Well . . . that was fast. Was it good for you too? Yes, after only a month and a half, RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars has come to an end. In the season finale, the final four do an interview with Marc Malkin, get a burger named after them, and put together a five-minute comedy set. Let's take a look at the shit that worked and -- okay, seriously Chad Michaels, you get one more Hunger Games reference and that's it. No more.
After last week's non-elimination, the queens are robbed of their last chance to play Super Market Sweep with the departing queens' leftovers. The despair in the room is palpable; sure, the queens may be nattering on about how it's an individual's game now, but you can tell they're all eyeballing each others' stuff. Shannel, in particular, seems to be trying to telekinetically will Raven's wigs into her suitcase. But before she can Carrie the competition and swipe their gowns, Oooo girl! You got SheMail!
What's that? You were expecting another end-of-season music video shoot? Well, no. You're not getting one. I'm assuming Ru figured that the video for Glamazon kicked so much ass that she was better off giving it a year for the heat to die down before blessing us with another. Either that or she simply already released one for Responsitrannity and decided that two videos in one year would be pushing it. So in lieu of a music video, the queens are going to be doing three challenges for the price of one: first, they're doing a group interview with E!'s Marc Malkin, then they're making a personal appearance at Hamburger Mary's to promote a new burger named after them, and finally, they have to perform a five-minute standup routine at the Comedy Store. Oh, and they'll have to put together three drag looks in the back of a speeding van. The only way this could be any better is if they were pelted with tennis balls the entire time. ENCHANTING.
Separately, these individual challenges don't sound too difficult, but put them together and you have a hellish drag-queen gauntlet, and only one queen can come out the other end alive. Thankfully, the queens have a few allies in the wings to help them out: Saturday Night Live alumn Cheri Oteri is on hand to help the queens hammer out their comedy routines and avoid eating total shit at one of the most esteemed comedy clubs around, and Drag Racers Delta Work and Ongina are there to . . . chauffeur the top four queens around in vans. Dreams really do come true!
And so the queens are off, driving around Los Angeles for a chance at $100K and a place in the Drag Race Hall of Fame. While the focus may be on Chad, Shannel, Raven and Jujubee, Ongina and Delta, at least, get a chance to shine as the resident van drivers. Delta reminds the queens that she went home thanks to the comedy challenge in her season, and the sight of Ongina -- who's about five feet tall and weighs negative 12 pounds -- behind the wheel of a speeding death mobile packed with glittering gayness is hilarious in and of itself.
First up for the All-Stars is a group interview with Marc Malkin, the challenge herein being that they need to put themselves in the spotlight for long enough to leave an impression but not for so long that they become obnoxious bores. In that respect, Shannel and Jujubee fail at this challenge; although Juju is charming, likeable and naturally witty, she's too willing to cede attention to other queens, and she fails to really pop. Shannel, on the other hand, is Shannel. She talks and she talks and she talks about Shannel, Shannel, Shannel. I love Shannel's showgirl aesthetic, but the poor girl has a limited-at-best understanding of "enough," and her myopic, self-serving stream of consciousness only makes her seem big-headed. Raven and Chad, however, dazzle Marc Malkin with their eloquence and their understanding of when to pull focus and when to take a step back.
Thankfully, the Hamburger Mary's stop on the Tridragthalon offers a softball to the queens to regroup after the melee of the interview portion. The chain announces that they've created burgers for each of the queens, and the chance to hawk burgers and pledge their love for their fans gives them a focal point to hang their platforms upon. Jujubee manages to make up for the interview spectacularly, showcasing her natural ease in front of a crowd, and Chad once again hits it out of the park with a speech that's both heartfelt and funny.
The breather is brief at best, as the queens are quickly shuttled off to The Comedy Store to try their hand at standup. Juju is first up, and despite having to bite the bullet, does pretty well, if not spectacularly. Think of Margaret Cho trying out a solid new bit, and you'll be able to gauge Juju's success. Chad goes up second, and I have to say, she absolutely shines. Standup is about as glamorous as a cum shot, so when she fully embraces the medium, it manages to really humanize her. Chad is such a flawless queen that it makes sense that the only person who can read her is herself, and watching Chad go in on herself finally gives her the risk factor she needed to really become a well-rounded performer. Raven follows up, and despite having to follow a killer set, she does incredibly well for herself. She lacks Chad's self-effacing charm, but her stories of conjugal visits earn a lot of laughs. Shannel closes the show, and . . . yeah. Not great. Once again, Shannel fails to recognize when enough is enough, and between a messy costume and a confused set ("I'm a white man in a black woman's body!" says the white man who is, to the best of my knowledge, not in a black woman's body), she doesn't reach the same highs as the other queens.
And so we come to the end of the road and the final main-stage of the season. Out comes RuPaul in a gorgeous gold number -- although it seems she didn't paint her cleavage on -- with Michelle, Santino, Cheri Oteri and Beth Ditto on the judging panel. For the most part, the queens come out in costumes that represent who they are in the competition. Chad comes out a one-piece suit resembling Katniss's girl-on-fire outfit from The Hunger Games, minus the cape of fire (which she used in last week's Superhero challenge.) Jujubee wears a sky-blue gown, which is nice, but is made infinitely better by the virtue of Juju's charisma. Raven throws on some vintage undergarments and a chiffon robe that fucking kills me it's so gorgeous. And Shannel . . . well, I'm just going to let this speak for itself.
So yeah, that happened. Since this is the final episode, the judges don't really have anything bad to say about anyone. It's a big ol' love fest, but you know what? I don't care. They earned it, and I think everyone who's on that stage deserves to be there. Let everyone love everyone for the last few moments before we inevitably have to fill three quarters of them with resentment for the winner.
After much deliberation, Ru takes Juju and Shannel out of the running in favour of letting Raven and Chad duke it out for the crown. To their credit, Juju and Shannel take their dismissal gracefully and sit in the background as the top two lip-sync for their lives. Personally, I think Raven made for a much better lip-sync than Chad, but when you remember that Ru said she'd be taking the queens' overall performance into account, then you could see Chad's win coming from outer space.
And you know what? I'm totally happy with this. I think anyone could have won and I'd agree 100 percent with the outcome, but simply put, it's Chad. There's a reason everyone says she's perfect, and it's because she's goddamn perfection. In a competition that demanded charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent, she had all four. Congrats, Chad! Now, no more Hunger Games references. Unless they're from Catching Fire, in which case, go ahead.