OPPULANCE – you own everything! In this season finale of Rupaul’s Drag Race, season 11, our queens truly do own everything.
It’s that time of year again, Christmas for drag fans across the globe. At this year’s live eleganza we’re treated to all the fun, all the drama, all the fashion statements, and all the political statements.
The penultimate episode of drag race has been filmed live in front of a live auditorium of viewers since season 4, where Sharon Needles was the first winner to grace the large stage show. Through the years, the format has altered slightly with perspective shifting away from the running up queens and instead focussing on platforming our potential winners. As well as this, season 9 saw the introduction of a lip sync battle for the crown, which now represents the final hoop for queens to jump through. What hasn’t changed over the years is the atmosphere – there is always giddy, nervous excitement while we wait to see if our favourite queen gets to walk away with the grand title.
This year saw a new addition to the show’s run with the introduction of individual interview videos for the queens. Ironically the most entertaining video came from the queen who sadly was no longer in the running for the crown. The most captivating queen in the show’s herstory – the walking meme that is Miss Vanessa Vanjie Mateo – was back yet again because no amount of eliminations can keep this queen down. In her campaign video to win Drag Race, Vanjie took her naturally quick (and sometimes accidental) wit took to the street and threw plenty of shade while she was at it. Based on the audience’s response to her appearance, they really wouldn’t have minded if Rupaul had just stopped the show and crowned Miss Vanjie right then and there.
Alongside all the joviality of the night, there were some disappointments. Silky Ganache seemed unusually downtrodden during the finale and not at all like her usual bombastic self. This attitude check is likely due to the unfortunate barrage of online hate she received during the show. The toxicity of drag race fandom (particularly towards queens of colour) has been widely criticised and yet, unfortunately, continues to grow in accordance with the increasing audience. For a show that aimed to promote love in the community, this problematic consequence of the show’s mounting popularity is devastating, especially when it is so clearly impacting the queens emotionally.
Despite the show still failing to protect their queen’s against online abuse, it at least tried to take a political stand during the finale against wider homophobic hate with a short video that discussed Stonewall and the importance of knowing your herstory.
With all these added components to the format this year, you would expect the show to drag on a bit (pun intended). On the contrary, Ru and her team showed why Drag Queens are the number one entertainers in the world.
The shows penultimate event however was of course the lip-sync battle eleganza. Though not many fans are all too fond on this method of crowning (myself included) due to its tendency for queens who had previously been front-runners to fall at the last hurdle (for instance Shea Couleé, season 9). This year’s finale lip-sync however certainly delivered.
Our first lip-sync battle saw Brooke Lynn Hytes and Silky battle it out to Bootylicious. Brooke brought her signature ballet moves combined with some bootylicious contemporary dance moves. If that didn’t attract the audience to her side enough, the hilariously understated yet genius shoe reveal from high heels to red ballet pumps certainly did. As already discussed, Silky’s mood seemed defeated, which contributed to her loss of the lip-sync, however she still came swinging with repeated outfit and wig reveals. Unfortunately, they just weren’t enough to stand up against the lip-sync assassin that is Brooke.
Our next lip-sync was between A’keria Davenport and Yvie Oddly. No matter how talented A’keria is at entertaining an audience (and believe me, she is) no one was beating fan favourite Yvie and her utterly fabulous and utterly odd outfit. An amalgamation of bright coloured creature puppets looking like a swirling acid trip on stage. If that lewk wasn’t captivating enough, her entire presence in general certainly was. Yvie just has a being that can’t be ignored – whether it’s her wild facial impressions or her mind-bending (and body-bending) acrobatic moves, it’s impossible to tear your eyes away, therefore naturally, Yvie won the lip-sync and moved onto the final round.
Anyone who remembers Yvie and Brooke’s gag-worthy lip-sync battle in episode 8, which earned them a double save, knew they were in for a treat with this final battle. The final lip-sync between these two fantastic queens was certainly close as they are both truly brilliant entertainers (as were all the queens this season!) however in the end, despite Brooke’s impressive track record this season, fan-favourite Yvie Oddly stole the show, as she so often does.
Winning the lip-sync and the season, our reigning queen Yvie Oddly marched triumphant along the stage to roaring applause from her many many fans. She represented the odd, the outspoken, the emotional, and now she represents victory.