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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 10, Episode 14, “Grand Finale”

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 10, Episode 14, “Grand Finale”

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 10, Episode 14, “Grand Finale”

When Sasha Velour snatched the crown in last season’s finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race, many felt it came out of left field. Even though we never got to really see her lip-sync for her life at any point in the season, it was a minor upset to see her ascend beyond three lip-sync assassins. In retrospect, the live auditorium atmosphere played as much a role as anything in selecting the winner, because Sasha had the good sense to recognize that, when you’re playing not just to RuPaul, but to the back row, you’d better be packing some impossible-to-miss stunts under that lace-front. So even though it may not have made a ton of sense to crown Sasha from a narrative sense, it played into the overt populism of national politics.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 10, Episode 13, “Queens Reunited”

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 10, Episode 13, “Queens Reunited”

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 10, Episode 13, “Queens Reunited”

Last year’s RuPaul’s Drag Race reunion was the best episode of the season, a welcome return of the panelist-discussion format that went away after season three. At that point, the show opted to switch to a pre-taped finale in front of a live audience, in order to avoid winner leaks. But which of the queens ultimately wins is of far less dramatic importance to me than watching Ru and her girls tie up some of the loose ends of the show’s interpersonal dynamics. What’s changed since taping the program? How have the queens’ relationships flourished or foundered outside of the hothouse environment of the show’s shooting schedule? What’s their booking rate these days? Miss Vanjie for president? If it hadn’t been for the old reunion format’s return last season, “She looks like Linda Evangelista” Aja wouldn’t have been allowed to point out it’s not really reading someone, per se, when it’s “aggressively complimenting.”

Season 10, Episode 12, “American” Season 10, Episode 12, “American”

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 10, Episode 12, “American”

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 10, Episode 12, “American”

Last week, I came as close as I could to saying Kameron Michaels is the villain of this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, whether she likes it or not. Now, after watching the final challenge episode before RuPaul crowns the winner of the show’s 10th season, I’m convinced she’s not a villain at all, but is instead the embodiment of the show’s new VH1-era manifestation. And that’s what’s at the root of the abuse she’s currently suffering on social media. Once again, the subject of the show’s toxic fanbase has come to a head, with the elimination of fan-sorta-favorite Miz Cracker in the face of Kameron’s lip-sync. Kameron was forced to turn comments off on her Instagram following the airing of last week’s episode. Here I submit the wild theory that it’s not Kameron that the fans are frustrated with, but the show itself.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 8, "RuPaul Roast"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 8, “RuPaul Roast”

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 8, “RuPaul Roast”

For the benefit of the children, or those clearly old enough to know better by now, let’s start our seminar on the fundamentality of “reading” at the very beginning, courtesy of a lesson plan most famously expounded by Paris Is Burning’s Dorian Corey, and forgive a thorough bitch for quoting in full:

“[Picking at] those little flaws, that’s because that’s a part of shade. That’s the idea; knock ’em out if you can. Get ’em any way. Hit ’em below the belt. Shade comes from reading. Reading came first. Reading is the real art form of insults. You get in a smart crack, and everyone laughs and kikis, because you found a flaw and exaggerated it, and you’ve got a good read going. If it’s happening between the gay world and the straight world, it’s not really a read. It’s more of an insult, a vicious slur fight. But it’s how they develop a sense of how to read. They may call you a faggot or a drag queen, and you find something to call them. But then when you are all of the same thing, then you have go to a fine point. In other words, if I’m a black queen and you’re a black queen, we can’t call each other black queens because we’re both black queens. That’s not a read, that’s just a fact. So then we talk about your ridiculous shape, your saggy face, your tacky clothes. Reading became a developed form where it became shade. Shade is: I don’t tell you you’re ugly, but I don’t have to tell you because you know you’re ugly. And that’s shade.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 6, "Snatch Game"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 6, “Snatch Game”

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 6, “Snatch Game”

Challenges come and challenges go, but the Snatch Game is eternal for a reason. From season to season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, it has the power to confirm frontrunners, establish dark horses, expose one-trick ponies, and torpedo look-dependent queens’ hopes. And it’s not only a fan favorite, it’s every contestant’s favorite too. It’s the mirror image of the dreaded sewing challenge, in that the ones who know they can’t sew dread that challenge’s arrival and hope they can fake their way through it. No one dreads the Snatch Game because no one thinks the ability to make RuPaul laugh is a particularly difficult skill. She brings it to you every bump into or out of a commercial break! Like Alfred Hitchcock’s bomb theory, the difference between the sewing challenge and Snatch Game is the difference between queens who see the oncoming train wreck and queens who get utterly blindsided.