The Final Three queens make their big play for the crown, one girl snags it, and Drag Race continues its winning streak of picking the absolutely best doll for the title of Canada’s Drag Superstar.
We can’t say this was a particularly exciting finale, but it was an inoffensively pleasant hour to sit through as we waited for the crowning. While we’re not sure we could have predicted these three as the only ones standing for the finale, we can’t say we object. Priyanka always deserved the spot, it seemed like Rita was destined for it all along because the judges favored her so much, and Scarlett managed to distinguish herself not by grabbing the spotlight from the other girls, but by serving consistently good, professional-level drag week in and week out.
Maybe it was the Canadian niceness factor at play, but it was also pleasant to watch three queens who were genuinely excited and happy for each other. We were touched by how excited each queen got when the other queens got complimented by the judges in the final challenge. And when they brought the rest of the queens back for an ostensible showdown, it turned into a lovefest instead.
It’s the thing to do among Drag Race fandom to disparage Ru at every opportunity and constantly ask for her to be replaced on her own show, but here’s us, still waving our little Ru flags nearly twelve years later. With the full admission that we agree our girl’s problematic as hell on matters of diverse representation and fracking, among many other issues, we will still bang that drum while we point out that she’s an Emmy winner for a reason. Which isn’t to say a Drag Race show can’t work without her; just that you need a judging panel that encompasses the things she brings to the table. We think the Canada’s Drag Race panel has improved in some ways, but Jeffrey still remains its weakest link and he has no real facility with interviews or interactions onscreen. This is a long way of saying that the final interviews just didn’t have the weight to them when they’re conducted by Ru who, despite her problematic parts, remains the career standard for most queens who make it to the finals of Drag Race. It just hits different when the most famous drag queen in the world is conducting your exit interview on the biggest drag competition in the world.
Having said that, we think Stacy’s fine where she is and we think Brooke Lynn works best when he’s critiquing those things he’s best at: the art of drag itself and dance. When he focuses on movement and presentation critiques, he’s great – as he was this episode. While we don’t support any of the harassment JBC received from the show’s fandom, the fact remains that he doesn’t bring anything to the critiques. Worse, he changes the whole energy of the show largely because he’s an actor with leading man good looks; a status that doesn’t give him much credence as the judge of a drag competition based on singing, presentation, sketch comedy and standup. It may not even be his fault, but his interactions with the queens tend to come off distant and condescending at times. What the show needs is someone with a comedy background on the permanent judging panel; someone who can critique performances and connect with the queens based on their shared need to make audiences love them. JBC just doesn’t have that quality to him.
To our pleasant surprise all three girls reached deep down and pulled out the very best drag performances and looks from the entire season. No tea no shade against the other girls, but that runway promenade of the eliminated queens only had one or two high-level or memorable looks (LOVED Jimbo’s of course), proving that this crop mostly didn’t have the level of polish a Drag Race crown requires. But these girls came out hard and we’d say the song and dance number ranks up there as one of the best in the franchise’s history.
We think Rita was a poor fit for quite a bit of what the competition asked for and her tactic of hunkering down, committing to it all and just getting to the end where she could be her true self largely paid off. This look is gorgeous, and it kind of locks down Rita’s whole deal. She didn’t get a chance to lean into the alien drag thing all season, but once you see her in it, you can see why she’s so well-respected.
We think Scarlett acquitted herself nicely throughout the final few episodes and she was great in everything this episode asked of her – but we don’t love this look. The fit on the bodice is terrible. We found out why during the lip synch when she tore it away to reveal a bodysuit underneath, but as a runway look, it’s bland and a little drab compared to many of her previous ones.
We gasped. How could we not. In a season that had us complaining for weeks about the lack of polish and high-end drag artistry, Priyanka stepped out on that runway in what may rank as one of the all-time greats in the show’s history. Just absolutely stunning drag, flawlessly executed. She radiated a confidence she didn’t show for most of the season. She knew she nailed this one.
At first we thought Priyanka’s look worked against her in the lip sync, given how Rita and Scarlett had tearaways and offered a much more physical style and dance-based performance. But Pri served up a more quietly intense, emotional sort of lip sync and we can’t tell you how much we appreciate it when a queen does that and the show sees fit to reward it. The dips and splits and tearaways and wig snatches are all part of the art form, but they’re stylistic flourishes that Drag Race has a tendency to over-reward (either in the judging or just by constantly shooting the judges’ over-reaction to each move, like they’d never seen a bitch do a dip before). Sometimes, the song and the drag artist require a more focused, spotlight-holding emotional approach, which Pri seemed to understand – or perhaps was luckily forced into by the restrictions of his costume.
Whatever the case, girlfriend snagged that sceptre and we couldn’t be happier with the choice. Well done all around. Canada’s Drag Race had a rocky first season, but it ended well and we look forward to see how the show improves in the seasons to come. Next up: Drag Race Holland. What, like you thought were gonna shut up about it? We wrote a book! Have we mentioned that lately?
“Our critically acclaimed book Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life is on sale now!
The Los Angeles Times called it “a nuanced exploration of the gender-bending figures, insider lingo and significant milestones in queer history to which the show owes its existence.”
The Washington Post said it “arrives at just the right time … because the world needs authenticity in its stories. Fitzgerald and Marquez deliver that, giving readers an insight into the important but overlooked people who made our current moment possible.”
Paper Magazine said to “think of it as the queer education you didn’t get in public school” and The Associated Press said it was “delightful and important” and “a history well told, one that is approachable and enjoyable for all.”
[Photo Credit: WOW via Tom and Lorenzo]