It’s been a long hard road for the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3. And last night, the finale revealed who joined the ranks of Chad Michaels and Alaska as an All-Stars Champion. Along the way, there was plenty to gag over.
Once BenDeLaCreme left the competition of her own accord, it seemed the path was cleared for Shangela and Trixie Mattel to be top two. Yes, Kennedy Davenport is one hell of a dancer and killed it in The Bitchelor challenge. But when it came to runway fashion, Kennedy was resting on her pageant look laurels, and rarely wowing us. And then there was BeBe Zahara Benet, whose been so underwhelming all season that Drag Race fans had concocted a conspiracy theory that Bebe was a mole for the judges. To her credit, Bebe was outstanding as Jungle Kitty with her wild schtick. But the rest of the season was one note: regal bitch.
When it was revealed the final challenge would be a complicated musical number, it seemed the odds were in Shangela’s favor. Sure, Trixie is a singer/songwriter. But she’s been very vocal on and off the show that she’s not much of a lip sync queen. However, when Todrick Hall announced they’d be doing a long take of the whole performance, Trixie was the only one who seemed elated more than petrified. But I think we can all agree that Shangy was living her Beyonce fantasy in that number, but Trixie slayed too! She was fun, frisky, and still very much Trixie as a booty-shaking, pink-haired Barbie Girl. More than ever it seemed certain it would be these two in the final lipsync, which seemed to guarantee the win for Shangela, who’s been a lip sync assassin all season. But then came the twist: It’s not the judges who picked the final two, but the eliminated queens. And most of those queens had an ax to grind against Shangela, who sent them home.
Yeah yeah. I heard the arguments about how some queens don’t need this crown to give their careers a boost. But how do you make that argument and then pick the queen who has a hit record, a thriving comedy career, and her own TV show? As much as I hated how Shangela played the game this season, stirring up drama and endlessly dropping Game of Thrones references, she undeniably deserved to be in the top two. The argument that Kennedy should have it because it’d help boost her career? That doesn’t sit right with me. Do it because you think she deserved it, not because she deserves better outside the competition.
Anyhow, in the face-crack of the night, Shangela didn’t make the top two, and the finale lip sync was a—and I hate to say this—bland affair. Kennedy did the same tricks she always does. And yes, she’s a hell of a dancer, but there was nothing new or exciting in her performance. And Trixie’s finale spectacle was a quick change that wasn’t that quick, and offered little drama. In the wake of Sasha Velour’s instantly iconic season 9 performance, this just felt painfully weak.
I’m thrilled Trixie won. She deserved it. How Trixie has been exploring what being a drag star can mean has been thrilling. Just about every queen has a web series and a single. But Trixie’s hit the top of the charts, and spun her online fandom into a spirited and fun TV show. And if you want more reasons to love her, check out her interview on the podcast Homophilia.
But even though my favorite won, this felt like a weak season. In part because come on, Thorgy Thor and Milk were never there as serious competitors, but just drama queens. Then bringing back Bebe was only as interesting as the conspiracy theory. Then Ben left, and put an asterisk on whoever would win. Because if you think Trixie’s not going to here “well, but if Ben hadn’t left” for the rest of her career, you’re fooling yourself. And lastly, Shangela was shady, but she earned her spot at the top. It’s completely confounding to me that the producers would allow for these results where the showdown the last several eps had been gunning toward was just NOT THERE. To take a cue from Shangy, this’d be like if Daenerys Targaryen roared into King’s Landing on her dragons, and Cersei Lannister had left a note like, “Whatever. I’ve moved to the Shire.” WE WERE OWED THIS SHOWDOWN.
Thankfully season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race kicks off next week. Here’s hoping that’ll bring back the eleganza and spectacle, and leave the gags behind.
What’d you think of the finale? Did the right queen take the crown? What Shangela robbed? Did Kennedy deserve the top two spot?Sound off in comments.