The Queens’ Gambits: Ranking RuPaul

On a day we’re celebrating a legendary king’s return to Queens, where 33 years ago he searched for his own queen because he believed our country that literal, I thought I’d start up this weekly feature stanning a different kind of queen. We’re halfway through the lucky 13th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and it’s been spectacular, even overcoming an early cruel contrivance.

As a straight cis male fan of this show, of course, I have to pervert it a tad by bringing it into a sports motif. In fairness, I did the same thing with The Walking Dead years ago.And before I go on, I must proclaim/disclaim that I know I am no expert on this subject, but I have fallen in love with this show and just can’t keep these surprisingly strong opinions inside. So, without further ado, here’s the unofficial Thurston odds for the Rupaul’s Drag Race 13th Season Crown!

1. Olivia Lux [5:2] (LW:2)

While things can change in an instance on this fast-paced show, Jersey strong Olivia Lux has to be considered the clear favorite at this point of the season. Her peers underestimated her at the beginning of the season as while she was a veteran of piano bars, she was relatively new to drag. What they forgot is that the weekly decision as to who wins and who goes home often has less to do with the runway and more to do with the challenge; the drag is often just the cherry on top (sometimes too literally–we’re looking at you Tia Kofi).

Olivia’s versatility has served her well as she has won two challenges (acting and improv) and has yet to find herself in the bottom three. And what do you know, her outfits have been stunning. And she has proven to be a master of giving great face: excelling at both hair and make-up. With the opening day lip sync, she proved she’s even good at that, but hasn’t even come close to having to prove that again. She’d be the shoo-in for Miss Congeniality if there were any chance that she does not make the Final Four. How do you take someone like Olivia Lux down? What if you miss?

2. Symone [4:1] (LW:1)

Speaking of how swiftly favor can change on the RuPaul stage, after opening the season on three straight wins and never sniffing the bottom, Symone found herself in the strange position of having to lip sync for her life against underperforming Kandy Muse, thanks less to a subpar performance as Instagram in the Rusical than just a good week for everyone. And about that Rusical premise (social media), to call it a stretch would insult marathon runners and yoga pants.

However, her drop to second here is not merely Olivia’s surge, but there has been a certain amount of coasting by one of my favorite queens–not to mention that she was finally called out for a certain sameness to her design. To her credit, it suits her, but her long straps over bare torso has started to leave us wanting her to show another level of creativity. Here at Screen Scholars Central Drag Bookies, we suspect this will be a wake-up call and we will see something truly genre-defying on the runway this week from the versatile mainstay of the L.A. scene.

3. Rosé [7:1] (LW:7)

I usually try not to be too too influenced by a most recent win, but what a week it was for the New York veteran Rosé–and given the theater kid just grabbed glory in her field of expertise (and smashed it, slayed it, whateveryouwannahave it), this is the sort of victory that could boost the confidence of a very skilled queen to a run to the Final Four. And in that final episode, anything can happen, baby! (sorry, got carried away).

I’ll admit that before this episode, I didn’t really get Rosé, whatever that means. However, this performance, and one of the most dynamic runway performances–loved her peacocking out her frilled arms with all my heart–makes me excited to see how she builds off this performance.

4. Gottmik [8:1] (LW:3)

Gottmik did nothing wrong this week; in fact, in the Rusical she killed it on the keyboards, diving deep into the role of post punk rock Russian bot–complete with sexy grimaces. Her runway outfit was… fine. It’s just that we’ve seen this car wreck theme before and even the band Crash Test Dummies probably knew they’d wore out their welcome after the one hit (although their lit-referencing follow-up was easily a much better song). She has no clear weakness and is a fan favorite, so barring disaster, she’ll land in the Final Four and will always be a wild card.

5. Denali [10:1] (LW:6)

After a first two weeks that were the best of times (win, lip sync for life), Denali has quietly lurked in the safe zone for weeks. You could even say she’s skated by, but we won’t. However, all that pent up energy poured out in the right direction as she was an even better bot than Gottmik in the Rusical. Given that she wanted Rosé’s lead role, it was extra impressive. Itwas that rare time on this show where two girls battled over the same part and both nailed it. Overall, she’s got the grace, showed she was a decent singer in her face-off with Rosé (even if she never had a chance against Ms. Drama), and is a charismatic actor and improviser. We should not overlook her and–while we may regret this–can’t wait to see what she turns out in the Snatch Game.

6. Tina Burner [10:1] (LW:5)

The legendary queen was a pre-season favorite, and why wouldn’t she be. She’s revered. She had the best back story. She’s a comedy queen in a setting where comedy queens thrive. However, she only has been in the top once (in the disco round). And her outfits are… well, let me quote my partner: “she’s like a drag queen for toddler’s birthday parties.” Now we’re up at the Snatch Game, which should be her forte, but there have been many notorious funnygirl flops (you only have to look back to last week and the UK’s Lawrence Cheney for evidence of that).

7. Utica Queen [12:1] (LW:4)

For a few weeks there, the lanky and loveably awkward in the body Utica Queen looked like she had mastered the intersection of camp and fashion. The reveal that she’s a sewing wiz in addition to having solid acting chops and an affable manner that could cover anything, especially when she had trouble learning choreography, made me wonder if this amicable goofball might surprise us and go all the way. Unfortunately, while she hasn’t had to lip sync yet, two weeks in the bottom followed by a quiet safe seem to have sapped her energy. There’s still time for her to turn it around, but can’t help but feel the last drops in her hope canteen are drip, drip, dripping away…

8. Elliott With 2 T’s [20:1] (LW:9)

It’s a rare peek out of the basement for Elliott, and it’s hard to envision her making the Final Four, let alone winning it all, but that she’s managed to stick around this long after appearing to get voted off Pork Chop Island on day one is impressive. Also, I don’t know what the judges didn’t see in her Billie Eilish-esque take on Rusical’s Tik Tok; it was quirky and fun and should have been closer to the top than the bottom. My fervent and sincere hope is that she surprises us all in the great equalizer that is the Snatch Game.

9. Kandy Muse [20:1] (LW:8)

Kandy Muse has all the tools, yet she has yet to put it all together for one week and made it to the Snatch Game, getting the RuPaul post-lip sync loss reprieve three steps off the stage to spare. We’ll see how Kandy reacts to this near-elimination experience, but we have to keep her at the bottom of this list for now given that second chance recipients don’t have a great record of survival (again, we can look at this year’s UK and Joe Black for an example). Hopefully, her confidence renewed, she picks her SG target wisely and crushes it, because if she is still haunted… well, the SG eats the half-hearted queen alive.

Anyway, that’s our rankings. Now onto the most wonderful time of the RDG season: Snatch Game!

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