RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars: Halftime Headliners

Posted on July 09, 2021

It feels like we’re heading toward a future where we’ll have to get up every single morning to write a new Drag Race recap, but until that day comes, we’re grateful that we only have to do it twice a week continuously for two straight years. Not that we’re complaining, mind you. Anything that keeps our book at the top of any Google searches can only be a good thing for these two bitches, but we’re just saying. If the recaps feel a little stale, then so does the show.

 

Having said all that, we didn’t truly mind this episode. Any time an All-Stars season gets out of the queens’ way and just lets them be all-star drag queens is usually a good time. But with this kind of episode more than any other, you really have to dispense with the idea that you’re watching some sort of competition. The setup is too coordinated and the drama is too manufactured. Challenges like this one practically beg for an arbitrary judging decision and with Jan’s rather questionable win, the show delivered the usual.

 

The challenge itself was fairly well conceived, all things considered. Combining a celebrity impersonation challenge, a lip sync challenge and a choreography challenge made it feel like a triathlon of drag; a hardcore gauntlet that would put each queen through their paces. Or it would have been, if the whole thing hadn’t been so coordinated, with so much of what we saw onstage simply handed to each competitor. They all knew who they were playing ahead of time and packed costumes made by other people while lip-syncing some fairly on-point and funny parodies sung by other people, doing dance steps that a person told them to do. The results – which were kind of ridiculously brief for each performance were more trained poodle than drag queen, we’re sorry to say. Fun to watch in most cases, but not particularly illuminating with regards to each queen’s talent and place in the competition.

 

Ginger’s one of the most talented performers and singers in this group, but she got saddled with an unfunny song, a character she didn’t have much in common with, and a routine that didn’t play to her strengths. Despite being an all-around super-threat, she wound up in the bottom.

 

Eureka’s costume was fantastic and the person who sang the Madonna parody did a great job mimicking her. She wound up in the top.

 

Ra’Jah did just okay with her Diana Ross. To be honest, we were a little disappointed with the vagueness of the impression, but it’s hard to say how much of that is really her fault. The costume didn’t really say Diana Ross to us.

 

Yara’s clearly an amazing performer who couldn’t have been better suited for a Shakira tribute, but she couldn’t tamp down on the years of professional high-level drag she’s been doing in order to deliver the specific version of Shakira being handed to her. You could tell her heart wasn’t really in this performance.

 

Cute, but not particularly impressive or interesting, we’re sorry to say. Scarlett’s pretty and competent, but she needs to seriously step that pussy up.

 

This was a fabulous subversive moment – a trans woman doing the show’s first real moment of drag king performing – that didn’t get the spotlight and the time it deserved. She looked fantastic.

 

Jan was very good. She deserved to be in the top. We didn’t quite think she nailed Gaga, but the energy and the professionalism were definitely on display, even if this number didn’t play to her strengths. We don’t mean to damn it with faint praise, but we really don’t think it should have been the winner.

 

We realize this might be a strange thing to note in a drag revue, but A’Keria’s Prince came off oddly feminine in a way that didn’t appear to be intentional on her part. The costume just didn’t give you the Prince energy you’d expect. Drag is an art form that works best in broad strokes and when you’re doing a celebrity drag impersonation, you need to tap into the more stereotypical aspects of the person you’re playing. Prince was a dandy who liked high heels and eyeliner, but his energy was distinctly and unmistakably male. She’d have been better off in his trademark purple than this baby blue. And why would you not have a guitar prop?

 

This was cute, but it didn’t stand out much. Pandora’s not much of a dancer and the costume was too matronly (a common issue with her) for the number to be any fun.

 

Trinity CLEARLY slayed the shit out of this challenge and should have been the rightful winner, no matter how much pain it might have caused Jan. But they were ready to put her always-a-bridesmaid story to bed and it felt like Jan’s win was practically a given before anyone set a foot on that stage. Oh, well.

 

The looks remain high-end and expensive-looking across the board. A’Keria may have saved herself by serving one of the best looks the entire franchise has seen in some time. There were no truly bad looks here, although we thought Trinity’s was too basic and Pandora’s was more than a little unflattering (the slightly cruel Baby Jane joke by the judges drove that point home).

 

 

Jessica Wilde unhinged her jaw and swallowed Jan whole during the lip sync.

 

Yara’s runway look was fairly incomprehensible and we think that, coupled with her refusal to beg for her right to stay is what wound up sending her home. She’s been working too long at a high level to want to put up with the bullshit of a Drag Race season at this stage. We get it, but we also get why the other queens were so ready to send her home for it. Some of them are here for redemption. some are here to have fun, and some are here to snag that crown. None of them want to deal with a queen who doesn’t want or need to be there, no matter how beloved she may be.

 

So Jan finally got her win and with that, her long storyline comes to a close. Which means of course that she’s in more danger than ever of being eliminated sooner rather than later.

 

Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life, a New York Times “New and Notable” pick, praised by The Washington Post “because the world needs authenticity in its stories,” and chosen as one of the Best Books of 2020 by NPR is on sale wherever fine books are sold!

 

 

[Photo Credit: Paramount Plus via Tom and Lorenzo]

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