RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE ALL STARS HAS A WHINE…sorry, winner. It has a winner.
1. And so our final challenge replicated the busy life of a Hall Of Fame Drag Queen. Allegedly. Personally I can’t imagine too much of RuPaul’s life at any stage past 1992 has been spent wedged in the back of a van, trying to apply lip-liner whilst speeding over potholes on her way to have a burger named after her. Much less Lady Bunny. Still, the variety of challenges did allow the Final Four to show off different sides of their personalities – the loud and obnoxious side in the interview challenge, the inspirational and filthy side in the burger-hocking challenge, and their funny side in the stand-up comedy challenge. After several weeks of challenges tangentially related to actual drag-queen talent at best (shooting hoops, anyone?) it was refreshing to see the queens have to interact with the public, and in a more entertaining way then trying to get them to eat grapes out of their pants. As hard as that might be to believe.
2. Of course the vans ferrying the queens around to their appointments needed drivers, allowing the opportunity for yet more cameos from Drag Queens past. In this case Ongina and Delta Work. Delta was out of drag. Ongina…well it’s kind of hard to tell with Ongina isn’t it? He didn’t shave his stubble off, so I’m guessing he was mufti. Anyway, both queens acted in accordance with their previous showings – Ongina jumping up and down giddily, getting lost in traffic and generally being delightful ; Delta being a sour miserable tit. I think in many ways we learnt far more about them just watching them driving the teams around than we learnt about Mimi Imfurst during her stay this year.
3. I’m going to skip really focussing on the actual challenges in order to deal with the actual queens performances individually in a bit, so I’m going to skip straight to the special guest judges this week, who were, if you squinted, Cheri Oteri and a panda. No, that’s cruel, Beth Ditto’s enthusiasm and cheerful glee were everything a Drag Race Guest Judge should bring to their slot (f’nar) and I’m glad she came. Cheri Oteri on the other hand had a thankless task – telling the queens in rehearsal that their stand-up wasn’t funny, repeatedly. Which it wasn’t, but I feel bad for her that, after all that she apparently didn’t get to see the final product live. Also, I’m not entirely sure who she IS, other than “woman who did Saturday Night Live” which is true of a whole range of people from Amy Poehler right down to Victoria Jackson via “that woman who played Apu’s wife on The Simpsons” so… you keep on keeping on Cheri Oteri.
4. I’ll be honest I’m going to pretend Shannel was 4th, and deal with her first, because it’s just funnier that way. After spending most of the series in Chad Michaels’ shadow, I’m so glad that Shannel had a break-out run of episodes right at the end, when she transformed into the amazing pretentious trainwreck Transforms form that I was hoping that she’d bring to All-Stars throughout. The endless speechifying, the overthinking, the Psychiatrists Couch (All About Shannel) session she initiated whilst on Untucked, that final runway outfit where she dressed as a VEGAS SHOWGIRL DRESSED IN BEEF-TONGUE CARPET THAT SANTINO UNACCOUNTABLY LOVED. She probably performed weakest of the queens over the final run of challenges – being a rambling interview (the time when you find yourself saying “the women of yesteryear had so much more to them” is the time to STOP TALKING), giving little more than bland mild smut at the burger launch, and delivering some truly hacky disjointed stand-up comedy. Topping it all off though is the moment that she said she should be in the Drag Hall Of Fame because she can juggle. NEVER CHANGE SHANNEL, I LOVE YOU.
5. Poor Jujubee, finishing 3rd, despite clearly being the most popular queen with the audience at home, if the fan voting RuPaul launched in a bizarre fit of masochism was anything to go by. He had to know that Chad would get badly beaten into third by Team Rujubee. Maybe she did it just because of the hilarity of watching Shannel get, like, three votes. I know that was the most fun I got all series out of anything. Anyway, back to Jujubee, who really had lost from the second that she let the other queens trample all over her in the interview challenge, and only compounded her loss with those hideous shoes on the final runway. Her stand-up was at least funny, although a little too “my wacky immigrant family” for those of us who have sat through more than one Live At The Apollo featuring Gina “I’M NIGERIAN!!!!!!!” Yashere. At least she can rest easy in the knowledge that if there were a “Miss Congeniality” vote for this season she’d have it in the bag, and that her Fran Drescher will live in infamy forever.
6. And yet again RAVEN WUZZ ROBBED! She was just on point all episode, from her physical impersonation of Oblivious Drag Queen Kris Jenner in the interview, through her slinky working of lettuce at Mary’s Burgers, past the most convincing stand-up set on this show since Shangela yelled “WHAT?!”, and right through to that final lip-sync to “Responsitranity” (just me trying to work that word into my daily vocabulary because it’s SO BAD then?) in which she did the EFFING ROBOT and rolled about on the floor being sexy. She was owed that crown damnit. Who cares if her team lost nearly every challenge, and her make-up was occasionally terrifyingly metallic? Tthere have been no three better looks this series than her Supervillain, Taylor Dayne, and Donatella Versace looks, apart from possibly a couple of Manilla’s. I only hope this serves as fuel for Raven to return for the next All-Stars, thirsty for REVENGE, where she loses to, I dunno, Raja or somebody.
7. Which just leaves Chad Michaels as our winner, which I have mixed feelings about. I mean, obviously the whole series the entire cast were sucking up to her ass, so she’s obviously doing something right, and she had a great set of final performances (even if her stand-up felt a bit more like a compere than an act) but…she’s just still so beige to me. I can’t really remember what she did in any of the weeks before this one (apart from her amazing superhero costume) and if she made one more reference to
a) Sharon beating her
b) the EFFING HUNGER GAMES
I think I probably would have torn my own ears off, then stufffed them up the resulting holes to truly stop any sound getting in. I guess I can stand her being in the Drag Hall Of Fame if they start inducting other queens on a yearly basis, but if it’s just her knocking around in there next to Ru it’s going to feel hollow. I want a whole ARRAY of stars on that Walk Of Fame, before the show finally runs out of Drag Queens in about Series 7.
8. Untucked this week kind of served as an impromptu Reunion Show, except only for the final four queens, which felt a bit odd. I did find it funny how Jujubee and Shannel both knew they were the also-rans in this final four, and expressed as much as soon as they got off stage. Not that it stopped either of them getting in one last bout of sucking up to Ru, talking about how truly inspiring it was to have him there, in full drag, revealing his inner self to them (/prodding them until they cried about their dead moms or their need to “fix things” or whatever). It has to be said, I would have preferred one last true cat-fight to go out on however. They were even being nice about Santino. With this level of nicety going on, you can see why they kept Alexis around so long, if only for the drama.
9. So…All-Stars on the whole then. It’s been undeniably fun to see some of my favourite drag queens again, performing and goofing off and being massive unnecessary bitches to one another. And I’m not even that down on the team format. I guess my major problem is with the predictability. Even with the spanner in the works of the “team twist”, we lost both the random castings in quick succession to begin with, and at the end we were left with the two runner-up queens who probably came the closest to winning the first time around competing for the crown. I guess this is what happens when you have a singular vision making all the decisions, especially one as seasoned as Ru is. They’re not necessarily apt to changing their minds about people. Not that I’m any different. Some queens grew their legacies for me when I’d slightly underappreciated them before (Tammie, Jujubee) and some tarnished them slightly through not performing to their previous high standard (Latrice) or…just being themselves (Pandora), but mostly everyone stayed at about the same level of adoration I’d always held them at.
10. So, that Series 2 cast list then :
Manilla Luzon (again)
Plus 2 of the finest queens of Series 5, which is COMING (NOT) SOON (ENOUGH) !