OK! That was satisfying! In a way, RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K.‘s greatest strength is also its weakness. The pleasantly short season breezed through with nary a historic gag nor an iconic dramatic blowup. Like the episodes preceding it, last night’s finale was neither over- nor underwhelming. It was perfectly whelming.
It was the proper top three, the appropriate winner and a fitting final performance that did more to celebrate than challenge the contestants.
The noticeable lack of spectacle didn’t make things any more memorable. I know it’s only season one, but surely they should know viewers have a certain expectation of a finale. You don’t have to pack out Wembley Stadium, but you’ve got to do better than Graham Norton in a sequined blazer.
Other than that, it basically followed the formula for what we’ve come to know as the penultimate episode of a typical Drag Race season. The ladies are going to write a verse for another one of those RuPaul tracks that’s generated by some sort of gay house music algorithm. Then, they’ll sit down with Ru and Michelle for a podcast interview and learn choreography for a big finale number.
The podcast interviews were the highlight, for a change. Baga really dug in with Ru and Michelle about her mum. When Baga was younger, her mother got in a new relationship and sent Baga to live with her nan. That explains the awkward interactions last week. There was also a nice moment of self-reflection with Baga realizing what she’s capable of when she applies herself. Cute stuff.
The cerebral Divina played the perfectionist in her interview. I’m not trying to minimize that struggle, but it felt a bit like a trope. (Of course a niche competition show over-indexes in passionate, competitive people, duh.) She was likable and funny, though.
Vivienne had the easiest chemistry with Ru and Michelle, feeling more like three gal pals than a round of the competition. She revisited her history with drug abuse, and she reiterated what a problem it is especially in the nightlife community. You could see it in Ru’s eyes, this is Viv’s to lose.
Just for the added layer of tension, the episode really leaned into the narrative of the singing and dancing performance harkening back to the girl group challenge that nearly sunk Vivienne earlier this season. (Or, you could argue, provided her a very humanizing chink in her armor.)
To be fair, they weren’t lying about the challenging choreography. Dance hunks Curtis and AJ Pritchard put the ladies through their paces with a Latin ballroom number that would make the Hough siblings sweat. All three ladies seemed to struggle (Divina the least so), but that’s always how they keep you on the edge of your seat into the final performance.
Of course, it’s fine. Baga found a way to use her humor to help cover for her lack of skills. Like mirror opposites, Divina cracked out the most difficult choreography with splits, kicks and upside-downs, but it felt very … performed. The Vivienne, on the other hand, obviously botched a move or two, but she was serving.
While we’re burning through Drag Race tropes, Ru also tossed out the “What would you say to this adorable photo of yourself as a child?” The queens performed the usual teary catharsis, and, I don’t know, you guys. Do we still need this? Do we need to do it every time? It just feels like it’s losing its impact when it becomes just another stop on the road to the crown.
It felt like a non-event. So did the inevitable “Why do you deserve to win?” portion of the evening. Same goes goes for the returning eliminated queens whose sole purpose was … to help finish off the last of these big-batch cocktails? The final third of the episode just felt like going through the motions.
In the end, Baga got axed first, just so there was no doubt who the first runner-up is. Viv and Divina have one last lip-sync to “I’m Your Man” from Wham! Typically, lip-syncs with male vocals never quite click for me, and I was already worried for this crew’s sync skills. Maybe it was the low expectations, but Viv and Divina had a bubbly, charismatic performance that looked like a lot of fun.
The crown went to Vivienne, duh, and another name is etched in the annals (a-n-N-a-l-s) of Drag Race herstory. Was it necessary? Definitely not. Was it enjoyable nonetheless? Sure. I’ve spent worse weeks watching Logo (please see Finding Prince Charming and Fire Island). I would rather see this than another rush into a 20-queen U.S. season that’s overwhelmingly full of Tiktok teens, or whatever. I won’t, however, be tuning in to Viv and Baga’s new series as the President and Margaret Thatcher. No thank you! It’s no fault of the performers, but the LAST thing any of us needs is more of you-know-you on the TV, regardless of form.
Not much surprise in the rankings below, but I’m still full of turkey and red wine, so get in the comments and FIGHT ME.
- Sure, I’m happy the Vivienne won. I’ve had her pegged for most of the competition. She did a really masterful job playing to the format, much more savvy than her competitors. On the podcast, she mentioned she was glad the gals weren’t trying to be like the U.S. girls, but Vivienne knew how to navigate the competition like American royalty. (She even picked an American character for Snatch.) Vivienne knew what to pack and prep for each step of this competition. And I’m not saying she threw that one challenge early for the sake of her narrative, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if she had. (#VivienneTruth) I loved her last runway look, and she’s earned this.
- I also would’ve been satisfied with a Divina win. She’s a real oddball, and clearly she’s a workhorse. She’ll definitely get the Drag Race bump from this experience, and I hope she sees her career to soar heights because of it. Her focus on perfection stopped her from flexing other parts of her personality, but I think she’s provided enough strong presentations to connect with the audience. I’d be thrilled to see her perform, because she is obviously such a thorough entertainter.
- Even Baga knew she didn’t stand a chance. When asked why she deserved to be there more than the other two, she easily admitted she didn’t. Now that Baga’s potential has been unlocked, expect her to continue to grow and improve. I’d love to see her back for whatever RuPaul’s Drag Race International All-Star Drag Olympics 2020 is getting cooked up at World of Wonder as we speak.
What did you think of the finale?