Jinkx Monsoon had her crowning moment on the seventh season finale of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” last week, beating out runner-up Monét X Change in the final head-to-head of the Lip Sync Lalaparuza Smackdown. The smackdown format has been a Grand Finale staple since it was first introduced in season 9 and reached epic proportions in season 14. While the smackdown itself was not new to the franchise in All Stars 7, many things about the season were brand new, and some of these ideas worked better better than others.
Below we take a closer look at how RuPaul Charles changed the game for AS7 and decide if they should return in a future season. Share your thoughts about these game-changing moments of the season in the comments below!
All Stars, All Winners
Bringing together former winners in one season was an undeniable success. It was evident in the way the queens competed in the challenges that their status as season champions already, and subsequent success outside of the show, gave them more confidence to take bigger risks. For example, in prior seasons Trinity the Tuck struggled to find her comedic voice, but this time around it was a stroke of her genius in multiple challenges. She no longer gets in her head about being “ugly,” and is able to not rely on beauty as much. On a group level, you could tell that their time working with one another in the real world had also built up a sense of familial community between them that was supportive and beautiful to watch as a viewer.
Verdict: We can’t wait for All Winners 2!
Legendary Legend Stars point system
It’s typically said on reality competition shows that the body of work throughout the season is a contributing factor in determining the ultimate winner, but never before has that come more to life than with Ru’s Legendary Legend Stars. The humor of having to say “legendary legend star” aside, a point system that literally quantifies how well a queen has performed along the way stood as a constant reminder to each of them about where they fall in the current rankings. Now, in the past there has been RuPeter Badges in “Drag Race UK” that marked challenge wins, but never before has the acquisition of them been necessary to qualify for a finale. Qualifying for the finale meant that skating by as “safe” was no longer an option and it required the queens to always strive to win every challenge.
Verdict: Bring back our stars.
Lack of eliminations
Wrapped up into the All Winners and Legendary Legend Star twists was the idea that there would not be per-episode eliminations. While we loved the other two twists whole-heartedly, the lack of eliminations is an addition that has both positive and negative impacts on watching the show. On one hand, knowing that you could falter in a challenge but not be under threat of elimination inspired the queens to take more risks and freed them of the weight of their journey coming to an end. We also know that the queens hire a ton of outside talent (like costume designers) and spend a ton of money in preparation for a season, so knowing that they’d all be around for the long haul gave space to all of the talented artists and individuals that contribute to a queen’s success.
On the other hand, without eliminations we didn’t get a bottom two and so when it came to the judges’ critiques the commentary was only ever positive. Even when some queens didn’t perform up to par — think about when Jaida Essence Hall completely bombed the comedy roast challenge — the judges were overly nice about it. Here we lost the honesty that the critiques are known for and the queens missed out on hearing the ways they could better meet the standards of the judges.
Verdict: On the fence. Let’s revisit, rethink and retool.
Platinum Plunger blocking
The All Stars seasons have had a bumpy road when it comes to injecting the game with strategy. In fact, the only time it really played out in aggressive fashion was in the eliminations of Jimbo and Pangina Heals in “UK vs. The World” and, if we’re being real, that wasn’t received very well by the fandom. Before AS7, queens could be shady in their lipstick elimination choices and with the opportunity to build alliances during group voting. This season the block forced the queens to be actively strategic, but it was clear by their choices in blocks that there was still a resistance to doing too much damage to another queen. Many times the queens acknowledged that they should block Jinkx, but mostly opted against doing it if she had already been recently blocked and/or if there were other queens who hadn’t been blocked yet. We think it’s time the show stop trying to force the queens to be more strategically competitive than they’re willing to be!
Verdict: Throw it down the drain!
Queen of She Already Done Had Herses
The last twist thrown into the competition this year was the revelation that the four bottom queens would also compete in a lip sync smackdown of their own. While this made total sense as-is for the All Winners season that lack eliminations, the regular season consolation prize of being voted Miss Congeniality has grown pretty stale. Instead, how fun would a season finale be if there were more lip sync battles than just among the finalists? There are ways of better integrating the non-finalist season favorites into the finale shows and this could be one of them. What if the two or four queens most voted as Miss Congeniality had to compete in a smackdown for that crown?
Verdict: More lip syncs!
Variety Show at the end
Normally the All Stars perform in the variety show at the start of the season, but this time it was the very last challenge before the finale. This did not work for two main reasons: 1) the result is way too personal and subjective, and 2) it was worth too many stars. The concept of acquiring Legendary Legend Stars — something we already said he loved — was completely undermined when Ru decided to make the final challenge worth three stars, an amount that meant literally anyone could have qualified for the finale based solely on just one challenge. That that qualifying challenge was something as subjective as a variety show where the judges could quite literally make a compelling argument for any of the talents to be good enough for a win fed too much into the conspiracy theory of the results being rigged. At the end of the day, we want the game to be fair to the queens competing and the results to align with what we see on screen as the viewers. We can’t say that was the case here.
Verdict: First challenge or not at all.
Do you think Jinkx was the right queen to be named Queen of All Queens? Sound off on that and other topics of the season in the comments below and with other fans in our reality TV forum. Also be sure to make your predictions to influence our reality TV racetrack odds.