Well, well, well. This season of All Stars is officially over and many of us are scratching our heads, confused and bewildered by transpired.
We all had an idea of what would happen, that the finale would feature Shangela versus Trixie vying for the crown in Ben’s absence. That did not happen. I could feel that idea wash over me as texts and messages flew in on Thursday and Friday, expressing concern for what was happening on the show. I then went into extreme conspiracy theory mode, convincing myself that Bebe was going to win at Ru’s request, an upset akin to Sasha Velour’s upset over Shea Coulee.
This wasn’t the upset we got. Something completely different happened. This is going to be an unpopular opinion but I actually loved the dramatic twist inserted and feel that the show should be this controversial at all times instead of playing it safe. I’ve said this for years and, in a sense, I got that wish. Let’s digest the episode, shall we?
Spoilers, obviously. Proceed with caution.
4. Pepper The Drama
The episode started with the unsubtle foreshadowing that this finale was all about drama. From Bebe’s failure to launch in her dance to the nebulous return of the dead queens as the “jury of their queers,” everyone was in a bit of a scramble to figure out what was what. We were also treated to some legitimately fucking hot dancers as we saw very quickly that, yes, the battle is between Shangela and Trixie with Kennedy trailing at a very far distance and Bebe on another planet entirely. What’s funny is, when you look back on the episode, the drama peppered in at the top and even the drama of the queer jury was so pale: they really set us up for a “WHAT THE FUCK.” moment that no one was prepared for. Entertaining, to say the least.
3. Hot Stuff, Live
Every finale before the stupid “live” shows featured a clever incorporation of the top queens in a RuPaul music video or song. This finale took us way beyond that by doing a fucking incredible live, one-shot performance that raised the stakes so high that I could feel them scraping against the bottom of my palms. As a spectacle, the performance had everything we wanted: the dead queens, hot guys, cool ladies, the judges, camp and comedy, the drama of failure, and – of course – the queens vying for the title, all set to a catchy beat. It was most impressive! As for individual efforts, everyone but Bebe seemed to bring it. Kennedy truly flexed her dance skills and, save for another rogue wig/bangs setup, she did very well. Shangela and Trixie did themselves to a spectacular degree while Bebe somewhat sleepily walked in and out of her moment. The final runways were decent but the scales tipped exactly as you thought: Trixie looked like a beautiful old poodle Barbie, Shangela looked the best Shangela has – or ever will – look, Kennedy recycled an outfit and revealed that she is a strong performer without a point of view, while Bebe faxed in a subpar concept we’re all exhausted of. By the time Thorgy cooed out her “Oh work bitch.” when Shangela walked on stage, we all were more-than-prepared for the final face-off between comeback queens, Trixie and Shangi. They had earned it.
— RuPaul’s Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) March 16, 2018
2. Dead Queens Walking
…and then everything changed at the hands of the dead queens. I loved this twist! It really legitimized all the queens as all stars, experts in their field, while revealing their hopes and dreams for the future of drag. Conversely, it also revealed that some ghosts never die, that some sour grapes never sweeten. First off, everyone looked spectacular and, in some ways, overshadowed a queen like Bebe, sartorially speaking. Bebe’s discussion went as assumed: obnoxious and distant, dodging all real questions. I was most pissed that Morgan didn’t call Bebe out for lying when she said that everyone “agreed she didn’t need to share who she voted for last week. Bullshit. As expected, Thorgy summed it up best noting that Bebe didn’t “talk to us like human beings.” Kennedy’s showing was raw and real and flexed her pageantry muscles. It did highlight what we discussed last week, that Kennedy has the most to gain from this title: no one knows her or loves her and, despite winning almost nothing, she would add an old school legitimacy to the crown. This, obviously, struck many chords. Shangela’s talk was real and quite charming but she was right to realize that she either eliminated or wronged everyone. Even those who she thought she had in the bag like Chi Chi were already off in distant waters. Lastly, Trixie was as charming as ever but got a little too real with her chatter about Kennedy and Bebe. She did inspire tears in her final notes, that she “felt like an all star” before she arrived. It was sweet. What wasn’t sweet? That the show didn’t explain who voted for who. Moreover, the show didn’t explain the two votes of uneven points which would have reshaped how we took in the information of Kennedy over Shangela. That, really, changed everything: this wasn’t just a voting for two people but a prioritizing. As the video above shows, everyone switched to team Kennedy because of her doggedness and spirit followed by Trixie’s seasonal slow burn. This is understandable! But the episode didn’t do a good job of contextualizing how much Kennedy’s talk was worth, that she deserved a two point vote over a one point vote. No one seemed to be acting shady, as you see above, as Kennedy must have touched them in a way that spread an amnesia about her track record on the show. Save for Thorgy (God bless her.), no one voted for Shangela, which is the shock to end all shocks in relationship to All Stars 3.
1. Not Shangela
Here’s the thing: Shangela would have won if she went against Trixie. Kennedy stood a good chance of winning because of her stellar lipsync track record but the choice to take “Wrecking Ball” in a somewhat obvious balletic direction against Trixie’s earnest hair pulling balladry was what did her in. But if Shangela went up against Trixie? She would have brought tit bursting drama that would have killed in a Sasha Velour floral scalping way. Did we get that? Nope. She didn’t even get the opportunity! The reason why this happened, the reason why Shangela was boxed out, was the Game Of Thrones strategy that she so prided herself on: in forming an alliance in a game of mismatched votes, where you kept allies like Bebe and Kennedy from voting, she was left with three people wrongfully scorned (Thorgy, Morgan, Chi Chi) and a group who didn’t see her as a priority to champion. She got overlooked because she kept her allies too close (In the game!) instead of working outward, playing Ben’s “Everyone love me!” game which would have won and, clearly, is what both Kennedy and Trixie appealed to. Kennedy and Trixie’s earnest, “You love us! You have no reason to hate us!” schtick is what won the day – not game or strategy. Milk – Milk. – voted for Kennedy instead of Shangela, after what happened between them on episode three. That tells you a lot. This is one of the biggest upsets in Drag Race history but, sadly, Shangela only has herself to blame. She played the game too hard. She forgot to be a person, to ditch the part where the dragon lady is a streamlined chaotic evil instead of chaotic good. Sad, yes, but Shangela played herself.
1.5. Biggest Loser? Kennedy.
However! The biggest loser here, in my opinion, which breaks my hearts to bits, is Kennedy. Kennedy made the top two! Is anyone talking about her? Nope. All about how Trixie won or how Shangela was blocked out. While Kennedy wasn’t the most deserving of top two, her being almost erased from the narrative of the finale proves what she was saying in the last two episodes: everyone looks her over. Had she won, no one would have looked her over. She would have gotten a lot of hate, yes, but she wouldn’t have been overlooked anymore. Poor Kennedy.
What a finale.
Now, one more thing: Trixie. She did earn her win, even if she wasn’t the favorite. Like Alaska last season, we all saw Trixie winning from miles and miles away. The difference between Alaska and Trixie is that Alaska was the Ben of her season, winning everything by just being there. Trixie? Not so. This was a very, very roundabout way of rewarding the fan favorite who, admittedly, had to work very hard to win the title. Moreover, she has come a long way – just as Bebe predicted years ago.
Let’s look at how the predictions fared and digest the returning queens.
Thorgy Thor(If you don’t see Thorgy as the queen of one-liners, a neo-Tammie Brown, the one smart dead queen to vote for Shangela, you are doing it wrong. She is infallible and needs to be amplified more. I love Thorgy.)
Milk(Loved her outfit.)
Chi Chi(Cannot believe she didn’t vote for Shangi! Then again, we all knew she’d vote for Kennedy.)
Aja(Was surprised by her votes too! Her outfit was conceptually great but not the best executed, sadly.)
Ben De La Creme(How incredible did Ben look? She looked so flawless. Her logic for who she picked? No idea but okay.)
Morgan McMichaels(Same with Morgan: what the fuck were her picks?)
Bebe Zahara Benet(No one was mad she didn’t win. She looked bitter but everyone was entirely unsurprised. Also: how disappointing that she wasn’t a spy? The show should use that unexercised storyline in the future though.)
Kennedy Davenport(I had her at 3 but she got 2!)
2. & 1.
Shangela& Trixie Mattel (Already discussed but well done to both of them. They played very well this season.)
Your thoughts? Anyone know if we’re getting a reunion because I need Shangela to grill everyone ASAP.