Reflection on season six of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars

Last Thursday, the season finale of “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars” premiered on Paramount+. After writing their own verse for RuPaul’s newest song, “This is Our Country,” and performing choreography for the music video, the top four queens all performed a final lip sync for the crown to Lady Gaga’s “Stupid Love.” In the end, it was Kylie Sonique Love who was crowned as the winner of All Stars 6.

Kylie Sonique Love originally appeared on Drag Race in season two, where she was fourth to go home, ultimately coming in ninth place. She was the show’s first cast member to come out as a transgender woman, and is now the first trans winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Her story is incredible, and she truly is a fierce and talented queen. While I am not upset that she won, I have to admit that she was not my top choice; in fact, she was not even my second. Of the top four queens, Kylie was my third choice to win the crown, and this is where my real beef with Drag Race stems from.

I started binge watching Drag Race in late May 2021. I work in the costume shop, and I was tired of hearing my coworkers talk about Drag Race as I sat completely clueless and unable to contribute to the conversation. I was almost immediately hooked. Especially as a theatrical costume and makeup person, I became so invested in the artistry portrayed on Drag Race. I watched all thirteen seasons, and finished them around the middle of July. While some may (rightfully) call it a hyperfixation, I prefer to simply say I am very passionate about Drag Race and the queens that compete on the show.

Having watched over a decade of a show in such a short span, I really got to see some patterns that occurred in each season. The winner of season one was Bebe Zahara Benet, which was the obvious choice to me. When Tyra Sanchez won season two, I was upset, but when I saw that the rest of the internet was as well, I felt better about my feelings. Throughout the following seasons, it was nice to see the best drag queens win (as is in the theme song of the show), and while I did have my favorites, I was comfortable with who was crowned the winner; that is, until season eleven.

Season eleven was the start of a trend that I had hoped would not continue. In season eleven, RuPaul crowned Yvie Oddly the winner over Brooke Lynn Hytes. I was not thrilled about this choice because I felt that Brook Lynn had performed so much better throughout the entirety of the season than Yvie Oddly, but I let it slide as a small disappointment.

The following season, RuPaul crowned Jaida Essence Hall over Gigi Goode, and I found myself extremely disappointed. Once again, the queen who had undoubtedly performed better throughout the season was not crowned the winner, and I did not understand why.

Season 13, which aired in early 2021, saw the crowning of Symone, and I am still rather upset about this. Rose had performed better throughout the competition, never landing in the bottom a single time. While Symone had won more challenges, when she had an off week, she was VERY off. My favorite example of this is in the Rusical challenge; Symone was completely and utterly terrible, whatever way you slice it. The poor singing could have been excused if her performance was not so terrible, but her awkward movements made it hard to even watch. She rightfully landed in the bottom, but after the lip sync, Ru decided to save both queens, sending neither Symone nor Kandy Muse home that week. I understand, but at the same time it was very frustrating to see such poor performances be rewarded with a double save.

Ultimately, when Symone was crowned, I realized the pattern that had developed: the most “relatable” queens were being crowned over the ones who had rather objectively done the best in the competition. This has me feeling a certain way.

At the end of each maxi challenge, the top and bottom queens are critiqued. I do not know when this critique first became overused, it is certainly a stupid one: queens were told that they were “too perfect.” Indeed, these people who were competing for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar, on this show where “the best drag queen wins,” the judges were critiquing queens for being too perfect, citing that it made them “harder to relate to.”

In words similar to that of LaShauwn Beyond, this ain’t “RuPaul’s Relatable Queen Race.” Having incredibly poor performances does not make a queen relatable in my eyes. While every person on this earth is allowed to make mistakes and be beautifully imperfect, it is very frustrating to see queens told they are too perfect, largely because if they had not been perfect, they would certainly have gotten clocked for that, as well. It feels as if there is no way to please the judges on Drag Race when they tell a queen they are “too perfect.”

On All Stars 6, Ginger Minj was, at a key point in the competition, told that she was too perfect, and it landed her in the bottom. It is so endlessly frustrating to me to hear that she was “too prepared” when they would not have let her hear the end of it had she been underprepared. For the queens with more experience, I can completely see how it might be hard for them to not be extremely prepared for each challenge; they are industry professionals. It only makes sense that they be polished to near perfection. I think it would be more embarrassing if they were not, and instead claimed to be a well-known, professional queen and proceeded to make large and sloppy mistakes.

It is truly a conundrum. On one hand, I feel they should be rewarded for being so polished and refined in what they do. On the other hand, in the age of social media, it makes sense to crown a relatable “fan favorite” queen, as that is what is going to ultimately get the show more attention and more favorable comments. Ultimately, as RuPaul always reminds us, the final decision is his to make. I personally wish that the queen who performed best throughout the show would be the ultimate winner of the show, but I can certainly also see how that might make for bad television; at the end of the day, Drag Race is a reality show that needs to produce content that will keep the internet talking.

Although she was not my first choice, I am very happy for Kylie and congratulate her on a race well run. She performed well and took home the crown, and that is all we can really ask of her at the end of the day. Although I stand by my personal ranking of the queens, I truly believe Kylie earned it and am content with her win.