The episode begins with a quick recap of last week’s elimination of Detox, which really affects Roxxxy. Roxxxy asks Jinkx how many challenges she has won and she responds by saying that everyone has won two, and then Alaska chimes in by saying she’s the only one who hasn’t lip-synched for her life. Tensions are high in this final episode because of what’s at stake. Roxxxy continues to show her disdain for Jinkx, telling her outright that she doesn’t believe she belongs in the top three. Detox leaves both Alaska and Roxxxy notes, leaving Jinkx the odd one out, which causes Roxxxy to make a comment about how Jinkx is a “hot f*cking mess.” Throughout the entire episode, Roxxxy is presented as extremely catty, mean, and manipulative through her critiques of Jinkx. Larry Gross wrote that the “media are likely to be most powerful in cultivating images of events and groups about which we have little firsthand opportunity for learning… lacking other sources of information, most people accept even the most inaccurate… information about particular group” (11). In this case, because RuPaul’s Drag Race is one of few positive representations of queer men, it has the potential for providing heterosexual audiences with the idea that all gay men exhibit the negative traits that Roxxxy did in this episode. Sender’s analysis of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy can be connected to RuPaul – there are negative and positive views of visibility, the negative including the possibility for the reaffirmation of stereotypes.
This week’s main challenge was for the top three contestants to “make a case as to why [they] should be America’s next Drag Superstar.” Michelle Visage came out to explain to Roxxxy, Alaska, and Jinkx how this week’s challenges were going to work, and she referred to Ru with the pronoun “he,” which I found interesting, especially since all of the other contestants are referred to as “she,” even when they are not in drag. Each one of the contestants would also be able to make a case with help from Gloria Allred and have lunch with Ru.
The first challenge was for the contestants to perform well in RuPaul’s music video for “The Beginning.” In this first challenge, contestants would need to excel in chiffonography, and choreographer Candis Cayne told them that they needed to be, “sexy, soft, [and] beautiful.” The contestants need to camp up their performances by being “sexy, soft, and beautiful,” which are traditionally very valorized feminine traits. As Gauntlet writes regarding queer theory, “nothing within your identity is fixed,” (147) which supports the modern idea of sexual fluidity within individuals. This is also supported by the way that each one of these men cross traditional binaries between masculinity and femininity, revealing that they have identities both as men and as the female drag contestants they perform as. Gauntlet also connects theory back to Butler, writing that “gender… is a performance” (147), and that “there can be no ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ male or female performance” (151) because gender and those gender binaries are socially and culturally constructed. As such, neither Alaska, Jinkx, or Roxxxy’s personas in drag nor their personas outside of drag would be considered a ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ portrayal of either a traditional man or woman. Roxxxy excelled and did the best of the three, as she met the standards of sexy, beautiful, and her hair and chiffon flowed with her dancing and the choreography.
Jinkx was the first to meet with Ru, and during the meeting, Ru was in drag while Jinkx was not. Jinkx referred to Ru as “mother,” which is a switch from the male pronoun that Michelle Visage had used before when referring to Ru. Jinkx also referred to herself as a “lady,” which supports the female pronouns used when referencing the drag contestants. This relates to Smith’s idea of genderfuck, or the idea of intentionally confusing things or literally fucking up gender, which many people on the show do by changing the way they refer to one another. Alaska and Roxxy also met with Ru, and the three met with Gloria Allred before advancing to the next challenge.
In the courtroom scene, each contestant was tasked with creating a different character, or persona, for the roles that they had to take on — prosecutor, defense attorney, and witness. Alaska and Jinkx did well, Jinkx in particular fully embodying each one of her characters. Roxxxy struggled, which resulted in a fight in the dressing room afterwards, with Roxxxy criticizing Alaska and Jinkx and telling them that she takes her form of drag very seriously and does not appreciate that Jinkx and Alaska are “the comedic ones.” Roxxxy says that there’s “so much bullsh*t going on” because of the way that Jinkx and Alaska perform drag.
During the final challenge, when asked to defend their lives, Alaska was the only one who, as Santino pointed out, “read the other two,” while Jinkx and Roxxxy spoke of their own positive qualities without mentioning their competitors. During the final critique, Michelle mentioned that she thought Jinkx’s dress was too 80’s prom-like. Throughout the show, Michelle has constantly critiqued Jinkx for her “lack of glamour.” Sender would argue that this is a smaller issue that is a part of a bigger picture – a part of the capitalistic society and consumer culture that we live in. She writes, “Queer Eye capitalizes on the development of the gay market… the show deploys gay mmen’s longstanding reputation as affluent and as having great taste in order to court both gay consumers and heterosexuals who want to be associated with the positive attributes of the gay market” (137). Jinkx is critiqued for her lack of glamor, or by extension, her lack of consumption and participation in modern clothing, jewelry, and style. Jinkx has overcome these critiques in order to make it to the final 3, although she definitely has altered her style in order to try to reach Michelle’s standards, standards that have been shaped by the expectation of a consumer society which says that Jinkx, as a drag queen, should be as glamorous and should spend as much on makeup and other high-fashion things as the other queens. In the end, Ru was unable to make his decision after Alaska, Roxxxy, and Jinkx lip-synched for their lives and allowed for the audience votes to determine who will win the crown to be America’s Next Drag Superstar.