Bullet Points: RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5 Finale

Well, that was slightly underwhelming, no?

Last night’s season finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race was a fun, if slightly underwhelming. Not the actual outcome but more the fact that the finale was more padded than Ru’s hips in the video for her song “Peanut Butter.”

But enough lollygagging, let’s get to the finale.

* While in theory I loved the idea of an opening number, this one felt half-assed with the lame choreography and staging. Also, Ru should have pulled a page from the Miss America pageant and had the girls appear in coordinated outfits for the opening number. Not matching exactly but coordinated enough that it was intentional but keeping with the girls’s individual aesthetics.

* One thing that I didn’t like about the format was, frankly, the audience. In the first three reunion specials the queens were a little more “real” as it were in their reactions to one another. Also it was kind of painful to watch the earlier queens trying to be funny (but Penny’s read of Serena was truly funny).

* The Monica interview was interesting in that Ru was trying to have Monica be a spokesperson for transgendered people, but Monica handled herself the best way she could. And while it is admirable that the show helped open the conversation on transgendered issues, it does raise the question on having someone transition as a part of the competition in that it is easier for someone transitioning to get closer to a feminine appearance than it is for someone who isn’t. It will be interesting to see if Ru and the show will eventually go there in later seasons and if (or when) a transgendered contestant makes it to the final three.

* The Alyssa / Coco feud was brought up again (YAWN!) and I have to give both ladies for handling the reunion so well. Coco’s Cornritos cluch was a nice callback to the joke that her face looks like Doritos. And who didn’t squeal when Paula Abdul sent her message congratulating both of them on their lip sync to “Cold Hearted.” That said, Alyssa has become the breakout star of the season combining a strong lip-synch with utter honesty and cluelessness on camera. Don’t believe me? Check this out…

* While I was sure Alyssa was going to win Miss Congeniality, it instead went to Ivy Winters, and I can’t complain with that at all. Of this bunch, Ivy was probably the nicest one of the lot, and the award usually goes to someone truly nice (Nina Flowers, Yara Sofia), or someone who shouldn’t have been eliminated (Pandora, Latrice Royale). Condragulations to Ivy for an earned win. (And on a side note, Latrice looked amazing!)

* The award for entrance of the night was easily Detox, who was a vision in grayscale, but her simmering anger at not being in the Top Three was written all over her face. In fact it was hilarious and sad watching Detox throughout the episode; funny because she gave the best reaction shots all night long, and sad because had she shown any level of this engagement during the actual competition, the final three would have been very different. That said, this is one of the reasons why I wish the show had gone back to its traditional reunion format. Everyone was trying to be so nice that it was having the unintentional effect of having Detox holding her tongue.

* That said, there was one big plus to the whole affair, and yes I am talking about the Peanut Butter boys, which led Detox to have one of the best reaction shots ever.

* As for the final three, it was interesting to watch them throughout their interviews. Roxxxy looked good but you could tell she was in damage control mode. And while she’s earned some of the vitriol she’s received for her commentary towards the end of the competition (after all, editors can’t make things like what she did happen without having footage to back it up), a lot of it has been blown out of proportion. After all, she’s a young stupid kid in a pressure cooker environment that often brings out the worst in people. Jinkx, as much as I love her, acted like the drama and theatre geek trying too had to please everyone (which gave me a thought: Jinkx should totally do a Rachel Berry pastiche). Alaska once again came off polished and actually handled the Oprah-esque ness of it all, and brought one of her best looks ever to the final interview.

* Then the former winners all took the stage and across the board looked great! Going down the line we had Season 4 winner (and Alaska’s boyfriend) Sharon Needles (Pee Wee Herman realness!), All Stars Winner Chad Michaels (as the song goes, that’s why The Lady is a Tramp!), Season 3 winner Raja (Hindu Goddess realness – and neck and neck with Detox for look of the night), Season 2 winner Tyra Sanchez (a personal best for her), and Season 1 winner and former Minneapolis queen Bebe Zahara Bennet (eleganza from CAMEROOOON!).

And the winner is….

…. Wait for it ….

 …. Wait for it ….

…. (seriously, this is what it felt like watching the finale) ….

…. and the winner is …..

LIL’ POUNDCAKE!!!

(We Wish.)

No, it was Jinkx Monsoon! While I am very happy with this outcome, and while Jinkx deserved the win, I would have ultimately given it to Alaska. Everything that Jinkx did, Alaska did just as well, while having (a) a stronger sense of polish and self-confidence, and (b) in spite of some very big hinderances (Sharon’s win last year being one of them). I am not complaining about the outcome at all; in fact it’s a hair’s breath of difference between who I think should have one and who did.

So, Condragulations Jinkxy! It’s Monsoon Season bitches!

What did you think of the finale? Aside from the veering off of the rails on the format? Sound off in the comments below!

Originally Published on 7 May 2013 as part of my column “The Idiot Box” for l’etoile magazine.

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