Being an artist is hard. It's so fucking hard. You're probably not going to make much money for like, a long time. Other people are going to succeed before you for reasons you won't understand. You'll get passed over for opportunities. You'll slog along, trying to make your art, and trying to be better. You'll wrestle with yourself every day because you can only be as good as your talent, experiences, personal growth, luck, and privilege allow you to be right this very second. And even when you make strides, there will probably be someone better than you. When you finally receive the accolades you think you deserve, you won't be able to hear them because you'll be blinded by haters. And once you've "made it," you'll be tasked with innovating innovating innovating because your audience has the attention span of a fly and your industry is always hungry for the next best thing.
So being an artist is hard. And being a drag artist is even harder as you fight a close-minded society every step of the way. And there is no doubt that every member of our final four is a talented performer in her own right. Peppermint is charming and that smile lights up a room and my heart. She's probably the best lip syncer we've ever seen. Sasha is unique and cool and so very New York, like that Andy Warhol cool that inspires people to live in shoeboxes for 5k a month just to be near it. Shea is drag pop royalty, she's so very now, a great dancer and actress, and a mainstream Hollywood career feels so very Shea, can't you just see her in a Katy Perry documentary? And Trinity Taylor is probably the most focused queen we've ever seen--she's all business, all hard work, and while her aesthetic frequently feels dated and regional to me, you can't argue with its thoughtful execution.
They've all got great qualities and talent. And like I said, being an artist is hard as hell, and these women are all accomplished artists. But you know what else is hard as hell? Producing amazing TV. This move to VH1 has changed our beloved RPDR--where the hell are my mini challenges and PIT CREW?? Where are the girls playing croquet with an elephant sock tied around their waists, slinging that schlong around??
Where are these moments? I miss them. Why does everything suddenly feel over produced? Why all PSAs? Where's my camp? WHERE IS SANTINO. (I'll never get over it.)
Look, what I'm getting at here is this season is just ok. I think our final four are all on pretty equal footing talent-wise. None of them have made any major missteps and they have all consistently delivered on their various selling points. So I don't really have any feelings either way about it being a final four or a final three because like, whatever, they're all fine. I don't think there's a clear frontrunner, a clear stand out, a clear star, and that's left me feeling sort of flat about it all.
I have a coterie of people I talk to about Drag Race like some people talk about the Comey hearings. It's serious, it's thoughtful. And when talking to my friend Amy I came to this--if we put any of these girls up against Alaska, Alyssa, Detox, Katya, Bob, Kim Chi, they would all very quickly and clearly become the Alexis Michelle of the group and be sent home. And like that's ok. But it just doesn't make for very exciting TV. It feels to me like we're always crashing down from the great heights of All Stars 2 and Season 8. And look, I don't even know if I can express how much joy both those seasons brought me. My heart would sing. So I like these girls and I'm sure I'd be delighted to see their shows, it's just, they're not epic. And I want epic. When one of the most interesting parts of the show is seeing what Michelle Visage's lewk is going to be, some shit has gone awry. And none of these girls are especially funny and I think if the producers are left with any major notes from this season, it's that funny is essential. We want joy and we want fashion. I think we might be in a better place if Eureka was still around. Eureka had personality.
So we have a final four and it is fine. This episode was fine. I liked their dancing and lip syncing. I thought their raps were funny and entertaining. Ru looked AMAZING (but if she doesn't shut the fuck up about squatty potty, Imma snatch her wig). Peppermint's runway dress was hideous and Shea's titties were a mess. Trinity looked like Helena Bohnam Carter at the BAFTA awards, and that's high praise. Sasha was a pink-crowned majesty. And the judges we're like, yeah, ok, this is all fine, let's keep 'em all for no discernible reason. So like, ok, I'm here for it if that's what you wanna do. But I'm still gonna posit that perhaps a season of DRAG KINGS might freshen up the show and give the diehard fans the energy we're missing. Like I said, being an artist is hard. And once you've made it, you've got to honor your roots and innovate.