The RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 Grand Finale comes at a strange period in Drag Race fandom. The explosive/exploitative reunion (depending on who you ask) started some truly tough discussions. Racism within the community. The commodification of drag. Sit down and shut up vs. fight for your rights. Lights are shining in murky corners. No one is safe, not even the Mother of Drag. Is RuPaul™ out of touch with the common queen? Has he chosen the mighty dollar over rebellion? Instead of answers we get a finale filmed before the reunion aired but edited after. We get four strong queens who have clawed their way to the top, waiting for their final moment of greatness. We get one last chance to marvel at the genius of drag on mainstream TV before we’re back to summer reruns. I’m ready to enjoy it.
RuPaul starts the finale with a nod to Drag Race herstory. The Season 1 cast (minus Tammie Brown), dripping in gold, teach the children to respect their elders. Porkchop, BeBe Zahara Benet, Nina Flowers, Rebecca Glasscock, Shannel, Ongina, Jade, Akashia, to a man, finally get their HD moment. Sally Jesse Raphael narrates the official Drag Race documentary, weaving the past into the present. Season 1 queens pair off with their Season 10 counterparts to lip-sync a variety of RuPaul’s greatest hits (Akashia and The Vixen are the Beyonce/Blue Ivy combo we deserve). Even Valentina makes an appearance (via Skype) to crown this season’s Miss Congeniality. RuPaul proves that herstory is meant to be broken when he ignores the fan votes and gives the deciding power to the queens. A visibly shocked Monét X Change is the first true Miss Congeniality of RuPaul’s Drag Race but I’m going to miss old trope.
Not surprisingly, RuPaul’s house is full of self portraits. Oprah (OPRAH!) sends a video that makes RuPaul sound almost as delicious as bread. Dame Judi Dench and her daughter (sorry Flinty, but I’m sure you’re used to it by now) show off their Drag Race knowledge. Mama Ru gets her final sit-and-sob with the top 4. And a very sympathetic edit reminds us RuPaul has died for our drag sins.
I am Jasmine Masters and I have something to say. Sasha Velour has fucked up drag. Her rose petal reveal to So Emotional was exciting, dramatic, something we’d never seen before. It clinched the win and instantly became required choreo in every drag performance. Case in point: the entire top 4 wrapped in different but equally appalling versions of coverup. I’m hard pressed to imagine a reveal that justifies wearing any of them. Each queen has a different relationship with their reveal. When Aquaria removes her tin foil tulip, I’m relieved to see it’s just keeping her performance look hidden. She relies on her lip-sync skills and eschews props. Kameron Michaels’ reveal is her stunning body-ody-ody. She looks great but that’s not enough anymore.
Eureka O’Hara has the only successful reveal of the night, turning the dollar store version of Asia O’Hara’s Tweety Bird into sequin fantasy. I just wish we didn’t see it coming four miles away. Asia, sadly, is the queen done in by her reveal. She worked for weeks on her lip-sync. Every detail was carefully planned. She knows that when she walks onto that stage and releases live butterflies from her breastplate, the drag world will lose it’s everloving mind. Well, that’s the plan. Reality is a literal butterfly massacre. Asia is so busy trying to make the reveal work, she forgets to perform. Sometime that’s all it takes. Asia O’Hara, sashay away.
Season 10 is the Year of the Save. The first lip-sync, between Asia and Kameron, has a clear winner. After that, things get tricky. The Eureka/Aquaria face-off creates a real dilemma. The woke-twink and big-bodied-big-mouth finale was planned weeks ago. Sets have been built, scripts have been written. It’d be a shame to waste all that work just because of an arbitrary rule. No problem. Save! For the first time in Drag Race herstory, three queens lip-sync for the crown. I can snark as much as I want but good drag gives me chills. And these three are good with a capital G. Ultimately, Kameron’s sharp moves and Eureka’s “the big one wins” corset are no match for Aquaria. Glitter flares announce the news: Aquaria is America’s Next Top Glamazon. Let her be the queen we need, not the queen we deserve.