Welcome to my review, recap, and power rankings of the eighth episode of Drag Race Sverige Season 1 – the Drag Race Sweden Grand Finale!
Drag Race Sverige Season 1 was a unique season with many high points but several unavoidable lows – including a last-minute lack of nerve in the finale.
Let’s start with the highest of highs: Sverige crowned not only the most-deserving queen, but a queen with one of the most entertaining personalities in the history of Drag Race.
If this season was being viewed by as many fans as an American franchise, Admira Thunderpussy would’ve coined more memes than Alyssa Edward herself. She never wasted a single second of camera time, either on stage or in her confessionals.
The second high point of the season was host Robert Fux. Everything about Fux was entertaining and heartfelt, from his too-earnest rhyming video messages to his audacious runway package.
Fux had perhaps the best season of runways we’ve seen on a host since Mathu Andersen used to do RuPaul’s styling. Even then, Ru was never as avant garde as Fux.
The high point of Fux as a host was highlighted in this Sweden Grand Finale episode, which repurposed the standard “tic tac lunch” with the host into a full-on out-of-drag meeting with the judges panel in the workroom. Though brief, the segment felt surprisingly revealing and personal compared to the curated version of final out-of-drag interviews we get from Ru-hosted seasons.
The third high point of the season was the quality of the challenges. From an absurd opening mini-challenge photo-shot to a pair of slickly-produced songs to an acting challenge with an actual script, Sverige always gave its queens solid material to work with (which I’m sure was in no small part due to Fux himself and his experience as a playwright and producer).
The final high point is that the show never played it safe with bottom placements. If a queen was obviously the worst in the challenge or the runway, she was headed for a lip sync even if her narrative would suggest she was due a questionable safe placement.
That led to a number of shocking eliminations and improbable survivals. As much as we’ll likely always complain about Antonina Nutshell outlasting Imaa Queen and Santana Sexmachine, that same ruthless fairmindedness gave us Fontana in the Sweden Grand Finale, where she proved she really had been one of the top queens all season long.
However, the biggest low point could sometimes eclipse the many positives: it didn’t feel like most of this cast was ready for the global primetime the way we’ve seen from other new franchises like Belgique, France, and Philippines. There were several queens who simply weren’t at the level of polish and experience that Drag Race demands, not to mention one queen drag who seemed to be opposed the show’s entire concept.
In retrospect, it feels as though producers they weren’t even able to fill out a full cast of 10 from Sweden’s drag scene for their episode order, which is why they had nine queens that included a pair of “bedroom queens” and an early comeback challenge when none of the eliminated queens deserved to come back.
As a result, sometimes the lines felt blurred between the race being fixed for our winner versus her being the the only queens who arrived ready to compete at RuPaul’s Drag Race standards (even when she was handily beaten in the finale).
My takeaway from this season is that Sweden’s drag has a very different aesthetic than we’ve seen on any other country. Other than Admira Thunderpussy (and occasionally Fontana), none of them delivered looks that were anything like American drag race looks all season.
For Imaa, that meant repurposed recycled materials into signature couture unlike anything else we’ve ever seen from the show. For Santana that meant a blend of sex, camp, and a dash of danger. Elecktra delivered a small, surprisingly unglitzy version of “showgirl” that felt like it could’ve traveled in time from RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 2. Similarly, Vanity basically did bar drag in a way we haven’t seen on Drag Race for over a decade.
All of their aesthetics would have looked out of place on any other Drag Race franchise, but even with the wild differences between the four of them they all fit together in an odd way here on Sverige. I got the impression that Sweden’s drag has no pageant influence on it whatsoever, nor does it obsess over high fashion. That meant the queen didn’t automatically lean into wearing ballgowns, nor did they feel the need to stone every inch of their outfits.
That led to some looks that seemed deglammed compared to other franchises, but it also felt like a level playing field in a way that no Drag Race season has felt in a long time.
I started this season of Power Rankings at a significant deficit – there were no Meet The Queens interviews with this cast! Not even a promo video! All we had to go by were single photos and the queens’ social media presence. Yet, I still managed to predict 3 out of the top 4 queens correctly as well as the first two outs in my Pre-Season ranking, including our winner! (I also got all of the final three Sweden Grand Finale placements right in my final Power Ranking, last week.)
Keep reading for a quick retrospective on each queen of Sverige. Then, come back later this week for my recap of the second episode of Drag Race España Season 3! That will be our only franchise for another week while we await the kickoff of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 8 on May 12.
(Want to watch Drag Race Sverige outside of Sweden? For most of the world, it’s available as part with a Wow Presents Plus subscription as soon as the episode is done airing.)
Läsare, start your engines. Och må den bästa Drag Queen vinna!
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. Every drag artist in the world deserves endless essays dedicated to their talents and life stories. I’m commenting on drag artistry in how it fits the established expectations of this specific television program, but the reason I’m commenting at all is because I celebrate all drag.
Drag Race Sverige Season 1, Episode 8 – Sweden Grand Finale “Queen Delicious” runway
Before we take a final look at our queens from their “Queen Delicious” runway, let’s enjoy one final week of the magnificent Robert Fux stunting on all of the other Drag Race hosts with his impeccable fashion and styling.
9th Place: Almighty Aphroditey – 1 lip sync (was Pre-Season #9)
Almighty Aphroditey was a recently-graduated bedroom queen who has already figured out a gorgeous face, but doesn’t have the performance chops or suitcase to take her far on Drag Race. I clocked that from her lack of social media presence as well as her oddly-assembled promo look.
In my pre-season ranking, I said:
Almighty Aphroditey might be slightly underdressed for the occasional of her global media debut on Drag Race Sverige. … [she] has no social media presence. Does that mean she just doesn’t do drag all that often, or that she wiped everything clean in anticipation of the show to thwart snoopers like me?
I don’t things bode well with a queen with a promo look this odd and zero footprint on social media. Maybe that just means we’re in for a big surprise
While I know the show loves the occasional stunt of casting a total unknown, it didn’t feel fair to stack Aphroditey up against veterans like Elecktra and Admira. Even with a stronger runway package, she was cast to be fodder – and I prefer when everyone has a chance to be the next drag superstar.
8th Place: Endigo – 2 lip syncs (was #6, 7, Pre-Season #8)
(Facebook | Instagram | Spotify | TikTok | Twitter | YouTube)
Endigo fascinated me, and I can see how the show thought they might have a breakout star on their hands. Throughout all the franchises we’ve had many queens with a “rocker” aesthetic, but very few actual rockers – and certainly none who can shred as hard as Endigo.
Despite being a seasoned rock performer, when it came to drag Endigo was another bedroom queen. Also, from watching her YouTube videos I understand that her take on drag is closely paired with her exploration of her gender identity. That’s an outstanding way to explore, but it’s tough to complete on Drag Race when they are critiquing something that is tied so closely to figuring out how you want to portray your own gender presentation to the world when you are not on the runway.
I think I caught onto that in my pre-season comments (without fully realizing it):
The thing that immediately jumps out at me is that Endigo has a go-to drag face from which she rarely deviates. She sometimes renders it in different colors, but she has a consistent look. Further, I’d go so far as to say it’s very “optimized” for social media – it’s all about making the bottom two-thirds of her face feminine from a front-facing angle while the top of her face is covered with bangs.
This is another queen who I think will be incredibly charming, but I wonder about her ability to quickly adapt. Being a rock star might help her crush a challenge or two, but there will also be a design challenges and the need to transform her face for acting challenges and Snatch Game. Is she ready for all that?
I was right on with that assessment! To be fair, Endigo had the largest social media presence for me to base my prediction on.
I think Endigo has a star power that extends far beyond whether her runway walk is awkward or not. I think Drag Race is just one component of her ongoing social media influencer stardom – she’s never going to be just a Drag Race queen.
7th Place: Imaa Queen – 1 win, 1 lip sync (was #1, 2, 1, Pre-Season #5)
(Website | Facebook | Instagram (+Drag House Instagram)| Spotify | TikTok | YouTube)
Imaa Queen is a visual visionary who was the most ready of this entire cast for the fashion side of this race, but she was in the lower half of the pack when it came to her confidence as a performer. That lead to one of the most-shocking exits in Drag Race herstory, when Imaa was discarded in favor of a returning queen who bombed out of her first week back in the competition.
There’s something to the way Imaa Queen digests and reconstitutes raw materials into her signature drag looks that make her seem as much a creature as a queen. Her outfits look less like they were constructed and more like they were formed as an exoskeleton of an exquisite insect. I picked up on this in my pre-season comments, though I was more worried about her personality than her performance chops:
Imaa reminds me of Raja in her addiction to maximalism, but to pull that sort of opulence off on Drag Race you need a lot of focus and budget (and also to know when to get stoned and just let things be, if Raja is any indication). To then make it fun on top of that takes even more effort. I think of a queen like Yuri Guaii on Drag Race Down Under Season 2, who did manage to translate her aesthetic onto the show, but couldn’t figure out how to make her personality as loud as her fashion.
I was worried that Imaa wouldn’t be able to execute the kinds of looks she brings to her social media on the show. If anything, I’d say she exceeded those looks. She’s truly unlike any other fashionista we’ve ever seen grace the Drag Race runway.
Upon reflection, there was a certain feeling to Imaa Queen’s “Snatch Game” dismissal that she felt she could take it easy on that one challenge and her track record and looks would carry her through. I definitely felt that Robert Fux was responding to that with her bottom placement as well as with her elimination. Another franchise might have saved her based on her frontrunner track record, or even kept her out of the lip sync entirely. However, Sweden plays things fair to a fault, which made Imaa a shocking ouster.
I’m curious to see where Imaa Queen’s career goes from here. Will the Drag Race experience lead her to lean in harder to being a performer and TV personality? Or, will the validation of the show see her lean out of performing and further into fashion, which is obviously her true calling? Either way, she is a powerhouse who deserve her moment to shine on this international platform (and maybe some more moments than she received).
6th Place Santana Sexmachine – 1 lip sync (was #3, 5, 3, 2, Pre-Season #3)
(Instagram | SoundCloud | TikTok | Twitter | YouTube)
Santana Sexmachine was a burst of unbridled chaos in the form of raw talent and never-ending legs.
That made her compelling to watch, but she didn’t give the sense of certainty of a consummate pro like Elecktra, or the nerves-of-steel we saw from Fontana late in the season. In a way, I got from her what I was expecting from Drag Couenne on Belgique, in that Santana never felt like she refined her drag for the show. While she delivered some show-stopping moments and deservedly received top placements for them, she lacked a sense of a throughline in her drag.
In the pre-season, I said:
Santana has a distinct club kid bent to a lot of her looks. I was expecting some sassy, vampy drag based on her promo, but she also has some very unusual looks that are outside of the typical Drag Race box.
Where I’m not so convinced about Santana is the dynamics of her as a performer and her on-camera charisma. She knows how to hold a stage, but can she win a lip sync? And, is her personality going to pop on TV, or is she a bit more laid back?
Santana turned out to be one of the best narrators of the season in the confessionals, where she looked like an errant Swedish member of Green Day. But, she seemed to have a surprising amount of trouble channeling that level of steeliness onto the runway. That led her to be another victim of Fux & Sweden’s dedication to fair play after she struggled through a multi-reveal runway and subsequent lip sync. Even on American Drag Race, it would be hard to excuse those results – though, I still question if she belonged in the bottom two that week in the first place.
Santana Sexmachine strikes me as one of the queens on this cast who will show up on a versus The World edition of the show in the next few years. I think her fiery, unpredictable take on drag is exactly the sort of talent the global franchises are scouting to be beamed up to the Drag Race mothership for even-wider exposure.
5th Place: Antonina Nutshell – 3 lip syncs (was #5, 6, N/A, Elim, 8, Pre-Season #7)
(Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Twitter | YouTube)
Antonina Nutshell is one of the most kind-hearted queens in recent Drag Race memory. She is also perhaps the queen who was least-prepared for the Drag Race runway in the entire 15-year history of the show.
Credit where it’s due: I clocked that in the pre-season, though I couched it in a kind way:
[W]hat I don’t see across her looks is a consistent aesthetic. It’s a lot of gig-ready outfits that look great, but not much in the way of a visual brand. Nor is there much high-end couture. With a strong cadre of fashion-focused queens this season, I fear Antonina might get boxed out of finale contention because she can’t keep up on the runway. On the other hand, she also might be the versatile queen who proves to be the most-adaptable to all of Drag Races many performance challenges.
I remain puzzled by Antonina and her placement on this season. We know from stories from queens like Kelly Mantle that Drag Race producers tend to look through each queen’s wardrobe prior to the start of the show. That lets them figure out who will be strong contenders on the runway, and it might even influence the order of the runways (or which themes are discarded or shifted to mini-challenges).
If Drag Race Sverige did that homework, they knew Antonina didn’t stand a chance in this competition. That’s what makes their choice to bring her back even more puzzling. Had that comeback challenge been saved for one more episode, it could’ve brought Imaa Queen back to the show – which would’ve been a much more exciting twist! Instead, Antonina returned for three more unremarkable challenge performances and unsophisticated runways.
I feel like producers really did Antonina wrong by bringing her back in a way that was bound to frustrate viewers. Maybe that makes for good reality TV producing, but it’s not great for the reputation of a drag queen who makes her money from bookings. I wish we got to see Antonina more in her element, which we might’ve gotten from an acting or comedy performance. Tragically, the acting challenge was one of the few she missed all season!
4th Place: Elecktra – 1 win, 3 lip syncs (was #4, 3, 1, 4, 1, 4, Pre-Season #6)
(Website | Facebook | Instagram | Links | TikTok | YouTube)
Elecktra started the season with a mini-challenge win and a massive amount of confidence. She never let up on the confidence, but some of her showgirl fashions slightly let her down against the higher level of polish from Admira (and, to a lesser extent, Fontana).
As delighted as I was to see Elecktra’s deep run on the show, I wasn’t surprised by her downfall – it was entirely in line with my pre-season predictions:
I wonder how this beauty drag is going to hold up on the Drag Race runway. In particular, Elecktra’s lips seem so small compared to the current trends in drag. And, if we’re being honest, she has enough face real estate to go bigger on her brows.
The most-obvious thing about Elecktra’s socials is that she doesn’t share much of her drag. … I suppose after over 17 years as a drag queen you don’t feel the need to post every look or document every show. Yet, this gives me Lova Ladiva vibes from Drag Race France – lovely and experienced, but not ready to adapt quickly to what the show has to throw at her.
I thought the show would come for the smallness of Elecktra’s makeup, but instead the judges often had a dispute with the smallness of her drag. Elecktra relied on a very specific mode of performance-ready stage-wear, and she never really managed to deliver a shock in the silhouette department. Ultimately, that meant she got boxed out of a finale she richly deserved to compete in.
Even if Elecktra failed to shock and awe in the fashion department, off of the runway she proved to be one of the most-impressive all-arounders we’ve seen in the past year of the franchise. She smashed the Talent Show by delivering high camp, delivered a Snatch Game whose humor broke the language barrier, and turned out memorable lip syncs that didn’t rely on a single trick. Through it all, she was the ultimate professional. I felt completely safe as a viewer every time she took the stage.
If Drag Race Sverige manages to last long enough to merit an All Stars season, Elecktra feels like the obvious first winner.
3rd Place: Vanity Vain – 1 win, 2 lip syncs (was #3, 1, 2, 4, 2, 7, 6 Pre-Season #2)
(Instagram | TikTok | Twitter | YouTube)
Vanity Vain couldn’t have a better drag name. She is self-obsessed even beyond what is required from a professional drag queen.
That level of delusion can be a major boon on the show if you have the talent to back it up, and Vanity came with one major talent: she is one of the most naturally gifted singers we’ve heard on the show. Both times Vanity was coaxed to sing, it was against her wishes. In the Girl Groups challenge she had to be convinced not to do a character voice, and in this finale she preferred to sing her song an octave lower until the coaches coaxed a stunning vocal out of her.
That “diamond in the rough” quality makes for an interesting contrast with Vanity’s other most-memorable moment of the season: her petulant Talent Show performance. Vanity insisted that “drag is a talent” – a peculiar protest to make on a new franchise of the show that is proving exactly that point all around the world.
Was Vanity truly unaware that she has a to-die-for singing voice that could’ve crushed all of the other queens if wielded live? Or, is it that she sees her drag as an armor over all of the personal, doubtful parts of her – including her beautiful voice? I didn’t expect that from the queen who I had this to say about in the pre-season:
What struck me the most across Vanity Vain’s socials is that she’s had a breadth of drag experience. She has made looks overnight. She has learned exact choreography from a video. She has performed on massive stages. These are the kinds of experiences that can help you survive the most-turbulent moments of the Drag Race machine.
I always say, “you’re only as good as your worst rehearsal,” and it seems like Vanity has had a lot of time to rehearse.
Even if I didn’t get what I was expecting from Vanity, I wasn’t wrong about her either. She had the drive and tenacity to push through to the finale despite a few bumps along the way. Yet, I was expecting slightly more put-together, bedazzled fashions from her based on her every-thread-perfect promo look. She showed off that eye for detail in her design challenge win, but Vanity never had the pageant edge of Admira or the American-by-way-of-Brazil razzle-dazzle of Fontana.
How did Vanity wind up in third place when she delivered another stunning vocal in this Sweden Grand Finale Rumix song? Ultimately, her placement was meaningless without a final Lip Sync For the Crown between the top two. Yet, I also saw her final shortfall as a delayed reaction to her Talent Show temper tantrum. I didn’t get the sense that Robert Fux was ever going to reward her with a shot at the crown after that, even if he enjoyed her performances along the way.
I hope that Vanity Vain’s drag gets bigger and more confident in the wake of her run on the show. And, most of all, I hope she embraces and integrates her talents from outside of drag into her immense talent for drag. She was one of my favorite queens in this cast based on her promo look and social media alone, and even if I was turned off by her sour week in the scope of the show it did nothing to lessen my excitement for her as a performer and personality.
Runner-Up: Fontana – 1 win, 1 lip sync (was #2, 3, 4, 5, 3, 5, 5, Pre-Season #4)
(Instagram | Spotify | TikTok | Twitter | YouTube)
Fontana showed one of the most incredible progressions of nerve we’ve seen on Drag Race. She went from an uncertain competitor afraid to get cutthroat in the second episode to a performer with nerves of steel who came a hair’s breadth away from the crown in this final episode.
Along the way, she never lost her complete awe for competing on the show, which made Fontana absolutely lovable. She had charisma, uniqueness, and talent in spades, which is why showing off her nerve in the final three episodes was such a critical step.
I was obsessed with Fontana’s range as a performer and drag queen in the pre-season, though I also sensed that it would be the thing that kept her from the crown:
She is a beauty influencer slash pop-star who knows her way around a make-up palette and who has put some out actual music to match her Ariana Grande fantasies.
I think that’s an an interesting combination for Drag Race. Often these particular ambitions are very separate for queens on the show. The beauty influencers don’t tend to be avid performers. The queens who describe themselves as “drag pop stars” often have never actually released their own music, they just like to look like pop stars. And, the queens who do release their own music often seem to have a sound that says more about their producers than themselves.
However, I question if a beauty influencer pop star will be the winner of a first season of a new Drag Race franchise. I feel like first seasons tend to pursue queens who are emblematic of their national drag, and Fontana might be too much of her own thing to be the winner.
I didn’t account for Fontana’s journey-of-nerve in that prediction, nor could I anticipate the judge’s weird hostility to her Eurovision performance. Yet, otherwise I think I was completely on the mark. Fontana was a full-package queen in a similar mold to Luxx Noir London, just without Luxx’s unshakeable self-confidence.
Much like Luxx, Fontana also was the queen in the cast who was clearly the biggest fan of the show. That not only made for plenty of hilarious soundbites, but it meant that her runway package was the one that often had the most-familiar sense of pageant-derived glitziness to it.
I ended the season beaming with pride over Fontana’s journey and Sweden Grand Finale placement after she absolutely slayed the Rumix challenge. When we ask for good underdog stories on Drag Race, this is what we deserve: queens who undergo a natural evolution thanks to the show, and judges who are happy to recognize that without doing too much prodding.
I am so excited to see what Fontana does with a global spotlight. I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of her, especially since she speaks English fluently. She’ll pop up on another franchise in the next few years, or possibly on Queen of the Universe – where I think she’d have an honest shot of taking home the crown.
Winner: Admira Thunderpussy – 3 wins (was #1, 2, 1, 2, 6, 4, 3, Pre-Season #1)
(Website | Facebook (Personal / Page) | Instagram | TikTok | YouTube)
Admira Thunderpussy is Sweden’s next Drag Race Superstar!
Honestly, I don’t think any other outcome was ever in the cards. Admira was slow to warm up to the early challenges, but she was also lucky to burn off her few unspectacular fashions early in the season. Just as the field thinned she began her dominance both in challenges and on the runway, which lead to a undeniable win.
However, more than any one challenge performance or runway, the think that made Admira stick out on this season is that she is a character. Admira is gifted with a dry, intelligent wit and a knack for churning out a non-stop stream of meme-able one-liners. I paused so many times to cackle out loud at her confessionals. It was like watching commentary from the poise and goofiness of Miss Fame, the comedy of Katya, and the utter bitchiness of Violet Chachki all rolled into a single queen.
(Those are all Season 7 queens, kids. If you don’t know Miss Fame and Violet, it’s time to do your homework.)
Here’s what I had to say about her in the pre-season without seeing a single second of footage:
I get “experienced showgirl” with a vein of goofiness from Admira Thunderpussy’s social media. She has so many amazing fashions already in her closet that I fully expect her to crush the runway. She’s more of a strutter than a dancer, but she also has comedy chops on display in spoken word lip syncs.
She strikes me as the drag veteran who makes it to the finals… and, on the European franchises that’s often the queen who wins (see Holland and España!).
At points it did feel like the fix was in for Admira, especially before she really ignited in Snatch Game. Admira could have won entirely on her own merits, even if the show gave Admira a slight boost by keeping her out of lip syncs, knocking out Imaa Queen, and withholding a final acting win from Fontana. Even in this final song challenge, she still stood and delivered an unfussy, indisputably solid single-take vocal after Vanity and Fontana pissed all over the stage with their electric takes.
In the end, that was Admira’s great gift in this competition: she was unflappable. It was increasingly obvious with every week that she only saw herself as being in competition with herself.
That wasn’t just drag delusion. Admira was on a totally different level than the other queens in this cast. I hope she enjoys decades of well-deserved stardom both within Sweden and around the world after her masterful performance this season.
Leave a Reply