Drag Race Italia: Grand Finale

Posted on December 27, 2021

Darlings, we’re nothing if not queens of our word. We said we’d return to Drag Race Italia before the year was up and come hell, high water, or a post-Christmas food coma, we’re getting it done, dammit.


Which isn’t to say that watching Drag Race Italia has been a chore. In fact, the great thing about this finale is that how celebratory an affair it was; reminding us that, when all the drama has been spent and every feather has been worn, Drag Race is still worth a cheer now and then for upholding and revering the art of drag and its vast potential.


Still, before we get into all that, we should at least acknowledge the episodes we missed recapping. Enorma’s tendency to produce drama got way out of hand – so much so that the show was extremely reluctant to even acknowledge what happened. Language issues aside (you really can’t trust the subtitling on the WOW site), it struck us as a little odd that the show would be so reticent. You’ll rarely find a successful American reality show that hid its best drama from the viewers. In other news, we nodded and smiled vaguely through the entire (weirdly interminable) Snatch Game. We have no idea who did well or what they were referencing, but there sure was a lot of it.


We also noted with some interest that the show waited until there were only 4 queens left to do the Library challenge and that the results were not particularly well executed. We remain fascinated by the ways in which shade is culturally definitional in drag. Of course it’s always a dicey proposition to extrapolate too much from a reality television show, but each country seems to have produced a reading session markedly distinct to it. In the case of Italia, it seems to us that, while there is no lack of smack talk among the Italian queens, most of the public-facing shade (the behind-the-back stuff is an entirely different story) is more about making grandiose proclamations about your own worth rather than cutting down people around you. We suspect this is partially why the response to Enorma’s behavior was so negative across the board. Having said that, we do think it strange that they addressed her poor behavior (and Ava’s apparently nearly equivalent, but equally as ill-defined transgressions) with a lip synch. See? We may not have recapped a couple episodes, but we never stopped watching. Anyway, back to the finale (with just a little bit of drag queen-like self-promotion thrown into the mix):


This is one of those sentences that’s going to make our life sound way more interesting than it actually is, but we had lunch in New York with our Italian editor this month, just to meet and celebrate the success of the Italian edition of our book. In conversations with her and with the book’s translator, as well as by reading some of the reactions to the book in the Italian press (checks nails), and hearing from some Italian viewers who responded to our recaps, it seems to us that the development and debut of a show like Drag Race on Italian television is considered a major cultural turning point for drag as a culturally supported and recognized art form. You can see this just by listening to the judges and guest judges, who routinely sing hosannas that the show exists at all, with many of them talking about how long they’ve waited or how hard they worked to get this to happen.


There’s just this lovely combination of the kind of rough and not-ready-for-television drag that defined the original Drag Race’s first season, with a very post-Drag Race understanding and openness about how the show is important already, just by the fact of its existence. We tend to think this is why the reading session was so gentle and why the queens tend to be fairly supportive of each other.


No molds were broken or rules rewritten in the production of the finale, which proceeded with the usual song and dance number with rapped personal lyrics and walk-and-point choreography.


It was fine. While it was nice to see all of the girls return, we think the final four more than justified their positions. They all did top-level stage work and turned out pretty high-end looks for the number. We thought Farida and Luquisha were the ones who commanded all the attention. Le Riche and Elecktra had moments where they went vague and seemed unsure.


It was nice to see a quartet of eleganza that lived up to finale expectations (mostly), but with each queen showing real distinction. Each look defines each queen, which is what you want to see.


Elecktra’s was the prettiest, most realness-serving look of the lot and we tend to think it sealed the deal for her. We really appreciated Le Riche for doing something so quirky for the finale and we’re glad to see this kind of whimsical drag make it so far in the competition. Having said that, this doesn’t really feel like it fulfills the eleganza brief.


We give Luquisha credit for turning out her most conventionally glamorous look without sacrificing her own sense of quirkiness, but we tended to agree with the critique Tommaso was dancing around: it’s awkward in its proportions. Also: the textiles don’t coordinate well at all and we don’t think the headpiece really goes makes sense with it. Farida’s look was our favorite of the lot, although we don’t love the wig.


Congratulations to Luquisha for being the very first Miss Drag Simpatia. There could be no other. And with that literal consolation prize, she was sent to the back of the stage.


Le Riche’s costume did her no favors during the lip sync. It was down to Elecktra and Farida. From where we were sitting, Farida.


But Lorenzo put it best after he watched the episode and spoiled the ending for Tom (who asked, to be fair): “They gave it to the prettiest, of course.” Still, we can’t be mad. Everyone was just so thrilled to be there. Of all the international versions of the show, this is the one whose finale made us wish for the show’s continued success, with many seasons to come. Hey, we’ve got a book to sell here. Ciao, Italia!


Our book, 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!

Drag Race Italia fans! The Italian Language edition of our book, RuPaul e le altre is on sale now wherever fine books are sold in Italy!




[Photo Credit: WOW Plus via Tom and Lorenzo]

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