RuPaul’s Drag Race…has a(nother) winner!
*checks calendar* Yes, I know the finale aired over a month ago, and that everybody basically forgot season seven ever happened the second it was over so that they could spend their time more profitably by wondering who would be back to compete in the now-official All-Stars II (latest news: apparently Willam was not invited. WHAT THE ACTUAL). So I appreciate nobody’s really going to want to read this now, but I feel it necessary to come back and finish this particular project if only to satisfy my own completist tendencies, and also because I got told off for not finishing my season six blogs recently so on the off-chance that someone comes back to read through the whole lot of these when it airs on Netflix and/or TruTV, I don’t want any more unsatisfied customers. Here we go: the season seven finale!
Lip Service: There’s a lot that doesn’t work about the “live” finales, predominantly the fact that we know they film (at least) three different endings so the reactions we see to the number one queen’s victory are never entirely genuine, even from the queen herself. One of my other bugbears about it has been that combining the finale with the reunion tends to leave the actual finalists somewhat short-changed, so I was pleased to see that steps had been taken to treat this episode slightly more like the final stage in a competition spanning several months by making each of the queens lip-sync one last time. Rather than giving them an existing pop song that was familiar to the audience, however, they were given original material which was written in a style fitting for that queen, so Ginger got a big southern “take me to church” uptempo gospel number, Pearl got something that sounded vaguely Blondie-esque and Violet got a tongue-in-cheek burlesque type number (although personally I would have liked to see her lip-synching to this instead). Ginger’s effort was very high-energy, at the expense of the actual lip-synching, while Pearl got a bit swamped by her production and Violet basically used it as a vehicle to show off her amazing bod yet again. So nobody particularly disgraced themselves, nobody particuarly excelled, I doubt anyone’s mind would have been changed by any of these performances, but at least they served to remind us at regular intervals that, hey, these people made it to the end and one of them’s going to win later. So, er, woo.
Guess Who’s Back? Back Again: As far as the reunion part of the equation went, there wasn’t masses of time to reacquaint ourselves with each queen but they gave us a little something to remember them by. I was particularly impressed by Tempest trying to guilt RuPaul by revealing how her kids reacted to her elimination (“Daddy, why does RuPaul hate you?”), Sasha told us about “Sasha Belle’s Drag Race” where she steals RuPaul’s intellectual property for a regular club night in Iowa, Max assured us all that she wasn’t nearly the prudish dowager she’d been portrayed as (whether you believe that or not is entirely up to you) and Patti LaBelle recorded a special message for Jasmine Masters. Also, each of the finalists had a video package from their friends and loved ones telling them how well they’d done, but Ginger was the only one with an actual bona fide celebrity endorsement because hers included John Waters saying she should win. I mean, I’m pretty sure John Waters was basing that on that one episode he was actually around for, but still: John Waters in your corner must have some pretty serious cachet in the drag community. Although not enough for Ginger to actually win (oops, spoilers).
I’d Like To Apologise One Last Time For My Unfortunate Remarks At The United Nations: This year’s cast has always felt rather lacklustre in comparison to the last couple of seasons, and nothing rammed this home harder (phrasing) than Bianca Del Rio turning up to hand over the crown, covered in silver paint and dressed as the Torch of Liberty, throwing shade in every direction. I know it wouldn’t have been possible for any of this year’s finalists to turn up in that sort of statement outfit given that they had lip-syncs to perform over the course of the evening, but it just reminded me of how effortlessly Bianca was able to catch and keep an audience’s attention, and I’m not sure that’s a quality that any of this year’s finalists have. But I guess that’s a question we won’t be able to answer until next year’s finale.
Katya That Got The Cream: And speaking of people who utterly upstaged this year’s finalists, this truly was Katya’s evening. Not only did she win Miss Congeniality (by a wide margin, I’d imagine) but she also got to be the focus of Ru’s main “Gotcha!” of the evening when she had all three finalists lined up next to her, waiting to hear which of them had won, and Ru called Katya’s name…to ask Katya to bring her some water. (Katya had the water all ready so was clearly in on the gag.) I’ve seen people claim this was Ru’s mea culpa for Katya not being in the final in the first place and saying that had she been here, she would have won, but personally I’m taking this as Ru’s “this is my show, I’ll do what I damn well want” statement for those who were grousing about Katya’s elimination. Maybe it was a little of both, who knows? Either way, the fact that the crowd’s roar for that split section when they thought Katya might have scored a write-in victory was louder than it was for any of the actual finalists must have been quite sobering for all three of them.
Accent-uate The Positive: And just to make this a hat-trick of former queens showing up this year’s contestants, previous stars of the show were brought out to ask questions on behalf of the audience, the highlight of which was Latrice asking what the hell was up with Max’s accent. Max insisted that it was all a matter of “elocution”, which is probably the worst answer you can give to that question in that scenario, and Latrice totally stole the moment by being all “oh, sure, I know her“. Latrice <3.
And The Winner Is…: Not Katya, but Violet. And honestly, that’s the outcome I anticipated going into the finale, and the outcome I would have been happiest with. I think having a winner as toxic as Ginger would probably have been the nail in the coffin for this season reputation-wise, and while Pearl apparently ran away with the fan vote, she felt the most work-in-progress of the final three and it’s hard to see her as an outright winner. Violet at least had a chartable arc for this season, and an incredibly well-realised aesthetic, even if she isn’t the most articulate queen this show’s ever produced. I’m just pleased that she didn’t liquify her internal organs in vain after cinching herself into a 12-inch waist.
Obligatory Winners Ranking: 1. Bianca 2. Sharon 3. Violet 4. Jinkx 5. Raja 6. BeBe 7. Tyra
(Chad Michaels Doesn’t Count)
Hopes For Next Season:
- Better queens, generally
- Carson to develop a personality beyond shouting “I love Minj!”
- Alternatively, Carson being quietly let go between seasons
- Permanent judge Leah Remini
- More challenges that require the queens to be funny in their own right rather than reading out someone else’s tired script
- Retire the “bringing back an eliminated queen” gimmick
That’s it, I guess. See you in season eight!