Friday, May 20, 2022

REVIEW: 'RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars' - Eight Winners Return to the Workroom to Showcase Their Excellence in 'Legends'

Paramount+'s RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars - Episode 7.01 "Legends"

Eight legendary RuPaul's Drag Race winners have returned to battle for the title of "Queen of All Queens."

An All Winners season of RuPaul's Drag Race has been speculated about for years. Fans have their lists of which winners they would love to see compete on the Emmy-winning show again. It's the most accessible version of drag in the world. So much of the world's modern understanding of drag radiates from this competition. Every queen has left the show and grown. Their lives aren't dictated by how they perform here. It doesn't serve as their ultimate validation. It simply judges them all in a collection of colorful challenges. Every crowned queen has won for a reason. Each of them embodies a uniqueness that is completely their own and deserves constant celebration. It's miraculous to see these eight winners competing again. Nothing that they do in this season will discredit what they have already done either. Moreover, the audience can receive the full benefit of seeing all eight of these queens in every episode of the season. No one is going to be eliminated. RuPaul faked the cast of All Stars 2 out with that twist. And yes, this production loves twists. Every season is a new opportunity to tinker with the format. In fact, it's healthy and creates plenty of drama when All Stars reinvents itself every few seasons. Not every twist works. That was already abundantly clear this year with the golden chocolate bar on Season 14. Moreover, the system of stars and blocks already seems incredibly complicated. It means the queens have to think more strategically than ever before. This competition already challenges them in immense and powerful ways. Tears are already flowing in this premiere. It's only going to get more intense. However, it's so cathartic to see these queens actually celebrating one another. Drag has evolved in so many ways over the years. The queens are no longer calling each other "boogers." It's become a community of acceptance and praise for one's artistry. It's such an exquisite passion to see at this caliber as well.

If every episode maintains the quality of this premiere, than this season is well posed to be one of the greatest Drag Race has ever produced. All of the winners enter the competition with expectations. The fans remember every single moment of their original seasons. Moments were created that have rung out through time. They have carried a legacy. Some have been more visible than others as well. Raja is the co-host of Fashion Photo Ruview. She has offered her opinions on the runways of basically everyone she is now competing against. It's also magical to see her glory as the runway star once more. Raja, Shea Coule√© and Jaida Essence Hall return to the workroom with the best looks. Raja and Shea are joined by Jinkx Monsoon with the best entrance lines. They all have a willingness to play with the echoes of the past. Jinkx hopes to showcase the elevated version of her drag that is now possible because of the money afforded to her through winning. Meanwhile, Raja plays on the fact that her first entrance was iconic for the giant eye on her face. It's all magical and breathtaking. The twists happen early and often as well. Of course, it was a little foolish to believe Raven would be entering the competition. It's still important to recognize her as a winner. She has an Emmy Award. She and RuPaul are basically the only drag queens who have accomplished that feat. This show is so popular. It's won countless awards. So much of that comes from the electricity of the cast. Yet they aren't the ones to always receive that glory. Instead, the hustle continues for each of them. That's especially true for someone like The Vivienne who can finally earn some money for doing well on Drag Race (though it's slightly disappointing she is the only international winner to compete here).

Some aspects of the All Stars format remain the same. The competition still truly starts with the opening of the library. Once again, Raja has the most memorable moment in simply calling all of the queens boogers. She did what needed to be done. All she had to do was deliver one truly incredible joke. Of course, Jinkx ultimately prevails because she had both quantity and quality. That's typically how things go with the reading challenge. Jinkx is absolutely deserving though. She plays into the narratives that surround these winners. And then, she pinpoints exactly what will get under their skin. That means she tells Jaida to "look over there" at the exit. She tells Monet X Change that the comparisons to Bob the Drag Queen aren't fair because Bob actually has talent. And she uses Raja's love of her Gemini nature to drag the amount of makeup she wears. It's all impressive. Of course, the tables are quickly turned when RuPaul invites the queens to the runway. They are surprised by the absolutely legendary Naomi Campbell. That surprise was ruined by the trailer for the season. However, the level of love that radiates off the queens - especially Shea - is so infectious. Plus, she provides very detailed critiques of what each of them can do to improve their runway walks. That's a powerful skill in this competition. It doesn't always dictate the winner of each challenge. It's still important. It should come as no surprise that Raja and Shea are the embodiment of perfection in this way. However, everyone exudes confidence despite being terrified by the runway model who changed the world. She's still at the top of her game. And now, drag has entered that pantheon alongside her in cultural resonance.

In 2022, the regular season of Drag Race starts with the talented show while All Stars opens by throwing the queens into the deep end. The talent show has become a hallmark because it provides individual moments for the queens to shine. They get to have complete control over what they wish to express to the judges and the viewers at home. It's an update on who they've become as performers. Instead of that opportunity, the queens are immediately writing verses for a RuPaul song. Now, this challenge is typically better when there are just a handful of queens left in the competition. When it's still over half a dozen, it gets pretty chaotic pretty fast. Everyone has a specific agenda over what they want to tell in their limited amount of time. Some want to sing. Others opt to rap. It's all a performance. Plus, the group has to choreograph it themselves. That proves how too much of something can go awry in so many ways. It's better to focus and listen to Shea. She has the experience as a choreographer. Some queens take their moments during the performance as well. A lot of it does blur together. Monet and Shea are the clear standouts. They simply have the ability to turn out their charm in just a few seconds. That then provides them with the space to tell a fully encompassing story. It's all built around the musicality of the piece too. And so, the performance ties into the lyrics and the looks. Elsewhere, Raja had a solid moment starting things off. It was fun to see Trinity the Tuck get lifted up by three hot men. And finally, Jinkx had some funny expressions that attempted to steal focus from the other performers - which was most notable with Jaida's verse, though she had humor too. Overall, it wasn't a great challenge to decipher who the standouts are right away. It appears as a wide open field for anyone to do great in. That's actually what makes this so fun and unpredictable. Anything can truly happen. All the queens are deserving of that success too. They won. They are back and ready to have fun showcasing why they are the best of the best.

The runway is absolutely phenomenal. Shea shuts it all done with her impeccable look. However, everyone comes prepared with a story to tell and the conviction to execute it flawlessly. Every single detail is perfect with Raja's design too. The queens were tasked with bringing outfits designed around crowns. That led many of them to pay homage to the numerous real-life royalties throughout history. They added their own unique spin. A few of them offered modern sensibilities too. That meant Jinkx showed her leg while Monet walked out in a design that was truly unexpected. Meanwhile, Yvie Oddly was dripping in crayons. The creativity is truly off the walls. Not all of it can even be discovered in the confines of this review. So much greatness is happening. That can be said over and over again. Nothing is truly terrible. Sure, Jaida's look is built around the absurdity of giant hair contrasting with a tiny crown. As such, the dress is a little bit of an afterthought. She still looks stunning. Again, these critiques seem small in the grand scheme of things. However, Michelle notes that the judges have to factor those into every decision they make. This will be a tough season to judge. Trinity forgetting her words has to be a criticism preventing her from the top no matter how strongly she embodied the mood of the song and her runway was divine with how epic it was. At first, it seems like it will all be compliments and the audience will have no sense of what's going to happen. And yet, production knows exactly what it's doing. It knows how to create Emmy-winning content. The format knows what works and what builds excitement in the fans. It's also aware of when it needs to subvert those expectations. The premiere may be a strange time to do something completely unexpected and out of the box. But that final lip sync was a madcap fever dream that only this show could provide. Drag has become a celebration of the art of lip sync. That has become very commercialized with only doing the biggest hits or unique covers. It takes true style to get a crowd jumping with glee to Ella Fitzgerald's "Old MacDonald." Monet and Shea do that with breathless ease. It's transcendent. Either of them truly could have won. Shea does and she chooses to block Trinity from receiving a star in the next challenge. That choice means the cutthroat tactics have begun. The shady moves have started. And yet, the viewer has never been more excited to be entertained in the way only this show can provide.