Before I get into last night’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, I need to get something off my chest. I’ve been particularly hard on Monet and Monique this season. I think I just have a hard time rooting for girls who were just on the most recent season competing on All Stars. Give it a minute, girl! Let me MISS you. Put out an album! Tour with the Roast! Do a holiday show at the Laurie Beechman! I don’t know, bitch, put on a backpack and go Reese Witherspoon Wild!
However, I am now fully STANNING. Maybe it was the edit that didn’t highlight their fabulosity early in the season, but now I am gooped, gagged and totally on board. I feel like Monet (as well as Naomi) are getting bolder, more assertive and taking big swings. Monique — never one to take a small swing — is hitting it out of the park.
But before we go ahead and split the crown among them Cady Heron style, let’s discuss last night’s episode.
Fresh off Manila’s shocking elimination, Naomi was #sorrynotsorry. “I sent Manila home … because I wanted to!” she proudly told camera. But whose lipstick did Monet choose? Oh, Manila, too. Monet made no bones about her logic: She’s a petty bitch from Brooklyn (and I love it).
“Because what’s fair? Life’s not fair,” Naomi explained. I died. R.I.P. me.
The increased ruthlessness had Trinity shook, but at this point in the competition what even are these report cards? How are they weighted? It’s time to abandon the pretense of fairness and get those claws out. Literally.)
This week’s challenge had the girls dusting off their acting chops for Ru Hollywood Story: Sex and the Kitty, Girl 3. It’s part Sex and the City parody, part behind-the-scenes documentary about the backstage rivalries.
Because she was last week’s winner, Naomi gets to assign the roles. She makes a power play by taking the lead, “SJP.” (All the characters are hilariously — and wisely, in terms of copyright — named after the actresses, not their characters.) Trinity and Monet both dig their high-heels in about wanting to play “Kim,” the second [*Kim Cattrall voice*] juiciest role. In one of the series most ludicrous moments of manufactured drama, Monet and Trinity face-off in a high-stakes, edge-of-your-seat game of rock-paper-scissors. They even took a dramatic commercial break! They did a slo-mo!
If this finale is not a rock-paper-scissor round robin battle, I’ll be pissed.
Trinity won the part, and Monet settled on Kristin. Latrice picked up Cynthia, blending the no-nonsense lawyer Miranda with the lesbian aspiring politician who portrayed her. Of course, we’ve got five girls left, and the show featured a foursome, so Ru injected the legendary Kristen Johnston character, Lexi Featherston. On the surface, picking a character that only ever appeared in one episode of the show’s six-season and two-movie run seems odd. However, that character is so iconic, so memorable, the episode in which she appears (“Splat!”) is one of the most beloved in the series’ history. As an unapologetic Sex and the City superfan, I couldn’t be more excited to see Monique in this role. (Though as an SATC scholar, I need to call CONTINUITY ERROR on saying K-Jo was in a coma. We saw her funeral!)
Ross was directing, and the edit really leaned into everyone’s struggle. Naomi was having a hard time blending her personality and SJP’s signature ease and charm. It’s always a tough call on these challenges. There’s a risk the judges will skewer you for playing the part so faithfully that it loses the parody, OR you could get called out for not being true to the inspiration. Naomi certainly made a choice to play the part very NAOMI-as-Carrie Bradshaw, and the result was not great. She also struggled with her amount of lines.
Ross had to give Trinity a lot of coaching from the Kim Cattrall School of Saying Everything Like It’s Sexual (now accepting applications for the Class of 2023). Latrice seemed fine, but gave more definitive choices between takes telling Monet to stop stepping on her lines. Why didn’t they use that in the actual video? It would have read perfectly as the actresses sniping at each other. Ross, as a director, you need to learn to USE that!
Then, Monique entered and stole the whole damn show. This kind of challenge plays directly to all of Monique’s Moniqueness, and she lit up the screen any time the camera caught her. Even when she was doing the wrong thing, she made it look right. Someone give “K-Jo” a webseries, STAT! Hello, World of Wonder, do you hear me?
On the runway, the gals strutted their stuff in Cat Couture. It felt like a category designed specifically for the judges to use cat puns, and I ain’t even mad about it. (As usual, we’ll talk about specific “lewks” — which, no, I will not stop saying; “life’s not fair,” darling! — in the rankings below.)
The final video was one of Drag Race’s better parodies. You can tell whoever wrote the script really loved the series, and they peppered in so many specific jokes and references to even the smallest moments. Monique and Trinity both stood out from the rest of the litter with show-stealing performances and purrrrrr-fect runways.
Naomi’s performance seemed the most off-the-mark, but the edit isn’t the sort of disaster the filming made it seem. The judges were enamored with her runway, an almost kawaii take on the modern cat lady. Monet seemed to barely give just enough in the clip, and her runway was gorgeous (though it did not read “cat”). Latrice made a bigger impression in the video, but her airbrushed safari gown was a dud on the runway.
Monique and Trinity were named the winners, and everyone else was up for elimination. Deliberations seemed tough. It seemed Monet was relatively safe, but both Latrice and Naomi could’ve been in danger. Naomi was this week’s weakest contestant, but Latrice is often safe, at best. (Plus, she was already eliminated once before — this season.) Naomi and Monet both told Trinity Latrice was the choice to go home, and Naomi was not apologizing for it.
“Honestly, she could tell Latrice what I said about her and I’d be like, ‘Yeah that’s exactly what I said.’ I don’t give a f*ck. Honestly, I don’t give a f*ck.”
Tell us how you really feel, Naomi.
The lip sync was to Janet Jackson’s “When I Think of You,” and, even though it’s not the highest tempo number, both ladies hit every piece of percussion with precision. It was a real fun little number, with Trinity edging out Monique, whose loose top seemed to be a distraction during her performance.
Trinity was picked as the winner, and she elected to eliminate … LATRICE! I wouldn’t call it a “shocking” elimination, but it was unexpected!
Now, if this season has taught us anything, it’s that I have truly no clue who is winning this at any given moment. That’s half the fun. So, read on for my totally subjective (and apparently very off-base) rankings below!
- It’s a very tight race, but I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Monique for the win. There are some things she just does SO well. This season has given me such an appreciation for her makeup skills, and her fashions have been elevated. (Though I am still hesitant to say she’s nailing every runway.) This week’s Cat Couture was best in show, for sure. It was campy AND glamorous. It told a story, and it was EXAGGERATED, like drag should be. Her comedic timing and dance skills are expert, and she would be a worthy addition to the Hall of Fame.
- Right there with Monique is Trinity. She’s the competitor who has been the most consistently strong in every challenge, and all her runways have been killer. No wonder she’s so concerned about elimination by report card; hers is definitely the strongest. I do have to wonder if her choice to eliminate Latrice had anything to do with Latrice’s comment in the workroom about how the winner should be someone with a platform, not just someone looking to shill singles and T-shirts. Maybe Trinity wanted to send Latrice home, before Latrice got the chance to send her home. Although Trinity’s Cat Couture was fun, it just lacked oomph for me. The mask was a cop out compared to doing the cat makeup, and her catsuit was just too plain. (She rocked it down the runway, regardless.) I got cat, but no couture. This season we’re really talking about the differences between As and A+s.
- As much as I am digging Monet, I’ve got to put her in third. She was fine in the parody, and her runway was ambitious. There was good stuff in her lewk, but it wasn’t a cat. The ears were part of the problem, but I think the makeup was a much bigger factor. Compare her face to Monique’s. (Or even her pro-recreation on Instagram. Clock the nose.) Monet just didn’t know how to create the illusion. I’m surprised the judges didn’t single that out more than the ears. Still, Monet’s profile is on the rise thanks to a Super Bowl commercial, and there’s no denying she’s invested in improving her fashion.
- Were any of us ready to be as gagged by Naomi as we’ve been? I certainly wasn’t. She missed the mark on the challenge, but I understand the choice she made. She wanted to showcase what she thought the judges wanted to see. This was not her best runway, but it was still classic Naomi, high fashion. I am also LOVING this take-no-prisoners, not giving an F attitude. She feels the least likely of the remaining four to snatch the crown, but she has proven she is worthy of the All Star title.
- Oh, Latrice. Yet again, your time has come. She will always be beloved, but, come on, she rarely stunned this season. This week, her performance was strong, but it felt like it was the script doing most of the heavy lifting. That runway was inexcusably lazy, and I must add it to the list of Latrice’s middling ensembles. The returning eliminated queen gimmick needs to be retired for a while. It’s starting to feel super predictable and required, instead of earned.
How would you rank the queens? Who do you think will take the crown in next week’s elimination? Sound off in the comments, henny!