‘Canada’s Drag Race’ Recap: Say Priyanka’s Name!
Just like its winner, 'Canada's Drag Race''s first season was a little unpolished at times, but has an undeniable charm. Long live the queen, and the spin-off!
While it seemed Rita had it in the Baga, Canada’s Drag Race‘s finale was all about Priyanka from start to finish — well, except for the lip-sync, where Scarlett cemented bookings for decades to come.
Even if she was first to enter the werkroom and immediately a stand-out, Priyanka is a bit of a surprising winner: Rita brings a regality befitting of Canada’s first-ever drag superstar, and most of the season seemed to point towards her crowning.
But Priyanka crushed this final episode, and was a much more exciting win — just like the Canadian spin-off, she’s was in need of a little editing at times, but has undeniable star quality.
Charming, ready to read herself, goofy, good-natured and down-to-earth: Priyanka’s pretty much the archetypical Canadian. Plus, just as Ru predicted in her ‘hit song’, she wore it well, as that scepter matched the colour scheme of her final look. Fucking hell, she looked STUNNING.
In her final pre-crowning speech, Priyanka said she always yells “what’s my name?” to remind the audience they’re watching an Indo-Guyanese-Canadian queen, her name a sign for anyone in the club that they’re about to see someone with West Indies heritage.
She’s now Drag Race‘s first Indo-Caribbean winner, and that representation is far more exciting and important than having the first Francophone winner — a line Rita repeated so much it almost seemed like she was calling French speakers an oppressed group.
Her pride in her culture is more than fair (and I’m sure the Quebecois have an awkward place in the Canadian psyche), but being the Francophone winner would have been a piece of trivia, rather than a watershed moment. It’s just not the same thing. Ironically, maybe it was the language barrier (and the editing) that made it seem like she was conflating the two.
With Priyanka, we’ve now had 5/7 POC winners in the last two years: her, Shea, Jaida, Yvie and Monet. It’s a clear message for the show’s racist fanbase, who recently trolled both JBC and Widow Von’Du off social media. They’re not true fans at all.
U Wear It Well!
For the final challenge, the top three have to write a 3,000-word paper on why fracking is good, actually, and then put on their best Greta Thunberg drag to dance their way through a climate crisis musical.
Just kidding! Got you! To a tee, they follow each year’s final werkroom episode formula: write and perform a new verse in Ru’s latest single, ‘U Wear It Well’. It’s actually from 2016, but it’s one of her better tracks — we should just be thankful it’s not an AJ & The Queen tie-in.
In a confessional, Scarlett Bobo says she’s amazed that Ru would “trust” them with one of her songs, which is absolutely something she was goaded into saying. Even so, I was surprised to hear Ru call the queens by their names in his video message: maybe she does care!
Of the three queens, Priyanka is set-up as the most comfortable in each segment, whether it be recording, dancing or sitting down with JBC and Traci to not record a podcast. Scarlett, meanwhile, struggles with singing, and Rita’s downfall is dancing. Oh no! Somehow it all comes together, as it always does. Phew!
Scarlett comes off great this episode. She’s obviously an incredibly talented, hard-working queen, and it’s a bit of a shame her main moments were being snippy and frustrated by the competition.
To go back to trivia that doesn’t really matter, she’s one of a few queens to get to the end without landing once in the bottom. And according to statistics nerds, has the show’s ninth-best scorecard. Putting aside our many feelings about the judging, Scarlett is a powerhouse and is already campaigning hard for All Stars 7 (whoa): hopefully she gets the opportunity to snatch the masses’ hearts.
But it’s Priyanka’s episode from start to finish. The show hasn’t really been tightly produced enough for many storylines or overarching plots, but they pretty much retroactively fit in one in the final ep.
Priyanka talks a lot about laughing at her mistakes — normally putting anything but ‘I’m that bitch’ in your finale verse is a death-knell (sorry ‘not the best but not the worst’ Detox), but Priyanka’s lines about her so-so Snatch Game are used here to point towards her humility. O Canada!
She also has a break-through about separating Mark from Priyanka, which to be honest seems to overlook the fact that they were separate because right up to filming Drag Race she worked on a children’s TV show. Of course they were apart: she had bills to pay.
It’s not that I don’t believe this is a fulfilling realisation, but it’s also a convenient one — then again, playing the ‘personal growth narrative card’ is as much a part of Drag Race as Snatch Game, and Pri plays it well. In a season of pretty sincere/un-produced moments, this felt a little rehearsed. Again, not a bad thing: if anything, it only makes her more deserving of the win.
Bring Back My Queens
After the top three blitz through their performance, they’re reunited during mini-Untucked with the eliminated queens. It’s all very sweet, but over way too soon: since we don’t get a reunion episode, it’s a shame we don’t get more time with the queens. Starzi literally doesn’t get to speak!
What we do get is great — Juice Boxx being stunned that Priyanka bombed Snatch Game with Tynomi revealing she specifically told her to not do Miss Cleo; Kyne accepting her title as the season’s ‘villain’, and a little redemption moment for Juice, who seems way too good to have gone home first.
Just like AS5, and hopefully signalling the start of a new tradition, the eliminated queens get to walk the runway in their own eleganza. Everyone (well, almost) looks stunning.
Ilona’s look was on another level though, a nod to her Nlaka’pamux heritage that combined pride and pain at once. Her monochrome play on a ribbon skirt and jingle dress was paired with blood-red hands which covered her mouth — a reference to the highway of tears, where Indigenous women have disproportionately gone missing and been murdered for decades. It’s a shame she didn’t get to talk about it more in Untucked.
And then the final three. Rita comes out as an alien, which retrospectively gives that ‘alien actress’ line in her ‘U Wear It Well’ verse slightly more context. It’s an odd choice: Rita is regal, but she’s also a true eccentric, albeit in a slightly more muted way than Jimbo. I really do love her.
She and Scarlett have tear-aways ready for the final lip-sync to Love Inc.’s ‘You’re A Superstar’, but Priyanka just twirls around her pony-tail instead. It’s a lot of fun to watch, and further proof that most lip-syncs should be to emotional ’90s house music.
On lip-sync alone, it’s clearly Scarlett’s win, but it’s a little too late. Priyanka’s the winner, and she tells us all to be gay. Done and done.
Canada’s Drag Race is such a great spin-off. Hopefully the judges are a little more constructive next season (and hopefully JBC returns!), but even so, it was a joy to watch –it was a nice antidote to the over-produced main show. A little shabby, sure, but so much more sincere.
If you’re unsure what to do with your life now, Drag Race‘s attempt at Real Housewives, Vegas Revue, is apparently pretty fun, and Drag Race Holland starts soon, too. And don’t worry: S13 and AS6 are being filmed as I type. Not even COVID can stop the empire.
Canada’s Drag Race streams on Stan. Jared Richards is a staff writer at Junkee and Drag Race recapper. He’s on Twitter.