Friday, June 17, 2022

REVIEW: 'RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars' - The Winners Share Their Affection for TRL and Dolly Parton in 'Total Ru-quest Live'

Paramount+'s RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars - Episode 7.06 "Total Ru-quest Live"

The queens live out their Y2K girl group fantasies on a dragtastic tribute to TRL! And on the runway, category is: Night of 1,000 Dolly Partons.

Every winner has now earned a Legendary Legend Star. During the critiques, it's been easy to tell that the judges want to spread the love around. They want to recognize each of these queens for their talents. It's been somewhat frustrating because it's also offered the impression that each queen had to win a star before the halfway point. That landmark occurs here. Production has completed that initial task. Yvie is the last winner to receive a star. Despite that, she quickly sports two. A lot of uncertainty was placed in Jinkx and Raja's decision of who to give a star to. Yvie was perfectly fine begging. She made a convincing argument that rewarding her wouldn't shake up the rankings. Jinkx has become the frontrunner solely because she has two stars. She then gets to bestow who is up there with her. She could act strategically. This decision would help someone advance to the finale. When it comes time to crown a winner this season, they will be competing in a lip sync smackdown. This season features many lip sync assassins. However, it might be smart to lift someone up whom Jinkx knows she could beat in that format. Of course, that reasoning doesn't really play out. Instead, she narrows her choices down to who has helped her in the past. That would seemingly single out Trinity because she helped Jinkx in the design challenge. Instead, Jinkx opts for Jaida because of her overall friendship. Jinkx apparently doesn't penalize Jaida for helping the Vivienne win in a lip sync over her. That move helped solidify an alliance between Jaida and Vivienne even though it's gone unspoken. The audience picks up on these social clues. They all mean so much because of the added layer to the game this season. These queens are forging a new path altogether. It may never be repeated again. It's special because they are all winners. But it's also been incredible to see them all compete without the pressure of eliminations. It's simply unfortunate the judges don't take that cue to offer any constructive criticisms whatsoever.

For the maxi challenge, the queens are paying homage to the early 2000s. It's an era they all remember. Of course, Yvie's experience at that time is quite different than Raja's. That's basically been true for Raja throughout this season. She radiates a youthful energy. But she never lets anyone forget that she's the oldest in the cast. That's what makes it so amusing when the two youngest in the competition win this challenge. Plus, the references may continue to go completely over Vivienne's head. That has to be an added stressor for her this season. She felt so much pressure coming to compete on the American stage. It's given her confidence though simply because she has actually earned prize money. Sure, that has made her a little too honest with her thinking at times as well. She said previously that she wanted to block Jinkx because she was doing the best in the competition. She couldn't do so then. She is given the opportunity again. It's very tempting to do so even though they were on the same team during the girl group challenge. Overall, the winners are correctly decided. However, it's also apparent that the winners put way too much thought into the backstories of their groups. As such, it took more of an explanation in order for the judges to get into the performances. Yes, it was a stroke of genius when Raja realized her team's initials spelled out M.S.T.R. It was then further amplified by the idea that they used to be M.S.T.R.Y. until the fifth member of the group left to go solo. But that was also the only joke offered afterwards when Ross interviewed them in his Carson Daly drag. Not everyone was allowed to shine equally. Plus, some girls were referential about what this time period evoked emotionally instead of being in the moment. Shea had a stunning look while Trinity was talking about how she felt hopelessly pining after Justin Timberlake. It was disjointed. It was then equally jarring when Vivienne brought up Brexit. That doesn't play to the time period. Her group could recover though because they each had well informed characters they embodied. All of this makes for a tough time judging who stood out. Some queens obviously blended into the background. However, several of them could have been eligible for the win. The Other Girls were the best as a consistent group with an overall vision.

On the runway, category is: Night of a 1,000 Dolly Partons. This is such a fun category. It got a little monotonous because everyone essentially embraced the same mannerisms during their walks. That allowed the few who embraced odd choices to stand out creatively. It was also annoying when the hair in the reference photos didn't match the wigs on the queens' heads. Those details matter. The judges went on and on about how Vivienne resembled Dolly Parton. Their gushing over her didn't make much sense until the final lip sync. Then, her essence was captured magically. You couldn't keep her eyes off of her. Yvie is a phenomenal lip sync artist. Her style translates so well to so many different genres of music. She struggled with this one. That's disappointing. But again, it was so captivating to watch Vivienne. The best overall look though was Raja. Her domination of the runways continues. The audience knew she would bring it every week. She hasn't failed to deliver so far. The other queens take big risks that don't always pay off. The theme was more of a struggle for Shea and Yvie as this isn't their typical drag. Impressions haven't gone well for Yvie in the past. This is a better effort from her. Her performance in the challenge couldn't be dismissed by a look that could easily be read as simple. With Shea, the wig was distracting in a way that was truly puzzling. The same goes to Trinity with the makeup that made her look perpetually cross-eyed. The dress and the hair were spot on. That's not all it takes to deliver a look though. Raja delivered everything one would expect from Dolly Parton. Monet offered that quintessential quality as well without going all out on the rhinestones. Her patchwork quilted dress was so beautiful. And finally, one can't do Dolly Parton without featuring a breast plate. That was best exemplified with Jaida who had such fun letting them bounce. Little details truly do separate the queens at this point. No one is doing bad. It's simply noteworthy that Jinkx, Jaida and Yvie have two stars. Vivienne gets to exact the punishment she wanted in finally blocking Jinkx. That creates opportunities elsewhere. Shea does note she has started to fade into the background after all.