Ranking RuPaul: No More Ms. Nice Queen!

We ended the regular season of RuPaul’s Drag Race with one of the cheeriest, kindest queens ever to grace the stage or workroom finally sashaying away. She even smiled on her way out. She had not for weeks shown much at all to show she should be America’s Next Superstar[TM], but it was still devastating. As a fan of this form, I’ll have to work through my own issues about the way many in the RDR world see kindness as weakness. It irks me every time when a queen is read for not throwing the others under the bus when the dreaded “who should go home?” question rears its stupid head. There should be a place for “Nice Queens” on this show, especially when there is a prize given each year for Miss Congeniality. Speaking of which, if they don’t give Olivia Lux at least that title, then the award has zero meaning.

This week’s maxi-challenge was an acting challenge. The Queens had to put together a parody of the 1990s flim Honey, I Shrunk The Kids–Rick Moranis would have been the best judge ever, but given what happened to him last year, we understand why he might want to never go out again. If we’re being 100, no one really had a bad day (and the judges should have been clearer about that). However, they had to name two people to lip sync–and they made it pretty clear in their summations that whatever happened on the last song, neither queen had a flicker of a chance to win the 100k. But someone was destined to stay and the other go home, and that latter contestant was…

Sashay’d Away: Olivia Lux (LW:5)

Before the season started, a fifth place finish would have seemed above and beyond expectations for the pretty piano bar devotee from the Philly side of Jersey who had only been doing drag for one year. However, after a torrid start where Olivia Lux just kept revealing hidden skill after hidden skill, it’s a bit of a disappointment to see her bow out before the finale. 

Excuse me for a sports metaphor, but years ago a British roomie got me into English League football. He clued me into the sad truth that even more than with most sports, there were a few moneyed teams and if you were not in that group you barely stood a chance. He gave Hull City F.C. as an example of a non-contender, so in the Fall of 2008 when they were atop the table early on, I was swept into the excitement. 17 games and zero wins later, they barely stayed in the Premier League, only b/c other teams lost. They had indeed been punching above their weight and as good as the early success looked, they never REALLY stood a chance.

Did Olivia ever truly have a chance to win–or was she like Hull, simply not ready for prime time. It’s hard to not feel that if Olivia had turned it out in Snatch Game, she could have kept her momentum. However, her luster dimmed long ago, and while to a degree, the judges were a bit unfair to judge her as doing the same character when they simultaneously heap praise on others for… doing the same character (cough: Gottmik). Furthermore, I’m not sure what the judges did not see in her performance in the mini-movie (heh, mini-movie) as she truly did transform at the end. However, it was a clever gambit that fell flat in the eyes of those who counted.

That said, our flags stand at half mast as we stan a queen who barely even registered on the passive-aggressive scale. On to the foregone conclusion of her being tagged Miss C next week and then, as I’ve been saying for weeks, she will surely return for an All-Stars down the road, and when that happened, if we’re still handicapping, she’ll enter as a heavy favorite.

4. Kandy Muse [100:1] (LW:4)

Last week, we suggested that Kandy Muse could still be alive if she went into the Final Four on a two-game winning streak. She very much did not–although I did not really see the flaws in her performance that the judges did. Her attempt at a pockets dress (the runway assignment), however, was just confused. 

In the workroom, Kandy Muse pushed for a role Symone wanted, which usually guarantees either a win or a lip sync, and in her case, it was the latter, against Olivia. Despite some online debate, Kandy crushed (sorry!)–and I’m saying that as someone who if they had a bias, it was going the other way. While I don’t play favorites… No, let’s be real, Olivia Lux was clearly my favorite: see the long-ass goodbye just above. Overall, though, I ain’t mad at Kandy for making it. She’s a star, and while she can be a mean girl, there’s clearly a gigantic heart and passion driving her, and she’s a worthy member of the Final Four.

She’s not going to win though, as that will be one of the following three…  

3. Gottmik [5:1] (LW:3)

Y’know, I love Gottmik, and she very much deserves to be in the Final Four of season 13, but if you’re going to call out Olivia for the sameness in her “Shrunk” character, how do you miss Gottmik repeating her Paris Hilton-esque screech. Also, her runway, while dope, had no pockets. Her outfit was pretty clever with its old-school salesman in a trenchcoat flashing watches with an undergarment of weaved together timepieces, but still…

She’s certainly still in the game, but I have a hard time seeing her get the crown over either of the remaining two, who are both lip sync assassins–one of whom has been fortunate enough to wait all season to avenge her original loss in the Pork Chop fiasco.

2. Rosé [3:1] (LW:2)

Very quietly, the New Yorker has built up one of the greatest RuPaul resumes of all time. She was two episodes away from being only the second queen–after Bianca del Rio–to never see the bottom, and as we mentioned above, it’s only because of a dumb gimmick that she even lip-synced at all this season. She’s an accomplished musician (in a successful girl group called Stephanie’s Child with my personal favorite season 12 contestant Jan), a skilled actor, confident AF, and has brought it to every ball on the runway. About the only thing left to say is why I don’t think she should be listed as the clear-cut favorite…

Symone [5:3] (LW:1)

As the last ’20s we saw were roaring, actress Clara Bow was known as “The It Girl.” She starred as Betty Lou in the 1927 film It and since then (and likely before), stars who have a certain indescribable element that puts those who see them under their thrall have been said to have “it.” Despite having two major missteps this season where she wound up having to lip-sync for her life, Symone has “it.”

You could see it (“it”?) from her swagger on her first runway as she strutted out in the sexiest boxing outfit you’ll ever see. The gear had a chance of being considered costume-y, but between her walk, her pose, and her style, Symone announced herself as the queen to beat. You could see it in her foxy fox in the episode that was essentially furries. Then there was this past week when she should have won (although admittedly she also repeated a role from earlier in the season). However, it was her runway interpretation of the pocket challenge where she made a giant jeans pocket and tucked herself inside it that made my week.

It’s the second time she showed how much of a winner she could be in a week when she did not win. The first time was her Snatch Game tour de force where she schooled any doubters while somehow winding up only safe when the awards were handed out. With most queens, if they clap back at Ru when she questions an unlikely SG choice, it’s cringeworthy as you know they are about to obliviously faceplant. However, when Symone blurted out the insane pick of Harriet Tubman, you just kind of knew she had something up her sleeve, and her performance was so out there wonderful that it might be that it was too smart for the stage, but it was reverent, absurd, and darkly funny. Symone went there and succeeded.

It was her runway that cemented her as the one to beat in my mind, and also, cynically, might be the reason she spent the critique in the Untuck Lounge as maybe Frackmaster Ru did not wish to talk about controversial topics. Her stately white dress was stunning on its own, but then she turned around to reveal two bullet holes in the back and “Say Their Names” written in blood. It was great fashion but also bold artistic protest–and I’m writing this through tears as we hope that for just this fucking once we can see some justice for the victims of police brutality at the end of the Derek Chauvin trial. When the dust clears tonight, Symone should be one step away from being the season 13 champion. She’s just something special.

Oh, also, Breonna Taylor, Philandro Castile, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Walter Scott, Mannie Ellis, Daniel Prude, George Floyd.. it’s a list too long to recite without going into tomorrow typing… it’s our American tragedy and we need to fix it! Here’s a comprehensive list. We really should read and confront it every day until we stop having to add people onto said list in the sadly all-too-distant future.

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