RuPaul's Drag Race Season 11 Premiere Recap: Was the Right Queen Cut First?

RuPaul's Drag Race Recap

Miley Cyrus‘ “disguise” may not have fooled anyone (that beard!), but she still managed to bring the best of both worlds to Thursday’s Season 11 premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Sometimes literally.

Honestly, if you told me that two queens on this show would ever lip sync to the Hannah Montana theme song, I wouldn’t have believed you. But then you’d remind me that it’s been more than a decade since the Disney Channel series premiered and I’ve gotten old and like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.

Anyway, it happened. And it was just one many wonderful moments from tonight’s premiere. So let’s break it all down, queen-by-queen, shall we?

ARIEL VERSACE | This alleged triple threat (“She can sing, she can act, she can… dance?”) had my heart from the moment she entered the workroom and announced, “This is what dreams are made of.” I mean, we love a Lizzie McGuire Movie reference, do we not? And my appreciation of Ms. Versace deepened even further when she stepped onto the runway in that “Poison Ivy couture” look. She may not have wowed the judges in her debut week, but she struck the right chord with me. I’m curious to see what else she has to offer.

A’KERIA CHANEL DAVENPORT | If A’Keria’s only two were options were to go big or go home, the current reigning Miss Black Universe definitely went with the former. The judges agreed that her runway look was “a lot,” but as Cyrus pointed out, “You can build a career on ‘too much.'” In fact, they seemed to unanimously enjoy her over-the-top debut. “You didn’t just do two wigs,” Ru said. “You didn’t just do three wigs. Girl, you did five wigs, and I’m loving it.”

BROOKE LYNN HYTES | I’m not going to lie, I have no idea why a Canadian who currently lives in Nashville would name herself after a neighborhood in Brooklyn, but after seeing her in action during the premiere, I know better than to question any of this queen’s choices. A former ballet dancer, Brooke Lynn stunned the judges (and won the season’s first maxi challenge!) with her incredible superhero-inspired runway look, one that Michelle Visage called a “mic drop.” She earned that seven-night stay in Paris.

HONEY DAVENPORT | We didn’t get to know Manila Luzon’s drag niece-in-law very well during the premiere, but I enjoyed what I saw. Honey is insistent that she can’t be labeled as any one type of drag queen, so I’m expecting a decent variety of looks from her this season.

KAHANNA MONTRESE | I’ve got to hand it to this queen — she managed to squeeze quite a journey into a single episode. Her runway look, an “uncohesive” combination of lingerie, red draping and unfinished studding was rightfully called out by the judges, at which point she argued, “This is not a good representation of my drag.” Frankly, I was ready to write her off entirely… until she turned it out in that lip sync battle against fellow bottom-two queen Soju. (That back flip!)

MERCEDES IMAN DIAMOND | I was thrilled when this Minneapolis-based queen entered the workroom, but my high hopes quickly fell flat when I saw her in action. Not only did she give no direction to Delta Work during their photo shoot, but Michelle was so disappointed with her runway look that she actually gave her makeup tips. Ouch. (Never mind the fact that she referred to her look as “off-the-rack.”) Mercedes absolutely belonged in the bottom three, and if she performs at this this level next week, I suspect she’ll also be lip syncing for her damn life.

NINA WEST | This was another queen whose performance in the premiere made me sad — which I was not expecting, given that she lists The Muppets and Pee-wee Herman as two of her greatest sources of inspiration. When she wound up with Thorgy Thor’s trunk, she admitted, “I’m just lost with all of this,” and it showed when she hit the runway in that nonsense orange dress. When she told the judges that she’s auditioned for the show nine times, and “to feel like I have possible f–ed it up is heartbreaking to me,” my heart broke for her. Carson Kressley attempted to lift her spirits by saying that she has a “great personality” (I’ve heard that before) and a “great stage presence.” For her sake, I hope she comes correct next week.

PLASTIQUE TIARA | Like Ross Mathews, I will also remember Plastique’s runway look when I go to bed tonight. I’ll also probably lose a few Z’s over Plastique’s concern that her fellow queens think she’s “just young and pretty.” (Why can’t have that problem?!) Anyway, the Saigon-raised contestant deserved every bit of the praise she received this week. I mean, when Miley Cyrus calls you “classy,” you’re a winner, baby.

RA’JAH D. O’HARA | This “dancing queen” might have made a better first impression if her damn earrings didn’t keep falling off. (What was that about?) Fortunately, she managed to keep them on during her runway walk, where she served “’70s disco roller skate fish.” It’s a thing!

SCARLET ENVY | Herstorically speaking, Drag Race has been full of queens who talk a big game, then fail to back it up. Fortunately, this NYC-based contestant is not one of them. “My drag is about embracing the beauty that you were blessed with, and I happen to be very blessed,” she said, then proved it by turning out a stunning photo and painting the runway red. Frankly, my dear, I do give a damn.

SHUGA CAIN | This 40-year-old New York queen — who only recently decided to do drag “on a whim” and discovered a natural talent for it — claims she can do it all, and for the most part, she proved herself. Her photo shoot with Jasmine Masters was fun and energetic, and she looked cute twirling down the runway in her little black dress. She didn’t make the splashiest debut, but at this stage in the competition, there’s nothing wrong with playing things safe.

SILKY NUTMEG GANACHE | Like Kahanna, this queen went through a journey in the premiere — only hers went in the wrong direction. After crushing the mini challenge and scoring a well-deserved win, this “creamy, dreamy Southern belle” tarnished her reputation by annoying the ever-loving tuck out of her fellow queens. “Annoying” and “obnoxious” were two words used to describe Silky’s workroom behavior, with one queen pointing out, “She knows she’s on TV and she’s here to get her screen time, rather than work on her garment.” (It’s not untrue!) Silky redeemed herself in my eyes by being the first queen to recognize (and scream at) Miley, she’s going to need to tone it down if she wants to stay in the race.

SOJU | My heart breaks for this K-Pop queen, it really does. As if it wasn’t enough for her to get tendonitis and to pop a cyst on a plane (eww!), she straight-up flopped this week. After admitting that she’s never made a dress before, she chose — of her own accord — to model her runway look after a traditional Korean dress worn on special occasions. The end result was just a mess, with Michelle saying, “It literally doesn’t tell us a story.” I wasn’t surprised to see Soju end up in the bottom two, and given the minimal effort she put into her lip sync, I also wasn’t surprised to see her sashay away.

VANESSA VANJIE MATEO | I love that Vanjie returned to prove to America that she’s “more than just a meme,” then proceeded to hide behind a room separator and spy on the other queens. (Like, OK, you may not be a living meme, but you’re definitely a living gif.) Armed with a “no, bitch, I cannot mess up this opportunity” attitude, Vanjie owned the runway in a sexy red dress that impressed the judges. Miley told her she seems like someone she’d like to get to know, while Ross Mathews agreed that the fan-favorite queen is “off to a good start.” VANJIE!

YVIE ODDLY | Haters be damned, I thought that this Denver-based queen had the best entrance of the night, with a little remote-controlled car dragging her boa train into the workroom to tease her grand reveal. She described herself as a “conceptual queen” who’s “just here to shock,” and I’d say she backed that up nicely — especially when it came to that scary/sexy Easter basket look she brought to the runway.

Your thoughts on Drag Race‘s Season 11 premiere? Was Soju the right queen to go first? Weigh in via our polls below, then drop a comment with your full review.

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