The final episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 12 aired on May 29, 2020. RuPaul was, as always, herself. She said repeatedly that this was one of the most talented casts in the show’s history. And it is impossible to do justice to the creativity and beauty of thirteen different queens across fourteen hours of programming in a few hundred words.
But with no disrespect to the other queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 12, I did have some favorite moments—and a few least favorites.
Season 12 Favorites
Among my least favorites was the “World’s Worst” contest in episode 3. How do you win a “worst of” contest—by being the best at being the worst, or just by being the worst? (As a judge, how do you even tell the difference?) But this was more than compensated for by my favorites:
- Dahlia Sin’s spear of broccoli: As a vegetable, it was delightfully out of place in a foursome of fruits, but it kept coming back to haunt us, seated at the back of the audience—good for us, but not entirely welcome—for the rest of the season.
- Nicky Doll’s knight in shining armor in episode 5: I was disappointed when she was eliminated, but Heidi N Closet bested her in the lip sync and that was that.
- Gigi Goode’s brilliant impersonation of “Maria the Robot” in episode 6: Possibly the best act of the season.
- The lovable awkwardness of the outsider “bedroom queen” Aiden Zhane: If I were a drag queen, she is the kind of queen I would want to be. But it is not a formula destined for success on the main stage, and it was no surprise when she was eliminated in episode 6.
- Guest judge Jeff Goldblum’s befuddlement at the mechanics of a tuck in episode 9: If you have to ask, you can’t…afford it.
And there was politics, with RuPaul’s presidential debate and stars and stripes runway theme in episode 9. Here the clear standout was the Iranian-Canadian drag queen Jackie Cox, whose red white and blue abaya and hijab sent a much-needed message: You can be Iranian—African, Chinese, or fill-in-the-blank—and still be just as American as anyone else. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez guest-judged episode 7, and almost every closing sequence featured one of the queens waving “register to vote” sign. So, if you haven’t already, register to vote!
The Grand Finale
In the end, season 12 came down to a three-way contest between Gigi Goode, Jaida Essence Hall, and Crystal Methyd. Gigi and Jaida were both safe choices: Gigi with her impeccable polish and runway-perfect costumery (thanks in part to her fashion-insider mother), and Jaida a gorgeous queen with splendid costumes and lip-syncing.
But I was most pleased—and surprised—that Crystal Methyd made it to the final three. She is a zany queen if ever there was one, who presented a nonstop parade of wackiness that never failed to charm or entertain. Some of her costumes lacked the polish of the other queens; her exotic dance instructor in episode 11 is a case in point. But her record of creativity across the season was unmatched, right down to her lip sync of “Like a Bird” in the grand finale. (You have to watch it to believe it.) If Crystal ever comes to Boston, I will be there.
I confess I was a bit disappointed when she didn’t win, but Jaida Essence Hall was clearly deserving—and, in truth, the judges couldn’t have gone wrong no matter what their choice.