With 13 seasons, 5 All Star spinoffs, 7 international seasons and 2 limited specials RuPaul Charles has created a critically acclaimed juggernaut of a series that doesn’t look as though it will be slowing down any time soon. The show has done wonders for bringing the queer and drag community into the spotlight as well as celebrating long-standing drag performers, their creativity, fashion, comedy, musical chops and overall craft. The series centers RuPaul Charles, the (still) most famous drag queen in the world, as he searches for the next drag queen superstar.
The 13th season – despite its abnormal length – finally finished, crowning the lovable ebony enchantress herself, Symone, as the season’s winner. The journey it took to get to this point, however, which was a process and a half, left the fans feeling lethargic and cheated. Season 13 is the longest season in drag race history with two extra episodes. By episode 8 only 4 queens had been eliminated whereas in the seasons before them that number was doubled. The pacing felt off and the surprise twist of the porkchop lip-syncs at the beginning of the show (in which queens were paired off and forced to lip-sync for their lives before even showing the judges or audience what they can do in the challenges) was largely to blame for this. According to YouTuber Bussy Queen, the pork chop lip-syncs seemed like a way for the show’s producers to scope out the lip-syncing abilities of the queens to further manipulate lip-sync pairing throughout the rest of the show. This would ensure that certain queens could get further than others. Contestant Tamisha Iman even took to Instagram, exposing how the production team asked all the queens to showcase their looks for the season before the competition even started – strengthening the accusations of season 13 being rigged and changing the season’s narrative.
Despite the claims of overproduction and “riggory” this season worked quite well in creatively changing certain formats and challenges present in previous seasons to accommodate Covid-19 regulations. Queens did makeovers on each other instead of outsiders being brought on set, there was a masked drive-thru audience present at the finale and the lip-sync music video performances of every eliminated queen during the reunion allowed the show still to celebrate each queen whilst they were in the comfort of their own homes. Each of the final four’s fashion showcases allowed each queen to go off in style and prepped the audience for their final lip-syncs. The outfits were beautiful, the performances were captivating, and Symone’s win seemed justified as she had the best track record of the season and delivered the best final performance against Kandy Muse. Symone’s win also established her as the third POC queen in a row to win a Drag Race season right after Priyanka’s Canada’s Drag Race win and Shea Couleé’s All Stars win.
Overall, season 13 had more ups and downs than any other season. It also had some of the most memorable queens on the show to date that captured our hearts and continued to spread messages of queerness and kindness. Regardless of the supposed “riggory”, the team did what it could and delivered an eventful season with so many amazing queens that I am waiting patiently for the next All Stars season just so I can see them all again.