RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars: flatter than a DiDa Ritz wig
All Stars 3 should have been the time to cement show’s stature but instead a hairline crack appeared on its once flawless facade
“RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” season three was rushed out with no good reason. It should have been the time to cement show’s stature but instead a hairline crack appeared on its once flawless facade
The overwhelming question arising from this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars is not which lipstick did Bebe Zahara-Benet pull the night BenDeLaCreme transformed herself into BenDeLaChrist? It’s not is Todrick Hall an actual human or a dazzling illusion? It’s not even will Shangela get the chance to become an extra in the finale of Game of Thrones? It’s the sad inquiry: can you have too much of a good thing? For all its trademark irreverence and insanity, there were parts of this series that felt flatter than one of DiDa Ritz wigs.
Let’s face it, the head-spinning genius of season two was a hard act to follow. From Alyssa’s iconic return that left Phi-Phi shook to Alaska’s PayPal-fixated Black Swan-style breakdown, Katya’s unforgettable Krisis Kontrol advert and Roxxxy Andrew’s infamous inclusion in the top four, every second surpassed anything Drag Race fans could have dreamt up. We were spoiled, feasting on a bountiful banquet of perfect quotes and meme-able content. There was no real need for season three to arrive at breakneck speed.
All Stars 3 should have been the time to cement show’s stature but instead a hairline crack appeared on its once flawless facade. With the absence of zingy mini-challenges, the focus on the sometimes-tired backstage bitching rather than the creativity or hilarity of the main challenges, the lacklustre musical numbers and the rush to get through the runway looks it barely left a lasting impression.
Yes, it may have featured BenDeLa’s extraordinary exit but even that apparently selfless act felt more irritating than interesting – the Glinda the Good Witch to Willam’s Wicked Witch departure.
Perhaps there is a fear that the kids and their mayfly attention spans will flit off elsewhere
Looks and performances that would have been sliced open and dissected on a normal season slid by the judging panel with barely a comment or the arch of a perfectly drawn brow. Without Shangela and Trixie’s talking head pieces adding light shade and their ingenious observations about their fellow queens, the show would have lacked the serious all-star power expected. The tricks and twists added with the eliminated queens returning to judge who would become the top two backfired, with Shangela the unstoppable workhorse being once again denied her moment in the spotlight as the whole competition dissolved into a disappointing personality contest.
No one can blame the bigwigs at World of Wonder or Mama-Ru for wanting to capitalise on the significant mainstream cultural moment that Drag Race is having but with newbies strutting into the workroom for season 10 just as Trixie Mattel skated off with the All Stars crown, the whole effect is decidedly manic like everyone has been spiked with Alyssa’s GoGo Juice. Perhaps there is a fear that the kids and their mayfly attention spans will flit off elsewhere but that is doubtful as there is no show that can currently match the towering talents that are on display on Drag Race, there is no show that fosters a real sense of community and engenders such hardcore dedication.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is a beautiful concoction that manages to be equal parts pathos and performance art. It is an entertainment show that opens up conversations about queer history, gender, sexuality and while this season was airing, created a remarkable exchange about trans women performers that saw RuPaul being schooled in these issues by various Drag Race alumni, proving that the show must evolve to survive.
Due to its cultural importance, its unparalleled success and unique place in the hearts of its rabid fans, the format should be allowed to have the time and the space to fix its mug and adjust its wig because we demand that Drag Race be sickening, it’s not enough for it to be cute, it must be drop dead gorgeous.