On Friday, Feb. 15, one of the most action-packed seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars came to an end with a historic tie. For the first time in Drag Race “herstory” (in both regular and All Stars seasons), there was a double drag victory and two queens were crowned the winners: Monét X Change and Trinity “The Tuck” Taylor, both of whom won a $100,000 grand prize.
The tie was the final surprise in a season of twists and turns that caused many fans to be unhappy with how things turned out. Since season two of All Stars, RuPaul has picked the top two queens to lip-sync “for their legacies” and has chosen which queens are in the bottom tier. The winner of the lip sync wins $10,000 and chooses which bottom-tier queen to send home. Earlier in the season, the legendary Manila Luzon, who had won three challenges and two lip-syncs, was sent home by Naomi Smalls the first time she landed in the bottom tier.
The final four queens — Monét, Trinity, Naomi and Monique Hart — then took on their final challenge: appearing in the music video for RuPaul's latest single, “Super Queen,” complete with verses that they wrote themselves and choreography by viral star/dancer Todrick Hall. Following that, each walked the runway in their best “All Star Eleganza” look. Based solely on this episode, I thought Naomi Smalls looked the best in both the music video and on the runway, while Monét X Change had the best video performance. However, if you look at overall performance throughout the season, Naomi had won only a single challenge and two lip-syncs (including the twist where the contestants had to lip-sync against queens who had already been eliminated). Trinity, on the other hand, had won four challenges and three lip-syncs.
Ru chose Trinity and Monét to move on to the final lip sync of the season, performed to Christina Aguilera's “Fighter.” Based on this lip sync only, Monét was the clear winner. She infused her comedic skills while still being able to perform fiercely, including a dramatic death drop. Perhaps the highlight was when she removed her signature “kitty kat” wig to reveal another kitty kat wig underneath it. Trinity's performance was strong as well, but it was overshadowed by Monét's. Trinity however, had a better report card throughout the entire competition.
The debate over what should be weighed more heavily in choosing the winner — the report card from the season as a whole or the final challenge/lip sync — has been a hot topic over the show's last few seasons. For example, in season nine, Shea Couleé went into the finale having won four challenges but was eliminated in the last episode when she lip-synced against Sasha Velour. This now iconic lip-sync to Whitney Houston's “So Emotional” featured Sasha removing her wig to reveal a bunch of rose petals flying out. Clearly Sasha was the winner of the lip sync; however, she had a much lower track record that season, having won half as many challenges as Shea.
Based on this precedent only, it should have been Monét who won All Stars 4. But Trinity still had the better track record. Maybe by choosing both queens, Ru was looking to right the wrongs of the past? Everybody seems to have an invested opinion, and when it comes to Drag Race winners, rarely is everyone satisfied. Some say the tie was a response to criticisms that the three previous All Stars winners were all white. Once Manila was eliminated, Trinity was on top, but a fourth white queen in the “All Star Hall of Fame” wouldn't be a good look for the show. But Monét did have a strong finale performance that cannot be disputed. Another theory for the two-winner finale is that the long-rumored “winner's” season is coming sooner than later and Ru wants more queens to be able to compete.
No matter the reason behind the historic tie, RuPaul's Drag Race continues to keep fans on their heels and it continues to be a beacon of representation for the LGBTQ community. It's the only show on television that features so many LGBTQ people onscreen at the same time. With the season 11 premiere right around the corner, one thing is for sure: RuPaul will never let the hit show rest on its laurels. I can't wait to see what she has in store for us next.
RuPaul's Drag Race season 11 premieres on VH1 Thursday, Feb. 28, at 9pm/8c.