Tuesday, May 20, 2014

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 6 Reunion/Finale: And the winner is…

Posted By on Tue, May 20, 2014 at 12:57 AM

The good news: the right queen won!

The bad news: was it just me, or was basically every part of that reunion totally predictable?

It’s times like this where I sincerely feel for RuPaul and the “Drag Race” folks. They gave the fans basically everything they could want in that reunion episode. They crowned the right winner. We got to see all of our beloved queens. Several fan favorites got their “moments.” The Pit Crew came out dressed in tuxedo briefs and there were some dancers doing some extremely gay choreography (shout out to the ode to Ornacia, which was everything). And yet, I still found it somewhat unsatisfying.

I think it comes down to the format, which results in the whole thing feeling scripted. Almost every queen came off very pageant-ish in her answers, which is to say, as rehearsed and crowd-pleasing as possible. And that’s just not very exciting to watch. When you look back at the reunions for seasons 1 through 3, before the format changed to prevent spoilers from ruining the whole season, the reunited queens were quite candid, and there were some truly shocking moments (the RuPaul/Tammie Brown slapdown from S1 remains legendary).

I understand why the production company made the change. And the “live” (but not really) format allows the fans to have a say in who wins, and gives them a sense of participating in the proceedings. But there has to be a way to harness that energy and yet still encourage the queens to be themselves. Maybe everyone needs to get REALLY drunk ahead of time. I don’t know.

Anyway, all the Season 6 queens were back on the stage, and each one got a moment in the spotlight. I’ll go through each one, and provide my thoughts.

Kelly Mantle: Looked great, and was totally cool with going out first. She acknowledged that she went from preseason frontrunner to first boot, but it’s pretty clear that she doesn’t give a shit. She got what she wanted out of this: national exposure. She said her early ouster was the fault of not knowing how to sew, but six seasons in, that excuse really doesn’t cut it anymore. The split premiere may have screwed her over, but come ON, queens. I don’t care how famous you are before going on this show. Know how to sew a goddamned seam. (That said, I still like Kelly.)

Magnesium Cronut -- excuse me, Magnolia Crawford -- or possibly Engarde, that swordfish from the Donkey Kong Country games -- may have been booed by the crowd when she came out in her sensible “Golden Girls” ensemble. That seems a bit harsh. Along with Laganja, Mags was the butt of the joke this season, and I think she’s actually a lot more engaging than the show made her out to be. The YouTube video she made revealing the “truth” about her elimination was pretty funny. Anyway, at the reunion she made a terrible joke about her nose. She claimed that she didn’t watch the season, which I am…dubious about. Ru didn’t let her get away with it. Macaroni Catfish will never win.

Vivacious: Ornacia continues to be her big contribution to “Drag Race.” I bet Vivacious gets sick of talking about it, but seriously: Ornacia for Season 7. Let’s make it happen. Just strap that bitch to a skateboard and send her down the runway. Vi looked predictably ridiculous in a gold and red confection, and taught the children how to pound a runway. I like Vivacious, and bet she would be fun to see live.

April Carrion: Was absolutely robbed going home so soon, and I loved watching the looks she would have worn throughout the season, which she put out on social media. I wasn’t overly thrilled with the look tonight, which was certainly avant-garde, but it sacrificed beauty in the interest of, well, interest. At least it was eye catching and memorable. April said that she wasn’t disappointed going home so early, because she was never meant to win this season -- she was meant to win “All Stars 2.” Throw down that sequin-covered gauntlet, honey!

Gia Gunn: Say what you want about Gia, but that dragon lady dress she wore tonight was impressive. Gia predictably tried to play off her bitchy attitude on the show as “just keeping it real” and...snore. Nobody’s buying. Gia wants viewers to know that she’s a “humble, nice Asian girl.” In addition to Deloreans and black-and-white movies, I’m not sure Gia knows what the word “humble” means.

Milk: Milk gave us glamour at the reunion, which I appreciated for its thumb-biting (“See, I CAN do this”), but still missed seeing something truly cracked out coming out of her. (Nobody this year even came close to Detox’s noir look from last year, or Sharon’s Ouija board glamour, etc.). Milk talked about how she got all kinds of attention for how hot he is out of drag. True that, but is that all that Ru had to talk about with one of the most subversive queens to ever appear on this show? She wore facial hair in the first episode, for Divine’s sake.

LaganjaEstranja: Laganja was giving us Gary Oldman in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” Realness, and was as fucking annoying as ever. It’s interesting to note that she was sincere and not irritating when talking about her drag mother, Alyssa Edwards. She just needs…so many seats, you guys. Laganja talked about how after the show, she put out a song, launched a jewelry line, and is involved in several other business enterprises. I don’t begrudge the queen success, but…really? Who is buying that? If she put out a line of pot-laced frozen lasagna entries, she could have all of my money, though.

Trinity K. Bonet: Trinity looked gorgeous; possibly the best dressed of all the S6 queens, with only Ben and Courtney giving her a run for her wig. During her interview with Ru, Trinity attributed her transformation on the show in part to Bianca, which was sweet to hear. She also spoke vaguely about being a role model for her community, and I felt that Trinity was selling herself short here. She came out of her shell so much throughout that season, and what I saw tonight was a bit of a backslide for her. Trinity: you are great. Please continue to be great! You don’t need to second guess yourself about anything.

Joslyn Fox: Joslyn became universally beloved thanks to her sweet personality and goofy sense of humor. I’m still a little baffled by how popular Joslyn became, because when you look at her performance across the season, she never once won a challenge, and only placed high a few times. But she is likable, no doubt about that. Joslyn said that she responded to the judges’ critiques by wearing even more accessories. I was chagrined that she didn’t show up wearing eight of her finest high-fashion bikinis. Later in the show, her VERY CUTE fiancée came up and asked Joslyn to marry him then and now. And ordained minister RuPaul did just that. The Scruff Pit Crew were the wedding party. It was sweet (and, again, kind of predictable).

Ben DeLaCreme: DeLa looked absolutely fantastic in a pink and gold giraffe-print outfit, and Ru immediately brought up the insane online reaction to Ben’s fifth-place dismissal. DeLa handled it all like a champ. A be-stilted Ivy Winters announced that Ben was this year’s Miss Congeniality (the prize: a $2500 gift card to Overstock.com -- am I wrong, or is that prize way lower than last year?). There was some controversy over this, since Joslyn was easily the frontrunner for Congeniality, until DeLa was eliminated…right before voting cut off. Conspiracy theorists have suggested that the show always wanted DeLa to win Congeniality, as a make-good for not making Final 3, and to better ensure her spot on “All Stars 2.” If DeLa wants on "AS2" i don't think she'd have any problems securing a spot, regardless of whether she won Congeniality.

Darienne Lake: Darienne looked really good, and Ru immediately discussed the “rivalry” between Ben and Darienne, which always seemed largely manufactured by the editors from my perspective. Ben and Darienne were totally sweet with one another and there were clearly no hard feelings there -- if there ever were at all. Ru showed footage of Darienne’s mother and father being supportive of Darienne, and more or less extending an olive branch to reconcile. I have no idea what the situation is between Darienne and her parents, but even though that was tres manipulative on the part of the show, I hope they work it out. I also hope the internet calms down on Darienne, because the negative comments have been out of control. The amount of vitriol, over basically nothing…people have problems. That’s all I’m saying.

Adore Delano: Adore looked polished at the reunion, but I found both of her outfits a little boring. Ru showed footage of a de-dragged Adore and Laganja watching the infamous “I Feel Very Attacked” episode of “Untucked,” and that entire sequence was even more awkward than the original fight. It was gross and exactly the kind of thing I DON’T want from this show. The upshot: Adore and Laganja are apparently friends again. Yay? Later, Adore said that Ru and the show made her feel like a more fully developed character, and I can completely believe that. Adore even admitted that she figured she would be going home by Episode 3. Early on, I thought that, too. It wasn’t until the musical episode that she showed us anything worth noticing, and even after that it was quite touch and go. Adore has an album coming out, and I’m so intrigued to see what she does as a pop star. She’s got tons of potential and serious natural ability. She just needs to get a few more years under her corset.

Bianca Del Rio: Bianca looked good -- loved the flower in the hair -- although I wish she’d given us a more eye-catching dress. She read Season 4 contestant Jiggly Caliente at a reader’s request, but honestly, it’s hard to find an easier target than Jiggly. Bianca discussed the nice-guy edit vs. her insult-comic persona. She did a hilarious bit talking about Lady Bunny’s encouragement to do the show. Bianca’s little friend Lola was in the audience, and she had a little poem for RuPaul. I wonder who wrote that.

Courtney Act: Courtney looked terrific tonight, and her second ensemble was giving me serious Jem and the Holograms glamour. I ate it up. Unfortunately, the hologram comparison was apt, because it seemed like Courtney wasn’t even really there for the vast majority of the show. I swear I don’t think she said a word prior to 11:17 p.m., within 15 minutes of the ending. Courtney talked about the fact that people had high expectations of her coming in, which added pressure to the competition. I bet that’s true. She also discussed how her blunt Australian sensibility maybe didn’t translate well on camera. (I think the editors helped with that.) Apparently Chaz Bono and Courtney have become good friends since the show, which is amusing given how Chaz lusted after Courtney as a guest judge. But hey, I am all for Courtney taking whatever boost she can get from this show, because I think she was treated fairly poorly by it for the last third of the season. She gave us some sickening looks, solid performances, and never once attacked anyone, and yet she’s still perceived as a “villain” by some. It makes absolutely no sense.

Once we got to the actual crowning, Season 5 winner Jinkx Monsoon came out looking great in Emerald City couture. In addition to the $100,000 prize, the winner of Season 6 received a crown and scepter presented by Fierce Drag Jewels. Can someone please compile a list of all the amazing businesses out there to dress drag queens? I am endlessly entertained by them.

And finally, Ru announced the winner: BIANCA DEL RIO! As it should be. They had taped four different endings, one each for Adore, Bianca, and Courtney, and a TIE between Bianca and Adore. And if that had happened, I would have been furious. Because I like all three of those queens very much, but you cannot argue that anyone had as strong a performance as Bianca. She has the best overall performance in “Drag Race” history. A tie would have been utter bullshit.

The funny thing is, Season 6 was stocked with strong queens. I argued before it even started that it could be anyone’s competition, and I think that’s true, given how far seemingly middle-tier queens like Joslyn and Trinity went, while shoulda-been-contenders like Kelly and Laganja went out fairly early. And yet, from the second she sashayed into that work room, Bianca Del Rio never missed a trick. She did well or amazing in every challenge, was funny and engaging, and navigated the social and fan aspects better than possibly any other queen before her. So was it a tight race? If you look at Bianca’s popularity on social media, especially going into the finale, not really. I don’t know if that’s a testament to the singular strength of Bianca Del Rio, or a condemnation of the show not fully showcasing such an amazing crop of talent. But there you have it.

So, that’s it for Season 6. Overall I would definitely consider it among the best seasons of the show thus far. What do you think? I was hoping for an “All Stars 2” announcement during the finale, and surprised we didn’t get it. A bunch of the queens (Porkchop, April, Willam, Milk, etc.) have been discussing it openly on social media. I imagine they have to be shooting it this summer/fall. It’s not Logo has anything else going on! Seriously, who is running that channel? Why are you not even attempting to launch any other programming now that the ONLY original series people watch is going off the air for seven months? Baffling...

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