I meant to write something about this while the show was running, but I just kept putting it off. Now, it’s just sort of my thoughts on the show that has ended… for whatever they are worth. I get a little wordy with some of the queens!
I was excited to see Jasmine Masters back on the show. I really was looking forward to seeing more of her. While her striped pantsuit was nice, she didn’t really perform much at all. The most frustrating part was that she was getting the feedback she needed to make her comedy routine good, but she just couldn’t hear it. It’s too bad. Someone had to be first, and she definitely had a bad first challenge.
Favorite Jasmine look of the season: Entrance look
Man, I was so hoping the moaning was over. It was not. I think Farrah is great, but I’m not sure she should have been on All Stars so soon. She needed a few years to become bigger than her original appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race. And I also think she was never going to last long. She started the season too much inside her own head. I thought her talent routine thing was pretty good, and the outfit was beautiful, but she did not recover from falling. I think it stripped her of the little confidence she walked in with and it was only a matter of time before that sent her home. I was super impressed with the way she responded to Gia Gunn’s nonsense.
Favorite Farrah look of the season: Variety Show Challenge
Speaking of, Gia Gunn is one of my favorite queens from the show. She’s so silly and fun, but she was not during her time on the show. She was cranky, rude, mean… but at no point fun about anything. It was hard to watch. I am glad she was able to explain herself when the eliminated queens came back for a chance to return to the competition. If I understand things correctly, she’s had a lot going on mentally and emotionally since she has accepted herself as a trans woman. I was glad that she acknowledged that she wasn’t dealing with things appropriately and didn’t make excuses. She learning who she is, and that can’t be easy all the time. Plus, she is trying to compartmentalize her personas, taking a more cutting and mean approach to her drag persona. I understand why she is doing that, but it does mean she is trying to define two different people at the same time and it is only natural that one would think those two personas need to be different in every way. They don’t. She’ll figure it out, and hopefully she will come out of this being as fun in drag as she is out of drag.
Favorite Gia look of the season: Entrance look
Someone landed here from whatever planet Tammie Brown came from. I was a huge Valentina fan during her season… right up until the reunion. That really damaged her image for me. I don’t follow all the queens on social media, and so I didn’t realize things had been blowing up between filming the show and the finale. Valentina is beautiful and hilarious, but really has trouble with her people skills. So, when I saw that Valentina was on this season of All Stars, I was not all that excited. I was expecting a Tyra Sanchez level diva, but actually I think she’s trying. On season nine, she was almost too perfect. There wasn’t room for a personality in her looks, but really got a pass by being so great on the runway. In All Stars, it seems she let her guard down a little. It was a more authentic look at Valentina. She’s completely insane, but at least we know that now. Also, she really owns her crazy. She isn’t ashamed of it. That is nice.
Favorite Valentina look of the season: Eleguence After Dark
From the moment she entered the workroom on season three, Manila Luzon has been my all time favorite queen from RuPaul’s Drag Race. I think she has the perfect blend of humor, talent, taste, and personality. She was criticized during her season for not being likable by the other queens. That was a weird season. I rolled my eyes at the whole Heathers vs. Boogers thing, and what made it more annoying is that I actually liked everyone in the competition when that started, so I didn’t feel compelled to take sides even as the queens separated themselves into distinct groups. I just wanted to enjoy everyone. I didn’t have to work with her, and maybe that changes one’s perspective on this, but I saw in Manila a core of kindness and a joy that was really infectious.
All Stars can change a queen. We’ve seen that quite a bit from previous seasons, so I was nervous about Manila returning to the show. I didn’t want to fall out of love with her. I was wrong to be concerned. She came in strong and stayed strong during her entire time on the show. There is just such an ease with which Manila performs. She is also just ridiculously talented, and it was a joy to see her kill it every week. And then came the makeover challenge. Let me just say, I HATE the makeover challenge. I always have. I think it was poorly judge on season one, and it was set up as the most confusing challenge. It makes no sense to me that the queens are asked to make someone over and give them a ‘strong family resemblance.’ Going back to season one, I thought the best makeover was done by Nina Flowers. But it was too much like a drag queen. Well, Nina Flowers is an androgynous drag queen. Her makeover reflected that. The winner: Rebecca Glasscock who just did a replica of herself. Season two, Raven did win. But I was confused that Jujubee was in the bottom. Her makeover looked like a family member. Tatianna’s did not. Season four, the bottom two were correct, but Phi Phi O’Hara won? What? It’s not always that the tops and bottoms are wrong; often they are absolutely correct, but the judging never sits well with me. And why didn’t Peppermint win the challenge in season nine? She wasn’t even in the top two. What on earth happened in season ten? I’m just over this challenge. I wish it was more clearly defined, like Snatch Game. I cannot tell you why Manila received such negative feedback on her looks for the makeover. I thought it was smart, I thought they looked like family, and I don’t understand how their outfits were costume-y and Monique Heart’s were amazing. Monique’s was amazing, and very costume-y. Just poorly judged, but it was also a terrible challenge.
Naomi Smalls eliminated Manila Luzon after one of Naomi’s best lip sync performances ever. And I have mixed feelings about it. Sort of. Manila really deserved to be at the end and fight for a win this season, because I do not think this type of reality show is about simply getting to the end. It is about proving you are the best. Manila had done that. So, when Naomi chose her to go, I understood what Naomi was thinking. Get rid of the biggest competition. What bothers me about the choice, which to be fair Monét would have made if she had won the lip sync, is that for me as a viewer it puts a giant asterisk on the winner of the competition. I don’t want that. I want the fiercest queens, the ones who have proven themselves in the challenges to make it to the end. I do not have much interest in queens making the show easier for themselves. And so, I thought it was cowardly. But Manila showed exactly who she is at the end. She was gracious, pleasant, and not bitter. And she timed an album release and new merch to drop as she was chopped. As I have said before, the actual winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race is the queen who takes her 15 minutes and turns it into an empire. Very few have done that as effectively as Manila.
Favorite Manila look of the season: Eleguence After Dark Runway
All hail the queen! There isn’t a person I know who doesn’t love Latrice Royale. She is an absolute legend. I think she had a rough season. I do not know why, but she seemed intimidated as soon as they got to challenges where the queens had to interact with one another. She is Latrice Royale! She has no reason to be intimidated by anyone. But she just did not perform the way any of us hoped she would. At times, it seemed like the problem might be that Latrice felt entitled to the crown, and that is a problematic attitude to have. I wish she had showed up not to compete, because nobody is in her league, but to show the other queens how things are done. Unfortunately, she didn’t do that. But one show does not cause her star to fade for me. Also, she wasn’t terrible on the show, but she just was not at her best throughout.
Favorite Latrice look of the season: tie between Platique Fantastique Runway & Night Club Challenge
So, I’ve got a lot of thoughts on Naomi Smalls… like everyone else does. I’m not going to lie, I was never all that interested in Naomi Smalls during season eight. I think she’s incredibly great with fashion, but that isn’t really my thing as much. Her scarecrow runway was very cool, but otherwise I found her time on the show forgettable. When Naomi entered the workroom for All Stars, I had completely forgotten that she had made it as far in her season as she had. So, I was actually excited to see that I had been wrong. There are examples throughout the season where I was surprised by Naomi, but she still was not my favorite. Snatch Game was perfect, and she had a few runways I really liked (Curves and Swerves, Angelic White, Best Judy Makeover), but overall I remained underwhelmed.
Now, about the elimination. I think it is STUPID to hold against the queens any decision they make during the competition. All of the contestants make the decisions that seem best at the time. Eliminating Manila when she did was problematic for me, not because Naomi needed to agree with me that she deserved to stay, but because I agree with Trinity the Tuck on competing. I always have. I watch the show because I want the very best to make it to the end, and when someone eliminates who they perceive as their strongest competition, that has not happened and the rest of the show becomes an exercise in wondering how the person who had been doing so well would have done. That was true in All Stars season 3 when Bendelacreme left the show. It brought everything down a bit. It also was a giant signal from Naomi Smalls that she didn’t feel like she could compete with the best. I just don’t like watching what eventually felt like the final four, rather than the top four. As for Monét X Change, who also would have eliminated Manila, it is different. Monét was holding onto a grudge, one I don’t think made a lot of sense.
Favorite Naomi look of the season: Best Judy: Lip Sync for Your Legacy
The heart of season ten burst back into our lives with her “brown cow stunning” game on! I could not have been more excited about a recent queen. She had totally won me over during her season, and during the reunion. I was really looking forward to whatever she brought to All Stars. She started strong, but I do feel like she was on a roller coaster for the season. There were moments when she was delightful, and there were moments when she seemed downright cranky! She didn’t ever seem to lose herself though, and that was great. I just thought that by the end, she didn’t seem to be having very much fun. I think All Stars shouldn’t have queens from the most recent season on. Yes, both of the season ten queens did well this time, but both seemed less fun than they had in their season. If that makes sense. I’m really excited to see Monique Heart grow from here. She has a unique perspective and aesthetic that seems to be fully blooming as we have watched her compete. I love how she mixes club kid with old school drag. It’s so unusual and wonderful! The face dresses are an excellent signature for her. I personally would love to see her lean into that and into her ministry through drag thing that she has going on.
Favorite Monique look of the season: Night Club Challenge
Monét X Change, Season 10 Trinity the Tuck, Season 9
Monét X Change
I live in rural Oklahoma. Outside of RuPaul’s Drag Race, my exposure to new queens is limited to the internet, and I honestly do not spend a lot of time seeking them out. When the contestants for new seasons of the show are announced, it is rare that I have heard of the queen beforehand. I can think of four: Courtney Act, Kim Chi, Acid Betty, & Monét X Change. I was pretty excited that Monét was on season 10 and she did not disappoint. I’m one of the fans of the sponge dress. I thought it was so much fun, and did not get why everyone else wasn’t getting it. She did such a great job on her season, even if her runways were a bit crunchy. I actually liked that. I don’t really fall in love with a queen unless there is something they struggle with. While I fully believe there should be a two year wait before a queen is allowed to compete on All Stars, I was still pretty excited to Monét X Change. And then she started stumbling and I thought for sure she would be going home pretty quickly. But she proved me wrong, and her looks kept getting better and her performances kept getting better. Monét killed it this season and it was a lot of fun to watch. Near the end of the season, I had started to tire of Monét because I started to feel like she wasn’t having fun. If the queens aren’t having fun, I’m not having fun. I thought she was unfair about Manila. If Monét wanted to choose Manila to go home because she was fierce competition, then I understand that. Monét KNOWS that Manila did not have it out for her and that Manila had chosen her to go to save Latrice. That is different from choosing Monét to try and get rid of her. It just wasn’t a great look in my opinion. Even though I was salty about that until the end, I was actually very happy when Monét and Trinity were the top two and when they won.
Favorite Monét look of the season: All Star Eleganza Runway
Trinity the Tuck
Once again, I will not lie. In season nine, I did not like Trinity. She had a few moments of brilliance (Club Kid Runway, Stanky the Starfish, 9021-HO Challenge), but I did not find her likable in the least. I was disappointed that she was in the final four, and then I was not happy to see her back on the show. Wow, was I wrong about her!
I think what was different about Trinity in All Stars is that I was able to understand how she approached the show better. I don’t think she changed at all, but she articulated herself better and I was able to get on board. She believes she is the best, and she wants to prove it against the best. That’s actually the attitude I wish all of the queens had. She came to prove nothing to the other queens; she came to prove to Ru and to the viewers that she deserves the crown. And she didn’t feel entitled to it like some of the All Stars historically have. She was understandably right about Manila’s elimination, as she was one of the three queens who had done the best in the show and Trinity wanted a chance to show at the end that she could get the crown even with Manila there. She didn’t get that chance, but at least she was up against the other queen who had done well, Monét X Change. And I was so glad that they both won. Now that I get where Trinity is coming from, I can allow myself to be a fan and I’m glad I get that chance.
Favorite Trinity look of the season: All Star Eleganza Runway
My hope is that the next season of All Stars does not include the so called “All Stars rules” where queens eliminate each other. We’ve had two seasons where that did not work out the way it should have. Next week, season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race starts. I’m excited, but it would have been nice to have a somewhat longer break.
Here you can watch the All Stars season 4 finale, brilliantly filmed 24 years in advance