Every week in Slate’s RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race TV Club, J. Bryan Lowder will have an IM conversation with a different RuPaul fan after the losing contestants have sashayed away. This week, he finishes where things began, in a kiki about the finale episode with Jeffery Bloomer, SlateV’s blogger/editor.
J. Bryan Lowder: Well, well, that's a wrap Mr. Bloomer. The first, brief season of All-Stars has come to an end, and we have for our queen the poised and "practiced" Chad Michaels. I have to say, all in all, I'm pretty satisfied with that result. But I'm all tuckeled up for your take.
Jeff Bloomer: Well, Chad Michaels has been acting like she won since the beginning, so I suppose I'm happy for her—the senior queen finally got her crown. I told you after the premiere that I just wanted to see her run out, but Chad asserted herself to the top since that first lip sync, and I can only be fair and say she earned it. Still: Am I wrong that the only surprise of that finale was that Ru actually picked a winner? I wasn't hoping for another wicked gimmick, but this still ends as a shoulder-shrug for me.
Lowder: You know, I do agree that this FINALE was a little whimpering for my money. I mean, this was meant to be THE ALL STAR, equal in talent (or at least portrait placement) to RuPaul herself. But a shrug was about the level of energy involved, yes. As for the question of Chad's deserving to win, I felt like watching her tonight, you just couldn't give it to anyone else. She was funny, put-together, stylish and, surprisingly, kind of fresh. The other queens just didn't have a chance—especially when poor, dufus-scored Shannel looked like a fracking lobster up there on the main stage. This ain’t the Mermaid parade, honey.
Bloomer: I don't even know what to say about the final looks. Shannel's red-bombed Ursula getup certainly got an exasperated sigh out of my crew over here, but nobody was especially remarkable, not even Chad's sleek bodysuit. The girls were themselves, I suppose, but I was expecting to laugh. I did not.
Lowder: That's fair—though I have to say I was really feeling Chad's sticking with asymmetrically weighted wigs this evening. They work for her—something about them smoothes out the Cher implant face. But since you bring up laughs, let's speak for a minute on the comedy portion. I thought Cheri Oteri did a fine job as the shady coach, but did you genuinely find any of the resulting routines funny? Shannel was downright racist, Juju stole the Margaret Cho routine, and the others weren't that great either. And, of course, one might ask whether we should expect queen to be standup comediennes in the first place…
Bloomer: I agree. Juju did Asian jokes. Chad did Mexican jokes. Shannel did black jokes (I think?). But I thought Raven brought something raw, if a little sad, to her bit—a mordant, very dark take on I-can't-get-any humor that had a surprisingly bracing edge for me. As to the question of whether the challenge made sense at all, I confess that is outside my expertise—but it's certainly better than chasing people around with trash from an L.A. dumpster.
Lowder: This is true. Of course, I expect my queens to be proficient at humorous banter, but I'm not sure about a full-on routine. But then again, I expect kick splits as a matter of course, so we all have our preferences.
Bloomer: But to challenge your take on the night a little bit: Is it possible Raven really lost during the lip sync? I thought she had a shot in those final moments, which I didn't really before the episode. Wishful thinking?
Lowder: Hmm, that's a good question. I definitely thought Chad had it going into the final portion of the episode, but I do think Raven gave a fine interpretation of "Responsitrannity." The only misstep I detected was her choice of roboting that one synth break. If I'm not mistaken, Santino and I recoiled at that obvious crassness in unison; however, I'm not sure that made much of a difference
Bloomer: I think everyone cringed in unison. What the hell was that? She had a good thing going in the beginning, but before long she was rolling on the ground and taking obvious miscues on the moment. By the end, even I had to concede it.
Lowder: Well, given all the criticism that's been printed here and abroad, I'm wondering of RuCo will concede that the teams gimmick was a bad one. My crew and I remarked tonight that the only reason Miss Shannel was still here in top four land was because of those stupid teams. She was clearly not on the same level as the other three. I'd much rather have seen Manila up there, or, though I've soured on her a bit, Latrice. I remember your not being a fan at the beginning either...
Bloomer: You know, I thought it might work in the beginning, but I quickly soured on it. It gave the whole proceeding an arbitrary sheen—most of the time, the losses were clearly caused by one girl and not her partner, and it just seemed like such an unfair grind. By the time we got to this week, the four who were left didn't have with any sense of triumph.
And so far, I have to say we are some sour bitches. Was there anything the finale of this abbreviated go-around gave us, other than bizarre trailers for the next full season in January?
Lowder: Ha, so we have been. Well, I did enjoy watching a bunch of queens trying to get ready in a moving van—seems only slightly better than the area in which the queens get ready in my local dive bar—the basement food storage area of the adjacent roti place. But your point raises a final question: Was this little mini season worth it? I mean, I was generally entertained, I guess, but I'm not sure felt it was as edifying as a regular season. Maybe we thirst for fresh tea? I'm not sure...
Bloomer: Right you are. If this format is revived, just go all out and bring back previous winners—reputations are on the line, I suppose, but so is $100,000. Not to mention that "one-of-a-kind," still-unnamed vacation.
Lowder: That format sounds appealing, as does that vacation. But for now, this queen is going to take off her crown and slide into bed for a long winter's nap—till Season V in January. See you then?
Bloomer: The lounge awaits!
Tomorrow: What other writers and Slate commenters thought about Episode 6