Pack up your poutine, because we have reached the end of the inaugural season of Canada’s Drag Race. Overall, it’s another strong installment in the greater Drag Race universe, introducing the world to another crop of creative queens and giving us just enough little troubles to sink our teeth into.
The strength of any Drag Race season lies in the queens themselves. It’s hard to say if the credit should go to a top-notch casting department or if queer people just overindex in talented, creative, charming superstars. It’s probably a little bit of both.
Regardless of the how, the who is phenomenal. This top three all have personality to spare and a legit claim to the crown. Bobo’s never been in the bottom, Rita leads with three mainstage challenges and Priyanka, who has been up and down all season. An argument can be made that any one of these ladies deserves the win, and their unique personalities guarantee legions of fans pledging their devotion.
The result was a hard fought finale that was truly a joy to watch.
Who’s our first Queen of the North? Let’s dig in!
In what’s become Drag Race tradition, the last lingering queens will write and record an original verse for a RuPaul track (Mama Ru’s only presence in this finale, really). Plus, there’s killer choreo and a little kiki with Jeffrey and Traci Melchor.
The track this time is “U Wear It Well,” and it’s a banger. The queens come correct to recording with RALPH with some of the better lyrics we’ve seen. Priyanka surprises herself with a little Mariah Carey melisma, while Rita backs herself up by singing a three-part harmony. Then there’s Bobo, who couldn’t find a note. Literally. At one point, RALPH asks the hot producer which note Bobo was hitting, and his response is basically, “Um, none.” (It was hotter when he said it.)
Of course, if Bobo is shown struggling in recording, another gal is going to have a hard time with choreo. While all three queens are overwhelmed with the ti-ti-ta-ta of Hollywood Jade, they always edit these things to make it seem like it’s anyone’s race right until the end. Here, it’s Rita who is a beat (or more) behind her sissies. (Not to mention she’s dressed in what appears to be Dave Navarro’s donation pile.) I mean, Priyanka is fully gutturally screaming from the stress and Bobo is definitely showcasing moves she picked up at the Fake It Til You Make It School of Dance, but it’s Rita who seems the most lost. Worse yet, Brooke is there to … I don’t know, glare at them menacingly the whole time? It’s unsettling, and the gals are shook.
The convos with Jeffrey and Traci fill the void of Ru’s podcast/Tic Tac chat, but the lack of purpose looms large. Without the trappings of the podcast, it just feels like a weirdly subdued party we showed up either too early or much too late to. It’s not that they all didn’t have poignant thoughts to share. Each are inspiring with their perseverance, confidence and commitment to the community. It’s a difficult thing to judge, really, but I probably felt most charmed by Priyanka. Really, though, everyone is lovely. The good vibes continue to the makeup mirror, where the gals let their guard down and dish on the season that was.
It’s family only on the mainstage, with Traci Melchor here again to play guest host. Look, I don’t know about the title “squirrel friend” and I don’t know if I like this guest host format and I don’t know what Jeffrey is thinking with this makeup. BUT what I DO know is that it is an undeniable delight to see Traci Melchor having the time of her life on that runway. I hope you got your rabies shot, because this squirrel friend is sickening! (sorry.)
I would likely have gone back to rewatch her intro, but I am too completely enrapt by the final three’s performance. In one of the better Ru-mixes, all three queens absolutely demolish their performance and look incredible. Bobo delivers her typical polished punk (no, you’re an oxymoron!), but both Priyanka and Rita exceed expectations. Priyanka feels much more sexy than silly, but she’s just as engaging. Rita is striking and cuts a memorable figure with her expertly padded silhouette. Everyone’s lyrics and vocal are great. The whole number is gangbusters.
Of course, that’s not all. The queens walk the runway in their Coronation Eleganza, and it’s another slamdunk. Though it would have been braver to do before the Great and Powerful Michelle Visage, Rita makes a statement in full green bodypaint. She’s serving bad witch gone good as a glammed up Elphaba that’s tough to find any fault with.
I can’t say the same for Bobo. After weeks of killer runway presentations, her final runway is a lovely black ball gown with flashes of florescent fuscia. It’s just … missing something for me. I don’t love the nude illusion on the arms, and the fit of the skirt doesn’t sit quite right. It’d later be revealed to be part of a reveal, but, in isolation, it’s just sliiiiiiightly off. We’re splitting hairs here, obviously, but with this top three, that’s all we can do.
Then there’s Priyanka. I mean. Wow. She looks stunning in a traditional gown absolutely glitzed out. It’s breathtaking. No notes!
The judging here is the usual non-committal finale praise and comment about “blossoming at the right time,” etc. These final judgings are less and less important as time goes on. Let’s skip to the part where they all talk trash once the gals are in the back!
The same sort of goes for when the final three give their “Why should you be Canada’s Next Drag Superstar?” replies. I always appreciate the value this show places on community, but it’s just starting to feel a bit too much like a pageant. Each queen makes a heartfelt case for how they would be a good representative and inspiration for the community, which is much better than anything any straight person ever said on The Circle, so I guess who am I to complain?
Sadly, our last visit to the Untucked lounge doesn’t involve Priyanka doing kegstands and body shots, but it does feature all of the returning girls from this season! Everyone looks great (particularly Anastarzia and Jimbo), and there’s a few fun moments. Pri spills to Kyne that the rest of the dolls made her this season’s villainess. She wants to know if it’s an act, or if Kyne is just like that. Kyne seems surprised to be considered the Phi Phi of the North, but the gals share ample evidence. Tynomi reveals she warned Priyanka against doing Miss Cleo on Snatch Game, and everyone pays tribute to Juice Boxx, (more than just) this season’s first eliminated queen.
Back on the runway, there’s one last lip sync left, and it’s a three-way. Set to “You’re a Superstar” by Love Inc., it is truly epic. Every single queen absolutely destroys. Bobo rips the skirt off her ballgown and begins to perform her greatest pyro trick yet: Burning the whole damn stage down. I mean, wow. We haven’t seen Bobo sync yet this season, and it is incredible. (Sidebar: Do you think she’s got to pay whipcrack.mp3 royalties? Because that bitch is doing a LOT of work.)
Priyanka too is pulling out all the stops, being both sexy and silly, sometimes simultaneously. It’s certainly not as flashy as Bobo, but it’s uniquely engaging. There’s just something about Priyanka you can’t look away from. She’s a star.
That’s no knock on Rita. It’s another big, fun performance from Rita, whose looming green presence is attention-grabbing enough on its own. My quibble here is a reveal that really is too little, too late in the track. Her gown becomes metallic leggings, but it’s really in the final moments of the song, and we never get the split or kick they seem to herald.
In the end, the judges also see something special in Priyanka, awarding her a scepter and making sure no one ever forgets her name.
It was the right call, and the right end to a very strong addition to the Drag Race family. The judging format in particular didn’t quite click for me, but I’d be fine having Brooke, Stacey and Jeffrey back for another try. I’d also love to see Traci get a more official role, like a Tim Gunn almost.
My favorite thing about Canada’s Drag Race, however, was the cast. This was a really talented and likable bunch of folks. I’d gleefully hand over fistfuls of loonies and toonies to these top three any night. You’d think all these international editions would mostly highlight differences in the queer experience around the world, but my biggest takeaway has been just how incredible queer people are all over.
What did you all think of the season? Did the right gal get the crown? Who would you like to see back for All Stars (or, at this rate, some RuPaul International Drag Race Olympic Games)?