I know. I KNOW! It's been MONTHS since the Finale premiered. At first I was so spent (due to overwhelming satisfaction at the results) that I simply wanted to take a week or two to bask in the afterglow of my happiness. It has become, after all, possibly my favorite season of RPDR. Then life got super busy and it became harder and harder to bring myself to get all the assets together to do this review justice.
HOWEVER: We are a DAY AWAY from RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 2 premiering! So I decided to do this quick recap to not only finally top off the AMAZING Season 8 Finale, but to also get revved up for what is hopefully going to be a killer new All Stars.
So here we go!
The Finale was much like every one that came before it. Each queen struts her stuff in order of their elimination, some small superficial interviews are conducted, the Top 3 (in what I hope is a permanent fixture of future Finales) each perform a final lipsynch to a song tailor-made for them, another slightly more in-depth interview happens after each performance, and then Ru picks the winner. It sounds kind of bland when written in such a truncated way- but trust me: no one can out flash a Drag Queen. And no queen does flashy like Mama Ru. Everyone came out looking fairly good (some more than others, but we'll get to that in a moment) and each of the Top 3 proved yet again why they deserved their spot. And in the end the right girl won. The house down *tongue pop.*
Now, in the storied tradition of my Rants I will be breaking down the queens from best to worst in terms of looks (in my incredibly subjective opinion, of course). I exclude the Top 3 because they have multiple costume changes each and will be judged on their own at the end.
So without further ado, in VERY particular order:
1. The Number 1 Spot is going to break the mold here a bit: the girl who won the night didn't even compete this season. And that winner is obviously Violet Chachki. That dress. That makeup. THAT CROWN. I have never been so blown away by a look in all of RPDR herstory and I doubt we will see anything that manages to top it for years. It was bombastic, regal, stunning, conceptual, couture, impeccably made and every other girl, including Mama Ru, look like trash next to her. For a somewhat controversial winner Violet Chachki proved, right then and there, that her win was not a fluke or a result of Ginger Minge's bad behavior- it was because the girl, and the people she employs to dress her, are FUCKING BRILLIANT and she deserved the crown that was growing right out of her skull like the most fabulous brain tumor ever.
2. Acid Betty: Acid Betty, in my humble opinion, was eliminated too soon. Yes, she was a bit of a bitch initially, but upon re-watching the season she was actually far less harsh than my initial impressions led me to believe. And her look that night had me regretting (more than I already did) her early elimination. This girl is one of the most unique, visually engaging artists to ever grace the RPDR stage. All props to Kim Chi and her equally stunning looks/makeup, but Acid's work was easily on par, and often surpassed Kim's efforts. And tonight proved that. Her Crystalized Lobster Realness was something out of a science fiction movie and I was LIVING FOR IT.
3. Dax Exclamation Point: Her dress was perfection, her padding was well done, her makeup was gorgeous and her hair/fascinator was Ororo Monroe Goes To The Oscars. Dax may not have been able to give her best during her brief stay in the competition, but her appearance here shows that there is so much more to this talented, sweet Cosplay Goddess. Out of all the queens this season, with the possible exception of her fellow-eliminated Laila McQueen, Dax seemed to get the short end of the editing stick. However if that's the motivation it took for Miss Point to come out in one of the loveliest looks of the night then there is at least that silver lining to Miss Storm's shining cloud.
4. Chi Chi Devayne: while I do very much believe Naomi Smalls deserved her place in the Top 3, I also firmly hold that Chi Chi deserved it just as much (if possibly slightly more) and would have made a more well-rounded Top 3. And can you IMAGINE how AMAZING her finale lipsynch performance would have been?! I actually get a little resentful thinking about it. However it is what it is and so I'll just have to live with giving Miss Devayne high marks for her impeccable, self-made Vampire Goddess Realness look. Everything was stunning, from her Blond Supreme Goddess hair to her black lipstick, to her brilliantly tailored leather (pleather?) dress. Girl had it going on. Miss Devayne stole my heart all season and I can't WAIT to see more from her.
5. Derrick Barry: I was not a fan of this girl during Season 8. She annoyed the fuck out of me and I still do believe she was there FAR longer than her efforts had merited. But she has also grown significantly since the season ended and she really does seem to be able to take a joke/criticism much better now. She's still not my favorite queen, but she's growing on me. As for her look during the finale? She rocked it. Hit it out of the park. Her mug was flawless (and showed legit growth from her efforts on the show- EYEBROWS!) the dress was sparkly, Britney-inspired and yet still very much Derrick Barry. Props where it's due: Derrick looked amazing and deserves kudos for it.
6. Laila McQueen: Laila did Laila. And she did it well. While it wasn't my favorite look of the night it was far from the worst. And I really do LOVE her makeup skills. Her look was also one of the first I've seen where a wig as violently purple as hers didn't look cheap and off-the-rack. It had body, shape, and a thickness to it that most vibrantly colored wigs tend to lack. I also LIVED for that corset. Upon close inspection it's a work of art. Laila is a quirky, fun, hysterical queen. She drowned while on the show, but since then has really come into her own.
7. Thorgy Thor: The only girl of the night who didn't wear a dress- Thorgy's Acid Lady Predator wasn't my favorite look (the padding was odd) but it was fun, playful, unexpected and she seemed to be back to her happy, exuberant self in it. Thorgy may not have had the best attitude by the end her time there (which I totally sympathize with- girl shouldn't have gone home that episode) but she has managed to gain a life-long fan in me. THORGY FOR PREZNIT!
8. Robbie Turner: I love me some Robbie. That aside: this look was kind of "meh." The dress was certainly pretty, but it looked more like a Day Dress some southern belle would wear to a spring brunch than something you'd wear to wow a crowd at a Drag Race finale. Couple that with that kind of plastic, somewhat thirsty wig (of a questionable color and harsh hairline) and less-than-stellar makeup and I was a little underwhelmed. Which, again, is not to say she didn't look good. It's just not her best. And I demand your best, Miss Turner! Because you ARE one of the best!
9. Cynthia Lee Fontaine (Blank): I see where she was going with it, but Miss Congeniality's look was like everything else she wore before and after: an obvious concept bogged down by lazy construction and questionable decisions. The top's low v-line shouldn't have had the nude fabric covering her cleavage, the butt-window shouldn't have had that seam in it that covered the crack (and thus negated the entire purpose of a butt window) and her hair was lop-sided, bent, and improperly placed on her head. Just . . . not a successful look to me. Luckily Fontaine-Blank has never been about look: her personality was still as vibrant and wonderful as ever.
10. Naysha Lopez: The only look of the night I outright hated. It was sloppy, boring, and lacked any sort of glamour beyond the red. She's a sweet girl and her mug is always on POINT- but she reminds me a lot of Vivienne Pinay: a girl who thinks she's far prettier/fishier than she actually is, with a personality that rivals milk. At least on the show. After the show Naysha, like almost every other girl this show has had as a contestant, has proven herself to be intelligent, kind, fun and talented. But even in this finale it wasn't on display. Weakest look of the night, by far.
As for the top 3? I rate then as follows:
1. Bob The Drag Queen and Kim Chi: Both these girls GAVE. IT. during the finale. In all three of their looks. Bob showed the most range and really proved to everyone that she can do it all: glamour, chic, fashion forward, and Banjee Girl realness. Kim's looks were overall slightly more polished and were all absolutely STUNNING, but were also all similar in silhouette and aesthetic. In the end, from what I could tell, it came down to their performances that broke the tie.
2. Naomi Smalls: the only reason she isn't tied with Bob and Kim is her first look of the night. That green latex dress was the wrong color for her, the hair was too obvious, and it simply didn't look quite right. Her final look of the night and performance look were both stunners, but she was sadly bogged down by that one look.
When it comes to performances:
1. Bob the Drag Queen: GIRL HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK. I still go back, to this day, and ru-watch that performance because it is DAMN fun. She turned it into an entire broadway production. Her lipsynch was flawless, her incorporating other queens a brilliant touch, her dancing was the most impressive of the night, and she looked like she was LIVING for it- something that proved extremely infectious. The second that performance finished it was beyond clear to me she had snatched that crown.
2. Naomi Smalls: girl can move. She can pose. She can stomp that runway/stage in a way that only Raja before her had ever managed to do. And she managed to look like an Old Hollywood Movie Star doing it. ALL props to Naomi- it was a fun performance.
3. Kim Chi: the song was catchy. Her dress was wonderful and I really enjoyed her nod to her Korean heritage. But girl: no shoes? NOT EVEN FLATS? And what's worse: you don't even offer any dance moves that justify the decision to forgo heels?! That was the end, in my eyes, to Miss Chi's chances. It was cute, quirky, and fun but she mostly just stood there doing Handography while her backup dancers put in all the effort. I get it, Kim Chi can't really move well, but it's called PRACTICE GIRL. You had months to prepare for that moment. Taking some dancing classes in heels would have really done you justice.
So that's my assessment of the night, more or less. One of the better Live Finale's ever (especially if you also go and watch the Top 3's Real Reaction video that Logotv released showing how Bob really reacted to her win). See you all for ALL STARS 2!
PS: Quick final shout-out to Ru for having my favorite Ru-union looks she's ever worn.