Sickening runways, a gag-worthy twist and Idina Menzel emoting for the gods? Frankly, we don’t deserve RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.
Worthy or not, though, we’ve got a brand-new season on our hands! Friday’s premiere welcomed an eclectic group of familiar faces back to the Werk Room for a second shot at glory — or a third if you count Jimbo, the only queen to have already competed twice (on Canada’s Drag Race Season 1 and Drag Race: UK vs the World).
And while there’s usually one or two major glow-ups per All Stars season, it feels like everyone has stepped their game up this time around. Darienne Lake? Snatched! Jaymes Mansfield? Confident! Alexis Michelle? Now an actual Kardashian! Other queens are just as impressive as they always were, only now with more money — and it’s showing on the runway.
Since we’re talking glow-ups, we must discuss the phoenix fantasy that Kahanna Montrese is now living. (And not an ass-backwards Kennedy Davenport crystalized phoenix, either.) Kahanna, now a seasoned Las Vegas queen, had heads turning and jaws dropping from the moment she stepped through those Werk Room doors. So it was no surprise when Mama Ru announced her as the season’s first-ever top queen of the week.
Of course, the real winner of this premiere was extra-special guest judge Idina Menzel, who not only worked in a jab at Joan Travolta (“Such a bitch!”), but also gave us the emotional reaction shot of a lifetime while listening to Monica Beverly Hillz pour her heart out on the runway. Look at that eye work! She is feeling something. Let’s review it again in gif form:
And what better way to close out the premiere than by bringing back Aja as the season’s first lip sync assassin? I haven’t been this excited by a competitor reveal since Laganja Estranga dropped from the damn heavens in All Stars 6, and Ms. Labeija did not disappoint. Kahanna may have gone full Beyoncé during their battle to “Freakum Dress,” but Aja went full Aja, and that wins every time.
Winning the lip sync also meant that Aja had the responsibility of revealing which of the bottom two queens — Monica or Darienne — was chosen by the group to go home. With Monica’s name on the lipstick, her fate was sealed.
Now for the shady part, which happens to be a very mild spoiler: At the top of Episode 2, which is also now available to stream, the three remaining queens who chose Darienne’s lipstick — Kandy Muse, LaLa Ri and Jaymes — admit to only doing so after hearing Monica’s life story in Untucked.
“It had nothing to do against you,” Kandy tells Darienne in Episode 2. “We were sitting in Untucked, and Monica was telling us her life story, and it almost felt like to me she was saying, ‘Please keep me here. I have nothing to go back to.’ I just needed to at least try to save her.” Both LaLa and Jaymes then quietly agree to feeling the same way about Monica.
Friends, if your reason behind voting for Darienne was to lift Monica’s spirits, why would you do an immediate 180 and admit that you only voted out of pity? Spirits un-lifted!
Then again, even eliminated queens still have a chance to win this season. As explained during the premiere, All Stars 8 has a sub-competition called the Fame Games. During Untucked and online, booted queens will show what would have been their runway looks, and fans can vote for their favorites. The queen with the most votes at the end of the season will be crowned Queen of the Fame Games and pocket $50,000. (Is it a great idea to give more online power to this franchise’s admittedly toxic fandom? Probably not, but we’ll see what happens!)
OK, let’s talk about All Stars 8. Did the right queen go home first? How do we feel about the Fame Games? And do you agree that it was shady of the girls to admit they voted for Darienne out of pity for Monica? Cast your vote in our poll below, then drop a comment with your full review of the premiere.
Wah wah wah with the pity party stories beginning now in Episode 1. The ignorance and narcissistic self awareness of the queens continue yet another season.
Someday we will get a queen who actually does respect herself and has a PhD or an advanced degree and an actual professional career.
Production shouldn’t have to look that hard. They go for the same type every season.
I love how the article has a line near the end about “this franchise’s admittedly toxic fandom?”…and then this is the first comment. Sigh.
Anyways, great first episode – premiered early yesterday evening in Canada! – but haven’t had a chance to watch the second yet. Fully rooting for Heidi, Kandy and Lala, with Jessica Wild as my dark horse pick. I probably would have put Jaymes in the bottom with Darienne for episode one, as she was wildly lost through most of the choreo.
Jaymes may have been confused with the choreography, but she kept performing. MBH was just there during the performance, her face was expressionless, and she was basically walking through the performance. IMO, mentally i dont think MBH can handle performing for competition, but enjoys performing for fun.
Isnt Silky Gauche pursuing her Phd?
James and Kahanna has the best glow up since their season. Kandy should have been bottom 2 in episode 2.
Too bad there isn’t a box for “neither, because both of those bit*#es be skanky!”
Definitely not sheer pity. Monica’s story and presence in early seasons of RPDR saved lives and inspired many.
I like Mrs. Kasha Davis she is very cool, bringing her back will be wonderful
I’m sorry but Monica looks so much more like what I expect a drag queen to look like. Darienne looks too old to be on that show, and I get that drag queens are supposed to be exaggerated but she is too exaggerated. Her boobs don’t compliment her either. On the other hand, Monica was so pretty!! She looked like a woman when she didn’t have makeup on or her hair up!!! Oooh girl she was HOT! H.O.T.