Words | Harry Fraser
For those not familiar with this legendary work of television mastery, RuPaul’s Drag Race is a reality competition show where drag queens compete for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar. Think Project Runway meets America’s Next Top Model meets So You Think You Can Dance meets Shark Tank. I’m not even joking.
These queens are expected to slay anything from runways and celebrity impersonation to marketing a product and creating a set of high fashion garments. As the show entered its twelfth season, many were wondering (myself included) whether the producers could keep it new and interesting. But I can assure you, this season they stepped their pussy up.
Needless to say, spoiler alert. You’ve been warned.
Starting with a two-part premiere, Season 12 presented us with 13 sickeningly talented performers. It was hard to see the weak link this season, but we didn’t have to wait long till the drama started. One of the contestants, Sherry Pie, was disqualified before the premiere even aired as she faced allegations of catfishing and predatory behaviour.
This presented quite a challenge for the production team, as Sherry has to date won two challenges and appears to make it to the top 4. Her airtime has been almost completely erased, which is quite disconcerting when she wins the challenges and makes it super awkward because she does REALLY well. We’ve been treated to heavy-handed editing that overtly removes her from the episode, with some arguing this only serves to mystify her more and reinforce the scandal. You want to like her, especially after that Gay’s Anatomy performance, but then you remember she is an alleged sex offender. Ugh.
Moving on, we come to Miss Gigi Goode. At only 21, Gigi is one of the youngest contestants on the show yet has managed to snag three challenge wins so far, and it’s only halfway through the competition. For some perspective, winners of previous seasons have won two or three challenges. Season 11’s winner Yvie Oddly only won a single challenge.
Gigi is a clear front runner and she has delivered some spectacular moments. From her stunning looks to her dry Snatch Game character, Maria the Robot, Gigi has shown herself to be a formidable competitor. Aside from anything else, it shows that when young queer people have a supportive family, they flourish. Who would have thought?
Aside from episode 3, this is one of the best seasons of Drag Race ever. The acting challenge in episode 5 ‘Gays Anatomy’ was one of the best in the show’s history. Ru and the judges were splitting hairs that week and six queens were in the top. For the first time I found myself laughing out loud to a Drag Race acting challenge. Aiden Zhane’s Mae West inspired ghost and Jan’s physical comedy was everything.
I know you guys must sleep on mattresses, but do you know what the judges sleep on? That’s right, Jan. Simply Jan. As if by some cruel twist of show biz fate, Jan is once again overshadowed by Marcia (or whoever happens to win that week). One of the most gag-worthy moments was in episode 7, where the queens performed in Madonna: The Unauthorised Rusical.
For some perspective, Jan has a BFA in Musical Theatre and her voice is so good it would make the Pope stop defending George Pell. That’s how talented she is. As I write this, Jan’s verse in the Rusical is stuck in my head and I encourage you all to watch the performance. Jan was spectacular, her voice was the by far the best out of the group and she embodied Madonna flawlessly.
Little old me should have known by the edit that this episode was, in the words of Alyssa Edwards, rigger morris. The edit showed Jan as shining brighter than the rest, a pillar of talent and professional-level musical theatre. Poised to win. That was the warning sign.
So, as Jan beamed on the mainstage after a killer runway and her Broadway level performance, RuPaul looked her in the eye and said something to the effect of, “you killed it Jan, you’re safe” before turning to Gigi and grinning “Gigi, condragulations, you’re the winner of this weeks challenge.”
Now, as you can see from above, I’m a Gigi fan. Saying that, I won’t stand for robbery, and Jan was burgled. Big Time. Watch for yourself and tell me Jan wasn’t robbed. That’s right, you can’t. But I will say one thing, it was darn good reality television.
Then we have Brita. IF you didn’t already know, she is from New York City and was voted entertainer of the year at some point. She talked a big game entering the show and I’m going to be honest, I really believed her. Too bad she was a bit shit. But what made it worse was the utter delusion that followed her around like a dark cloud.
In the end she lip-synched for her life three times, losing on the third. In the design challenge, Brita thought she looked amazing, when in reality, she looked like a stuffed teddy bear in a condom. I’m sorry, but that was not a pineapple Brita.
When she found herself in the bottom week after week, she didn’t really focus on the critiques that could have helped her improve. Instead Brita bullied and attacked poor Aiden Zhane. Because somehow it was Aiden’s fault the judges liked her better than Brita.
In the Gay’s Anatomy challenge, Aiden sat through what I can only expect was several painstaking minutes of LITERAL SPITTING, as Brita’s saliva leapt from her mouth. If the measure for quality acting is the amount you spray it rather than saying it, Brita has several Academy Awards.
Back to some quality queens, see Jackie Cox. The self-declared Persian Princess Next Door, Miss Cox (if you’re naughty) is one talented lady, if not a little attractive as a boy. There is one every season people and if you don’t believe me look for yourself. Even Miss Vanjie tried to snap her up during her guest appearance.
Jackie shone in the Snatch Game, where her performance of Lisa Renna was stellar. The first time I saw it I didn’t find it that funny but then I saw the actual Lisa Renna and what the fuck Jackie was amazing. Again, Gigi swooped in and took the win for her performance as Maria the Robot, but Jackie isn’t going anywhere with that star quality.
That brings us up to date so far. I spend each week waiting for the next episode to drop and it’s kind of making quarantine fly by. I cannot recommend this show enough, get into it if you want to peek into the world of drag artistry and all the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent you could ever want.