Ten Thoughts About RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars: Season Two, Episode One

It’s that time of year again, somehow: RuPaul’s Drag Race is back…but technically not. But, technically, it is.

This is the new season of All Stars, where a gang of old faces are brought back to the work room to try again for the secondhand store equivalent of the crown. Four years after the initial one-off All Stars season, this new season popped up randomly to resurrect the spin-off to see if there truly is potential in the fizzle that was its first incarnation.

So how will this second go of it be? Seemingly better. Let’s untuck it.

And of course: spoilers ahead.

10. A lot of evil bitches, right?
With this season starting so big, with ten strong personalities and oodles of money out there to win, the one thing that stood out with this season is that this is a variation of Survivor‘s Redemption Island: half of these queens were villains, seemingly reformed and ready for personality refreshing and rebranding. Ginger, Phi Phi, and Roxxxy embody this in addition to sometimes catty but lovable Detox and always sharp Tatianna: these queens are here to prove that they aren’t the Colton Cumbie of the series. This is an interesting method, particularly for Phi Phi, since they’ve been emblazoned in our minds as bitches. The risk here is that if a bitch ‘tude pops up at any moment, their hard work to rehab their image will be all for nothing.

9. …with Alaska as Ru’s pet.
It’s kind of shocking that Alaska is on the show. Not because she doesn’t deserve to be here but because she is quite friendly with Ru. She is a fierce queen and this is her game to lose—but does she have a baked Alaska advantage? Potentially.

8. This is more like episode five.
The good thing about this season is that it didn’t start at episode one: it started at episode five. There were no silly photo shoots to ease everyone into the competition: they started with reading and a talent show. This is important when you have very, very seasoned veterans returning: they have to be given bigger challenges. The question here is that if episode one is episode five, then how does the finale outdo a normal finale? How can it be even bigger than a typical episode ten? Intrigued. The producers have to turn up the volume pretty loud to keep the energy of this season up by way of challenging this already accomplished group.

7. A different queen climate.
To that, 2016 is a very different time to be a post-Drag Race queen compared to last All Stars, when this idea was just forming: you don’t leave Drag Race as a person but as a brand. As you see at any Drag Race show and at DragCon, the fun and festivities you buy into is the brand extension of a queen’s personality by way of her performing a song in an iconic gown she made, which you can later buy a representation of as a t-shirt. This isn’t play time: these queens are on this show as mini-queer corporations to see whose brand identity will sell the most—hence the $10K reward for every win.

6. A branded talent show.
To the notion that this is a different climate for queens, the talent show turned directly to this concept by having the queens literally take five minutes to define their brand by way of “talent.” Some super succeeded—Alaska with her gay jingle, Katya with her gymnastics routine, and shocker Tatianna with spoken word—while others fell flat but defined themselves, like Detox’s neon splat and Adore’s near swan song. What is weird about all this—and potentially foreboding for the season—is that all of these acts were heavily produced. It was obvious that each queen worked with a producer to execute their performance. This wasn’t some shit they slapped together: this was all thought up and executed and produced, like American Idol or America’s Got Talent segments. That isn’t a problem as, again, this speaks to taste and personality and one’s brand being the key to success. We’ll see how this heightens as the season goes on…

5. “Raven Sigh Moan Yay.”
What the fuck was the pronunciation of her name.

4. Congrats, Todrick!
Bummer to see Ross lose his job as a judge but glad to see Todrick in his place! That guy went from YouTuber to MTV to Logo to Drag Race. What a great fit! We’ll see how he does.

3. Rightfully, Michelle is not fucking around.
Michelle’s critique of Adore was vicious. Was it too mean? Not at all: she absolutely needs to be this tough. These are not new girls. These are All Stars! Like starting at episode five instead of one, she’s not lubing it up for them: she’s reading them from the start. She knows they can do better and she won’t let them idle. If that means Adore excuses herself, so be it. Michelle is not here for that.

By the end of the episode, the most memorable thing to happen was the show of puffy lips. From Adore to Alaska to Detox, Beverly Hills’ finest work was on display. Girls are getting paid! And plumped.

1. What will become of you, Coco?
Coco’s elimination was so obvious. She clearly did not heed producer’s warning nor did she have any idea of what to do that could be memorable or exciting. So where does that leave her? On a future jury. Since queens are self-eliminating, the show truly is turning Survivor and will climax with a collective of All Stars selecting who is the most talented of them all. This will undoubtedly make things interesting.

Now that we are reacquainted, here is my first take at a power ranking.

10. Coco Montrese (Maybe she’ll be brought back if someone quits? That reminds me…)
9. Adore Delano (Judging from her beg to go home and her no-show at the VMAs last night, she’s already checked out. She’s going to self-eliminate and excuse herself. Sounds bad but, to her defense, she is more punk rock and in another world. Will she succeed there? Probably not but let the girl try.)
8. Detox (Detox is great, guys, but she’s nothing more than optics. She’s fun but there’s just a lot more talent surrounding her.)
7. Alyssa Edwards (Alyssa, like Detox, is a great character and a fan favorite—but she’s an old dog. She has a terrific personal brand but just doesn’t have longevity. She’ll live to click her tongue more on YouTube.)
6. Phi Phi O’Hara (She’s going to rear her head as a bitch, self-isolate, and get the boot.)
5. Ginger Minj (Ditto.)
4. Roxxxy Andrews (Ditto ditto—but she does seem truly changed.)
3. Tatianna (This is the wild card. Tati is showing that she is not to be overlooked and I think she can pull it off. Her showing in Season 2 was strong. Don’t count her out.)
2. Katya (The only one to screw this up for Katya is Katya. She knows not to get in her head but, if she does, it’s over.)
1. Alaska Thunderfuck (There really is no competition. She was so close to the win last time and it seems like the judges are going to have to self-edit as to not let Alaska win everything. She’s just so good and, frankly, above this. However, it doesn’t matter if she or anyone wins: they’re all winners to be back. Moreover, the All Star crown isn’t real. It’s a fake title. The winner and Chad will revel in being the second chance victors but, ultimately, the highest glorified losers: the All Star queen isn’t truly in the same level of queendom as America’s Next Drag Superstar.)

What did you guys think? Any early winner predictions? Tweet me your comments, duders.

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