“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 11 finale has crowned yet another fantastic winner, Yvie Oddly! It’s a great ending to a very satisfying season – I didn’t have any complains this season about anything, not even Silky Nutmeg Ganache’s extra boisterous presence. The finale was a perfect home run.
This season didn’t just crowned a well deserving winner, but also reminded LGBT folks the importance of staying vigilant and to continue to stand up for LGBT issues — through actions as simple as exercising the right to vote, and living one’s truth. The show, in a manner of speaking, reaffirmed itself as a Queer show;
“To the millions of fans watching on VH1 and around the globe, I wanna say, “Thank You.” Because of you, our show has become a cultural phenomenon. Because of you, one hundred and forty Ru-girls are spreading their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent for all the world to see. And because of you, a TV show of queer people, by queer people, and for queer people has won nine Emmy awards.
We don’t do it for the trophies, Henny. We do it for love. Everybody say, Love. Everybody say, Love! Now take that down the 405 and cross the border. Get your ass outta here.” — RuPaul
The show got it right when the changed the finale format to focus more on the top four, and Miss Congeniality. And this season, the new top four introduction is a keeper. The out of drag (and very manly look) interviews in black and white, juxtaposed by their drag and coloured reels is fantastic!
Each of the top four get to “redeem” themselves in a final one-on-one pre-taped interview. A’Keria C. Davenport, one of the fiercest and most polished competitor this season, talked about her background, track record, determination and work ethic… I was convinced. Brooke Lynn Hytes, the first Canadian to be cast on the show — and make it to the top four, mind you — was introduced by RuPaul with a little ‘nod’ to the Canadian slang with, “Take a look, ey?” In past episodes, she got called out by the judges for being reserved and not showing her true personality on the runway. Tonight she did that, and was very funny too. “It’s about to get very cold in here, because the Queen of the North is here. Winter is coming,” she closed her interview. Well done. The unapologetic and boisterous Silky Nutmeg Ganache was owning it, and totally not off-putting at all. She’s one of the cast who gives great flawless face. Although her reel is the shortest, it wasn’t bad. Yvie Oddly’s portion was the most endearing, crazy and funny. Her wearing a spiky blue bodysuit and standing on a blue wall was unusually funny.
When RuPaul called the top four back on the stage, Silky somehow looked worried on the line-up. Of the four, she’s not the best dancer. And when the lip sync wheel stopped on her face cutout, and RuPaul asked her whom she’s going to lip sync against, she took a long time, and then picked Brooke Lynn Hytes — a seasoned dancer. Her two costume reveals wasn’t enough to match Brooke Lynn Hytes dance abilities. A’Keria and Yvie lip synced next. Yvie’s costume was big, I was expecting a reveal but it didn’t happen. A’Keria on the other hand took a small fabric off her costume, but it didn’t seem like there was a big change. Yvie moved on to lip sync against Brooke Lynn Hytes. The top two were wearing big costumes, which can be a hint that a reveal is going to happen. Only Brooke Lynn did a reveal, and dropped so many death drops and splits I lost count. Yvie didn’t made any reveals, as before, but her lip sync was just as tight. Here’s the thing, I thought all the lip syncs where not as energetic or gag-worthy compared to the ones throughout the season on the main stage. It’s probably the wide angles and the enormity of the Orpheum Theater stage, where the Queens look rather small. On the main stage in previous episodes, they look larger than life, but the angles are usually shot from below, with occasional overhead shots. Maybe this is why?
Although Brooke Lynn Hytes is Canadian, which presumably Canadians are expected to root for by default, it’s about who deserves the most. She and Yvie Oddly are a tight top two, but in the end, the latter is a breath of fresh air. And winning the title should be about what new things they can deliver. I’m still very proud of Brooke Lynn for representing Canada, and making it to the top two! That’s a record that is going to be very hard for the next Canadian to break.
Nina West won Miss Congeniality, well deserved and an obvious choice. She should’ve been on the top four, but this is exciting too. #AllStars.
Season 10 winner, Aquaria, looked stunning. Although her outfit reminds me of Sasha Bell’s crustacean couture.
The show took some time to talk about Michelle Visage’s recent explant surgery to remove her breast implants, and her upcoming documentary about her journey to recovery from breast implant illness. In pure Drag Race fashion, they gave the recently departed “twins” an “In Mammorium” tribute. Complete with a final breast close-up and caption, “Breast In Peace 1997-2019,” and passage — “May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
Miss Vanjie tried to make her case to RuPaul one last time to have her face included in the finale lip sync wheel. It’s by far the funniest segment and most entertaining segment on the finale. She took to the streets of Hollywood to get a petition going for her to be included in the finale. “Zoom out. Zoom out. Zoom out,” is the successor of “Miss Vanjie, Miss Vanjie, Miss Vanjie?” We’ll see. Her interactions with pedestrians were hilarious. “You’re fine as hell. Are you single or taken?” she asked a good looking guy. “I’m taken,” said the guy. “It don’t even matter.” lol. When the guy asked, “What is ‘Vanjie’?” She replied, “the winner of season 11 and your wife, me.” LOL. Her coaching people (and a dog) to sound really sad because she’s not in the finale was hilarious. When she asked a guy if he think there’s enough space for five faces on the wheel, and the guy replied, “No, there’s only space for you.” Her job… was done. lol. And a casual read on Brooke Lynn Hytes was the cherry to the cake. So call “555-VANESSA-VANJIE-VOTERS.MINGLETHING.” I smell a spin-off.
Sidenote: RuPaul’s opening statement is especially important. Queer people are gentle souls, who are often marginalised, demonised and systematically oppressed and abused around the world. Yet are always ready to embrace others to join the tribe without any reservations. Openness is a wonderful thing. But becoming saturated can cause something niche to lose its’ significance or worst, lose its’ identity — one doesn’t have to look very far for clues, there’s plenty in recent history: colonisation, gentrification. When a Queer term becomes very common that even non-Queer folks use it, it’s essence is lost. It’s happening with drag. It’s great when everyone does it, gay or straight. But if we really dig in on what “drag” stands for and the important role it served in the LGBT community, it’s more than just an art expression. It’s a political statement, a potent tool in furthering LGBT rights and causes. RuPaul’s Stonewall reference was a great reminder, not just about voting, but about what drag is. “Inclusive drag” in a way strips that away. As the show gets bigger, more mainstream and drag more popular, there’s a danger of the show moving away from it’s roots and getting swallowed by the general population. We often hear people questioning why the show won’t cast bio Queens (or anyone who does drag)… this is a symptom of that saturation. Straight people already have Miss *something* and Mr. *something*. The LGBT community only has a handful of options to celebrate itself, further causes and be heard in today’s still harsh society. RuPaul’s declaration of the show’s Queerness pretty much put this casting idea to rest.