'RuPaul's Drag Race' season finale and reunion recap: And the winner is...
Image Credit: LogoAs I live-blogged the finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race last night on LogoTV.com, via my Twitter account, there was quite the debate raging: Who should effing win this big ol’ mess of a drag competition? (And I say “mess” with all the love in my heart.) Tyra, the fierce, Beyoncé-loving queen who had oft been called a “lazy bitch” by her competitors? Raven, the dark, trash-talking lady with pierced lips? Or Jujubee, the sweet gaysian glamazon with a heart of gold? There was no clear answer, as arguments from Team Tyra, Team Raven, and Team Jujubee abounded.
And despite the menagerie of reader/viewer thoughts in every different direction, I couldn’t decide myself who should walk away as America’s Next Drag Superstar. Thank goodness we had a wise mama like RuPaul who could make this difficult decision: The crown — literally, a huge, gaudy, diamond-encrusted monstrosity — eventually went to Tyra Sanchez, who I realized during the show’s retrospective moments largely dominated the competition for most of the season and deserved to win.
At the end of the day, I feel like the decision didn’t even really come down to what happened in last night’s season finale. Sure, Tyra rocked the runway in a change-em-up, cape-covered swimsuit that was beyond killer. And she took RuPaul’s Dynasty-esque slap like the best of them. But she won for bringing a level of poise and attitude to the runway not just last night but Every. Single. Week. Just remember that three-in-one country look, her out-of-control bridal look, and all her beeee-yond wigs — and so much more that I’m not going to list here! As I listened to the judges debate and, when RuPaul summed up why Tyra took the crown in the reunion special that aired after the finale episode — “That’s magic,” Ru said of Tyra’s diva-ish actions, “That’s magic s— right there” — it became so clear that Tyra was meant to be the winner of this competition all along.
Image Credit: RollingBlackouts/LogoBut at the same time, I have to give lots of kudos to both Raven, who appeared bitchy and fabulous in a dominatrix-esque black number, and Jujubee, who wowed with a glamorous, bubble-ish dress. Both of those queens werqed, too — and I have no doubt that they’ll go on to be stars in their own right now that the show is over, despite not having the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar title.
The episode itself, however, was still pure, delightful entertainment. “You stand on the shoulder pads of a dynasty of drag queens who have come here before you,” RuPaul said to open the episode, dripping with the requisite drama. “So forget about those bickering Real Housewives — they ain’t seen anything yet, as they go head-to-head with the realness that is about to explode as one queen survives the fight to be crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar!” Then: reflection-infused chats with RuPaul over a dinner of Tic Tacs; fight dance training with Ryan Heffington (loves this crazypants choreographer, all sequined shorts and all!), set to “Jealous of My Boogie”; and Dynasty-style slap fights with RuPaul. What more could a Drag Race fan really ask for? It was Christmas in April!
Well, in the drag world, there’s always more! Like Jujubee’s deliciously hideous sequined ’80s look, despite her supposed unfamiliarity with the genre. All three of the queens, honestly, looked great as RuPaul laid it on them, both with her hand and withering lines like, “Snap out of it!” But I would have given that round to Jujubee, who the director called “a drag clown.” The following music-video fight between the ladies was perfect, too, but my only question is: Where’s the finished video? I want to see how it turned out!
After all that competition, when Tyra was finally announced as the winner, she collapsed and carried on like she couldn’t breathe. Which, at first, I wanted to write off as complete silliness. But then, after marinating on it a bit, especially with RuPaul’s words from the reunion special about Tyra’s “magic” ringing in my ears a couple of hours later, I realized that such a performance — and such passion for drag — is exactly why Tyra did win. Which of the other queens would have taken the news of winning with such drama? None besides Tyra, that’s who.”For some reason, I forgot to breathe,” Tyra said, of her reaction. The moment, while truly genuine I think, harkened back to when Tyra gave her Diva Awards speech and said that she “didn’t even know she was nominated.” Well played, Tyra — well played.
Speaking of the reunion special, in many ways, I felt like it even topped the finale episode itself. Why? Largely because it brought all the queens back together to confront each other and mingle once again. Every queen offered up something entertaining or heartwarming: Shangela with her determination and “cornsage”; Nicole Paige Brooks with her sweetness about her son; Mystique with her explanations about those awful black pants that were key in her downfall, for instance.
But Sonique dropped the biggest bombshell that I certainly didn’t see coming: “I’m a woman,” she revealed. “I’m not a boy who dresses up.” When you consider that this show is largely just entertainment, it’s moments like these, however — and for instance, last season’s episode where Ongina revealed that she was living with HIV — that make you realize how deep this show really goes. “There’s a line between drag and transgender,” RuPaul said, in a truly heartfelt, teaching moment. “I’m so happy and proud of you for being so courageous.” It’s courageous that these oftentimes struggling people put all this out there on television, period, and especially so in Sonique’s case.
The rest of the ladies brought bits of weight/delight to the Reunited hour, too: Morgan with her admission that she and Mystique are actually friends; Sahara Davenport with her revelations about how her being on the show has touched the lives of young gays; Jessica Wild with her continued determination to master English. And, of course, Pandora Boxx — my fave! — with her revelations about how she literally helped saved someone’s life by talking about her own suicide attempts on the show and her reconciliation with her father before he died: “That’s the call that I waited my entire life to hear,” she said. (Where’s my hankie?) And that outfit Pandora was wearing — don’t even get me started! Between the tire in her hair, cars on her lapel, and checkered-print of the top — like Rachel Zoe, I die! This is one freaking funny queen. Someone hire her for her own show! Now! (Her winning the award for most congenial was so well deserved! Sort of made up for when she was booted during what I had deemed “the season’s most controversial elimination,” which actually got Entertainment Weekly name-checked during the reunion. Wheee!)
But there was more! Tatianna with her own determination that she should be taken serious as a drag queen: “As long as I have a d— between my legs and a wig on my head, I’m a drag queen!” Jujubee with her message for her mother: “Thank you for giving me life.” Raven with her continued bitchiness and humor: “We are making a reality show — don’t sit here and act like we’re filming an episode of 7th Heaven,” she yelled during the protracted battles with Tatianna. And Tyra with her apologies for being beastly during much of the show — and her own humor. “I even got my own voice deepened,” she joked, “They can do that! It gets deeper and deeper everyday!” I think Tyra showed a totally different, softer side to herself last night.
Overall, season two of Drag Race went out on an extremely high, dragtacular note. This, I decree, was a second season of a show that was completely successful, which is quite the feat when you consider that so many sophomore seasons of shows fall flat. It was an “eleganza extravaganza,” if you will!
Do you agree that the season was great and finished on point? Are you still fuming over Tyra’s big win—or simply reveling in all the delights of the two-plus hours of Drag Race deliciousness last night? Were you on Team Raven or Team Jujubee? Tell me all about it in the comments below!
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky
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