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RPDR Rant: All Stars 3, Episode 1

Aedan Roberts

Hey all! Well isn't this embarrassing. Here I was, moving along at a decent clip with my episode rants and then suddenly: SILENCE. My explainer: after episode 7 of AS2 Jon and I took a trip to Japan. By the time I got back I was behind by two episodes and still had a full-time job. This meant that I was never really able to catch back up and quickly lost the rhythm of doing these things. Fast-forward to Season 9 and I simply wanted to take in the season and not burden myself with these lengthy write-ups.

HOWEVER: I always enjoyed getting my thoughts on RPDR down to share with anyone willing to listen because GODDAMN I love this show. So now that I have a bit of free time I want to try again. So without further ado...


So All Stars 3, episode 1.

Lets get right into it by writing a quick synopsis: the girls arrive, they are surprised by the 10th queen, they have a half-successful Reading Mini Challenge, they do a "Variety Show" and the Top 2 Queens perform to decide who sends one of the Bottom 2 home. So . . . AS2 redux. If it ain't broke don't fix it- and it definitely ain't broke.

NOW ON TO THE BREAKDOWN. In order of who arrives:

TRIXIE MATTEL: here is a girl who flopped on her original season but whose success post-show has been stratospheric. I've been a big fan of Trixie and Katya's youtube-turned-Viceland hit Uhhnn since it debuted and have had the pleasure of watching Trixie go from Season 7 Roadkill to the fabulous, self-confident marketing powerhouse she is today. I would argue that Trixie, at this current time, is one of the most success Drag Race Girls of all time- and it's well deserved. She's smart, she's funny, she's got a unique style, and she knows how to use those three elements to their max potential.

Her performance in the first Episode continues that success. Her walk-in (or roll-in) Roller-Blade Look was pure Trixie and flawlessly executed. Her talking heads were some of the best in the episode, her reads were fun (if not the best), and her lovely country music performance was delightful (did I forget to mention she also came out with one of the most genuinely good Country albums of 2017? No? Well, if you even mildly enjoy country you should take a listen). While she didn't get a top spot in the Maxi-Challenge she still came out of this first episode one of the front-runners in the competition. My pre-show prediction had Trixie as Top 3 (and a VERY high likelihood of taking the crown) and that hasn't changed.

MILK: another queen I was thrilled to see return. I have always enjoyed MILK. However I never realized how polarizing she was until after this episode aired and I perused the RPDR Reddit. Girls were GOING IN on her - often in ways I highly disagreed with. Regardless, here is my personal assessment of MILK's performance:

  • Her walk-in look was amazing.
  • Her reads were some of the funniest.
  • Her talking-heads were sometimes a bit too bitchy but I still enjoyed most of them. 
  • Her Maxi Challenge performance was cute.

Her Maxi Challenge was where people on Reddit had the biggest problem with her. Many thought she deserved to be Bottom 2 for it instead of Morgan. I highly disagree with that assessment. MILK's performance was quirky, weird, and a little repetitive - but it was well executed, often funny, had the judges laughing and her hair/mug were flawless. She was giving me 1950's Lydia from Beetlejuice and I was there for it. So to each their own.

The biggest thing I can say about MILK is this: she has really upped her drag skill game and I'm excited to see more of her.

CHI CHI DEVAYNE: I love Chichi. LOVE HER. She's delightful and genuine. Sadly, however, she doesn't seem to be entirely in the competition (ALA Adore in AS2). Her entrance look was cute (I never would have guessed it was trash bags). Her reads were . . . . okay. But her Maxi Challenge? Oh dear. Chichi really fell flat(s) here and it's kind of baffling because I actually think she's a fucking BRILLIANT performer. I hope she is able to pull herself out of it, but if her appearances on the AS3 Press Tour are anything to base things on I'm worried Chichi's time on the show will be too short. (every single press-event and hype-video featuring the girls seems to have Chichi not saying a single word and looking miserable. The one video I saw where she talked it was because Thorgy directed people to her and she explained that she was having a hard time with terrible people on Social Media. The poor, wonderful girl seems Over It and that has me very worried.)

THORGY THOR: a quick note to the otherwise delightful(ly A.D.D.) Miss Thor: STOP TALKING ABOUT BOB. Bob won. She deserved it. Get over it. YOU are here. Bob is not. Concentrate on YOU.

That being said she had a strong first episode here. Her entrance look was fun and Clown Chic. Her reads were TERRIBLE (seriously, stop talking about Bob) but her Maxi performance was fantastic (if sometimes a little off-key). As long as she doesn't self-sabotage she will go . . . . oh who am I kidding. Girl will totally self-destruct. But I still love her and look forward to her getting as far as she will go. Do I see her as Top 3 material? Not in this season, sadly. But as long as she embraces her amazingness she will continue to have a fan in me.


MORGAN MCMICHAELS: I was actually looking forward to Morgan's return. Yes, she's cunty- but she's also super sweet to her Drag Sisters and willing to do anything for them. She's also really stepped up her Female Illusion since her time on Season 2. Sadly, however, she didn't seem to study Tatianna's strategy in AS2 and decided to forge her own far-less successful path. Tati walked in bubbling with gratitude and happiness to even be there. It was infectious and was quickly backed up with a VASTLY improved . . . everything. Morgan, on the other hand, seemed to have an insecure chip on her shoulder that caused her to quickly rush for the only role she thought needed filling: the villain. In the end it was her (admittedly refreshing) honesty about her elimination strategy that sent her home. Her entrance look was a bit busy but I liked it. Her reads were middle-of-the-road but not bad. Her Maxi Performance was . . . bad. REALLY bad. But she looked FUCKING FABULOUS as she self-destructed on stage.

I'm actually sad that Morgan won't have more time to shine (save the mid-season twist). Like Tatianna in AS2 Morgan needed the airtime more than possibly any other girl (bar one). But thems the brakes and I ultimately agreed with the decision to send her packing.

AJA: I was initially kind of perplexed with Aja's inclusion here. She is fresh off the heels of her time on Season 9 and out of all the potential girls from that season to return she was NOT high on my list. Like most other people I would have expected Trinity Taylor, Shea Coulee or Valentina to return over Aja.

However she has proven in this episode why she absolutely deserves to be here. The current reigning Queen of Memes has managed to step up her game in ways that imply there were YEARS between the filming of Season 9 and AS3 instead of mere months. Her looks are head-over-heels better, her mug is VASTLY improved, and her performance in the Maxi Challenge was jaw-droppingly amazing. She out-danced the two queens whose biggest talent is dancing, for fucks sake! Even her reads were some of the better ones (especially that More gone one).

I look forward to Aja continuing to surprise me. Hopefully she will!

BEN DE LA CREME: I love Ben. I am one of those die-hard fans who, to this day, firmly believe she was robbed of her deserved spot in the Top 3 of Season 6 (though, lets be honest, she still would have lost to Bianca because: obviously). Her return to RPDR only furthers my case. The girl is brilliant, clear-headed, fair and FUCKING TALENTED AS FUCK. And BOY is she hysterical. Outside of Raja in Season 3 I'm pretty sure Ben is the only girl to win every single possible challenge in the first episode. She NAILED the Reading Mini Challenge (her reads were miles ahead of the other girls- even Trixie). Her incredible, original Maxi Performance had me crying from laughter and pressing the rewind button over and over. Even her Lipsynch was brilliant (proving to all those who haven't looked her up on Youtube just how good she actually is at lipsynching). She was the full package this episode. I even thought her re-purposed Miss Congeniality entrance look was clever and cute.

Ben was in my personal Top 3 with Trixie before the show started. She is definitely still there now and I am firmly in the Ben Camp.

KENNEDY DAVENPORT: I have to be honest here: I don't like Kennedy Davenport. I think her style is horrendous, her personality is grating, her attitude is dour and bitter, and she seems really full of herself. She also comes off genuinely unintelligent. And to be honest she didn't change my opinion all that much this first episode.

She walked in having apparently just been glitter-bombed by a bag of sticky disco-ball pieces, and while I admire her desire to come in guns blazing it just . . . didn't work for me. There were good elements there but it was all just . . . . waaaaaay too much. Like I said elsewhere: this outfit made Alyssa Edwards look like a spokesperson for Chanel. I didn't know where to look and it was all kind of sloppily done (except the dress itself, which was very well tailored and fit her like a glove). And for a girl whose lazy eye has often been clocked by her fellow queens she didn't do herself any favors topping the outfit off with some yellow cat-eye contacts that weren't aligned properly in her eyes.

Her looks didn't improve at all for her performance either. It was just REALLY tacky and boring- a neon pink cheetah pattern version of her Hello Kitty monstrosity. Simply put: her taste level hasn't improved at all and, judging from the workroom interactions, neither has her personality.

I will give her this, though: Miss Davenport shut me ALLLLLLLL the way up when it comes to my criticism of her performance capabilities. She ROCKED the Maxi Challenge, coming in second only to Aja (whose looks were vastly superior and put her over the top). Her moves were flawless, fun and her finale cartwheeling ONTO the platform Aja jumped off of was a perfect bookend to the dancing performances.

Am I happy she's there? Not really. Does she deserve to be there? After that performance I admit she definitely does. Do I want her to make it far? Not really, no. If anyone reading this knows her personally: do I want them to know I bear her no ill will and realize she's probably incredibly sweet off camera? Absolutely. And thus ends the question answer portion.

SHANGELA: another girl I was NOT looking forward to seeing again. While I've really loved her cameos on television and think she's a talented queen- her time on Season 3 was absolutely goddamned horrible. She was just . . . . horrible. She was obnoxious, loud, tried to make everything about her and was constantly playing the victim while attacking anyone and everyone. It was NOT CUTE. She was Phi Phi O'Hara before Phi Phi was Phi Phi O'Hara.

Unlike Miss Davenport, though? She really seems to have changed (so far). She was actually fun and, outside the need for her to burn "halleloo" to the ground along with the box meme, I really enjoyed her this episode. She also stepped her pussy up something FIERCE. It's amazing what six or seven years of experience will do to a girl's look and mug. I'm actually, shockingly, looking forward to seeing more of her. As long as she doesn't fall into her old Season 3 habits I could see her going all the way to the Top 3.

In summation: her entrance look was cute (sans box), her reads were okay, and her performance was well-done (it didn't help that I already saw this particular one when she performed a version of it with her fellow Haus of Edwards sisters in a pre-finale warm-up for one of the earlier seasons).

BEBE ZAHARA BENET: I was SOOOOOOOO relieved when the final queen was revealed to be the ever-majestic Bebe (the rumor I was told is that it was Darienne Lake and I was NOT there for that- sorry to any Lake fans). Bebe, Season 1 winner, really deserves this. Her brilliance had been all but forgotten to the VAST majority of the current Drag Race viewing audience and that definitely needed to be corrected. On top of that Season 1 - the Forgotten Season - was more of a long pilot episode filmed in Ru's parent's basement. The budget was non-existent, the cameras were cheap and smeared with vaseline, and the prize was a measly 20k. Alaska won more money from challenges alone in AS2. Ben won nearly as much in this very first episode! So if anyone questions why a previous winner could be allowed to return? That's fucking why.

And Bebe did an AMAZING job here. Her entrance look was FLAWLESS, her reads were great, her demeanor and poise was second to none in the workroom, and her Maxi Performance was absolutely wonderful. She showed in this single episode why she won Season 1 - and also why the girls should be worried.

I am so excited for the rest of this season!

My current Top 3: Ben, Trixie, Bebe (with a close 4th Shangela).

See you next week! (hopefully I can keep this going the whole time!)