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RuPaul's Drag Race
4 min

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 11 power ranking: Sleight of hand

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. After the queens performed all sorts of magical acts on the main stage, the power rankings have performed a trick of their own: they’ve shuffled all over the place.

7. Vanessa Vanjie Mateo (last week: 7)

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You know what? I’m breaking a rule here. Ordinarily the eliminee automatically goes in the bottom slot, but I’m so frustrated with the show’s coddling of Vanjie, I’m going to make a point. There was absolutely no reason for her to face off against Shuga Cain in the lip sync to Mary J Blige’s “No More Drama” (which, full credit, she truly killed). She should’ve been up against Silky Ganache, which, thanks to Ru’s affection for Silky, would’ve likely sent Vanjie home.

Vanjie’s was easily the worst performance of the week. She’s been the worst for a few weeks in a row now. The judges have focused on her silhouettes on the runway when they should’ve been hitting harder on her tendency to hit the same notes in every performance — which they are finally noting. But because the show needs her for a climactic lip sync against Brooke Lynn Hytes, they used Shuga as sacrificial lamb. I don’t mean to blame Vanjie for production decisions; those aren’t her fault. Other than smashing the lip sync, though, she is truly not still in the competition based on her merit.

6. Shuga Cain (last week: 6) — ELIMINATED

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I feel dreadful for Shuga. Sure, she was the worst in her group, but she absolutely was not worse than Silky or Yvie Oddly. The Mighty Tucks were every bit as well-rehearsed, polished and funny as The Black Magic girls were messy, unfocused, and cringeworthy. The very fact that this challenge wasn’t judged in teams seemed designed to rob Shuga.

The truth is, Shuga likely wasn’t going to win this whole competition. But this wasn’t her week to go, and it sucks to see her used as a pawn in a greater scheme. The Shuga for Miss Congeniality campaign starts here.

5. Silky Nutmeg Ganache (last week: 3)

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Silky should be thanking her lucky stars that the show wanted to keep Vanjie in, because that’s the only reason she didn’t hit the bottom two this week. Silky’s performance all season has been overrated, which is as good a sign as any that she’s going to make the final four. The show, host and judges love her.

I will say, I don’t think she’s getting a winner’s edit, for many of the same reasons that I didn’t think Eureka was getting one last season. She’s being portrayed as a bit too brash and villainous for that. But she will 100 percent be back for an All Stars season, let me tell you that.

4. Yvie Oddly (last week: 5)

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Quick thinking on the runway by Yvie to throw her sisters under the bus, or else she might’ve gotten closer to that bottom two than she wanted to be. I know we’re supposed to tsk-tsk that kind of reality TV chicanery, but honestly, this was what Yvie needed to do to survive. She hasn’t bounced back from the double-shantay in the way Brooke Lynn has, so she could’ve easily found her way back into the lip sync without something crafty.

Unfortunately, that second win continues to elude Yvie. Right now, I’d bet our final four is Silky, Brooke Lynn, Nina West and A’keria C Davenport. Yvie could still bust that up, but I don’t think she’s doing it while sitting at just one win.

3. A’keria Chanel Davenport (last week: 1)

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A’keria was the best in a bad group, and managed to artfully talk her way through Ross Mathews’s heavy criticism of her caftan choice. What works well for A’keria is how damn charming she is, and she put that charm in the forefront this week. I think she’s a lock for the top four, more than anyone except for, well . . .

2. Brooke Lynn Hytes (last week: 2)

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Yep, that’s her. Honestly, I’m being silly putting Brooke Lynn anywhere but number one, but hey, I like to vary things up. BLH is the queen of the season. Period, exclamation point, whatever punctuation you want to put on it. Just don’t put a question mark, because there’s no question about it at this stage. She is set to walk into the top four with one of the strongest track records ever, a runway reveal and lip-sync performance that we’ll remember for years and week after week of glowing critiques.

The Lip Sync for the Crown finale format does allow space for frontrunners to fall — hello, Shea Coulée — but judging by her lip-syncing performances in the past, I doubt Brooke Lynn will stumble. At this point, I’d bet the crown is hers.

1. Nina West (last week: 4)

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I’m giving Nina the number-one slot this week not because I think she’s in the best position in the competition, but because her performance this week was such a home run that she deserves it. Seriously, you rarely see one queen smash a challenge so completely on Drag Race — I can think of just a few times off the top of my head that it’s been done before. (Violet Chachki’s spring/fall runway looks in the Season 7 premiere, Alexis Mateo’s USA PSA in Season 3, and Tatianna’s “The Same Parts” in All Stars 2 are the main ones that come to mind.)

Nina’s a blast in a glass, and I adore her. I would be rooting for her to win Miss Congeniality, except I want her to make it to the final four (which would thus make her ineligible for the fan favourite prize). Do I think she can win? I’m skeptical. But I’d love to see her try.