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. This week, we’re recovering from “Trump: The Rusical” and sorting our favourite orange ladies into their proper spots.
12. Mercedes Iman Diamond — ELIMINATED (last week: 10)
I’m glad Mercedes was able to own her own narrative by her time’s end. She deserved better than that strange scene with the other girls about her being Muslim in last week’s episode. Sadly, when it came to the competition, she lost her momentum. She looked basic on the runway (though I did love her mug), and was clearly the worst in the challenge. An all-too-fair elimination.
11. Ra’Jah Davenport O’Hara (last week: 12)
Her lip sync this week was better than in the six-way, but she still landed in the bottom after a shoddy Omarosa performance. Moreover, Ra’Jah seems to actively be making enemies out of the production crew; choreographer Yanis Marshall spent most of his time in rehearsal reading her for misrepresenting her dance experience. And the editors’ choices for her confessionals make her sound deluded. Though it may be that she is deluded? Like, how thick is it to complain that RuPaul brings up the Team Mariah mess from the last episode? Y’all fucked up hard! She’s got a right to clock you for it again the next week!
I think it’s possible, maybe even probable, that Ra’Jah sticks around for a while; the editors seem to like painting her as a villain, and with Ariel endearing herself more, the show needs one of those. But I can’t see any path to the end for Ra’Jah at this point.
10. Shuga Cain (last week: 7)
Shuga, honey, I understand you hit some bad luck this week. You brought a Trump look for the orange runway, and they attached the orange runway to the Trump Rusical challenge. That’s gotta sting. But you know what you do when that happens? You grab some of that orange fabric from the fabric wall and you make a new look. Monique Heart made a look an episode for most of Season 10. Granted, they weren’t great, but I blame her taste and construction skills for that, plus burnout for having to make so many.
You, on the other hand, needed to step it up this week. You were the de facto another member of the bottom two last week, what with being saved last in the six-way lip-sync. You have to get it together. The performance and runway this week were just not good enough. I want the world for you, Shuga! Make me proud!
9. Plastique Tiara (last week: 11)
Melania was an improvement from demonic Mariah stan, but not a huge one. Something that really puzzles me about Plastique’s treatment this season: she’s basically invisible in the edit, in a way that radically contrasts with her massive fan support. Seriously, she’s got more followers than some major alumni, and she’s been on four episodes. At this point, I’m ready to say she’s destined to be one of the queens who’s better at drag than she is at Drag Race.
8. A’keria Chanel Davenport (last week: 8)
I’ll be blunt, I originally had A’keria down at 10 this week. What keeps her afloat for me is that she gets tons of confessionals every episode, despite rarely factoring into the storyline. Her performance in the challenge was mediocre, but I did love her Nicki Minaj–esque orange runway. Unpopular opinion, but at this point, I wouldn’t be shocked if she gets eliminated before Ra’Jah in the battle of the Davenports.
7. Scarlet Envy (last week: 9)
Her Betsy DeVos was kind of a one-note character, but she did as well as she could with it. Scarlet is up this high because Ru gave her special commendation for casting the Rusical well. I still think she’s gone in the next week or two. But major props to her for owning the other queens’ responsibility in not making Mercedes feel comfortable.
6. Ariel Versace (last week: 6)
I still can’t bring myself to root for Ariel, but I’m impressed by her work ethic. I also think she’s coming across as far gentler and more genuine than I expected her to be. Good on her for figuring her shit out and conquering the tough choreography this week.
5. Vanessa Vanjie Mateo (last week: 1)
So Vanjie hit the bottom three for a solid, if somewhat static, performance, while Scarlet, Shuga and A’keria all got off scot-free? . . . Uh-huh. I smell a stunt here. Vanessa was robbed of a win last week (though, again, I get why Nina won), and now she’s getting dubious bottom 3 placements. Were I gazing into my crystal ball, I’d say this portends poorly for Miss Vanjie.
The one critique I agreed with was Michelle’s note about Vanjie’s runways, which are indeed too similar. Were I advising her during filming — which, I wouldn’t be allowed, but let’s pretend — I’d tell her to wear something radically different next week. She needs to stop this weird up-and-down narrative before it gets rolling.
In better news, she did get the very apt comparison to Alyssa Edwards from RuPaul this week, though that becomes less flattering when you remember the best Alyssa has done on this show is fifth place.
4. Nina West (last week: 2)
Every small bit of Nina we got in the Rachel Maddow mini-challenge was superb, which is why I think we were only shown small bits of her. Notice that she basically only delivered transitional text, but was still great at getting down the Maddow-isms. It wasn’t in the cards for Nina to win the mini this week, so she was all but edited out of the challenge. Nina was also terrific in the main challenge as Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and turned out a killer orange Hello, Dolly! look on the runway. I worry about her win prospects if the judges are already ignoring such stellar work, but I think she’s still got a lot of fight left in her.
3. Silky Nutmeg Ganache (last week: 5)
Frankly, I thought Silky was overpraised in the challenge. Her Oprah was good — top three-worthy, even — but she beat out two far better performances. Her runway was her best so far, but hardly at the calibre of the other top queens. This felt like a coronation win; an acknowledgment that Silky is a star, and is going to go very far in this competition, so she needs a win. But another queen deserved the kudos far more.
2. Brooke Lynn Hytes (last week: 4)
Brooke Lynn is the Chad Michaels of this season. She’s Alaska circa All Stars 2. She’s Shangela circa All Stars 3. She’s both Trinity Taylor and Trinity the Tuck. She is so damn professional, that even when she hits the bottom, she’s not even close to a real threat to go home. And this week, she was very much at the top. She’s a narrator and a strong character without getting involved in drama. She’s striking on the runway and presents different silhouettes every time. She is technically in a class beyond these other girls.
The thing about technicians on Drag Race, though, is that they can be somewhat boring to watch. But they almost always make it to the end! Luckily, we’re getting a lot more from Brooke Lynn than your average technical queen, but I do wonder if it’ll be enough to sustain our attention all the way to the finale (assuming she gets there).
1. Yvie Oddly (last week: 3)
Robbed. Robbed, robbed, robbed. Like, “fuck this” level of robbed.
Yvie did far more with her Kellyanne Conway character than Silky did with Oprah, and presented a weird-and-wonderful runway that sticks in the same vein thematically as her past looks, but in a totally new silhouette. She is the most skillful queen of the season — and by that I mean her skills fall into all kinds of different areas. She’s a designer, she’s a model, she’s a comedian and she’s a good reality TV personality. The way she so effortlessly brought up her medical backstory in an organic fashion on the runway, instead of in a forced way at the makeup mirrors! I’m in awe.
There’s no doubt in my mind Yvie deserved the win this week, and for my money, she’s the one to beat at this point. Brooke Lynn may be the technician, but Yvie’s a goddamn artist.