RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars review: Super Queen Grand Finale


RuPaul finds yet another way to play with our expectations on the finale of All Stars 4. Where does she keep finding these ideas?

Let’s not bury the lede. RuPaul gave the win to two girls: Monét X Change and Trinity the Tuck.

Do they both deserve it? Well, the two of them have been performing at a high level all season, both on the runway and in the challenges. That includes tonight.

On the runway, both of their outfits were among the best things they’ve worn. I enjoyed Monét’s classy, colorful purple-and-blue silk gown, although her blonde dreadlock updo stole the show. Fashion-wise, I’d give the edge to Trinity. I adored her teacup pattern fantasy; the dress was fitted to perfection and flared in all the right places, but it still had a delightful element of camp with those actual teacups on her bust.

Then there’re the performances.

As with the last couple of All Stars seasons, the queens have to dance to and write their own verses for a RuPaul song; this time, it’s “Super Queen.” The song is slower and more ethereal than past numbers, which gives the performances a different, darker, denser mood.

Three out of the four queens sing rather than rap, which is a change. The only person to kick it old school is Trinity; she kills it with a percussive, braggadocious verse about how talented she is, which might be off-putting if she couldn’t back it up. She wears some fantastic sliver surfer couture, complete with spiky headpiece and flowy cape. Michelle puts it well when she calls Trinity’s performance a “drag orgasm.”

Monét’s verse is a little more low-key, but her natural magnetism serves her well, as do the firing squad of backup dancers who fall to the floor at her gentlest gesture. Her choreography is a lot of fun to watch, but honestly, I’d still say Trinity came out on top, no matter what the judges trump up about her looking like she’s thinking about her next step.

Still, Monét and Trinity deserve to be in a final lip sync together, and once that happens, Monét asserts her dominance. The song is “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera, a great drag song if there ever was one.

With her expressive eyes and excellent sense of rhythm, Monét has the advantage from the start, and that’s before she takes off her pussycat wig (they’re back!) to reveal an identical one underneath.

At this point, it’s hard to find a new twist on the wig reveal, but she did it! And Trinity doesn’t help her case with a semi-tragic cartwheel partway through the song. I think she had a skirt reveal towards the end but I barely noticed.

So that brings us back to our original question: do these two both deserve the crown? Or rather, two crowns and $200,000 between them? (If Drag Race can afford that kind of payout they should really raise the standard grand prize.) I guess it depends on what you value. For overall body of work, Trinity deserved the win. But Monét was better in the lip sync.

And here’s the deeper question: does splitting the win make for good TV? I can’t help but look at this and see it as a reaction to the end of All Stars 3, when Ru let the eliminated queens choose who got to lip sync and no one picked the girl who most deserved it, Shangela. Did the show overcorrect by making everyone a winner?

That’s a question for the ages. The finale itself was a pretty good time, particularly at the start when the girls are learning their choreography from Todrick Hall. Call me a sucker, but even though I knew Trinity was going to be able to pull off her choreography — she’s too much a perfectionist to settle for anything less than extreme competence — I still bought the whole “This makes me nervous, I could mess up really badly” narrative. And also watching Monique Heart fail to do a cartwheel 18 times in a row was pretty funny.

Monique was the most compelling contestant in the podcast segment, which were mostly pretty throwaway. I liked the way they did this in All Stars 2, when they interspersed the queens’ podcast appearances throughout the episode rather than mushing them all together.

We learn that not only did Monique attend gay conversion camp, she actually led it, and at the height of living this lie weighed 300 pounds. (And now she has those cheekbones! How?) Ru’s right that she’s a very interesting person with a deep story, and although she didn’t win, I enjoy what she brought to the season, brown cow tee-shirts, dog whistle exclamations and all.

This was a pretty compelling top four because I really believed that all of them were hungry for the title. (Well, maybe not Naomi quite as much, which isn’t an indictment. Her vibe is just very chill. I loved her flirting with the backup dancer.) There isn’t a lot of joking around in the workroom before the final runway because each of them sincerely wants to win and is bending all of their energy towards that goal. That makes for good watching.

And that brings me back to the double-win. Is that the best way to pay off a contest between four fierce competitors? I suppose if they’re going to do it, it might as well be on All Stars, which is gaining a reputation as the Drag Race petri dish.

Watch RuPaul’s Drag Race to discover America’s next drag superstar, watch All Stars to get gooped with twists on twists on twists.

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Random Ruflections

  • Chad Michaels, Alaska Thunderfuck and Trixie Mattel come back to tell the girls that they’re going to decide the winner this year…and then they immediately take it back after the commercial break and drink some cocktails. I can’t decide if that’s hilarious or infuriating.
  • “Everyone’s comparing their dicks and I’m the shortest one in the room, and that never happens.”
  • “Winning isn’t everything but it’s really cool.” Also Alaska’s “Team Katya” umbrella.
  • Monét looked a little awkward turning around in that chair at the beginning of her performance. You can see her legs scuttling.
  • “She’s gonna take the train home.”
  • I liked Monique’s all-black runway look, but Michelle was right that the ruffles in the middle buried her waist.
  • As always, Naomi Smalls is full of surprises on the runway, as her high-fashion matador/sheepherder outfit transforms into a form-fitting bathing suit from outer space. And it’s purple.
  • I’m glad Carson brought up Naomi sending Manila home as a point against her. I mean, Naomi didn’t do well enough to get into the final lip sync anyway, but if she had…I’m just glad someone brought it up. I may still be bitter.