Welcome to Drag Race Power Rankings! Every Friday, we’ll debrief the previous night’s new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11 to determine which queens are riding high, and which need she-mergency care. The makeover challenge sent home a fan favourite, leaving us with a fairly distinct final four — and one queen who stands out as a dead woman walking. But who really has the stuff to win the whole season?
6. Nina West (last week: 1) — ELIMINATED
This blows. I don’t have any more elegant words for it, to be frank. Nina maybe could’ve skated out of the bottom two, considering the other queens seemed much harsher on Yvie Oddly during the “who should go home tonight?” question. But her look for Shuga Cain was an abomination, and hers wasn’t that much better. Her lip sync performance to “No Scrubs” was a complete mismatch of performer and song. She was a dead woman walking going up against Silky, and she did nothing to help her case.
I love Nina, and I fully want nothing but the best for her (including a Miss Congeniality crown — sorry, Shuga). But this was not her time. See you on All Stars, girl.
5. Silky Nutmeg Ganache (last week: 3)
Obviously, I’d have preferred for Silky to go home. I think most fans would have. But what we’re seeing this season is a production that very obviously changed its mind about Silky between filming and broadcast. The judges love her; the edit hates her. At least she lip synced finally, although the fact that it was such a mess (A’keria comparing her to a walrus out of water was far too apt) doesn’t speak well for Silky. She spent weeks telling us she was ready to lip sync for her life if she needed to, and this is what we got?
I’d rate Silky’s chances at the Season 11 crown to be virtually zero. She clearly won’t win a lip sync in the finale, and the show seems over her. What I do think we’ll get is a Silky All Stars run. She’s just dramatic enough to thrive in that environment. In a way, I almost wish they’d just crown her, so we wouldn’t have to fear another whole season of Big Silk.
4. Yvie Oddly (last week: 4)
Yvie’s placement in fourth is less about her and more about how this week played out as a whole. The oddball Denver queen just never recovered from her trip to the bottom two. Her drag itself isn’t great, but the bigger issue is her confidence. Yvie was a firebrand during the first few weeks, and now she seems to shake when even the slightest confrontation comes up. Yes, she still yells, as she did in the workroom with Silky. But it took a lot to push her there, and she seemed uncomfortable the whole time. On the runway, when Silky said Yvie wasn’t nice, her face contorted like she was about to cry.
I like Yvie, so I’m bummed to see her spirits so down. But I cannot argue for her to win at this point. Her record, nor her general star quality, calls for being America’s Next Drag Superstar.
3. Vanessa Vanjie Mateo (last week: 7)
Were we five weeks back in the competition, I’d say Vanjie’s performance this week boded well for her narrative arc. As it stands, I think it was too little, too late — especially considering the judges didn’t hand her a well-deserved win. She seems destined to be fodder for Brooke Lynn Hytes’ last lip sync: the boyfriend who Brooke Lynn sends home on her journey to the win.
Which is an utter shame, because Vanjie completely delivered on her narrative arc this week. After weeks of Michelle Visage castigating her for her runways, she delivered not just one fantastic look on herself but turned Ariel Versace into her twin. My heart broke for her when her face fell upon not winning the challenge. She earned this one, but unfortunately, the show has moved past thinking of her as a viable member of the final four. What a shame.
2. A’keria Chanel Davenport (last week: 2)
At this point, I’d say A’keria is the only viable challenger to Brooke Lynn’s coronation run. She really turned it out this week, serving a great look on herself and making Honey Davenport look the best she did in her entire Drag Race run. A’keria was a solid second place for me in the challenge, just behind Vanjie and comfortably ahead of Brooke Lynn. (Of course, Ru didn’t agree with me there.)
Because she was paired with Honey, A’keria got to explain a bit of the history behind the Davenport name this week. That, I think, is actually her best argument for the win. From Sahara Davenport way back in Season 2, to Sahara’s husband Manila Luzon the next year, to Kennedy Davenport in Season 7, to the three Davenports of this season, this is a family that is ingrained in Drag Race herstory. A win for A’keria would be a win for the whole house.
Is that going to be enough? I’m not sure. A’keria’s lip-syncing skills leave a bit to be desired, to say the least, so I’m not sure how she’ll perform in a Lip Sync for the Crown tournament. But if she can turn something special out, she might just be a dark horse for the win.
1. Brooke Lynn Hytes (last week: 2)
I keep a running tally of every queen’s average in these power rankings across the season. Brooke Lynn’s average ranking is currently sitting at a 2.2. The next closest is Yvie, and she’s at a 3.5. (Comparatively, Silky’s at around 4, while both A’keria and Vanjie are at 5.) The Canadian queen has decimated this competition, walking into the final weeks with three wins and an unbelievable track record. Even her weakest moment, Snatch Game, turned into a triumph because of her runway presentation and lip sync.
All that said, I realize a Brooke Lynn win would mean a third white winner of the main series in a row, and the sixth white-presenting queen winner in six seasons (with only Monét X Change’s tie win breaking up the monotony). And I don’t think that can be discounted when considering who should win, especially considering she’s the last white queen left. But it’s hard to argue with her report card. You can quibble with her record (I don’t think she deserved the Monster Ball victory, for instance, and her win this week is absurd to me), but both production and the judges are clearly head-over-heels for her.
My preference, both on a personal level and when considering the optics, would be for an A’keria win. But I think it’s not just possible but probable that the show will decide Brooke Lynn’s record is simply undeniable come the finale.