By Joey Nolfi
June 22, 2018 at 09:00 AM EDT
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The sponge realness. The debates over the origin of the British accent. The fabulous feathered runway eleganza. The facts existing simply as facts. The sheer “Miss Vanjie” of it all.

Each defining piece of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10 has led us to this moment. That’s right, kitty girls: on Thursday, June 28, Sasha Velour will relinquish her reign to another queen as Mama Ru crowns a new champion. Though many have fallen (some sooner than they should have… Here’s looking at you, Miz Cracker) in pursuit of the title of America’s Drag Superstar, four queens will duke it out on the forthcoming finale: fashion-forward stunner Aquaria, large-and-in-charge showgirl Eureka O’Hara, all-around diva extraordinaire Asia O’Hara, and bulky muscle queen (with a heart of gold) Kameron Michaels.

It’s a fine selection that encompasses all of what made season 10 one of the best in Drag Race herstory, but there can only be one queen to preside over its lasting legacy. Read on to see which lucky lady EW predicts will sashay away with the crown, scepter, and the nation’s collective wig in hand.

Fourth place: Kameron Michaels

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Easy on the eyes but (clearly) tough on her workout grind, buff-body muscle queen Kameron Michaels kicked off her early tenure on RuPaul’s Drag Race as — in the words of the dearly departed Monique Heart — “the trade of season 10.” Thankfully her legacy has since evolved far beyond the superficial, as the Tennessee native has shown off raw, diverse talent across several challenges along the way.

Her runway looks have also hit the mark more than they’ve flopped, and she currently holds the No. 1 spot on EW’s list of best looks of the season with her feathers ensemble, one of the most intricately constructed designs to grace the main stage in Drag Race her-story. It’s a shame that in recent weeks her output has dwindled, as Kameron admittedly let the mammoth pressures of the competition (and crippling self-doubt) get the best of her. Still, she has done well, if not spectacularly. Her low standing on this list isn’t a matter of the 31-year-old performing poorly, it’s just that, when compared to fellow competitors who have flexed their creative muscles more than Kameron’s biceps, her work falls short. Thus, for three weeks in a row she landed in the bottom two, arguably overstaying her welcome in the process — especially against first-time lip-syncer (and season 10 fan favorite) Miz Cracker two weeks ago — to set a new Drag Race survival record.

Whether she’s holding her own on the stage or bounding past expectations in an acting challenge (come on, you didn’t actually think she was going to do half as well as she did during The Bossy Rossy Show) Kameron’s issue has long remained her inability to make an emotional connection with the show’s cameras and, consequently, its broader audience — again, this is likely an isolated issue specific to the competitive construct of Drag Race, and doesn’t matter much in the real world, where Kameron is free to express her art in whichever manner she chooses on whatever stage makes her feel most comfortable. As social media tracking proves, she’s got a steady following supporting her until the end, and that’s all that really matters: She swooped into Drag Race, made a name for herself, and now she’ll boldly carry (with those smoothly sculpted arms) her legacy with her wherever the long, happy career she’s about to have takes her.

Third place: Asia O’Hara

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From the moment Asia O’Hara debuted her Tweety Bird fantasy on the season 10 runway, it was clear she was in it for the long haul. And she rarely disappointed along the way. Largely misunderstood by fans and judges alike, Asia’s aesthetic fusion of high fashion sensibility and palpable swag has made her a singular force on the main stage. But, something never quite clicked the way it should have between Asia and Drag Race’s passionate fan base, and they’re not rallying around her the same way they’re flocking to someone like Aquaria. Since Ru heavily weighs the queens’ impact on social media when deciding the winner, Asia’s relatively low follower count (her Instagram and Twitter reach trails each of her top four sisters’ fan tallies) could prove to be her downfall when it comes to deciding the crown.

If, however, RuPaul reverts to last year’s finale format and pairs the queens against each other for a series of lip-sync showdowns, Asia has a distinct advantage. She’s an incredible dancer and performer and has the guts to pull off both a stunning lewk and a killer lip sync gag (imagine her doing something in the vein of Sasha Velour’s rose petal realness) for the final episode: something fierce, fabulous, and progressive — just like her.

It should also be noted that it might not be the best look for RuPaul if he crowns a fourth white or white-presenting queen (All-Stars 3 victor Trixie Mattel is half Native American) in a row. But, in the end, it’s a close call between Eureka and Asia occupying the third-place spot, but the judges seem to favor Eureka’s bombastic brand over Asia’s refined elegance (mixed with a hint of spicy bravura), and Ru’s ruling will likely reflect that on Thursday night.

Runner-up: Eureka O’Hara

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The comeback queen of season 10, Eureka O’Hara entered the competition with a mountain of preconceived notions weighing on her shoulders. After prematurely exiting season 9 due to a knee injury, RuPaul promised to bring Eureka back into the fray this year. Though she showed glimpses of greatness on her first go-round, her time away from the set has absolutely worked wonders for the big-and-beautiful body-positive queen: Eureka roared back into the competition with a vengeance, her impeccable fashion sense and performative skills (particularly during The Bossy Rossy Show and Snatch Game) combining to make her one of the standout personalities of season 10.

While her southern charm and gargantuan personality didn’t rub all of her season 10 sisters the right way (she quickly made enemies with The Vixen), she’s a boisterous showgirl at heart, and she uses her voluptuous body as a greater canvas upon which to showcase her jaw-dropping artistic vision (Feathers week, anyone? Glitterific for days, please). And that’s a fact that — for the most part — can’t be disputed, regardless of how you feel about her persona.

Eureka’s problem is a bit out of her control, however. RuPaul made it clear she takes fans’ opinions seriously, and social media tracking has Eureka trailing her season 10 sisters when it comes to digital advocacy. Her narrative has thus far been twisted and contorted by the darkest corners of social media, even if their accusations seem to stem from mere annoyance with Eureka’s personality than any outright action the Tennessee-based queen has actually taken.

Still, RuPaul and the season’s co-judges have lapped up every bit of Eureka’s output thus far, and Eureka has played a very smart game up to this point. She’s listened to every critique and stitched every costume in the name of giving the judges exactly what they want, even if that meant clashing with her own style or personal preference. She’s moldable and adaptable to the cameras but has the raw talent to back up hope that she’ll flourish when she’s on a stage of her own, outside the borders of Drag Race. She might not take the cake on season 10, but Eureka’s legacy and pure brilliance as a performer suggest she can at least snatch a piece for herself (and eat it, too) long after season 10 ends.

 Projected winner: Aquaria

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The youngest queen to sashay into the Drag Race fold has already lived a lifetime of creative identities in her short 21 years on earth. The drag daughter of season 4 champion (and all-around RPDR legend) Sharon Needles, Aquaria has spent the better portion of her youth falling in love with and honing her craft on the streets of New York City, and has already established herself as a viral personality before setting foot in the Werk Room as a competitor.

Along with such a glittering reputation, however, comes sky-high expectations, and that’s a dynamic that might’ve made a lesser queen buckle under the pressure. Still, Aquaria hit the ground running, showing off her impeccable fashion sense from day one. She has since evolved into perhaps the most consistent lewk queen of season 10, crafting one stellar design after the next — with only one or two notable exceptions, of course.

Not to be outdone by her fashionable intuition, Aquaria’s identity as a performer shared the spotlight, too. She subverted stereotypes about lewk queens lacking substance solely within the Drag Race arena (take Miss Fame, for example), proving you can serve fashion and comedy in equal proportions. Her Melania Trump impersonation triumphed during the Snatch Game, much to everyone’s surprise, and further cultivated her acting chutzpah during the Breastworld challenge — proving her earlier performance wasn’t a fluke.

She’s as well-rounded and committed to her craft as many of the Drag Race winners that have come before her. Plus, she’s on the cutting edge of fashion and is tapped into queer youth culture, as many of her fans are teens and young people who see a great deal of themselves in Aquaria’s success story. She’s also topping social media polling with her legion of followers, and Ru likely wants to anoint a queen who can not only hold her own against seasoned veterans of the global drag stage but also mold something new from the slice of fame she’s carved out during her time on the show. Aquaria might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but her technical talents are undeniable, innovative, relevant, and vitally forward thinking for a show that so desperately wants to break out of the realm of niche appeal. If crowned, Aquaria will rightly help push drag into the future for the next generation, just as Sharon Needles did for hers.

Tune in to see who will become the RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10 winner when the finale airs Thursday, June 28 at 8:00 p.m. ET on VH1.

Episode Recaps

RuPaul — as host, mentor, and creative inspiration — decides who's in and who's out.
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