Will Shea Couleé, Miz Cracker, or Jujubee take the crown among the strongest top three ever?

By Joey Nolfi
July 20, 2020 at 02:30 PM EDT
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RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars 5 comes to an end this Friday, and the big question remains: Are you aroused?

Like Jujubee sandwiched between two twinks, we're as excited as ever for RuPaul to induct a new lady into the Hall of Fame, but, knowing the strongest top three in the show's history will have to whittle down to one (or two?) also hits us like the same icy grip of fear clutching Blair St. Clair's spirit as she struggled to turn the pages of a notebook with a full set of nails.

Assuming the show won't crown a pair of winners as it did on All-Stars 4, on pure talent alone, a case can easily be made for each queen in the top three: Miz Cracker's track record suggests total domination over the competition (she's won three of seven main challenges), while Shea Couleé follows closely behind with two overall victories, and Jujubee — despite having only one challenge win — has mounted a mighty resurgence in the fanbase with her iconic humor.

Miz Cracker for EW

Considering online activity after the show called for fans to use various hashtags in support of their favorite queen, it's clear Couleé and Jujubee have taken up permanent residence in viewers' hearts. Even ahead of the season, Couleé was the clear favorite, with repeated calls for her to do All-Stars recurring louder than the in-theater applause for Sasha Velour's lip-sync that sent her packing back on season 9.

A Couleé victory wouldn't be pure fan service, however. Since season 9, Couleé has honed her already considerable artistry into an even stronger package, showcasing her mastery of body (that pole-dancing striptease on the season premiere was buttery-smooth perfection, as were her runways), mind (her whip-smart Snatch Game as Flavor Flav is improvisational excellence), and spirit (her candor in discussing past traumas and her evolution as an artist and person has made fans endlessly protective and appreciative of her) that are all worthy of the crown, even if her stats don't technically suggest a win (Drag Race has recently relied less and less on points won throughout the competition when crowning a winner).

Jujubee's edit — that of the adorably frank commentator whose narration has bordered on next-level, subversive satire — has arguably been the most favorable of the season, but we imagine it's difficult to present her as anything other than likable. One of the OG-est OGs of All-Stars 5, Jujubee has been given four separate platforms within the Drag Race family, having first appeared on season 2, then All-Stars 1, and then as a ring-snatching genius on the short-lived Drag U spin-off. The reason her legacy endures — and the franchise keeps inviting her back — is her undying charm, whether she's reading a bitch to filth or spilling tears over being forced to choose the lipstick of a friend and fellow competitor. Over the years, Jujubee has kept it real and true, but, her trajectory on All-Stars 5 proves her staying power is attributable to her dynamic, fluid identity as a personality: She's grown, adapted, and thrived with fresh presentation each time she's appeared on the show over the last decade, and is a testament to Drag Race's ability to shepherd steadfast talent that can withstand the test of time into the increasingly competitive pop cultural sphere.

Jujubee for EW

And then there's Cracker. Similar to Couleé, the New York-based queen was followed by a "robbed" narrative ever since her baffling departure from season 10 (f— you, inner saboteurs of competitions past!), which fueled her comeback on All-Stars with a cutthroat vengeance. The problem for Cracker is that, despite her command over the season's report cards, she's done so against two fan-favorites that have had, how shall we say this, "softer" narratives. Cracker did herself no favors upon claiming she wanted to see Ongina land in the bottom after the first episode, and she hasn't quite recovered in the eyes of the fandom. Of course, we have no right to judge a person's entire character based strictly on what we see in canned bits on TV, and doing so only invalidates the tangible prowess Cracker has shown week after week and in the real world. The toxicity in the fandom is relentless and unwarranted, and we can't possibly empathize with the decisions a person makes while under the intense pressures of filming a show like Drag Race, where a hard-fought career can come crashing down after a single heated exchange or poorly phrased, sisterly critique in the Werk Room, and Cracker's reputation as an entertainer outside the season has garnered her a passionate, ride-or-die fanbase that rightfully holds up her talent above all.

In the end, we imagine it will come down to choosing a winner who can check all boxes. As much as we love Cracker and feel that she's a legend worthy of the All-Stars crown, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which the show chooses her after dividing the fanbase with her edit and upon analyzing the numbers behind the #TeamMizCracker hashtag when compared to #TeamJujubee and #TeamShea. That leaves us with a total Ornacia-scratcher: Will the show go for a titanic legend with history and humor like Jujubee, or crown a newer star who's already a deity in the fandom?

One thing we must consider as well is the format of the last episode. Most of All-Stars 5 has revolved around a new twist, which sees bottom-finishing queens being eliminated either by the top queen of the week (after she wins a lip-sync against a returning, mystery lip-sync assassin from the Drag Race past) or a group vote if the first-place finisher loses the lip-sync duel. As the finale preview teases, each of the previously eliminated queens will return, though we're unsure why. Likely, they'll be voting in some capacity as a jury of the finalists' queer peers, whether it's to eliminate one of the top three or to anoint a champion. Either way, Cracker seems at a disadvantage in either scenario (judging by St. Clair's exit interview with EW), though Couleé and Jujubee seem equally poised to surge.

Shea Couleé for EW

Any way it happens, it's never been more difficult to gauge a winner, but instinct tells us this race was Couleé's to lose from the beginning, and, seeing as she didn't truly break RuPaul's cardinal rule and f— it up at any point (in fact, she's done quite the opposite and has had a persistent, knowing grasp on how to play the game, control her narrative in confessionals, gagged us on the runway, and turned out the best lip-syncs of the season), she'll probably get her redemption after all as the All-Stars 5 champion. And calling out Couleé's popularity in the fandom isn't a discredit to her individual accomplishments. She's not a likely winner because she's simply a fan-favorite, we have to acknowledge that she's a fan-favorite because she's a damn superstar with world-class skills and an unabashed knack for flexing them.

But, as the intensity amplifies this week, try to remember: These queens are wigged and fabulous on the stage, but they're people under the sequins and feathers. Each of these royal ladies is a queen of her own castle, and watching them this season has been a victory in its own right. Regardless of the outcome, they're all legendary, and seeing them contend for the crown one last time is sure to turn our internal thermostat up well beyond a sensible 74.

Find out which queen actually chassés away with the All-Stars 5 crown when the grand finale airs Friday at 8:00 p.m. on VH1.

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