DRAG RACE SPOIILERS AHEAD
I wish I could say that it was a double win for Toronto last night, but a) I don’t know anything about sports and b) Yvie Oddly was crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar instead of Brooke Lynn Hytes on the Season 11 Finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race yesterday. Two weeks ago, I predicted that Brooke Lynn had the best shot at the crown, based partly on her runway and performances, but also on her strategic ability. Clearly, I was wrong.
While most fans were happy with the outcome of a tumultuous season with a few surprising eliminations, many were upset that Brooke Lynn didn’t win. Maybe Ru should’ve just followed in the footsteps of the Scripps Spelling Bee and crowned 8 winners. Still, was Yvie actually the right choice?
For starters, her dad is f-cking hot according to everyone, including me and superfan Leslie Jones.
Throughout the season, Yvie has presented unique, inspired, and creative looks that subverted expectations while staying true to the Oddly brand. Yvie is the future of drag much like Sasha Velour was on Season 9, and her message is clear and powerful: “You can be weird, odd, and even unlikeable at times, but as long as you embrace those qualities, you’re bound for success.” Yvie was also very open about her condition and the disability it causes her (and will cause her down the road), but also she showed us how she powered through it. The winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race isn’t only about looks or comedy, it’s about being an ambassador for the Drag and LGBTQ+ communities. Yvie’s messaging throughout the show is one that can potentially reach a lot of people and that probably factored into Ru’s decision.
When I wrote my article two weeks ago, Brooke Lynn looked like a shoe-in. But, in the Queen’s Everywhere episode she slipped up and since then her game has been off. In the Top 4 video profiles, (which were weirdly done in a “Maury” style interview) Brooke Lynn’s was the weakest, as were her responses to Ru’s questions on stage. In a race, the final sprint can be the key to winning (not that I’ve ever willingly run in my life). While Brooke Lynn fumbled the sprint, Yvie raced ahead, winning the Queens Everywhere challenge and gagging us with an unforgettable final lip sync look. Yvie took inspiration from Indian art and mythology to create a look that beautifully frames her face, catches your eye on stage, and reveals a secret head at the back, (Ornacia round two anyone?).
Full disclosure, I hate the Lip Sync Smackdown for the Crown. I thought it was a great twist in Season 9, but I also thought it was temporary. It’s hard not to believe that the finale lip syncs are planned out, or at least partially decided on (which could explain why a very nervous Silky chose Brooke Lynn instead of Yvie, the face-off everyone wanted). Brooke Lynn and Yvie were clearly Top 2 and their lip sync was the best of the season, so it made sense to pit them against each other in the finale too.
For a song like “Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga, the proper strategy is to focus on emotion. It’s a power ballad that you belt out in the car, not one where you get down low on the dance floor. That’s what “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyoncé is for. Yvie gave us raw emotion with her expressions, and most importantly didn’t rely on cheap reveals to manufacture drama. Brooke Lynn, as a dancer, was mostly inclined to move and do tricks. Even her attempt to subvert her reveal with an ironic cloak (very Met Gala camp) didn’t steal focus from Yvie’s captivating performance.
If like me, you pledged to die on a Canadian hill, we can always stan Brooke Lynn even if she wasn’t the winner of this season. She’s almost definitely going to be on an All Stars Season soon, probably with Miss Vanjie. And even if you weren’t happy with last night’s outcome, I think we can all agree that the real winner of this season was Miss Vanjie. Vanjie even had her own segment in the finale, one that gives Billy Eichner a run for his money. Vanjie on the Street should 100% be a show. VH1, you can thank me for the idea by hiring me on as a producer.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my favourite looks from this finale because they were on another level! Here’s my Top 3:
1. Yvie’s final lip sync outfit (and also #hotdad)
2. Shuga’s amazing reveal. If you’re going to do a reveal, THAT’S how you do it.
3. Raja’s space outfit. She’s truly Queen of the Runway, and I feel like Lainey would be into this.
Now that Season 11 is done, what next? Will we actually get a break? Probably not. A new doc series called Werq the World is premiering on WOW+ on June 6, and we’ll probably look across the pond to RuPaul’s Drag Race UK sometime later this year. Until then, you can watch binge old seasons of Drag Race on Netflix Canada and support your local queens by going to a show in your city!