Near the end of last night’s season finale of RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race, host and show namesake RuPaul was really trying to sell the idea that any of the four remaining queens — Chad Michaels, Shannel, Raven, and Jujubee — could take home the crown. “I feel like my four favorite actresses,” Ru said, just before silencing her fellow judges and bringing the contestants back for some decisions, “are up for the same award.”
It was a lovely sentiment from the ever-fair and all-queen-loving RuPaul, but the fact of the matter that this final leg of the competition was only really between three queens — and, as the judges’ thoughts on the final three-pronged challenge were metered out, it became clear that it was only really between two.
I’m not even gonna really put a spoiler alert on this one: Shannel was never really in this competition at the end. She bombed her comedy show, her drag was a mess, and she was deluded — it was clear from the outset of last night’s hour that she wasn’t going to be named as the much-coveted first inductee into the Drag Race Hall of Fame. You might be able to guess who was the other weak link. (Her name rhymes with: smujubee.)
“You are all my legendary children, but there’s room for just one inductee to the Drag Race Hall of Fame,” Ru told the ladies, yes again assuring them they were all great, which isn’t technically wrong but only applied to two weeks. And then, after the lip-sync-for-your-life portion of the evening — featuring the right two queens, but what could be slugged a controversial winner — Ru uttered the words we were all dying to hear: “The first inductee into the Drag Race Hall of Fame is…”
Which, truly, is not shocking. Chad was always the most poised of the 12 contestants who began the All Stars race last month. And many fans in the Drag Race universe have always thought that Chad was robbed when Sharon Needles was crowned as America’s Next Drag Superstar last spring at the outset of season 4.
Thinking about all this together, my thoughts quickly went to this place: Was Drag Race All Stars created just so Chad Michaels could be crowned the winner? It seems like a distinct possibility, in a weird way. Chad clearly deserved the season 4 crown just as much as Sharon — and it oddly came down to just a matter of taste between the goth-queen winner and the pretty-perfect Chad. Things in the Drag Race universe aren’t this Machiavellian, though, so I don’t know why I’m even headed down this road.
I guess Chad taking the crown just wasn’t the shocking choice. Don’t get me wrong: I love Chad Michaels. There is no queen more picture perfect and dedicated than Chad. But something in me wanted to see her burn to the ground last night and watch a phoenix — or, rather, a Raven — rise from the ashes in the Drag Race universe for an evening.
It’s sort of hard to put my finger on it exactly, but Chad was just irking me during the first hours of this competition — especially last night’s episode. There was the moment when she fainted. And just a bevy of quotes that made Chad sound like she thought she was better than everyone else, and not in a snitty-fun, drag-queen-versus-drag-queen way. “I’m the past, present, and future of drag,” she told everyone at one point. I clearly get that trash-talking is part of the drag world, but there was something a little unsettling — and off — about it. (Maybe I’m totally gross, but I found myself really giggling at the other, less-polished queens and their quips last night: “I have diarrhea now,” offered Juju at one point. Was I in a weird mood, or was that funny? Methinks: funny.)
I guess in the end, Chad is probably the best representative for the Hall of Fame. But I was also confused somewhat by the whole situation — are we to believe that this first inductee into the Drag Race Hall of Fame on more of a pedestal than the past four winners of the regular seasons? This was billed as the “queen of queens,” but really — isn’t it more of just “the best of the ones who didn’t win the first time around”? I was startled, actually, to see Chad immortalized in that huge frame right next to RuPaul there at the end of the episode. “This is a place next to RuPaul forever,” Chad crowed. “It’s absolutely unbelievable.” It sort of was — but in the right way?
Not sure why I found myself reacting so strongly to all of this. My point is this, I suppose: Raven or Chad could have taken the crown, much like when Chad was up against Sharon at the end of season 4. I just thought, maybe, the choice of Raven would have been a little less predictable, which is what Chad can be at times. Regardless, Chad is a flawless queen who deserves everything the crown has to offer — she certainly won’t tarnish the Drag Race name. Shannel, truly, never had a chance, as she rode on Chad’s coattails through the whole thing, and, well, Juju probably would have gone home last week had she and Raven not pulled out that overly dramatic/touching lip-sync. It’s all pretty much as simple as that.
Those are my thoughts. And since we all care mostly about who won — and I covered it rather nicely in the above screed — here are just a few bulleted points of things I found interesting/random/amusing from the rest of last night’s episode:
• Cheri Oteri ruled. Yes! Right? I thought she gave really great advice to all the queens, who really needed her help with their stand-up. They were the first to admit it. I just loved some of the stuff she told the gals: “I don’t think you need that” she said to Chad, and “I don’t think it’s a fair stereotype,” she said to Shannel. It’s sometimes easy for folks to go on shows like this and play nice — Cheri came out swinging, and that really seemed to help their comedy acts, which brings me to my next point…
• The comedy acts were funny! I was pretty sure they were going to be big messes. Granted, we were all just treated to a rather edited version of what went down there at The Comedy Store, but all the gals had good moments. Despite Shannel clearly being the weakest, they all had funny lines. Jujubee: “I was born a drag queen, and the after birth was glitter.” Chad: “My doctor, Dr. Bendito, finally gave me cheeks that I can see. Literally, I can see them! It’s very distracting.” Raven: “I apologize for my outfit — it’s laundry day. That’s probably why I’m single.” And yes, even Shannel: “My issue with pantyhose is there’s no room for a penis.”
• It was nice to see Delta Work and Ongina, however briefly. Maybe that was a preview of RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race 2?
• Shannel oddly channeled Kirstie Alley. Especially during the part of last night’s challenge at Hamburger Mary’s. Did anyone else notice that? It was eerie, and I’d just as soon believe that’s what truly killed the competition for her. (But let’s be honest: It was very much one transgression among many others.)
• Michelle Visage cemented her hold on the title of: “Absolutely My Favorite Thing on the Planet.” This gal doesn’t know how to hide her emotions or bite her tongue. Which makes her even better than Cheri Oteri. During Shannel’s stand-up routine, you could literally see her seething. She hated the jokes. Loved that! And when Jujubee walked down the runway, she had a really wonderful sound bite: “She must live in A–bury Park,” she said, as Juju’s butt was shown switching its way out the door. Lastly on the Visage front: THAT “HUNTY” NECKLACE. It’s everything, and that’s simply no disputing that fact.
Any other observations of your own Drag Racers? Happy with the All Stars outcome? Wishing Raven or Juju had won? Loving Michelle Visage as much as me and hoping he’ll eventually somehow star in her own show? Sound off below in the comments — I know you vehement fans have got lots to say now that we know who’s the first inductee to the Drag Race Hall of Fame…
And, just for fun — and because we had a photo of each of the queens sized, so we’d be ready for whoever won — let’s take a gander at the rest of the runway looks from last night. Queens looked good, right?
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky