The twelve contestants strike a pose
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK is back for its second season (or series…), with a new episode being released every week on BBC iPlayer. To celebrate, we’ve lined up four rrramble writers (including a Drag Race virgin!) to watch each week and spill all the tea. Read on to find out what our reviewers made of the season FINALE…
What a journey this has been. I certainly feel like I’ve learnt a fair bit on this foray into the wonderful world of Drag Race. No one would ever dare say that there was a dull moment on this show; it’s filled with so much drama, death stares, campness, colour, stress and laughter—I’d be curious to see what a heart monitor would have to say if I plugged into one every Thursday evening.
The pace of the finale was a welcome reprieve from the chaos of the past few weeks. The mention of a ‘light lunch’ between Ru, Michelle and each of the queens had me absurdly excited. My cabin fever was showing; I started imagining scenes in some fancy London restaurant, emptied out, of course, where the tea would well and truly be spilled. Of course, as with so many things, “light lunch” has its own special drag translation: a single glass of water, to not, under any circumstances, be drunk, whilst sat on stools on the Drag Race runway. How relaxing.
Anyhow, the time that each of the queens spent with Ru and Michelle was a nice way for each of the queens to reaffirm their core motivations for being there, what was pushing them to keep going, and how they felt they’d changed since that first episode, months ago.
Aside from my obvious Bimini Bias, I felt that Bimini’s acknowledgment of her growth throughout the series was significant. Whilst Ellie Diamond’s consistency was also praised, for me, Bimini is the one who has made the past few episodes so enjoyable. As she said herself, she’s a grower, not a shower.
The final challenge was, to me, a choreography nightmare. I had a pretty good idea of how it was going to go down. Tayce and Bimini would slay, Lawrence would crumble, and Ellie would be comfortably in between. And that is pretty much what happened, although overall everyone bloody killed it.
I can’t lie, though, I was quite surprised by the judges’ final decision on who would be crowned the ultimate queen of Drag Race UK. Lawrence, whilst having been endearing at times and frequently very funny, seemed a slightly aloof choice. I don’t think I would have felt that way if you’d asked me nearer the beginning of the show, but the past few episodes, for me, have really shown that Lawrence does not work well under pressure. Surely sending her over to Hollywood to start her own show is the definition of pressure!?
And yeah, to state the obvious, Bimini should have bloody won. Bacteria Bimini, forever in our hearts.
All that being said, this has been an emotional rollercoaster, and even as an initial stranger to the world of Drag Race, I still feel very proud of all four of the finalists for getting to the finale. Without a doubt, all of them deserved to be there. I’m going to miss having somewhere so ridiculous and hilarious to escape to every week, it’s been fabulous.
Tayce: Didn’t get the floor length gown memo (image credit: Vulture)
Well. There I sat, on my sofa with a celebratory cider in my hand, drinking a toast to the final of what I thought had been a wonderful season. Little did I know that cider would need to be used instead for drowning my sorrows.
Okay, that’s a little dramatic but I am genuinely shocked and really confused about Lawrence being announced as winner when, really, it should have been Bimini. To me, there’s no logic behind it. Bimini had a whole storyline of going uphill; in the bottom the first episode, she ended up winning the most challenges and looked beautiful on the runways. Not only did she show growth, she was charismatic and very thoughtful and intelligent. Also, her sense of humour was excellent, and she came across as a truly compassionate person. Lawrence, although funny, displayed signs of occasional meanness, going downhill, of not performing as well in the challenges or looking as purely excellent on the runways. In this episode’s main challenge, she did not stand out to me at all. Bimini and Tayce did; their performances were captivating and I couldn’t stop switching between the two. I forgot to look at Lawrence (and Ellie). The same was true in the final lip sync. As for the final runway looks, really it was only Bimini’s bridal gown that I thought looked gorgeous.
I did enjoy watching the return of the other queens. A reunion is always exciting because you get to see how some queens may have changed or further developed their drag. It was really lovely to see Veronica Green back to full health (can’t wait to see her in Season 3. Yes, despite the disappointment of my favourite not winning, I’ll still continue to watch Drag Race), and I adored Asttina’s beautiful look. Also: Ginny remains an icon.
But back to the travesty that is Bimini not winning. She really deserved it, so I can only conclude that Ru Paul showed such obvious favouritism it’s sickening (and not in the good way). My sister is convinced it was done for the shock factor and to get people talking (which worked by the way—this will be talked about for a long time and, unless Bimini competes and wins on All Stars, she will be forever known as another queen who was robbed). They had been making it seem like Bimini was going to win, and then suddenly they turned around and announced Lawrence as winner. It’s not that I dislike Lawrence, it’s that I just don’t think her win makes sense. It’s the equivalent of saying 2+2=5. One thing I know for certain: Bimini was robbed, but she will remain my winner and the winner for so, so many other people.
I just am so astonished, I can’t get over it—I well and truly thought Ru was going to say Bimini’s name. For the next few days, I will stay in shock, every now and then uttering out loud one word of disbelief: “gosh.”
Bimini Bon Burgled: Babes robbed of the crown? (image credit: Gay Times)
I feel like during lockdown, routine has become more important than ever. Leaping around with Joe Wicks, going for our stupid little daily walks, making that sweet sweet banana bread… this year has been one of collective, repetitive experiences. And Drag Race UK has been the absolute epitome of this, in the best way. The routine of settling down each Thursday to watch the tea unfold, knowing that the whole of the country (or at least, the best portion of it) was doing the same has actually felt really comforting. The world outside is a scary place, but Bimini will never let you down.
So, the grand finale certainly had big expectations to fill, although I’m not totally sure exactly what I was expecting. The last episodes of Drag Race aren’t my favourite normally, just because there tends not to be much drama or storyline (apart from the actual reveal of the winner, of course). But I think given the extenuating pandemic circumstances, I was actually quite up for the ‘niceness’ of this final episode. Ru was back looking much more chipper, (and sans that orange beanie) to reveal the last challenge as… performing an original version of one of his songs (SHOCK), this year, ‘a little bit of love’. Not a total classic, but then I guess at this point they must really be rooting around in the back catalogue.
There did definitely seem to be a much more unified, positive atmosphere this week (maybe something to do with A’Whora leaving, although that’s probably unfair). Even Lawrence seemed more willing to help the other girls – him gently pointing out to Ellie that “I think for a song called ‘a little bit of love’, it’s maybe not the best route to say that everyone involved in this is SHIT?” properly cracked me up. Ellie, you really aren’t always the best at reading a room, are you hen?
The interviews with Ru and Michelle always feel a little contrived imo, but I did enjoy getting to know a bit more about the queens’ backstories. It was clear that Bimini in particular has really gone through a lot, and for them to share their story so openly was very touching. Plus, can we please talk about the revelation that Tayce’s dad was in WHAM! ???
All of the queens’ final runway looks were S T U N and the final lipsync was iconique, so I was totally unsure who Ru was going to choose as the winner. Could there even have been the first ever three way crowning?! I won’t lie, the final decision shocked me. Lawrence had started off super strong, sure, but he’d somewhat tailed off towards the end of the series, whereas Bimini had only improved each week. Maybe Ru was just worried about what kind of absolute chaos a Bimini Bom Boulash digital series might look like (btw, what actually is a digital series?)
The cast of Chicago have really let themselves go… (Image credit: Xtra Mag)
As the ‘Battle of the Home Nations’ reached its dramatic end, I came away with some questions – The theme of that final performance? The stark height contrast between the queens? The win itself? All so much to ponder!
The final performance started out strong with each queen serving a standout fierce phrase, but then things went wobbly. I liked the red and pink and I liked the strobe lights, but what was the theme even meant to be? Then that crunchy audio mix, which left the queens fumbling to keep up. Each individual segment seemed so rushed that I couldn’t really appreciate the lyrics or choreography until a second watch. Bimini pulled out all the stops, but without the usual polish, whilst others stumbled. Tayce was the strongest but even she was at high speed. However, despite pacing issues the queens pushed hard and still delivered a quality performance. The highlight for me was seeing the past queens all pop up to reunite on stage again – When I tell you I fully gay gasped! It was great Veronica got to return and each queen looked flawless, with QBE’s much deserved. Special mentions go to Cherry, Asttina, Joe Black…and Ginny’s fish slippers!
For the final runway, everyone owned their brand and looked equally stunning in their own right. Bimini’s East London bride couture was intelligent and editorial, whilst Ellie looked stunning in her Glinda get up – I mean…that twirl to the floor! Ellie’s level of polish at just 21 is both sickening and sickens me! Lawrence looked beautiful in a purple homage to Drag Race and though I felt like Tayce’s outfit was just a black version of her promo look, she still served fiercely. As for Ellie’s elimination, I can’t say her performance this episode outrightly screamed 4th place. The way Ru did it was also super shady. Being told first that it isn’t your time is way better than waiting to realise your name isn’t going to be called. Still, she skipped away merrily and I respect that.
When it came to crowning Lawrence as the winner, I felt somewhat conflicted, with the episode projecting more of a Bimini or Tayce situation. Understandably, despite Tayce dominating the entire episode, Ru couldn’t really crown a queen with a steady run of bottom placements. Therefore, taking her four badges, vulnerable Ru lunch and final speech into consideration, I thought Bimini had it. Though all three gave a strong final lip sync, Bimini even got all the close ups – red herring realness much. Having said that, with her comedic charm and fully realised character, Lawrence as the new Drag Race Superstar is still a valid decision. As much as I was #TeamBimini, I appreciated each Top Four queen. Lawrence is a bad bitch that will lift up other bitches and maintain a reign of kindness, wit and much needed escapism. This season was an absolute smash and I cannot wait to see what the queens of Season Two have in store.
That’s your lot! Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK is available now on BBC iPlayer. Thanks for joining us on this Drag Race journey!