Welcome to my recap of the ninth episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 7 – Dance Like a Drag Queen, a combination branding challenge and dancing challenge to create viral social media videos.
I overlap in several skills and talents with the typical cast of Drag Race, but this challenges hits on a pair of areas where I am sorely lacking: choreography and brief, viral videos.
Sure, I love to hit the dancefloor and I’ve taken my fair share of dance fitness classes, but I haven’t tried my hand at making up coherent choreography since I was 10 years old on my grandmother’s front stoop dancing to “Pump Up The Jam” by Technotronic!
And, despite several forays into video over the past few years, I simply don’t understand what makes a video viral. I’m not sure I’ve ever shared one, and as the video formats grow shorter and shorter I care less and less.
I point this out not to outline how bad I’d be at Drag Race, but to point out who this challenge is targeting: youths. It’s not that no one older than 30 has ever shared a viral video or done a dance challenge, but this week’s concept is clearly aimed at a TikTok generation who racks up tens of millions of views on brief snippets of endlessly loopable video.
This is a cast of seasoned all-winners who trend at least half a decade older than the typical early-20s queens that are being cast on recent seasons. To be RuPaul’s Queen of Queens, our winner needs to be able to connect with every portion of the audience – especially the rising one who loves brevity combined with absurdity.
Were all of our queens able to keep up with the times in this challenge where brevity is the soul of wit? Find out in my full-episode recap, below. Plus, at the end of the recap I have an extensively mathematic update to my Episode 8 rankings to explain who can make it into the finale and how. (Want to skip right to the power rankings? Go for it!)
Readers, start your engines! And, may the best drag queen… win!
Reminders: I consistently refer to Drag Race artists with their drag names and with she/her pronouns even when they are not in drag, which is the convention of the show. Some performers may have different personal pronouns. Drag is inherently brave, political, and artistic, and all drag is valid. It’s also hard to do. I’m commenting on drag artistry in how it comes across on this specific television program, but the reason I’m commenting at all is because I celebrate all drag!
Drag Race All Stars Season 7, Episode 9 – Dance Like a Drag Queen Recap
Platinum Plunger Aftermath
The queens return from the runway and Raja and Viv are feeling it. Raja got her first lipsync win and Viv managed to join the two-star club, so they have every reason to celebrate! Plus, the other queens are clearly living for Raja’s campy “Superfreak” performance.
They are trailed a minute later by a very glum Jaida carrying her Platinum Plunger. With her adorable red-nosed make-up, massive afro-puffs, and giant bunny-ears bow this comes off more sad and more ridiculous than any previous post-plunger entrance. “I’m too cute to be blocked today,” she interviews, accurately. “It’s like blocking your little sister. Why would you do that?”
Raja says she blocked Jaida because she had three-stars. “She’s ahead of the game and that’s just kinda how it works.”
Of course, if you’ve been following my Power Rankings you know that this isn’t the case at all, and by not blocking Jinkx or Trinity Raja has almost certainly doomed herself to miss the finale. Alas, most drag queens did not go to school for fucking math.
Jaida almost reveals that there are no plunger secrets since now six of the seven other queens are in on the joke. Except, JAIDA IS THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF STRATEGY. Raja blocked her, now has two stars, and is unblocked… which means she is the only queen missing out on these totally fabricated secrets – and Raja is a curious cat. So, instead of giving up the game, Jaida lures Raja into being intrigued about being at a disadvantage due to missing out on the plunger while also reminding everyone else that Raja remains unblocked.
In fact, Jaida is so confident and so cheeky that she proposes that “we should not block her,” which is pretty much the same thing as lighting up a neon sign above Raja’s head that says, “block this bitch.”
No one is playing the strategy game better than Jaida. No one.
The queens count off their stars, and Shea and Monét declare they are now in a “1-star alliance.” They’re both clearly doing their own Power Rankings math and realizing that they only have three more weeks to win two stars each if they want to be in the finale.
Shea and Monét are sweating their one-star status more and more with every week that goes by, but they’re both seasoned reality stars. They get that if they let their desperation show through in their behavior then that will become the entire story of their edit.
Keeping a lid on the desperation is turning the room into less of a pressure cooker and more of a clown college. In a season with little drama and incredibly high stakes, these queens aren’t getting bitter – they are getting goofier. We are treated to a montage of their silliness as they undress from the runway.
“A new day in the workroom!”
It’s a new day in the workroom, and RuPaul doesn’t even allow the queens to get a word out before he crashes through the side entrance. Clearly this day of production will have a packed schedule!
Ru is… wearing… clothes? He is in a black tank top and black slacks with a glittering black bathrobe on top, complete with a trailing waist sash. I would love to have been a fly on the wall for Ru’s boy-look costuming meeting for this season. What is the strategy behind all of these lackadaisical workroom looks! Did he think the winners would be donning workroom fashions so severe that she couldn’t possibly compete?
Ru informs the queens that this week’s challenge will be “a master class in branding that mixes humor, personality… and dance.” They will be creating their own viral social media dance challenges to RuPaul songs in the style of the pointedly unnamed TikTok, where queens like Plastique Tiara have made a full-time job of doing this challenge over and over.
I guess the producers couldn’t shake them TikTok down for as much money as they got from the venerable Pinterest.
This the rare Drag Race challenge that puts all the queens on a level playing field. No one decides the order or assigns the roles. No one gets extra time. No one has to memorize lines, sew hems, or sing, and the only choreo they have to learn is their own.
On a regular season, it’s these challenges that tend to prove which queens will have staying power to last once the spotlight of the show is off of them. In a cast full of all-winners, I expect every video to be outstanding.
If there’s one thing that could stratify the winners from the losers this week, it’s that some of these queens are far more likely to go viral with their own video, others are more likely to dance along to an existing ones, and a final handful might just watch that all while drinking some win.
Raja. I’m talking about Raja. (Although, Yvie later claims she exclusively watches “things that have to do with cats and nothing else.”)
As with every challenge this season where Raja has felt a little bit threatened by the assignment, the other queens brainstorm with her for a moment and she takes on all of their notes. There is something so wholesome about this process that I adore. It’s not just queens helping queens or the obvious reverence they all have for Raja. It’s that their willingness to come to each other’s aid erodes the 4th wall of this being a reality competition program. It makes it feel like we’re watching friends get ready to put on a show together week after week.
The cast recap their personal brands. Some are higher concept than others:
Yvie: “I don’t have bones in my body.”
Viv: “A rich housewife from Liverpool who made it big, went to Hollywood, snorted all of her savings, and ended back up in Liverpool.”
Jaida: “I am very beautiful and glamorous, I don’t like to do too much and I don’t wanna work too hard, and I don’t think that people out there should either.” (I know Jaida is talking about her drag character, but I have to side-eye this one a little, since Jaida the human being is an absolute perfectionist.)
Trinity: “Hello, my brand is in my name.”
Monét: “I have a very urban brand.”
(Raja: “Are we still using that word?” Jaida: “Only the urban people can use it.”)
We cut to Jinkx, who is… slathering some white bread with peanut butter. Is this… an allegory? I’m confused, Peppermint’s confused… we’re all confused. It doesn’t help that Jinkx then jams the entire thing into her mouth all at once while Raja looks on, dumbfound. Jinkx later explains to the group, “I was testing to see if I could make and eat a whole peanut butter sandwich in the span of my four bars,” which is so incredibly ridiculous I don’t even know what I can say about it.
Ru bursts into the room shortly thereafter to prod our winners about their plans.
Viv reminds Ru she is “not the best dancer,” to which Ru responds, “Well, you know, dancing on the upbeat is white folks’ prerogative.” Viv plans to lean into that with her “So You Know You Can’t Dance Challenge Viveo.” Ru loves the portmanteau of “Viveo” even more than he loves the challenge concept, because that is branding. “It performs well in the mouth,” he explains.
Shea is laying it on thick to Ru about how well she knows how to brand, with products like her Shea Cool-ale and her shea-butter-based soap, 100k. Get those coins, girl! She claims her “bougie + banjee” brand will manifest in the “Shea’k Down” (though, later we’ll see that she slightly pivots).
Ru can’t even question Trinity before she gets into a full comedy routine about her brand as “The Tuck.” Ru volleys with her about her tucking panties, and Trinity gives as good (and as quickly) as she gets:
TTT: “They have a distinctive smell to them.”
Ru: “Is it a smell or more of an odor?”
TTT: “It’s a fragrance.”
However, I think Ru purposefully leads Trinity astray here. He asks Trinity to double down on her “Tuck” brand, but we’ve seen her do that so many times before. She can’t be a memorable, meme-able queen on her tuck alone – especially when she hasn’t been showing it off in too many form-fitting looks this season. Part of being the Queen of Queens is about your branding having dimensions despite it boiling down to one memorable trademark.
Ru says when he thinks about Yvie he things about Gumby, and Yvie replies, “Oh, yeah, yeah, he was one of my first idols!” Ru gives the actual stellar advice that “You want to know who your consumer is and what they want from you, and then you want to deliver that for them.” It sounds so incredibly basic, but understanding why people want to consume you rather than convincing them to consume you is massive part of being a successful marketer.
Yvie says that the kids who are “buying some Oddly” (Ru’s words) are looking to own a piece of her confidence as a weirdo. There’s something incredibly true about that, but it’s also slightly at odds with Ru’s initial “Gumby” direction. Yivie has a tall order to fill in combining her bendability with her oddball confidence.
Ru and Jinkx volley like old pals, and Jinkx defines her brand as, “she’s a wannabe actress who hasn’t quite made it, but she’s also a single mother learning about current culture from her adult deadbeat son.” Some fans only know Jinkx as an inebriated oversexed showgirl of a certain age, and they’ve been put off by her repeated visits to the “MILF” brand in her songwriting challenges this season. However, if you’ve delved deeply into her internet content, you’ll know she also has a web show called “Cool Mom” all about this characterization.
There’s something very interesting here about how some queens develop character – and even continuity – for their drag alter egos. Jinkx is one of the few winners for whom that is the case, because Ru doesn’t tend to favor these queens. They often get “we need to see the real you” comments in their critiques and sputter out before the finale. Jinkx has never garnered that comment, yet her drag alter ego really is a lot different than she is! However, Ru has never blinked at that because Jinkx connects the two versions of herself through the common thread of her maniacal humor. That’s different than a queen who wants to be aloof and austere on the runway but is a goof in real life.
Finally, Monét gets a thorough coaching session from Ru. She intended to make a post-breakup dance called the “EX-change” and Ru stops her cold. WHY NOT MAKE IT ABOUT MONEY?
Even if the advice is just as reductive as what Ru said to Trinity, the thing that’s very right about it is that Monét was trying to bake too much storytelling into her branding challenge when that wasn’t the story of her brand. Trying to win back an ex isn’t a natural extension of Monét X Change the way flirting with young men is for Jinkx. It’s not that Monét’s dance must be about money, it’s just that it ought to be about her.
We get just a quick montage of video shoots and a brief passage of mirror chat, so it’s on to the runway!
Runway: What Lies Beneath
Our judges tonight are RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Carson Kressley, and Ben Platt – who originated the title role in Dear Evan Hansen on broadway.
RuPaul is a vision of beauty. Once again, a shock of white hair really works for her, and this messy-at-the-edges curly poof is a perfect shape and style.
We’ve seen her do this sort of short, tattered-hem dress before, especially on Drag Race UK where she was all about the short-cut skirts. There’s a reason for it – it’s because it fits her frame perfectly, and contextualizes the proportion of her upper body by putting the emphasis on her stunningly long legs.
Shea Coulée took a somewhat sideways approach to “What Lies Beneath.” While the description suggests “reveals on reveals,” she interpreted it more as “layers on layers.”
Personally, I’m a fan of the concept of an unsurprising reveal. There’s an almost-burlesque quality to walking out with an obviously beautiful gown on and making us wait to see it while you strip off your other layers.
What’s holding her back is that none of the layers are particularly show-stopping.
An initial blue-on-blue (Marabou?) feathered coat is impressive in scale, but mostly a big lump. A transparent, gauzy blue tulle robe with multiple layers of frills from the knees down has beautiful structure, but it doesn’t close in the front and that gives some awkward lines as Shea works the runway. A sapphire blue satin dress with an ass cutout is impressively designed, but both plain satin and plain velvet tend to suffer under the Drag Race runway lights.
I don’t dislike any of them, but even with the perfectly-executed butt cleavage this look simply didn’t stick to my brain.
On rewatch, I feel like that could be down to styling – and the lack thereof. One of Shea’s biggest strengths this season has been in how carefully each look is styled and accessorized. Here she had to make way for multiple reveals, so the accessories are minimal and she was stuck with how the garments got crushed under one another. That took away from the Shea Coulée brand of being a walking fashion illustration.
Jaida Essence Hall took these queens to school when it comes to quick change reveals. She had not two, not three, but FOUR LOOKS in one where each look was completely erased by the prior one with no evidence left behind.
Sure, her first look is just a glamorous winter parka that extends down to sequined skirt, but I can forgive starting out with an obvious “reveal coat” when you have multiple layers worth of surprises beneath. Jaida unzips it and reverses down the top to reveal a flowery fairytale princess dress with puffy sleeve caps.
Then, another unzip-and-reverse process reveals to a green zebra print summery dress with a plunging neckline and a swishing skirt with a slight train. This reveal works well for me because the cut of this dress was very different from the princess dress. She completely erased the prior silhouette while making sure her skirt still hit the floor.
Finally, that summery dress unzips and reveals to a one-shouldered fall leaves nude illusion.
None of these looks are the most beautiful garment we’ve seen on the runway, but the final three are perfectly lovely dresses. Most importantly, Jaida’s execution is flawless. We’ve seen some awkward moments from this style of self-swallowing reveal in the past, but every one of Jaida’s reveals is silky smooth.
The Vivienne falters here after a stretch of strong runways. Her Into The Woods inspired reveal from witch’s cloak to gown to boots isn’t spectacular, even if the middle garment in this reveal sandwich was over-the-top.
Her cloak is…fine. It is a cloak. The giant bell sleeves festooned with leaves are fun and it is constructed from a subtly iridescent fabric, but it is mostly just a reveal coat. And, she revealed too early! You never want to reveal before you hit the mark at the bottom of the runway unless your reveal needs the motion and length of the runway to unfurl!
Beneath her cloak, she reveals to an opulent, regal, blue-green dress with many stones, layers, and trains. There’s no doubt it is a beautiful garment, and her hair and make-up are simply stunning. I love the long, sharp blue wing of her eye and the vertical coif of curls. If this season has taught us anything, it’s that Viv’s make-up is next level even on a cast of all-winners!
And yet… this outfit is costume, not couture. I have no argument against its beauty or how finely-detailed it is, but it is giving me “character” more than it’s giving me “fashion.”
Viv’s final reveal that she is wearing boots beneath the skirt is itself a “boot.” The glittering boots are gorgeous, but their black-with-warm-colored-stones clashes with the icy blues of the rest of the outfit.
Also, I wish Viv revealed more. She is still sporting the massive floofy sleeves and long gauzy cape of her regal dress. It would’ve been awesome if that unzipped and discarded to reveal a truly different shape beneath it all.
Raja brought another maximalist feast for the eyes to the runway this week. It is a total eyegasm.
This time, the maximalism is as much in the detailing as it was in the color story. Right from the start, her array of super-saturated, ultra-clashing pastels and neons looks like a special effect in motion.
Sure, her first look is just a reveal-cloak caftan, but the entire thing is built in sorbet-colored panels that echo the backdrop of Fashion Photo Review (and which terminate in sproinging wired loops at the bottom). She tops it with a massive neck frill and a fully-stoned flamingo fascinator.
It is resort-wear on an acid trip.
Beneath is a dizzying long-sleeved frock so full of clashing pastel and neon that looking at it is like staring into the sun. Just when you think you can handle the wash of pink-on-orange-on-pink you encounter a splash of baby blue or acid green. Also, every inch of it is both stoned and textured. It reminds me of a baby’s playmat full of chewable nubs, blinking lights, and fabric that crinkles when you mash it.
Finally, the frock opens up to a body suit with splotches of green venus fly traps. The cool thing about it for me is that this final look maintained the massive poofy sleeves that seemed like they were obviously connected to the frock. It’s awesome when reveals come with extra surprises.
Also, through it all, the shoes are AMAZING.
Yvie Oddly had a clever interpretation of the theme to be less of a reveal and more of a transformation.
For me, this was a bit of a fizzle. It isn’t because of the fashion failure of one of the attachments in her final reveal giving up the ghost a second early, but because there just isn’t enough to be found on the “beneath” of her garment.
She basically walks out in her caterpillar couture, discards an immobile skirt of twigs, sheds a gauzy skirt of green goo illusion, and… is still walking around in her caterpillar couture with its mechanical mask.
I’m not saying that Yvie should have revealed into a fancy butterfly. I understand that the entire point of her presentation was that sometimes the ooey gooey things in nature are beautiful just as they are. But, this look needed more engineering to sell that point. The leafy camouflage skirt could have been high-fashion garment instead of a prop. The gooey green gauze could’ve covered more of her look (although I do love that it was not connected to her arms and she clearly grabbed it using velcro or magnets).
Beneath it all, I do love her glittering hooded catsuit. I wish what came before was as memorable.
Jinkx Monsoon pulls off her most impressive runway of all time.
Her Picasso cubism skirt and jacket is gorgeous. I love how the geometric shapes of the print extend out to become the shapes of the cut of the garment. I adore the super-high neck and the sleeve cuffs. It’s fashion but with enough jagged elements to recall Picasso’s actual paintings.
Her second diaphanous dress isn’t the most impressive garment, but it perfectly evokes Monet’s water lilies. I saw the reference before anyone even mentioned it. The colors and the swirling detail on the skirt sold it to me immediately.
Then, Jinkx does something very clever.
Most quick-change reveals tend to get either longer or shorter as they go. You either start long and reveal shorter and shorter garments or you start short and continually unfurl longer new lengths of skirt. However, Jinkx took advantage of discarding her water lily dress to go from long to short again. This gives her multiple reveals more visual impact than Jaida’s, because the silhouette changes.
Also, the third pop art dress is lovely. We’ve seen a lot of queens interpret “pop art” as “the entire thing must be covered with my face, face, beauty, face.” However, Jinkx understands that pop art is as much about colors and color-blocking as it is about Warhol’s famous faces. Even without her face on her skirt, I still would’ve caught the reference.
And, finally, Jinkx’s Klimt dress is absolutely magnificent. We are Klimt fans in this household, and the way she captures his signature style and elevates it to fashion with different textures and levels of sparkle honestly made me tear up. I love the gold against her red hair. I love the fussiness of the bifurcated asymmetrical shoulder. I love the pop of orange lining. It’s perfect.
I love that Jinkx took a runway theme and added an additional theme on top of it, and in that theme showed off some of her best garments of all time in four completely distinct silhouettes. If she ever deserved to win a week on the strength of her runway, it was for this one.
Monét X Change brings three looks that tie together with a theme of black power and social justice.
I think the thematic link between them was stronger than the reveals, the garments themselves, or her presentation of them.
First, she tears off her Harriet Tubman look too quickly. Even at 1/10th speed slo-mo I can barely make out the details. If you have a reveal walk it to the end of the runway. It looks like this look had ton of thought put into it, but we saw less of it than we did the reveal coats from Shea, Jaida, and Viv. I had to go back multiple times to confirm she had a head-wrap on before she revealed to her beret because she whipped it off so fast!
Her Black Panthers look is fine. It was giving “realness,” even with the exaggeration of the taffeta underskirt. I think there is danger in dressing up a real-life political look too much, so I don’t think think that’s a problem – pumping up the volume rather than exaggerating the glitter was the right choice.
Unfortunately, it felt like she was pre-fussing the Panther look for her entire runway walk to be ready for her final reveal. It was distracting.
Monét’s final “And We Still Fight” look is… also fine. It is a slinky, glittery gown.
On one hand, text on a Drag Race runway garment almost always looks horrible and Monét’s massive block letters broke the curse! On the other hand, there was nothing particularly interesting about the garment other than the lettering. I can’t help but flash to Symone’s “say their names” look on Season 13, which was a fascinating garment even before we got to the words on the back.
Hate, hate, hate the shoe. No to the lacy ankle strap, no to the exposed painted-white toenails. Should’ve been a high black-and-silver pump with a peekaboo toe.
Trinity The Tuck took a similar “you already know” burlesque approach to Shea. It s obvious what most of her reveals will be as soon as she hits the runway.
While that worked for Shea, for Trinity it winds up one of her few disappointing moments of season… because not all of the reveals were revealing!
It’s not that her flower-covered garment isn’t gorgeous. It’s that I expect the highest possible drama from Trinity The Tuck – something on the level of what Jaida presented.
Clearly the hips were coming off. Clearly she was going to drop the skirt. Clearly the scooped front of the corset was removable (though I almost missed it, she took it off at the last possible second). I think the judges were right to later point out that even more should’ve stripped off – including the breast flowers and more of the bikini bottom. If you’re suggesting burlesque you should not leave obvious things un-removed!
Also, it didn’t help that that it’s another mermaid gown shortly after she presented her last one in a design challenge.
Dance Like a Drag Queen Viral Videos
Shea Coulée’s presents “The Shea’k Down” to RuPaul’s “Cha Cha Bitch”
Shea’s video is highly entertaining as a skit, but she strays from both her Bougie+Banjee brand and from making it memeable. Her concept is that she has no time to slow down her dance for basic folks at home, so she’s going to give us a full on Alvin Ailey choreo fantasy. It’s hilarious, but not hilarious in a way that will tempt people to try it while failing comedically on camera.
Dance 10, Meme 3.
Jaida Essence Hall presents “The Diva’s Essential Dance Challenge” to RuPaul’s “Sissy That Walk”
I love Jaida’s video. She manages to perfectly thread the needle on her “effortless glamour” concept with a character who thinks being famous is so commonplace that everyone must have to deal with it. She strings together four easy-to-execute moves, including a non-gratuitous recall of her “Look Over There” tagline, which makes so much sense as a punchline of her paparazzi concept.
The other queens should thank their lucky stars that this 3-star queen is blocked this week and there was other plot drama to reward.
The Vivienne presents “Can’t Dance? Who Cares!” to RuPaul’s “Born Naked”
Viv absolutely delivers on her promise: non-dancing filled with personality and branding. There are times that Viv’s direct-address-to-camera style can be a overbearing and beat a joke to death, but her quick chatter about “The Viveo, The Viveo, The Viveo” and her end-tags referencing her other related brands are a hilarious send-up of “like and subscribe” YouTube culture. I was dying with laughter. While her clumsy moves actually work together as a charming dance, it was more of a character comedy moment and less of a memeable trend.
Viv nailed the branding, but her meme was too much “me me.”
Raja presents “The R.A.J.A.” to RuPaul’s “Glamazon”
I think Raja aced this assignment. She is phenomenally comfortable directly addressing the camera after eight years of Fashion Photo RuView. She effortlessly brings her easy-going brand to the video, the dance is literally themed on her own name, and it is an actual dance! If this video had any problem, it’s that it lacked a kicker. Raja makes it seem like the “A for Awakening” will turn into a punchline in the final edit, but it turns out to be just a pose.
Raja could easily have five stars at this point. The other queens are lucky Ru is keeping things relatively even.
Yvie Oddly presents “The Odd Bod” to RuPaul’s “Lick It Lollipop”
Yvie misses the mark on her dance challenge and it’s a bummer. She gets caught up in making the script comedic and finding synergy with the RuPaul song, but in the process she loses the through-line of being a bendable weirdo who gives people confidence. The irony is that her simple dance feels super memeable to me, even with six steps. It looks like something you could easily do to a Billie Eilish song.
We were promised Gumby, but what we got wasn’t very flexible.
Jinkx Monsoon presents “The Monsoon Munchie” to RuPaul’s “Peanut Butter”
Jinkx goes down the comedy route, but makes sure to go for broad laughs while also keeping her actual dance routine incredibly memeable. Somehow she goes from camp counselor to TV spokesperson to MILF to cooking show host in a matter of seconds. It’s all completely seamless. And, the punchline of cramming the sandwich into her mouth over the “peanut butter” chorus of Ru’s song is a moment of pure virality. People would absolutely try this if they discovered it out in the wild, because it’s not about dance, it’s about conspicuous consumption.
(It might do even better if it masqueraded as an actual dance with all the MILF stuff stripped out. Imagine if you though the peanut butter was just for illustration and then she actually ate the sandwich. That’s internet gold.)
Jinkx took something that could’ve been crunchy and made it extremely smooth.
Monét X Change presents “Monét Monét Monét” to RuPaul’s “Freaky Money”
Monét takes Ru’s direction and runs with it, making her video all about getting paid. She gets some funny lines into her brief preamble – I was especially a fan of “or you’re a drag queen, a stripper, a midwife… whatever your job is.” There’s no doubt that she’s one of the queens who is the best at directly addressing a camera. She brings a certain amount of joy and humor no matter what she’s talking about. However, when it comes to her dance… is it just me, or did she add a lot of extra steps that she didn’t explain? This feels like Shea’s video but without the obvious joke of her dance being unlearnable.
Monét’s dance was all about getting paid, but she didn’t actually show me “The Monét.”
Trinity The Tuck presents “The Tuck It Up Dance Challenge” to RuPauls “The Realness”
Trinity’s video is laugh out loud funny from the first punchline of “that’s called branding” to the final “I live!” She succeeds in taking Ru’s reductive suggestion of making her dance all about tucking, but then turns it back into an actual dance! Trinity’s online content tends to be images rather than personality-based videos, but she has clearly evolved when it comes to being able to present direct-to-camera on her own. Yet, I don’t know if it is the strongest of the dances, because it was so focused on comedy – as was Viv’s.
Who knew a tuck this tight could also be so versatile?
Judging, Lip Sync For Your Legacy, & The Platinum Plunger
The judges view each video just before giving their critiques.
Michelle thought Shea’s video was fun and loved how she gave Debbie Allen. She says she could see herself learning the dance, but that’s coming from a successful Dancing With the Stars contestant. Ben Platt loves the humility and warmth beneath Shea’s cool exterior, which is an insightful comment about why Shea can play off such blithe, haughty humor (and fashion) so successfully. Carson loved the 1920s-30s glamour, the marabou(!) dressing jacket, and – especially – the make-up. And, everyone loved the ass of the dress (or, should we say, the lack thereof).
Michelle thought Jaida’s dance was funny and loved that it incorporated “Look Over There,” thought she doesn’t mention wanting to learn the dance. Carson felt it was on-brand and loved her “nutmeg spice kind of color story” in the video. Ben thought it was “so satisfying” that all of Jaida’s quick change looks hit the floor.
RuPaul predictably loved the weight of Viv’s branding message but Michelle rightfully calls out that she would “literally never learn your dance.” That’s the toughest critique of the whole season! Ben Platt got (and loved) Viv’s obvious Into The Woods illusion, so he doesn’t have anything negative to say about the runway.
Carson calls Raja’s dance “the New Age Macarena” and loves how on-brand it was. Michelle loved all of the color and detail of her vivid runway and Ben calls it “controlled chaos” and “a feast.” Ru gives her runway look a special note.
Ben thinks Yvie connects with the angsty teens that comprise much of his Dear Evan Hansen fanbase. Carson loved Yvie’s bandage dress middle reveal and Michelle loves the strategic stoning on her jumpsuit. She emphasizes that Yvie has brought make-up looks we’ve never seen from her before, which is absolutely true! Her face has been stunning all season.
Michelle says everything Jinkx did was funnier than what came before. Carson rightfully points out that Jinkx was gorgeous in her video in her Versace onesie jumpsuit and glittering jacket and calls her package a “tour de farce.” Ben was an art history major in college (before he was a drop out), and he was rapt with anticipation of what each of Jinkx’s outfits would be.
Michelle could see Monét’s dance “totally being a thing,” which puzzled me since she never taught her dance. However, Ben rightfully zeroes in on the fact that the dance has built-in viral potential since it’s tied to pay-day. Michelle loves Monét’s socially conscious runway and calls it “powerful, important, relevant, and we should never stop saying it.”
All of the judges and the queens are cracking up at Trinity’s video when we cut back to the runway. Ben Platt nails it with his comments: “Obviously I’ve watched you for a long time, and this tuck motif is so specific and so you, and you worry if it’s that every time that it will get repetitive, but you keep finding executions within it that make it feel new every time.” Michelle loves the construction of Trinity’s burlesque runway and wonders if the breast flowers can be removed.
Trinity: “I mean, they can. Ben?”
Michelle: “We live!”
Trinity: “And that’s branding!”
In private deliberations, Michelle goes hard for Jinkx’s video, Carson loved it “as a cool mom myself,” and Ben calls it “the best SNL audition video I’ve ever seen.” From Ben’s lips to Lorne Michaels’ ears! Jinkx would be divine on SNL. He points out it was ALSO a memeable viral dance and ALSO a character study, which was “unbelievable.” Ru says, “the kid is brilliant,” and Michelle showers her runway with genuine praise.
So there’s one winner!
Michelle also pitches for Yvie’s video, but it’s soft praise. She says “she made it fun,” which at this point might as well be a negative critique. Ben and Carson give similarly non-committal praise of her video, but Carson appreciated her runway. Runway says the “idea” of it was amazing. Again, read between the lines – these are negative critiques.
Both Michelle and Carson are in favor of Shea’s video – it was “danceable” and “on-brand, fun, funny, and gorgeous to look at.” Plus, everyone loved her runway.
Finally, Carson stumps hard for Monét. He calls it concise, and Michelle is obsessed with the dance (that she never actually taught us how to do). Carson and Michelle praise her statement-making runway, but Ben rightfully points out that it wasn’t just about the statement – each look on its own was distinct and aesthetically strong. Ru ads an extended tag onto this, saying that Monét found her rhythm and looks like a huge star.
Surprisingly, no comments for Raja, who I was sure would get a notice over the less memorable performance from Yvie! Alas, Jinkx gets the expected win along with Monét, who has story momentum on her side.
And, it turns out we are in for a very unusual lip sync. For the first time in Drag Race history, the queens are lip syncing to an entirely spoken word performance! It’s the famous “the night the lights went out in Georgia” monologue from Designing Women – which might sound obscure to you, but to drag queens – and especially pageant queens – it is well known.
(In fact, rumor has it that Monét has performed it before. Also, in general, NYC queens are no strangers to spoken word in lip syncs.)
A spoken word lip sync between Jinkx and Monét sounds like it might be the most even match-up in the cast, but it’s anything but. Monét devours Jinkx.
I think the divide between them is that Jinkx takes on the lip sync as if it is an acting challenge, and gives what would be a naturalistic acting performance if these were her lines. By contrast, Monét takes it on as a performance in a bar that needs to be filled with over-exaggerated movement that will hold people’s attention and shut them up while there is no music pumping.
Monét rightfully snags the win, adding her first $10,000 tip to her second Legendary Legend star.
Then, things get strategic.
Monét really ought to block a 2-star queen who might win in the following week to prevent someone from getting ahead of her. That means it’s pointless to block Jaida or Shea. She also has reason to shy away from someone who might give her a retaliatory block since she still needs one more star. I think she has a reason to fear blocking Viv, who has been near the top many weeks in a row, and she won’t block her allied twinner Trinity.
Effectively, she’s really only deciding between Yvie and Raja – and Raja is the unblocked queen who is actually curious to get a hold of the plunger. Monét delivers the block, which I think was the best choice she could make other than Viv.
Next week: it’s a roast!
The rankings solidified this week, with Jinkx cementing at least a tie-break into the finale alongside Jaida and Monét beginning to claw her way back into contention.
Right now there are four more stars on the line and our star distribution is 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1.
With two more episodes left, that means there are a limited number of final possibilities! Here’s the brief summary of that:
- Jinkx and Jaida will both definitely make the finale unless:
- one of them wins one star and three other non-Shea unique queens win (then the other of J/J has to tie-break)
- one queen sweeps the next two weeks and two other non-J/J-or-Shea unique queens win one each (then both of J/J have to tie-break)
- four non-J/J-or-Shea unique queens win (then both of J/J have to tie-break)
- Shea sweeps the next two weeks plus two non-J/J queens one one each (then both of J/J have to tie-break)
- Shea will definitely make the finale if:
- Shea and another non-J/J queen both sweep the next two weeks
- Shea sweeps both weeks and one of J/J gets at least one more win
Every other outcome either shuts out Shea or involves a tie-break for the final spot. I’ve listed them all at the very bottom of the post (it’s a long list).
As predicted, next week is a comedy challenge – a roast! That means Monét will be a heavy favorite to pick up a third star, but it leaves things wide open for several other queens. And, it seems to suggest we really might close things out with a talent show!
How does that leave our Power Rankings, with just one more ranking left before we know who is headed to our finale lip sync tournament?
#1 Jaida Essence Hall, 3 Stars from 2 Wins (+1 Bonus), 1 Block (was #2, 2, 2, 6, 6, 5, 6, 5, & Pre-Season 6)
Projected finish: Wins 0 of the remaining 2 challenges for 3 total stars.
Why do I have Jaida ranked higher than Jinkx when they’re tied and Jinkx just won a challenge – probably the one remaining challenge Jaida had a strong chance of winning?
Math, baby. It’s all math.
Jinkx and Jaida are guaranteed to at minimum get a tie-break into the finale. And, in many cases, they can both avoid a tie-break with no additional wins.
Then, the finale is a lip sync tournament. I think Jaida is a stronger lip syncer than Jinkx. Thus, she is my top ranked queen.
#2 Jinkx Monsoon – 3 Stars from 4 Wins, 2 Blocks (was #1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, & Pre-Season 1)
Projected finish: Wins 0-1 of the remaining 2 challenges for 3-4 total stars.
Jinkx did what needed to be done this week! That means she either makes the finale or, in a series of fringe cases, will at minimum get to tie-break into the finale. There’s no point in blocking her anymore.
Not only that, but next week is a roast challenge. Roasts are one of Jinkx’s strongest challenge types. There’s a major chance she picks up another win, which breaks her out of the tie-break zone and guarantees her a spot in the finale. And, if she doesn’t win, she’s still a contender for a win in the final week – especially if it’s a talent show.
Could Jinkx win both of the remaining challenges? It’s a possibility on talent alone, but it won’t create enough reality show drama so I doubt they’ll let it happen. The only queen who would give good story by picking up two in a row is Shea.
That gives us a strong chance of Jinkx making the finale lip sync tournament. The real question we need to ask is: Can she win two lip syncs in a row to clinch the crown? That’s going to be her toughest hurdle of the entire season.
#3 Monét X Change, 2 Stars from 2 Wins, 1 Block (was #5, 4, 8, 3, 2, 4, 4, 3, & Pre-Season 4)
Projected finish: Wins 0-1 of the remaining 2 challenges for 2-3 total stars.
I said last week that Monét was narratively overdue for a win – and I was right! Monét snagged one of her must-win weeks on this branding/dancing challenge, and she’s heading into the other of her most-powerful themes with a roast.
I think we are looking at a very strong chance Monét gets to three stars next week, which at minimum guarantees she’ll get to tie-break into the finale.
If she doesn’t win next week, there’s one more challenge remaining and Monét might be the fiercest of all these queens when it comes to playing hard when she’s backed into a corner.
Even if she doesn’t pick up another win, there are many outcomes where all of the 2-star queens will need to do some form of tie-break to make it into the finale. And, if Monét makes it to the finale, she is my odds-on pick to win a lip sync tournament. Yes, even over Jaida.
#4 The Vivienne, 2 Stars from 3 Wins, 1 Block (was #4, 7, 3, 5, 4, 6, 8, 8, & Pre-Season 7)
Projected finish: Wins 0-1 of the remaining 2 challenges for 2-3 total stars.
This is really simple for The Vivienne – she is funny and next week is a roast. She was just shy of snagging a win in the Draguation Speeches. She absolutely needs to displace either Jinkx or Monét from their likely wins to snag a third star.
Can she do it? Like Monét, I think Viv plays the hardest when her back is up against a wall. She is going to be out for blood next week. Will that make her roast funnier or more awkward?
It’s hard to say, but I don’t think she’s going to win the penultimate week if it’s a talent show. It’s a win next week for Viv, or else she has to hope that all the 2-star queens get into some form of tie-break for the final finale spot.
#5 Yvie Oddly, 2 Stars from 1 Wins (+1 bonus), 1 Block (was #6, 5, 5, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, & Pre-Season 8)
Projected finish: Wins 0-1 of the remaining 2 challenges for 2-3 total stars.
Do I think Yvie Oddly will win a roast?
Nope. She’s funny, but I don’t think she’s a laugh-out-loud stand-up comedian. She tends to be funnier when she’s making fun of herself.
However, there remains the mystery of the final week challenge. If it is a talent show, Yvie remains the wildest of wild cards. If she brings something unique, that could be her third star, and three is the magic number right now. That means next week is a dead spot for her.
#6 Trinity The Tuck, 2 Stars from 3 Wins, 1 Block (was #3, 3, 4, 4, 3, 1, 3, 4, & Pre-Season 3)
Projected finish: Wins 0 of the remaining 2 challenges for 2 total stars.
I thought that Trinity really might snag a branding challenge win this week, but the combination of it being a dance and of her dress having less dimension to its reveals compared to the other queens meant she didn’t snag it.
Trinity is historically awful at the roast format, so I sincerely doubt she can win next week.
If the finale is truly a talent show, I also have sincere doubts that Trinity can win a second talent show when her main talents tend to be garment making and tucking and we’ve already seen a lot of both from her this season.
I think that places Trinity firmly out of the finale unless there’s a tie-break into it between the 2-star queens. However, she does still have the X-Factor of her alliance with Monét, who is surging in power right now. That might give her a subtle leg up over the other queens, especially if Monét gets the ability to block again next week. Will it be enough to hopscotch past Viv and Yvie? She’s going to have to be the luckiest tuck in the world for that to be true.
#7 Shea Couleé – 1 Star from 1 Win, 1 Block (was #8, 6, 6, 2, 5, 3, 1, 1, # Pre-Season 2)
Projected finish: Wins 0-2 of the remaining 2 challenges, for 1-3 total stars.
Shea’s outlook got grimmer this week when she missed picking up a must-win branding/dance challenge.
Now, she almost definitely needs to sweep the final two weeks to make the finale. There are some fringe cases where she could win just one of them and still tie-break into the finale because there isn’t a clear top group, but a sweep works best for her.
Can she do it? Maybe.
Would it be good TV to have her chances of winning go down to the wire? Definitely.
#8 Raja 2 stars from 2 Wins, 1 Blocks (was #7, 8, 7, 8, 7, 8, 5, 7, & Pre-Season 5)
Projected finish: Wins 0 of the remaining 2 challenges, 2 total stars.
Raja had two bad strategic weeks in a row and as a result she won’t win $200,000.
First, she made a bone-headed block of Jaida last week. To be fair, Jaida did wind up heading into one of her best challenges this week, but there was little chance blocking Jaida would change Raja’s personal math. The right pick was Jinkx, and she blew it.
Second, Raja practically begged for a block this week. That was even more bone-headed, because there are only two challenges left and Raja wound up getting blocked for the one of her stronger themes – comedy!
That means to make the finale Raja either needs to win the mysterious penultimate episode, which could be a talent show, or win some form of tie-break.
I don’t think either will happen. Everyone’s favorite Auntie will have to settle for the reward of the renewed love from fans.
The Legendary Legend Star Math
- All finale spots locked.
- A pair of NOT Jinkx/Jaida queens sweep = [4, 4, 3, 3] 2, 2, 2, 1. OR if Shea [4, 3, 3, 3] 2, 2, 2, 2.
- Jinkx/Jaida wins one of the remaining stars + 3 other unique winners (including Shea) = [4, 3, 3, 3], 2, 2, 2, 2.
- 1 Sweep (not Shea), J/J win none, Shea wins one = [4, 3, 3, 3] 2, 2, 2, 2.
- 1 Sweep (not Shea), J/J win one, Shea wins none = [4, 4, 3, 3] 2, 2, 2, 1.
- Shea Sweeps + 1 J/J win + 1 Other = [4, 3, 3, 3] 2, 2, 2, 2
- Three finale spots locked + Tie-Break for the last spot
- Jinkx OR Jaida sweep + a single other queen sweeps = [5, 4, 3] 2, 2, 2, 2, 1 OR if Shea [5, 3, 3] 2, 2, 2, 2, 2.
- 1 of J/J sweeps, 1 wins once, 1 other queen: [5, 4, 3] 2, 2, 2, 2, 1
- 1 Sweep (not Shea), J/J win one, Shea wins one = [4, 4, 3] 2, 2, 2, 2, 2.
- 1 Sweep (not Shea), each of J/J wins one = [4, 4, 4] 2, 2, 2, 2, 1.
- Shea Sweeps + each of J/J wins one = [4, 4, 3] 2, 2, 2, 2, 2
- Two finale spots locked + Tie-Break for the other two
- Jinkx + Jaida sweep = [5, 5] 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1.
- 1 of J/J sweeps, the other wins once, Shea wins once: [5, 4], 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2.
- One finale spot locked + Tie-Break for the other three
- Jinkx/Jaida wins one of the remaining stars + 3 other unique winners (not Shea) = , 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1
- 1 Sweep (not Shea), J/J win none, Shea wins none =  3, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1.
- No finale spots locked – Tie-Break just to get into the finale
- A unique pair of NOT Jinkx/Jaida queens win each week = 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, 1 OR if Shea 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2.
- Shea Sweeps + 2 Unique Winners not NOT J/J = 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2.