweat and damaged nails would come from the viewers, vying to see who would win greatest response shot?
With out Stacy Layne Matthews or Victoria Porkchop Parker prepared and ready within the crowd, S11’s cameras settled on a couple of new faces.
On one aspect, we had intercourse chair model ambassadors Cara Delevigne and Ashley Benson; on the opposite, Ariel Versace and Plastique Tiara competed for greatest response photographs. These queens know that being a meme isn’t fairly the identical as $100,000, however it’s definitely profitable.
Talking of profitable, fortunately, the viewers isn’t leaving as traumatised as we have been after All Stars four‘s tomfoolery crammed finale. Yvie Oddly, regardless of her …un-even moments all through S11, completely blitzed the lip sync event. Seeing her topped simply feels proper. That ultimate lip sync! As Alexis Mateo may say, “Wow. That is Broadway!”.
Nonetheless, I’m unsure the viewers actually gained, since this finale was notably bloated (and flat-out boring at occasions). Whereas that’s all the time the case with these huge event episodes, these earlier segments dragged on much more than they usually do, and the episode landed like a little bit of a ‘synecdoche, Drag Race’; maybe a bit of too huge for its boots, however at its core, nonetheless the identical present us queers nonetheless lose our shit over.
Whereas I’ll regularly defend S11 from calls that it’s been the Worst Season Ever (we are saying that about no matter season is presently airing, plus, that honour goes to the double-trouble of All Stars 1), it’s clear that the present’s in want of some sort of shake-up.
However what present wouldn’t after 140 contestants and 15 seasons?
‘Homosexual Rights!’ – Jennifer Lawrence
Ignoring, for a second, the meat of the finale, I needed to say the finale’s most egregious second.
Occurring about midway by means of the episode, the present paid lip service to queer historical past, starting with Stonewall and ending with same-sex marriage and Drag Race being on TV.
Whereas neither of these two current landmarks are value diminishing — Drag Race’s mainstream success is genuinely monumental for LGBTIQ historical past, and would have been utterly unforeseeable a decade in the past when S1 started — they really feel somewhat hole provided that we nonetheless have up to now to make sure queer individuals are protected the world over.
Positive, the present doesn’t should dive deep into how homosexuality is punished and purged in Chechnya and a number of other nations all through North Africa, or that trans individuals face outright discrimination within the US resulting from ‘rest room legal guidelines’ (not to mention the quantity of trans ladies and POC topic to violence). But when the present goes to take the time to pause and give attention to queer rights to succeed in its mainstream (aka straight) viewers, it ought to centre an ongoing wrestle, not itself.
Then once more, as Derrick Barry confirmed us, a whole lot of queer individuals don’t know our personal historical past, and nonetheless want a primer.
Vote 1 Vanjie To Repeal The Present State Of Obligatory Wig Reveals
Earlier than the lip syncs, we had an entire lot of fluff to get by way of, however there was some enjoyable stuff too.
The vale to Michelle Visage’s breasts and Vanjie’s entire Billy On The Road-esque phase have been each wonderful, and made me momentarily overlook concerning the lip syncs to return. Simply give her her personal present, already.
Any time the queens of Drag Race previous stroll the runway is a delight — it was an actual eclectic bunch this yr, and a few, like Serena Cha Cha, have been virtually unrecognisable. However the one fixed on this world is Nicole Paige Brooks From Atlanta, Georgia.
These little interview segments with the highest 4 stretched on eternally — Jughead-in-Riverdale “I’m a weirdo” vibes apart, solely Yvie’s was humorous, which made me ponder whether that they had been written by the queens or another person.
If the previous, it’s additional proof that she’s an absolute star and has reined in her character into one thing that works for her; if the latter, it exhibits the present was completely gunning for her to win.
Both method, it was rattling clear that the highest 2 was going to be Yvie and Brooke, since each A’Keria and Silky appeared somewhat muted throughout their interviews. Silky, particularly, appeared outright scared from begin to end.
Even the best way she selected Brooke with out phrases was telling. You may see her weighing up her choices in her head: ‘do I’m going with A’Keria, my good friend? Yvie, my ‘enemy’ who will win? Or Brooke, who may even beat me?’ She appeared to select the least painful choice, and after a number of ill-timed reveals, she sashayed away.
When she hugged Brooke, she appeared comfortable to be leaving — with the fanbase brazenly hating her, this season didn’t work out the best way she or the producers meant. She’s a gifted queen and a tremendous character, and maybe with a little bit of area, she’ll even out her edges.
Finally, Brooke and Yvie went by means of as a result of they subverted expectations. The place Silky and A’Keria gave strong performances, the highest 2 performed with our concepts of reveals and what makes a lip sync.
One take a look at Silky, and also you knew a number of wigs have been beneath that afro, however Brooke’s shoe removing was un-clockable, because the chains simply suited the outfit. In reality, it was solely when she was en pointe that the viewers realised precisely what she’d finished.
In the meantime, Yvie went out wanting just like the Oddity she’s promised all season. From her interview look and features about ‘shedding her exterior’ to her extremely weird however lovely ‘SOS’ outfit, Yvie towered above the remaining as a presence. You simply need to see what she’ll do subsequent.
Yvie’s since posted to Instagram that her ‘SOS’ look was born as fan-art by artist Matthew Vega — when she noticed it, she knew she needed to make it. It’s a candy story, which underpins it (and Yvie’s) scary-but-soft presence. Positive, the Free Britney reveal wasn’t fairly the second it was purported to be, nevertheless it additionally didn’t actually matter: Yvie had gained the second she got here out.
Earlier than the ultimate lip sync, Nina wins Miss Congeniality. The place the present might have its points with queer activism, Nina’s an ideal instance of somebody doing issues proper. In each Drag Race confessionals and her charity work, she’s proven that she’s overcome her personal (horrific) hurdles via kindness, however, as a white homosexual cis male, used these experiences as a supply of empathy and motion to assist others, quite than harden and consider one’s personal success as the top of the street.
Earlier within the present, A’Keria referenced a phoenix rising; I assume she meant Aquaria.
With Yvie Oddly, A Star Is Born (…And Stream Born This Method On Google Play)
‘The Edge Of Glory’ isn’t actually a music for top kicks and large reveals; in Woman Gaga’s music video, she drops the inexperienced display and all-out numbers and dances on a New York-styled movie lot. In her lip sync, Yvie connects to the music in a means Brooke doesn’t.
She seems the half, for one. The mirrors are so sensible and ornate; it’s theatrical, however not a gimmick in the best way Brooke’s reveal, whereas, meta, is. Godly, too; Yvie resembles some type of Drag Brahma, and the bleeding eyes recommend an influence that’s virtually out of her management. It’s virtually like, ahem, she’s on ‘The Edge Of Glory’.
Then, she turns — and flips. In that robe. With that a lot glass on her head.
It’s. Simply. So. Good.
It’s a reveal, however not as we all know or anticipate — and, pardon the pun, however it’s additionally a unique aspect of Yvie. She’s displaying us what she will do with the platform the present’s given her to date. I wanted her to get the crown, to see what else she’ll do. Like most of the present’s youthful winners (Aquaria, Violet), I’m assured Yvie will cement her place as a queen of queens after the present.
Elsewhere, the cement gained’t dry. We’re getting the debut of Drag Race UK this yr, and could have All Stars 5 and Season 12 in 2020, too, not to mention a second season of UK (after which there’s Thailand, too). As a lot as I really like this present (and have liked writing about this season), we’d like a break — each to breathe, and to the method itself.
My answer? Much less queens, for one — 15 this season was overwhelming — and fewer of a give attention to movie star stars. We don’t watch the present for 10 minutes of Miley Cyrus; we look ahead to the queens.
Maybe that appears like not eliminating anybody for half the season, and canonising the scorecard system the followers use into the present, tallying it up earlier than adopting eliminations. However that might imply casting a dozen or so queens who might truly all win, quite than for storylines.
The place-ever we’re heading, hopefully it’s in the direction of a Drag Race that lets the queens shine. Yvie Oddly’s win is a wonderful begin.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is on the market to stream on Stan. Revisit our Season 11 recaps right here.
Jared Richards is a employees author at Junkee, and co-host of Sleepless In Sydney on FBi Radio. Thanks for studying these, and please comply with him on Twitter for extra Vox Lux references than you’ll ever want.