RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars
Hi, my little babies! I’m so happy and honored and scared to be recapping All Stars for you. There aren’t many things in this world that I enjoy more than chatting about the world of Drag Race, so let’s jump right into it.
After being spoiled with two supersize episodes, we’re only given the standard amount of drama. These personalities are too big to be contained by a mere 42 minutes! I need more time with these queens, and Orbitz commercials just don’t count. But God, Alyssa Edwards can elevate an Orbitz commercial, can’t she?
First, we’re met with another dull lipstick message from dearly departed Tatianna. Maybe it’s because everyone was blindsided by RuPaul’s ominous video message about revenge, or maybe it’s because the best ones are yet to come, but nobody has really left a compelling screed this season.
Poor Tatianna. She had only just begun reintroducing herself to a whole new audience, as the queens are quick to remind us in stilted, (likely) producer-fed tidbits. Do I believe that Alaska is invested in Tatianna’s journey? Not for a second. Alyssa does a more convincing job in her talking head, but there’s very little Alyssa can do or say without looking like a full-on Julie Taymor production.
Alyssa’s lip smacks, head bobs, bug eyes, and questionable counting ability are a welcome presence for anyone who loves joy and fun and has eyes and a heart, but Phi Phi is not having any of it. For all her talk of seeking a redemption arc this season, Phi Phi seems to be fuzzy on the actual mechanics of what a redemption arc looks like.
Listen, I’m willing to believe that Logo’s editors locked and loaded the narrative cannon with a whopping amount of “Phi Phi is a literal monster with terrible unsolicited advice,” but that wouldn’t be possible if Phi Phi didn’t hand them all this fucking ammo. If the first two episodes suggested that Phi Phi is still the same deluded, self-conscious competitor that she was back on her season, this week’s episode proves that Phi Phi is easily driven bonkers by anyone with a personality slighter larger than her own.
Maybe she wasn’t the only queen annoyed by Alyssa’s behavior in the workroom. Maybe she really was the only queen prompted to say something in a confessional. But this is All Stars, bitch. If you’re smart enough to know you need a redemption arc, you should be smart enough to avoid badmouthing one of the most beloved queens in Drag Race herstory. And you should definitely be smart enough not to cry about it on Twitter like you don’t know you signed a contract with a bunch of craven reality TV weirdos who are here to make easily digestible content for hunchbacked little gays like me to devour and shout at in equal measure. Try watching an episode of UnREAL, Phi Phi. Constance Zimmer ain’t on your side!
(But if I can be a human and not a recapper for a moment: Acid-burn threats are horrific and those attacks are a real thing that happen. Please stop.)
We know two things for sure about Phi Phi O’Hara: She does not know how to exist responsibly on reality TV and she pronounces GIF as “gee ai eff,” like when she accuses Alyssa of only being concerned about getting a good … GEE. AI. EFF. I shit you not, a full clump of hair fell off my scalp when I heard her say that. Listen, I know that dispute exists among nerds over the actual pronunciation of this made-up word — I’m a hard-G man myself — but this is indisputably the most wrong a person could be about something that matters exactly zero percent.
While Phi Phi’s redemption arc fails miserably, Ginger Minj’s has barely gotten off the ground. Ging has faded into the background this season, and I’ll tell you why: She does not belong in this competition. In her season, she benefitted from being a performer surrounded by fashion queens who refused to play into reality TV tropes, but she’s only All Star material if you grade her on that same curve. Here, surrounded by honest-to-God drag superstars, her tricks are no good. The cracks have finally begun to show in a big way, even as she excels in this week’s challenge.
The lip-sync extravaganza is never my favorite challenge, and this one is as uninspired as it gets. While the average Lucian Piane fever-dream barely manages to brush up against coherence, this extravaganza is so distractingly uneven, it almost makes me wish RuPaul had dressed them all like dogs and forced them to sing about being drag puppies or some bullshit (again).
Only a roomful of gay men working in television could come up with the women chosen to be these “Bad Bitches of HERstory.” Who else, when asked to choose remarkable women throughout history, would wind up with Marie Antoinette, Eve (a fully fictional character, sorry to get POLITICAL), and Princess Di? Based on that lily white lineup (sans Roxxxy’s competent Eva Perón, of course), you’ve gotta wonder which black woman Coco got for this assignment. Close your delicate little eyes for a moment and imagine Coco doing Rosa Parks drag, then live the rest of your life with the knowledge that we’ll never know that (bad, sad) experience.
And now, a moment of silence for every L.A.-based recording artist who was forced to sing Lucian Piane’s puns.
The performances range from fine to Alyssa Edwards, which leaves little to judge beyond the runway. This week’s runway is the Future of Drag, and babes, if we’ve just seen the future, the future is looking pretty fucking grim.
Alaska: Perhaps I misunderstood the assignment, but isn’t Alaska the only one who actually considered what the future of drag might look like? While nearly every other queen gives us some metallic futurism bullshit, Alaska gives us an idea of what drag might look like 20 years from now.
Phi Phi: We get it. You’re a “cosplay queen” now. In this week’s steaming piles of fresh dump, it’s an impressive look. But is it drag? I’m not so sure. It looks like a character ripped straight from Overwatch, and I’m not convinced that’s the future of drag.
Detox: Fierce as ever, but the Fifth Element reference is a bit too on-the-nose.
Ginger: “What the Fuck is Brady Bunch Futurism, and Has Ginger Ever Turned It Out on the Runway?” will be my memoir.
Alyssa: I am rooting for you, girl, but this was a bit of a mess. Alyssa has always struggled a bit with the looks — let us never forget that she holds the distinction of having the “worst look” in five seasons, according to erstwhile judge Santino Rice — and this week’s runway is no exception. Others will scream that this is fashion, but I will tell you that it is 100 percent trash from top to bottom. It’s half a Cher costume with a tinfoil hat hastily sculpted on top. NO. No.
Roxxxy: This is okay. Roxxxy always seems like she’s referencing something she doesn’t quite understand, but usually looks amazing while doing it.
Katya: Oh Katya. I think I see what you are doing. You are trying to make a joke and I think that’s good. That’s your brand, girl. But nothing about this says future of drag or “this is a flattering outfit and I should put this on.” The wig is great, but the rest of it is bottom-worthy.
And into the bottom she goes, poor thing, along with Ginger Minj. The top spots go to Alyssa (because it’s time) and Detox (because she was owed a win after last week’s RoLaskaTox stunt).
Is this the season’s first gag-worthy lip sync? Probably. Is anybody more fun to watch on TV than Alyssa Edwards right now? Probably not. I forgot that Detox was such a strong lip synchronizer, but she doesn’t really stand a chance. The genius of Alyssa is the inception of it all: She thinks she understands why she’s funny, but she still doesn’t, as evidenced by her “I can be a character” comment at the beginning of this episode. Girl, you are a character. You don’t have to try.
Further cementing Alyssa as one of the rightest queens in this show’s long run, she sends Ginger home. This is a great development for two major reasons: Katya’s run in the bottom is indeed a “one-night-only sort of gig,” and Alyssa’s departure from the “rules” that Phi Phi and Roxxxy cling to so dearly has finally injected some drama into the new elimination format. If I hear either of those queens harp one more time about listening to the “professional” judges, I’ll scream. Bitch, RuPaul is the only professional drag queen up there!
So it’s bye-bye to the glamour toad who never quite managed to rehab her character nor show us anything new. Ginger is not without her fans and I’m sure she’ll do well. (Even though any goodwill she gained this season was flushed the minute she suggested she is anywhere near the caliber of queen Alyssa is.) She also looks like my own mother, whom I love more dearly than any other woman on this planet, so a small part of me is truly sad to see her go. I don’t get to see my mom too much, you see.
Until next week, kittens!