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What the Hell Happened in the Drag Race Holi-Slay Spectacular?

What the Hell Happened in the 'Drag Race Holi-Slay Spectacular?'

What the Hell Happened in the 'Drag Race Holi-Slay Spectacular?'

The holiday special was the farthest thing from a Christmas miracle. We break down what went wrong in this recap...

ZacharyZane_

When the cast of the RuPaul’s Drag Race Holi-slay Spectacular was announced, I immediately thought two things: 1.) Shangela will win the "Christmas Queen" title, correcting the atrocious wrong committed against her when she was robbed of the All Stars 3 crown. 2.) With Sonique competing, the show will be a way for RuPaul to deal with the backlash after he announced in a Guardian interview earlier this year that he would "probably not" allow transgender women who’ve begun gender-affirming transition surgeries to compete on his show.

Ru said that he didn't see drag as wearing women’s clothes but instead, "wearing clothes that are hyperfeminine, that represent our culture’s synthetic idea of femininity."

He then explained that transitioning women, as well as biological women, are unwelcome on the show. "Drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it, because at its core it’s a social statement and a big f-you to male-dominated culture. So for men to do it, it’s really punk rock, because it’s a real rejection of masculinity."

The LGBTQ community rightfully responded with outrage, noting that trans people helped to not only create drag, but also have been part of the drag (and larger LGBTQ) community since its inception.

What I didn’t expect from the show's first ever holiday special was no conflict whatsoever, a painfully blatant promotion of Ru’s holiday album (even more-so than his usual promotions), and a "you’re all winners!" conclusion.

I love drag. I love Drag Race. I love RuPaul. But to be honest, the best part of the one-hour special was the ad for Lindsay Lohan’s new show: Lindsay Lohan's Beach Club, which featured LiLo doing her iconic Mykono’s dance.

So what the hell went horribly wrong?

First and foremost, everyone was getting along. You can’t have a reality show without drama. You can’t have a show where judges have nothing negative to say about the contestants. (Sorry Ru, it’s not a Christmas miracle that Michelle Visage had nothing bad to say—it was just poor television.)

In any other episode, the judges would have read Jasmine Masters to filth for veiling her entire face, but nope, they claimed to love the look. If we can’t trust the judges on the show, the show’s integrity (which is already little for any reality TV show) goes out the window.

Second, Jasmine Masters did not have something to say. You may have noticed that she had zero confessionals. Given that she is one of the funniest queens there is, her lack of one-on-one time left a huge hole in the episode. It turns out Shangela was driving Masters insane with her lack of professionalism, even so that Masters walked off set before she could film the confessionals.

Third, there’s a reason why most drag queens lip-sync: it’s because they can’t actually sing. Having the queens break out into tacky musical numbers (and clearly it wasn’t always their voices) is weird to do once, but anything more than once it’s absolutely unnecessary. There’s a difference between camp (which is funny) and bad, which is not.

Last but not least, everyone can’t be a winner. This isn’t AYSO soccer for second graders. It’s grown men dancing around in wigs, which is far more serious. It’s not a cute, feel-good ending, it’s a cop-out ending.

The only good news to come out of the Holi-Slay Spectacular is that since everyone was a winner, Shangela did technically finally get her crown and Sonique is technically the first trans contestant to ever win on Drag Race!   

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Zachary Zane

Zachary Zane is a writer, YouTube influencer, and activist whose work focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, dating, relationships, and identity politics. Check out his YouTube channel here.

Zachary Zane is a writer, YouTube influencer, and activist whose work focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, dating, relationships, and identity politics. Check out his YouTube channel here.