Well! These "finale" episodes are tricky, because you're left with a cliffhanger ending and the feeling that nothing really happened--no one got kicked off, no one won, we're left frantically voting for our favorite queen on every form of social media under the sun. But a lot did happen this week. Or, at least a lot of ridiculous and lovely antics.
All season, Alaska has continually been set up as sort of a brilliant, deranged clown. There have been several weeks where the editing makes her seem like she's failing miserably (and in the case of the chiffonography, hilariously) but when we see the final results, she kills it. Is it all manipulation by the editors? Does Alaska intentionally clown around during rehearsals? Any way you slice it, it's worked for her this season.
It helps that this episode had so many ridiculous aspects to the challenge, keeping things fast paced and full of schtick. I loved how buoyant and playful Jinkx was during the car shoot. The "chipmunkery" was insane, as was Alaska's flailing chiffonography. Both Jinkx and Alaska let loose in the courtroom shoot, and I died hearing Jinkx's elaborate back stories for each character.
Mathu Andersen provided a perfect, dry "straight man" to the queens' antics, delivering delicious one-liners that cut straight to the bone. Mathu does really provocative drag, himself, and posts thoughtful commentary on his Facebook page, which is worth a look!
The queens' lunch conversations with Ru sort of fell flat for me this season. It seemed like they were mostly treading on old ground, so even though the scenes were emotional, they weren't particularly revealing. However, I think it was brilliant to juxtapose those warm, affirmational segments with Gloria Allred's incisive, no-nonsense prep sessions with the girls. I LOVED that she called out Roxxxy's "pageant babble".
No matter what you feel about Roxxxy--whether you think she's just playing mind-games, or that she regrets lashing out, or that she's just a bully--I think the key to understanding her issues with Alaska and Jinkx was in hearing that she sees their campy humor as "making fun" of drag itself. Which is strange, because Roxxxy herself can be really funny, but her ultimate goal is always glamour, and it kills her that other queens don't take that as seriously as she does. But that approach is fundamentally flawed. To me, it's like trying out for a school play because you like to wear fun outfits. Sure, the costumes and stage make-up are part of the process, but they're secondary to your performance on stage, your ability to embody a character and entertain the audience.
There's room in this world for many different approaches to drag, and I'm glad that the Drag Race celebrates a fairly large variety of them. But as I've mentioned in previous posts, it's clear that the focus of this show has shifted more toward the performance-oriented queens, the ones with character and the ability to leave a crowd roaring with delight. And it kills Roxxxy that she's been left behind.
Ultimately, it's down to Alaska and Jinkx. I'd be truly delighted if either won. I hold both in such high esteem, and they've endlessly surpassed my expectations all season.
Jinkx is a consistent delight--her broad array of talents and staunch professionalism deliver every time. Her fashion choices have been a mixed bag, but as she said, she's been listening to criticism and improving her looks. Even though her final dress was fairly simple, has she ever looked more gorgeous? It seems like she's still got the majority of fan support, and she'll probably win.
However, Alaska is, and always has been, a wildcard. She doesn't have as diverse a skill set as Jinkx, and her performances have been up and down. But when she gets a foothold and comes up with a clever concept or retort, there just ain't nothing like Alaska. She's edgy, provocative, and has provided the most jaw-dropping, gut-bustingly funny moments of the season.
So it's any girl's game! We're all just left waiting for Judge Rudy's verdict!
As always, this week's portraits of Jinkx and Alaska are both available to purchase on The Sellout Store, so go check that out! I've also been thinking about making smaller 5" x 7" prints of my Drag Race work available online--is anyone into that? It would be a way of celebrating your favorite queens, but for those without much wallspace and/or framing skills. And yes, I'm working on a book collection of my best work from Season 5, and it will be available for pre-order soon!
And finally, I'll be exhibiting at C2E2 in Chicago this weekend, Friday-Sunday! It's a giant comics and pop cultural show, and it will be crazy. I'll be at Table R16 in Artists Alley with my Drag Race work and my new comic MANTA-DAD! So you should absolutely come, and maybe even buy discounted advance tickets!