We have a Queen of All Queens, baby! After years and years (and years) of rumours and anticipation as to which Hall of Fame-r would emerge supreme, the first-ever winners’ season of RuPaul’s Drag Race premiered earlier this year to wide praise. The queer equivalent of Avengers: Endgame (facts), the series has provided viewers around the world with some of the most iconic moments in, not just Drag Race’s herstory, but reality TV in general: Jinkx Monsoon’s gut-busting impersonation of Judy Garland; Monét X Change’s breathtaking opera; Shea Couleé fierce Janet Jackson-inspired number; Raja’s innovative runways; Winter Green’s long-awaited ruturn (yes we said it!) and so many more. After 11 weeks, the season came to an end on 29 July with a lip-sync smackdown for the crown. Although viewers celebrated Jinkx Monsoon as the first-ever “Queen of All Queens”, the format has come under fire for a multitude of reasons. We don’t disagree with those reasons, either. Here, we explain why it’s about time Drag Race retires the lip-sync smackdown for the crown.
Sasha Velour’s rose-petal extravaganza is untouchable
Ever since Sasha Velour unleashed her rose petal extravaganza in season nine’s unforgettable lip-sync showdown for the crown, various queens have tried – and failed – to replicate her now-iconic stunts. Asia O’Hara’s chances at usurping Sasha as America’s Next Drag Superstar (which were pretty solid, actually) were foiled by a swarm of half-dead butterflies, while Aquaria sashayed onto the stage as a metallic, sci-fi… crab? We’re still not entirely sure what that was, but you get the jist: Sasha’s rose petals can’t be topped. It’s impossible! Can’t be done! Sorry! (Monét X Change removing her pussycat wig to reveal an identical one underneath was revolutionary, however.) Unfortunately, the season nine champ set a dangerous precedent for future seasons and now, game-changing stunts are generally expected. But, if a queen doesn’t have a killer ruveal planned, or dominating the stage to a chart-topping pop banger isn’t in their wheelhouse, then what’s the point in having a smackdown? Remember season 13?
It makes the entire competition… pointless?
Theoretically, a queen who’s flopped the entire competition could lip-sync their way to the final and defeat a queen who’s dominated the season. It’s almost happened too, with Kameron Michaels’ showdown against Eureka O’Hara and Aquaria on season 10 and the Wrecking Ball battle between Kennedy Davenport and Trixie Mattel on All Stars 3. (Kameron and Kennedy won those, too, you can’t change my mind!) It renders the entire competition pointless. Performing to the best of your abilities and slaying challenge after challenge is futile if it’s not going to be taken into consideration in the final. Asia O’Hara not making the top two of season 10 and Kandy Muse placing runner-up on season 13, in front of multiple challenge winners Gottmik and Rose… still baffled. Admittedly, RuPaul did acknowledge their overall performance after Jinkx and Monét’s lip-sync, but did he only say that because – in the words of one fan – Monet “ate up” the internationally tolerated drag queen?
The best lip-syncers are paid dust!
Look, Jinkx Monsoon absolutely deserved to win All Stars 7. With five maxi-challenge wins in one season, a feat only matched by her Seattle sister BenDeLaCreme, Jinkx slaughtered the entire competition. As a result, she was the odds-on favourite to snatch the crown and, on social media, she had more support than Monét, Shea and Trinity combined. The crown was hers to lose. However, some viewers have argued that she lost both of her smackdowns. “You won’t convince me ever that Jinkx won against Shea I’m sorry,” said one fan, while another felt like the “edit tried so hard to make Monet look like she lost… and she still ate Jinkx up.” Of course, this isn’t the first time that the winner of a lip-sync for the crown has been disputed. Although Kameron’s track record couldn’t touch either of Aquaria or Eureka O’Hara’s, many believed she ‘smashed’ both contestants in the Bang Bang lip-sync. And while it wasn’t a smackdown for the crown, viewers called “rigga morris” when Jasmine Kennedie, one of the franchise’s best performers, lost all three of her lip-syncs in season 14’s LaLaPaRUza. Viewers also contested Yvie Oddly’s loss to Raja for the title of “Queen of She Done Already Had Herses” thanks to the former subverting expectations with her wig ruveal. Although it looked like Yvie had lost with her wig slip, the season 11 winner removed her hair cap to reveal another one underneath. It was legendary! When Raja was announced as the winner, viewers let out a collective, ‘Huh?’ With both Jinkx and Raja losing their lip-syncs in the eyes of fans, it arguably tarnished their respective wins.
The lip-sync smackdown for the crown has served its purpose, but as RuPaul’s Drag Race has continued to do over the past 14 years, it’s time for an evolution. The show would benefit from a finale that showcases each entertainers’ charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent – the talent show, for example, would better serve as the concluding challenge to an All Stars season. Give them more than one minute to do it, however, and a goddamn budget!
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7 is now available to watch in the UK exclusively on the streamer of all things drag, WOW Presents Plus. Subscribe now via https://uk.wowpresentsplus.com/