And so season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race comes to end on Thursday night (Friday for those of us in the UK), leaving behind a hole of beauty, poignancy, and controversy that has been filled for the last three months.
The Final Four are the perfect candidates for what promises to be a nail-biting finale. Before we crown our winner, let’s take a closer look at how Kameron Michaels, Aquaria, Asia O’Hara and Eureka encapsulate everything that’s great about a show that has proudly showcased the spirit of gay community…
She like, broke her leg on season 9 and so got a chance to come back for season 10, sans wheelchair. After quickly proving herself a bit of a troublemaker in the previous season, the self-described Elephant Queen has luckily had the time to adapt her behaviour and grow over the last few weeks.
She’s consciously wanted, it appears, to be seen as a big-hearted, mother-type rather than a loud-mouthed terror, but just because this shift seems like a choice doesn’t necessarily mean she’s faking it: We’re all the choices to we choose to make to some extent.
Best Moment: Walking out dressed as a baby
Eureka strutted out naked but for a nappy in the talk-show task, with a swag not seen since Shanaenae came out on Jerry Springer to inform her husband she had been cheating on him with four dwarves.
Eureka's swaggering performance was a fantastic moment for body positivity, and will remain one of the greatest inspirations for bigger queens to look to in future seasons. Eureka knew in that moment she was going to try and win the crown for big girls everywhere.
Worst Moment: Baiting The Vixen with that 'test'
The Vixen was renowned for her inability to get into disagreements with grace, but it seems some of the queens, knowing this, used her temper to bait her into rows that would make her look bad. Eureka admitted as much as she revealed she’d wanted to “test” Vixen during their infamous bust-up on Untucked.
It all added credence to The Vixen’s argument that white queens get away with graceless behaviour without suffering the racist online abuse that black queens endure.
Best Look: The Nappy
It took stripping down to just a lick of makeup and a nappy for Eureka’s best side to shine through. Dressed in nothing more than her natural charisma, she looked every bit a potential winner.
Worst look: Whenever her hair wasn’t done up in a giant pineapple style
Keep it airborne, girl.
Asia O’ Hara
The group’s natural mother hen. Having lost her parents at a young age, Asia’s admission that she’s had to create her own family ever since has added poignancy to her ark (something that’s not been lost on the show’s editors).
Her fantastic showing in her two challenge wins and some standout runway looks (and that Mermaid mask) more than qualify her for the crown. Her lip-synching ability and general artistry were just added bonuses.
Best Moment: Her psychoanalysis of The Vixen
During their heart-to-heart, Asia said to The Vixen what every black LGBT person watching had wished they could say to her: That while her arguments about the optics of black queens on Drag Race were valid, her own behaviour was questionable and she needed to check her anger at the door.
Her psychoanalysis was just what Vixen needed to hear, and for the first time, she shut up.
Worst Moment: That said, during the same discussion with Vixen, she uttered the very same stereotype The Vixen had been trying to shut down: That she’s an Angry Black Woman. Calling her such did not aid the black community’s fight against this trope, and undermined her astute analysis of how arguments had played out in front of the cameras.
Best Look: The Tweety Pie outfit
Don’t @ me. This was one of the best looks of the season. The detail of putting her hands together to reveal Tweety’s mouth, was perfectly beautiful.
Worst Look: The Butterface getup
Obviously. Although the fact she was supposed to look hideous helped.
Kameron’s quiet exactitude has flown in the face of the idea that drag queens must be gregarious and loud, and has even led to criticism from other queens that she’s been hiding her true nature.
But often the quiet ones are the ones listening, and it’s been clear over the course of season 10 that Kameron’s been imbibing Rupaul’s critiques of the other queens and applying them to herself. Her muscle-Mary aesthetic has also proved that you don’t have to be femme to do drag.
Best Moment: Cher impersonation
Enough said. She almost did Cher better than Chad Michaels does Cher, who we all know does Cher better than Cher does herself.
Worst Moment: Her refusal to take on Ru’s critiques of herself
Though she might be perceptive when it comes to understanding what the judges are looking for onstage, Kameron hasn’t showed the same willingness to grow as a contestant in the workroom.
Despite Ru’s repeated advice that she needs to open up and let her audience in, she’s so far failed to do so, leaving this year’s lip-sync assassin the underdog going into the grand final.
Best Look: Her feathered Maleficent blew away the competition in episode 3
Worst Look: Lip-sync vs. Miz Cracker
Kameron's third lip-sync against Miz Cracker was too similar to her previous two: It’s all well and good being known as the lip-sync assassin, but when you’re serving the same routine three weeks in a row, the cracks begin to show.
Season 10’s youngest queen has been the most consistent throughout the series, turning out breath-taking looks and display a knack for getting to the heart of a challenge.
Aquaria’s formative years as a drag queen have been spent watching the show, perhaps giving her an advantage compared to some of the older, more ‘traditional’ queens who honed their craft before Drag Race became the cultural behemoth it is today.
After initially coming across as bitchy, the more viewers have got to know Aquaria the more it’s become clear her initial coolness was in fact more adolescent awkwardness and lack of self-assurance out of drag – something that’s helped her in the popularity stakes as the competition reaches its climax.
Interestingly, Aquaria’s best and worst moment came during the same encounter with The Vixen early on this season: After clashing with The Vixen, the candid discussion of racial bias that followed – and Aquaria’s receptiveness to the conversation and acknowledging her own flaw – helped provide one of the show’s most frank discussions of racial bias in the Drag Race fandom.
Plus, Aquaria has been vocal in calling out the cr*p on social media away from the show. Aquaria taking on advice with grace and refusing to bait easy targets in the future was as classy as her outfits.
Best Look: The Mermaid
All of Aquaria’s runway looks could be up here, but her oil-slicked mermaid was the love-child of Ariel and Sauron. Perfection.
Crying and running from arguments she created early on in the season.
Overall: RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10 has one of the most controversial, entertaining and poignant of the show’s entire run. How much emotion can be squeezed out of one reality TV series?
The heart-breaking reality of familial rejection shared by many of this year’s queens has resonated with many viewers, but who will ultimately take the crown?
At this late stage it’s almost impossible to say, but I personally think on performance, it’s the dawning of the age of Asia or Aquaria. Long Live RuPaul’s Drag Race.
The RuPaul's Drag Race finale airs on VH1 in the US tonight and on Netflix in the UK from tomorrow (June 29).
Words: Anthony Lorenzo