(Editor’s Note: VH1 and World of Wonder have disqualified Sherry Pie over serious catfishing allegations involving five men. A spokesperson for VH1 and World of Wonder said the season will air as planned “out of respect for the hard work of the other queens.” In keeping with this decision, we will omit Sherry Pie from this season’s rankings.)
Welcome to Drag Race Power Rankings! Every Sunday, we’ll debrief this week’s new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race to determine which queens are riding high, and which need she-mergency care. The ball challenge featured 36 looks, but only one queen could win! Did the right one walk out with $5,000? And did the right queen go home?
11. Rock M. Sakura (last week: 8) — ELIMINATED
I’m glad to know that Rock changing up her makeup wasn’t the reason for her elimination, because the judges were right: Her face genuinely looked gorgeous. I think the panel was too hard on the tetherball look, which was a gag, but was appropriately critical of her final eleganza look. On Project Runway, during unconventional materials challenges, the heaviest critique is often reserved for designers who just glue shit onto muslin, and that’s kind of what Rock did here. I don’t think it was worth the bottom two placement—we’ll get to who should’ve been there instead—but, I do think she lost the lip sync to Brita fair and square.
Rock is a delight, but she’s also extra to the nth degree, as seen both in her eleganza look and in her pulling out too many stunts in the lip sync. She was never going to be the right fit for a judges’ panel that can often be quite staid in their taste.
10. Brita (last week: 7)
Tick tock on this one. Brita is not living up to her reputation, and Aiden was right to call her out on that. She was the clear worst of the ball for me, delivering a realness look that was in no way real, a basketball wife look that was minor league at best, and a pineapple eleganza that read too corn for the judges. (Also, the idea of doing a pineapple look when Manila Luzon so thoroughly cornered the market on that in Season 3 strikes me as ill-advised.) The judges do like her personality, and she smartly didn’t overdo it on the lip sync, but I dunno. Her arc is reminiscent of Aja’s in Season 9: Her reputation is too big for her to overcome.
9. Aiden Zhane (last week: 9)
A friend of mine was catching up on Drag Race earlier this week, and posted on his Instagram story, “Who is Aiden Zhane for?” It’s a question that pretty quickly stuck with me, because I don’t get it either. She’s got spunk, for sure—I liked her performance in the Fosse challenge, and she clearly did a better job leading her team last week than Brita was willing to give her credit for. But her drag is just not at the level of the other queens this season. And it’s frustrating to see her get a pass for sloppy work because Ru sees some invisible X-factor the rest of us don’t. She should’ve been in the bottom two next to Brita this week, and Brita would’ve 100 percent sent her home.
8. Jan (last week: 6)
Okay, I hinted at this last week, but let me say it now with my chest: Jan’s style on the show makes no sense, and is clearly a collection of pieces she made/had commissioned for Drag Race because she knew she’d need fashionable looks. (Her statement that despite her usual bodysuit drag, “you’re gonna see some looks from me this season,” in the premiere lends credence to this theory.)
I don’t mind someone paying or putting in the work to suddenly level up their drag for this show—in fact, I think that’s smart. But compare what Jan is putting on the runway to, say, Miz Cracker in Season 10, another queen who said she paid for a lot of new drag right before coming on Drag Race. I learned more about Cracker as a queen through her looks. I’m just getting confused by Jan. It feels like she’s wearing someone else’s clothes. And considering her sports background, this was such a great week for her to reveal herself to us! A bummer.
7. Widow Von’Du (last week: 3)
I kinda forgot Widow was there this week, which is not a great spot to be in her third episode of the season. The looks she showed in the premiere were far more fashionable than what she showed her, and I thought her ball eleganza look was a misfire—too many ideas not gelling together. I’m not worried yet, this was just a low-key/off week for Widow, but she shouldn’t have too many of these.
6. Jackie Cox (last week: 4)
The less I’m vibing with Jan, the more I’m vibing with Jackie. Her brand is coming through more clearly for me, and I believe the Jackie she’s presenting on the show is more or less the Jackie she is in real life. Her looks weren’t my favourite this week, but I can see the cohesive thread between them. She strikes me as a thoughtful queen. I wish I connected better with her personality, but I’m willing to give her the time to show who she really is.
5. Heidi N. Closet (last week: 1)
Heidi’s realness look was actually real, and a damn cute take on a golfer to boot. Her basketball wife look was fun, if a little simple, and her eleganza look was surprisingly edgy for a down-home queen. I don’t think she should’ve been top three or anything, but I do think for a queen I’d never remember for her looks, Heidi managed this week quite well. She’s got some tricks up her sleeve, our Heidi.
4. Nicky Doll (last week: 11)
While I do think Nicky’s looks were polished, I also think they were fairly derivative. Her football look was reminiscent of Trinity the Tuck (then the Taylor)’s white runway in Season 9, and her eleganza was remarkably similar to Yvie Oddly’s farm-to-runway creation in Season 11. Only the basketball wife look stood out as something uniquely Nicky, and I will admit, it was very strong. She’d have fallen outside of my top three, but not far outside of it.
3. Crystal Methyd (last week: 10)
Crystal was absolutely robbed of a top three placement, and in truth, I’d have actually placed her above anyone else besides Jaida on my personal scorecard. She fixed her makeup in a way that was still uniquely Crystal, but not so overdone.
Her Paris Hilton–esque basketball wife look was funny, while her Carmen Miranda–inspired eleganza was my favourite of that category. And she actually managed realness with her bowling look, too! What’s particularly impressive is, even though these all came from different inspirations, they shared a colour story and a point of view. Crystal really thought about all three looks as one narrative. The more I write about her, the more I think Crystal actually should’ve won this week.
2. Gigi Goode (last week: 2)
Credit where it’s due: Gigi’s Heathers-inspired croquet look for the realness category was flawless (if a bit too fantasy for a realness category). Her basketball wife look was actually kind of ugly, rendered in a snakeskin that would be nice used minimally, but covers way too much of her body in reality. (Sleeves plus a popped collar plus a full skirt doesn’t work for me.) And while I got the Midsommar inspiration in the final look—although filming dates-wise, that inspiration doesn’t totally track?—I thought the balls on the look felt a little tacked-on. Where Gigi thrived was in the presentation: She knows how to work the hell out of a runway. I get why she won, but she’d have been a distant third for me.
1. Jaida Essence Hall (last week: 5)
While I do think Crystal would’ve been a deserving winner, I just keep thinking about how hard Jaida nailed the challenge this week. Her Lisa Leslie drag for the realness was impeccable, and her basketball wife look was easily the best in the category. I give Jaida massive props for adjusting her plan for the eleganza look when it was clear she didn’t have enough materials for a gown, too. She achieved a much more impressive shape, although it still wasn’t my favourite look of that category. Overall, this was a very strong week for Jaida and a sign that she’s good under pressure. That tells you she’s a queen who will go very far in this contest.