‘RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars’ S7E1 Recap: Plunger? I Hardly Even Know Her!
This 'All Winners' season is already essential TV.
A few weeks ago, Gigi Hadid planted an expression in our public consciousness, knowing we’d need it to describe All Stars 7. There’s no other words: this was a big slay.
Eight crowned queens, competing without fear of being eliminated, meaning they can just have fun? Sure, $200,000 is on the line, but all of them know that they can earn much more in the long haul by being entertaining. And while the crown of crowns is probably up for play with 4-5 of these queens, it doesn’t matter — they’re all winners, and so are we.
Okay, yes, episode one went for a touch too long, and the queens receiving next-to no criticism from the judges might get old after a few episodes, but who cares? Recappers love making premature declarations, and here’s mine: after the double premiere, this is shaping up to be one of Drag Race‘s best seasons yet. Because the episodes were so jam-packed, I’m going to recap each separately (it also lets me zone out for a few hours on election day): I’ll link the Snatch Game recap here when it’s ready. But in the meantime, let’s get into a spectacular opening episode. Pure joy from start to finish.
‘I Didn’t Know I Needed An Introduction’
Most of my notes for this episode were “i LOVE Jaida”, “omg JINKX” or “wow Trinity is really good tv I kinda forgot”: more so even than most seasons, I love all of these queens so much.
Let’s just get my personal biases out of the way — my favourites of my favourites are probably Jinkx, Monet, Jaida and Raja, which is literally half the cast, and I could have easily put Yvie or Shea up there too. And watching this, I was reminded of just how good Viv and TTT are on Drag Race! While I imagine the non-elimination structure was partially a way to get the queens back on the show (as if you’d risk going home first), it really lets us soak up all of these queens’ talents: it’d probably be a little too stale on a regular All Stars, but the format works really well here on a cast more or less on an even playing field.
The season starts off with Shea paying tribute to Coco Montrese, compact and all.
This is absolutely Shea’s episode from start to finish, between being first to enter, the Naomi appearance and the challenge highlighting her choreo skills and rapping. Part of me resents the obvious storyline, but Shea also is so good that she doesn’t need it, so it doesn’t really matter.
Next to enter is Jaida, who is absolutely one of my all-time favourtie queens, but gets a little forgotten due to the 2020 of it all despite S12 being one of Drag Race‘s best seasons (yes, even with Sh***y ***). The season’s promo has really leaned on her “LOOK OVER THERE!” catchphrase, but Jaida is: an exceptional designer who made almost every single of her own S12 looks, a wonderful performer, and a very funny secret oddball. Maybe we’ve all just blocked out that period of our lives, because I don’t feel like people remember all these facets to her: she’s a silly, geeky queen presented in pageant wrapping. She’s one of the queens who has the most to gain in being back, and I’m excited to see her booking fee skyrocket.
The second queen with the most to gain from returning is Yvie Oddly, who is, by my estimate, SEVERELY underrated as a winner. I have a soft spot for S11 because it was the first season I recapped, but if you watch it back, it’s so clear that Yvie is such a star. She’s also so volatile and messy on S11 at times, but she was so young and had a lot to deal with (I mean EDS, not Silky), but there’s unbridled creativity to her that is so genuinely jaw-dropping when it connects.
I know Yvie had a bit of a rough time after winning (her episode of the excellent Werk The World doco-series details it), so I’m hoping her time back will realise just how truly odd she really is: almost too odd for the confines of what Drag Race is, which makes her win all the more impressive. I love that she entered promising more messy wigs, and immediately delivers: never change, Yvie.
Next in is Trinity The Tuck, who honestly I was least excited to see return on the show. I was a fool: she is so funny, charming and perfect at what she does. She might not have the most interesting ‘perspective’ as an artist (I really don’t need to hear another plastic surgery joke), but seeing her on the show reminded me just how good she is at drag, with a wit to match. I pretty much guarantee she’ll be in the top four.
Of course they couldn’t cast TTT without her twinner Monet, who since All Stars 4 has become one of my favourite favourite favourites (I KNOW I say this about everyone, but I mean it with Monet!). If you haven’t listened to her podcast with Bob, Sibling Rivalry (or, according to this episode, Sibling Rivarly), you might not get the hype, but she can more than keep up with BTDQ in terms of wit and jokes, and, as these episodes show, her style has really evolved. I find it hard to root for just one queen, but it… might be Monet for me.
Unless… it’s Jinkx. And how can anyone compete with Jinkx? It’s almost been 10 years since she was on our screens, and long gone is the underdog: if Roxxxy Andrews tried to bully Jinkx now, Jinkx would simply step on her throat. Jinkx was already fully formed on S5, but it’s such a joy to see someone actualise themselves even more. She’s gorgeous, radiant, confident, and as funny as she ever was. And walking like THAT in front of Naomi Campbell? Lesser women have been immediately found dead. (I also don’t think I’ve ever seen Naomi be so happy to be somewhere. Whether an act or the show decided to cut out some of the constructive feedback, it really established that these queens are truly royalty, and widdle fashion twinks online should shut the fuck up.)
Despite this episode’s many moments, nothing can beat the flashback to Fantasia singing “Raja Raja Raja!” shown when the S3 winner entered. If you haven’t seen S3, you’re missing out on easily one of the hardest seasons of the show ever — those queens had five design challenges, including one where they created three looks from scratch. Raja ended up in the bottom only once, and rumour says it was on purpose, judging by how horrendous her look was. We are SO lucky she is back.
Et finalement, The Vivienne! Like TTT, the UK1 winner isn’t necessarily a stand-out winner for me, but she spends these first two episodes proving me wrong. Polished, an amazing actor and singer, she’s hot competition who also has a bit to prove, given she’s up against the US queens. It’s funny that the show’s positioning her as “the diversity hire”, as Shea jokes in the reading challenge, but I’m sure it also is a little intimidating.
I am embarrassed to admit I momentarily fell for Raven’s appearance: little moments like that helped drag the episode out to 1 hour 20, but they were so fun to watch that it’s hard to care. (It’s also funny seeing people guess Raven was one a secret Black or brown queen. Mission accomplished, Raven!)
One Note: Please Edit Out The ‘Legendary Legends’ Sound Effect, I Keep Thinking I Have A Text Message But I Do Not, And Few Things Are More Humiliating Even In Private
There’s simply too much to go over, so let’s jump over the Naomi appearance and the reading challenge, bar saying that Vivienne’s “always the body, never the face” read to TTT was one of my faves, alongside Monet talking about Jinkx’s teeth being like the cast (“some big, some small, two white”). The queens’ first challenge is to jump on a Rumix of Ru’s “Legends”, and create choreo for the performance too.
No one is particularly stressed or nervous, as they know they won’t be going home, though the Viv and Jaida both shed some tears about their insecurities being in this cast. I found that really touching from both of them, mostly just because it’s tempting to view “success” as a be-all and end-all of self-actualisation/worth, when it’s rare that a new job or clout will provide it. Anyway, I’ll leave the psycho-analysis babble to Ru.
The performance goes quick, and there are far too many “I’m here to slay/and snatch the crown/all these bitches/get out of MY way” verses, even if they’re all done really well. Shea and Monet nab the top two positions, but I think Jaida, Raja, Jinkx and Yvie conveyed more personality in their verses.
Unfortunately, they’re all SMOKED by Ru, who at guest judge Cameron Diaz’s request (!!!) performs her own track, ‘Just What They Want’, which features the impenetrable lyric, “Machiavelli to the drop”. I know some of you don’t like when Ru dances around, but I LOVE it. More half-hearted hand movements and zero-energy lip-syncing!!
These runways are beyond. Each took the ‘crowned queen’ prompt in a completely different direction, each speaking perfectly to who they are as artists. It’s hard to pick a favourite: even if you were to nit-pick, say, Yvie’s for being a little more simplistic in terms of size and structure, it’s absolutely beautiful. The Viv’s nymph god look was beyond; Shea is possibly the most beautiful she’s ever looked, which is saying something; TTT’s train is ridiculous; Jinkx looks better than we’ve ever seen her, and Raja is simply out of this world.
The queens don’t know who lipsyncs, so everyone makes a choice to change into whatever the fuck they want. It ends up being Monet and Shea, who each win a star — the top four with the most stars at the end will face off in a lipsync tournament at the finale. But to win $10,000 and have the chance to block a queen, they lipsync to Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of ‘Old Macdonald’, which is instantly one of the show’s best.
They’re both great, but Shea’s frilly look is ridiculously beautiful, and watching her exude and old-Hollywood glamour (yes, Gia, glamour) is such a delight. She blocks Trinity, which means she can’t earn a star next week even if she’s in the top two.
And just like that, we’re off. I’ll link my E2 recap here when it’s up.
RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars S7 is available to stream in Australia in Stan, with new episodes dropping AEST 6pm each Friday.
Jared Richards is Junkee‘s Drag Race recapper, and a freelancer who writes for NME, The Big Issue, The Guardian and more. He’s across the internet as @jrdjms