RuPaul’s Drag Race was always considered one of television’s most addictive competition series, but its last season took on a new, decidedly political tone that turned it into an all-around great show. It was a therapeutic escape from the stressful news cycle of 2017, and a joyful celebration of the drag community that may have been a cutthroat competition, but still focused on a group of performers who supported each other. To say All Stars 3 had a lot to live up to is an understatement – so how was the “All Star Queen Ruveal?”
To sum it up in one word: dramatic.
This season of All Stars certainly started off with a bang, as Ru introduced surprising new rules, the queens formed alliances while feuding with past enemies, and a surprise contestant emerged to shake-up the competition. While Drag Race’s political edge may have been softened (for now), they certainly left viewers entertained, checking off all the boxes that make for great reality television.
For the uninitiated, Drag Race All Stars pits former queens from various seasons against each other for the chance to join RuPaul’s Hall of Fame. This year’s cast includes fan favorites, like Shangela (Season 2 & 3), polarizing queens like Milk (Season 6), and more controversial contestants, like Morgan McMichaels (Season 2), who wastes no time in becoming the villain of the bunch. For the premiere, Ru pitted the girls against each other in a talent show, but had a fairly large surprise up his sleeve: they would not only compete against each other, but the original winner of Drag Race, BeBe Zahara Benet.
With a title like All Stars, one should expect nothing but top-tier performances from the entire ensemble and, for the most part, the queens delivered the goods. Emerging as the best of the bunch, at least in this critic’s opinion, was Shangela, who delivered a rousing, gospel-inspired lip sync to an original song.
Usually, it’s annoying to see the queens perform their own numbers (which, let’s face it, typically sound like D-list pop singles), but Shangela hit it out of the park and emerged as the best of the pack. Elsewhere in the episode, BenDeLaCreme killed it with a hilarious dance performance, while the bottom two contestants (who shall go unspoiled) were appropriately named. The first queen eliminated was definitely the last person I was expecting to go home, which is a promising sign for the twists that are to come.
But, even if you ignore the competition aspect to Drag Race, the sheer level of entertainment brought to the table is always astonishing. Whether you tune in for Ru’s cheesy double entendres, the shade tossed by the queens, or the challenges themselves, Drag Race is sensory overload in the best way possible.
Sure, the political nature that made the last season of Drag Race so great was muted in the premiere, and one contestant even mocks the more optimistic tone that 2017’s edition of the series showcased. But there is still a lot to love about these All Stars. And, if the bizarre cliffhanger ending is indicative of anything, we’re in for many more surprises over the next few weeks. Get excited.
Overall rating: 9 out of 10.