‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars’ Recap: Beige Swan Dive
Has All Stars finally jumped the shark?
“Jumping the shark” is a pop culture phrase that refers to when a popular television show crosses a line and is no longer good/believable/watchable/what it once was. It originates from an episode of Happy Days, a 1970s sitcom set in the 1950s, in which the show’s most enduring, popular character, The Fonz, literally jumped a shark whilst waterskiing.
I am unsure if All Stars has jumped the shark, because the events of this season, bar a few exciting twists, haven’t even been ridiculous enough to warrant such a claim. This week was no exception: another bland episode hemmed in by the 40 minute length that sucked out all the narrative, drama and fun.
It was, however, the penultimate ep before we crown the winner of All Stars 3, so let’s take a quick look at what went down, then dive deep into our top four queens.
The Challenge And The Elimination
The queens performed in a “comedy” sketch, based on a mash-up of high brow actresses in gross-out comedies.
Shangela and Trixie won the week, and Shangela took home another lip sync for her legacy… by wearing a fat suit. Gr8 legacy, m8.
Then Shangela sent returning queen Morgan home.
OK great, now that’s out of the way…
After Ep 7, Who Do You Think Is Going To Win?
Now that DeLa has gone, if you’re going by the numbers then Shangela has this one in the bag. She has the most wins and has been in the bottom twice. Shangela has also been a star of the season, consistently delivering to camera, in the workroom, and carving out just enough drama without being villainous. She turned up prepped for the win like a bossy bottom at an orgy, and that kind of queen is very difficult to ignore (trust me).
Shangela is also one of two AS3 queens who have had careers as RuPaul’s Drag Race alum that qualify them for a spot on the winner’s dais. She’s the Halleloo-ing, leaping out of a box, sugar daddy speech-giver fans know and love. Not only does crowning her make sense, it’s statistically the most likely. However, crowning the queen who won the most challenges is no longer a fait accompli.
Top 2: 2
Ever since Ru ignored Shea Coulee’s wins and crowned Sasha Velour instead at the end of season nine, that unspoken rule is broken. So it could be anyone. Still, as much as I’d like it to be, it definitely won’t be Trixie.
Trixie’s journey this season has surprised many fans, who assumed she had this one on lock and was the other queen who had earned a right to a spot in the winner’s circle. What we learned is that, like in the real world, YouTubers don’t necessarily play well with others. Trixie’s journey has been as moving to watch as it has been frustrating. She won’t take a hit from her fandom if she doesn’t take the crown, but there’s nothing that indicates Trixie will be wearing it.
Kennedy is stuck between a rock (Shangela) and a hard place (Trixie). She played out her AS3 drama a little early in sending Milk home, and she hasn’t shown a great deal of growth or change upon arrival OR throughout the season.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s no way to win All Stars. Kennedy is consistent, authentic, and above all professional. Set against a backdrop of younger, entitled queens in her season, she came off as weary and over it all, but this time around she found an outlet for her frustrations. Kennedy gave Milk a lesson he (hopefully) won’t soon forget, and by proxy stood as an important reminder of the structural imbalances in the RPDR alumni.
As AS3 has gone to air, Kennedy seems keenly aware of this imbalance, pointing out online the unfairness of white American pop culture ripping off her iconic season seven monologue without giving her credit.
Where is my national credit ???? I need my name on that please.. you can't use it and say who the originator is lol.. https://t.co/kBJULm1geN
— Kennedy Davenport (@kennedyddoftx) March 8, 2018
Sadly, it seems unlikely that she will take the crown, but her position in the RDPR firmament has more than earned her a spot in the top four. Unlike…
Top 2: 1
This little experiment has gone on long enough. BeBe’s surprise casting in AS3 started out as an interesting opportunity to examine how far RPDR has grown since her season one win. But now it’s just bizarre. Like Australia competing in Eurovision and getting waved through to the finals, you just know BeBe is in the top four for reasons beyond her charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent.
BeBe is poised, regal, and incredibly classy — all of which make her completely unsuitable for a spot in the top four in this point in RPDR herstory. Years ago, a pageant-y queen who could stand and deliver and look amazing whilst doing it was all it took to win (see also: Tyra). Then things changed. Raja proved you needed looks and a fiery personality, and then Sharon, Jinx, and Bianca made it known that all rounded entertainers had the best shot at the crown (I guess Violet’s freakshow waist counts as entertainment, don’t @ me).
BeBe has BeBeiged up this season of All Stars, and when we look back she not only anchors us to the show’s history, she kind of dragged the energy down.
You could say she Cameruined everything.
(I’ll see myself out)
Next week! The grand finale! Who will win? Will it be Shangela, the halleloo queen famous for coming back again and again? Or could it be Shangela, the sassy, savvy entertainer who gave us “I don’t have a sugar daddy?”
I can wait to see how this turns out!
RuPaul’s Drag Race is fast-tracked from the US on Stan. Read more Drag Race recaps here.
Nic Holas has written for The Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, Archer Magazine, and Hello Mr. You can find him on Twitter @nicheholas, or in his role as co-founder of HIV movement The Institute of Many.