Yes, my dear readers of all ages and genders, you read that title correctly: Drag Race coverage is back for a limited time only, to cover this senses-shattering All-Winners series!
Honestly, I’m still watching every episode of every iteration of Drag Race, but that has escalated from about 20 episodes a year five years ago to almost 100 a year today thanks to Drag Race, All-Stars, UK, Holland, Canada, Espana (Spain), Down Under (Australia + New Zealand), Italy, and vs. The World; already-shot debut seasons from France and the Philippines; pending franchises from Mexico, Belgique (Belgium), & Sverige (Sweden); and the oft-rumored Ru-turn of Thailand! Plus, Dragula!
That’s a lot of drag artists to consume every year and I love every single second of it, but this new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 7 takes the crown because it features eight winners crowned by RuPaul herself over the past 11 years – starting with the incomparable legend Raja from Season 3 through All-Stars Season 5 winner Shea Couleé.
Who has the best chance to walk away as the QUEEN OF QUEENS in this 12-episode special event? I’m breaking down all eight of these queens based on their track records of Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent… plus, their Fashion sense and Lip Sync abilities, and what common Drag Race challenges they might actually win on this stacked cast!
Then, in two days, come back for my RuCap and Power Rankings of Episode 1 – “Legends”!
Readers, start your engines! And, may the best drag queen… win!
#1: Jinkx Monsoon (Season 5)
If I was a queen on this season, I would be terrified when Jinkx Monsoon walked through the door.
Sure, she hasn’t been on the show for nearly a decade. But, the only thing Jinkx wasn’t particularly good at on the show was design and styling. That improves a lot with an entire decade performing at the highest level of drag around the world.
Jinkx may be the most-talented queen in Drag Race herstory. If you’ve ever seen one of Jinkx’s shows (either solo or with Ben de la Creme) or watched her tour versions of Snatch Game on YouTube, you understand just how unstoppable she can be. Jinkx is a consummate actor and a singer with an unreal belting range. It often feels like she is incapable of making a misstep while she is live on stage. Her ability to pull focus when she wants to be the center of attention is unmatched.
Beyond that, Jinkx has a knack for blending her drag character with her actual personality. She seems both “elderly” and “ingénue” at the same time. A lot of queens attempt that sort of thing, but there’s often a stark divide between their stage selves and the backstage kiki version. With Jinkx, that’s not the case. She is just as big of a weirdo out of drag as she is as Jinkx Monsoon.
All Stars seasons typically place more emphasis on comedy and personal brand and less on fashion and make-up critiques. It’s hard to imagine Jinkx doing anything other than running away with this season aside from the hurdle of a design challenge. There are a lot of other hilarious stage veterans on this cast, and every one of them would be Jinkx’s understudy.
Can she haul in the wins in a “Lip Sync For Your Legacy” format? She has one of the most iconic lip syncs in all of Drag Race with “Malambo No. 1.” However, Jinkx has been a live-singing queen for a years. Will she approach a lip sync as more of an improv challenge? That might not work against some of the master syncers on this cast.
What challenges will she win? I think Jinkx will amass 4-8 wins in a Top Two format. If that sounds unlikely, just remember: her creative partner is Ben de la Creme – and we all remember how that went on All Stars Season 3. I can see Jinkx being in the top two for both scripted and improv acting, comedy, Snatch Game, the longer-form songwriting of the Rumix, and the talent show. Plus, do you remember “Delusion”? She’s great at marketing, too. Maybe the judges break up her dominance across acting and comedy by handing the wins to other queens for story reasons, but Jinkx could still easily wind up the most wins.
#2: Shea Couleé (Season 9, All Stars 5)
Trixie Mattel has often said that if she walked into the Drag Race workroom and saw Shea Couleé standing there she would turn around and walk back out – because how can you beat Shea?
That certainly proved to be true on All Stars 5, which felt more like “RuPaul’s Runner-Up Race” to see who could keep pace with Shea for a full season.
It was hard to imagine that there was any room for Shea to level up from Season 9 to All Stars, but it truly felt like she improved in every category. Her fashion went from solid to breathtaking, her comedy chops went from high points to dominance, and she got out of her own head to show unflinching nerve.
With that masterful (and most-recent) win, Shea might be the queen to fear the most in this cast… even more than Jinkx. She can do everything Jinkx can do aside from showy broadway vocals, plus she is a rapper, plus she is a fashion designer, plus she is a choreographer.
Beyond that, Shea’s true strength is that her drag is unfailingly a love letter to strong black women everywhere. While other black queens bring a similar perspective, none of them do it with Shea’s consistent reverence and execution.
I expect to see Shea going toe-to-toe with Jinkx, plus being a queen to beat in design challenges. And, when it comes to lip sync, All Stars proved that she leveled up from Season 9 to become a full-on assassin. Having gone through her traumatic roses experience against Sasha, I don’t think anything that can happen in a lip sync will ever shake her confidence again.
What challenges will she win? I think Shea walks away with 3-6 wins in a Top Two format. She’s a likely winner for Rusical and both the Girl Group and RuMix challenges, all of which have been past areas of dominance. Might she also sneak a design challenge win past Raja or Jaida? Could she punch through a thick field of Snatch Game competitors to be in the Top Two with Jinkx? It’s all entirely possible. There’s nothing this season can dream up that Shea can’t master.
#3: Trinity The Tuck (Season 9, All Stars 4)
I am certain this will be my most controversial ranking with many fans, but… y’all, I know what I’m talking about.
Trinity The Tuckis quite possibly the best at Drag Race of all of the queens in this cast. That’s because everything is a competition to Trinity – from challenges, to runways, to chatting in the workroom. There’s no one challenge where she says, “Oh no, I might not be able to do this.” She rises to the occasion every damn time even if it leads to an occasional backfire, like a floppy cartwheel.
There are several “I’m more than a Pageant Girl” queens in Drag Race history, but Trinity is their empress. She is equally as memorable for her consistent comedy as she is for having one of the best runway packages in the history of the show on All Stars Season 4. In fact, we’ve seen so many polished looks, goofy looks, and couture looks from her over the years it’s hard to even picture her in a pageant gown anymore!
That doesn’t mean Trinity is going to win the most challenges.
Trinity’s comedy chops – which were largely unopposed in All Stars Season 4 – could be overshadowed by many queens in this cast. Also, her precise dancing isn’t going to be as notable with her Season 9 sister Shea back in the mix, not to mention with Jaida and Yvie’s athleticism on display.
Most importantly, Trinity will be replaying a pair of prior, already-resolved rivalries here with Shea and Monet. Trinity thrives on challenge, and the fact that she is now friends with these former competitors might take the edge off her unflinching march to the finals. However, if a rivalry with Jinx (or Viv?) flourishes early on, that should keep her focused.
Also, she lip synced so many times on All Stars that it feels like we’ve seen her entire repertoire of of moves. If she comes across as stale in lip syncs here, it’s going to get in the way of her dominance.
What challenges will she win? I think Trinity has the potential for 2-6 wins in a Top Two format. She isn’t going to run away with the season the way she did on All Stars 4, but I do think she will wind up in the top on Snatch Game and scripted comedy. She’s also going to be a competitor in every design challenge. But, she isn’t a threat in singing challenges, and she tends to be uneven in solo comedy formats like a Roast.
#4: Monét X Change (Season 10, All Stars 4)
If Trinity is my most controversial placement, Monét X Change is the one I’m most confused about how to make.
If Trinity is really good at Drag Race, I would say Monét is great at being a successful drag queen without necessarily being great at Drag Race.
Monét has established the most-diverse “drag superstar” brand out of everyone on this cast. That’s because Monét is all about personality and nerve. She is utterly charismatic, effortlessly combining a kittenish charm with a whip-crack wit. She is an unflappable host who can produce instant rapport with any partner. And, her face is beautiful even out of drag, and she knows how to beat it into high glamour.
Yet, that force of personality can sometimes suffocate in the show’s strictly-defined format. Monet isn’t the best impersonator, her vocal training never seems to pay off in a live-in-one-take format, and her runways can occasionally lean towards “crunchy” with uneven detailing.
Within the Drag Race bubble, Monet’s most-remarkable talent is actually her brain. She never has trouble quickly learning a scene or picking up choreography. She easily rattles off catchy lyrics rife with alliteration and internal rhyme. And, delivering cutting, off-the-cuff comedy is effortless for her – a skill honed by her weekly Sibling Rivalry podcast with Bob The Drag Queen.
What does that mean for this season? I wouldn’t be shocked if Monet is in the top for every single challenge, but I’m not sure that means she will be in the top two. That should keep her sailing through at least the first half of the season, at least.
As for lip syncs, Monet is the most consistently devastating performer in this cast. Even when she loses, she delivers a memorable performance. Here’s hoping we get to see her face off against Jaida or Yvie at least once, which could go down as one of greatest of all time.
What challenges will she win? I think Monet will walk away with 2-7 wins in a Top Two format. She is at her best when she gets to be herself, so I think she’s the sure winner of comedy and hosting challenges, plus I suspect she will snag one of the songwriting wins. She could also mop wins in scripted or improve acting, and it wouldn’t be surprising if she won a marketing challenge or talent show. Honestly, no challenge in this format is outside of her grasp aside from Design.
#5: Raja (Season 3)
It’s hard to believe that Raja is really back for an entire season of Drag Race. It seems like something out of a dream.
There have been many fashion queens in the run of this show, but Raja is THE Punk Rock High-Fashion Auntie. She is a flawless make-up artist and a fashion queen who sweats every single detail of her outfits. Even if something looks wrong, who’s to say that wasn’t her intention?! Sometimes Raja’s wrongs can be so, so right.
As easy as it is to think of Raja as all-fashion-all-the-time, we shouldn’t forget that way back on Season 3 she was also hilarious in acting challenges and rocked out as a punk singer.
Raja has nerves of steel and will engineer a way to be good at just about anything she sets her mind to. She won doing that on one of the most murderously-hard seasons of Drag Race, against three of the all-time fiercest competitors of the show – Manila Luzon, Alexis Mateo, and Yara Sofia (not to mention a baby Shangela)!
Why have I placed Raja in the bottom half of the power rankings? Raja’s drag powers were enough to smash the competition on an extra-length early season, but perhaps not enough to defeat seven other hungry winners who competed in The House That Raja Built. All Stars tends to rely less on design-oriented challenges and more on broad comedy, and it’s hard to know how Raja will handle that in 2022.
Also, not for nothing, but Raja has settled down to be a much more laid-back queen over the course of the past decade. Quite frankly, some of these other queens might be hungrier.
Even if she makes it to the Top Two of the week, can she win a Legacy lip sync? Raja’s speciality are sultrier performances, and half this cast can drop into splits at a moment’s notice.
What challenges will she win? I see Raja emerging with 1-3 wins in a Top Two format. She will almost certainly murder any design-oriented challenge, but she’ll probably also do well in a force-of-personality challenge, like hosting. Recording hundreds of episodes of Fashion Photo Ruview means she is quick on her feet and used to talking directly to the camera. Could she also pull out a surprise in comedy or marketing? Possibly. She’s capable of just about anything.
#6: Jaida Essence Hall (Season 12)
Let me make one thing clear: I am in love with Jaida Essence Hall.
I think Jaida had as close to a flawless run on Drag Race as anyone can have and I do not have a single negative word to say about her.
Jaida has a special kind of charisma that is less about being a commanding presence and more about being the queen you most want to hang out with. Also, she didn’t wear a single bad look on her season. Heck, she barely had any middle-of-the-road looks, either. She is a double-whammy queen who can construct a garment herself and who pays attention to the finer details even when she’s wearing someone else’s work.
Despite her near-flawless success on Season 12, Jaida is working against a pair of potential weaknesses here that will probably prevent her from sneaking into the finale.
First, thanks to the pandemic, Jaida is the winner with the least amount of post-Drag Race touring experience. Yes, she has been on the road, but she just hasn’t had the experience of “No sleep! Bus, club, another club, another club, plane, next place. No sleep. No fear.”
Second, Jaida excels at regular season Drag Race, which favors being an all-arounder with an impeccable design eye to keep you out of the bottom. I’m not sure how that will translate into All Stars, which tends to be heavily tilted towards comedy with runways counting for less.
That all said, let’s not forget that Jaida is fucking hilarious. She has one of the quickest wits in recent Drag Race history and a gift for wordplay. She is gonna make you look over there(!) while she retattles the retittle of your rebuttal. And, if her runways on regular season Drag Race were all memorable (when she was an alternate, with the least prep time of the cast), she might be capable of some truly senses-shattering fashion here.
I might be rooting for Jaida the most of everyone here. I would live for her surprising the rest of this cast by crushing them under her heel.
Plus, if there’s a lip syncer in this cast who can very likely beat every other queen, it is Jaida. She has an uncanny knack for finding the exact angle a song needs, and neither Monet nor Yvie are going to out-trick her with multiple splits.
What challenges will she win? I think Jaida will emerge with 1-3 wins in a Top Two format. I think she will edge out all of the other fashionistas to snag a Design challenge, and will also capture a marketing challenge because she is what? Whip smart. Unfortunately, as a non-singer I think she will be out of contention for the songwriting challenges, although she may luck out with a lip sync Rusical (though I wouldn’t count on that challenge being handed to this cast). Against any other crowd I’d also have her down for an improv challenge, but improv is a primary talent of too many of these queens.
#7: The Vivienne (UK Season 1)
The Vivienne is a resourceful queen who oozes easygoing confidence with a touch of better-than-you snootiness.
Can she survive swimming with these American sharks? Quite possibly – especially because it’s the chance for her to finally win some cash now that she’s playing outside of the stingy prize restrictions of the BBC version of the franchise.
I don’t think Viv gets enough credit as an actor. Forget about the low-hanging fruit of her presidential impersonation. Look at her first episode Hometown and Queen runways, or her final acting challenge. Viv gets totally lost in a character while still keeping things campy. It doesn’t hurt that she’s also capable singer, which also gets forgotten since she wasn’t on the Frock Destroyers.
That puts Viv in the position to play spoiler on this season. She could be the queen to thwart the freight-train of talent that is Jinkx, Shea, Trinity, & Monet in the performance challenges. She also could pull out a surprising win in a design challenge for something that is edgy but finely-detailed while other queens go high-concept.
That positive is also a negative. The Vivienne doesn’t have a unique lane where she is guaranteed a win. She is going to be fighting for every Top Two placement.
Also, the “Legacy” lip sync format might not work in Viv’s favor. She’s is an adequate lip syncer, but in this cast she’s probably the least exciting. That might see her stall out without hauling in a win (and a big cash prize, along with it).
What challenges will she win? I think Viv will pick up 0-3 wins in a Top Two format. She’s likely to win at least one of improv acting or Snatch Game. She might also pick up a scripted acting win, and she has an outside chance of snagging a Design challenge. Also, as a strong personality with a different perspective than the rest of this queens, there’s a chance she could surprise on a hosting or marketing challenge.
#8: Yvie Oddly (Season 11)
The tricky thing about ranking Yvie Oddly is that she is a Drag Race wild card.
Yvie had just a single shared win on her season, which was dominated by a bevy of other big personalities. On one hand, there were few things she was bad at, other than Snatch Game. On the other, if she couldn’t grab wins against Brooke, Silky, Akeria, and Nina, does she stand a chance in this lineup?
What does a refined version of Yvie even look like? Thanks to the pandemic slicing almost a third off of her reigning year and continuing through present day, she has had some of the least experience on the road out of all of the winners here.
Yet, based on her looks on the promotional tour, she has had by far the biggest glow-up of all the winners.
Yvie is another all-arounder who isn’t necessarily the standout in any one talent, aside from her aerobic lip syncs. That means her potential success will be be all about surprise. If she acts as a drag insurgent and snatches a comedy or Design challenge win from one of the top-ranked queens, she suddenly becomes a contender. However, if the other queens out-act her and she never gets to show off her literal and metaphorical flexibility, she could be shut out of wins almost entirely.
Yvie is the lip syncer to beat in this cast, alongside Monet. Will that matter in an All Stars format where she doesn’t win many challenges? Possibly not. But, if there is ever a chance to get back into the competition or save herself from elimination, Yvie will be unstoppable.
What challenges will she win? I think Yvie will have 0-3 wins in a Top Two format. If there is a Talent Show, I’m certain she will bring the most unusual act and it will be easy to reward. She’s also a nimble dancer and a capable talk-singer, so a Rusical or Songwriting challenge is also within her grasp. Could she pull a shock win in a Design challenge? Possibly!