Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Definitive Ranking of the Winners of RuPaul's Drag Race

A little over a week ago, I posted my rankings of the seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race, which you can check out by clicking HERE. It's one of my absolute favorite shows, which of course means that I love ranking anything and everything related to it, so I'm back again to do another Drag Race related ranking. Today, I'm going to be ranking the winners of the show. Like with the season rankings, I'm including both the winners of the main show and All Stars. 

I feel like I need to set up my criteria here just a bit, since this ranking seems a bit more subjective than the season rankings. As per usual, I'm taking a lot of different things into account when comparing these queens. Obviously, the first is their performance on the show-- how consistent they were, how many times they were in the bottom, their Dusted or Busted score, etc. But, another important factor is how they were as a character on the show. Were they one of the more entertaining queens? Were they likable? Were they so unlikable that they were entertaining? Stuff like that. And, of course, personal preference. Even if we can agree on paper which queens were stronger, pretty much everyone is going to vary when considering which queens they gravitate toward, like more, and generally rooted for. Given that criteria, this list is going to be pretty subjective. As always, I have my opinions & you have yours. I respect your opinion, so please respect mine in return by not yelling at me in the comments. I promise, we can disagree without getting in a huge argument. Now, on to the list!

11) BeBe Zahara Benet- Season 1
This should come as very little surprise given my opinion on S1. Overall, I didn't find much about the season compelling, and that includes most of the cast. BeBe was certainly one of the stronger competitors and one of the bigger personalities, but I definitely preferred some of the other contestants like Shannel, Ongina, and Nina. I certainly don't dislike her, but I just don't really have a strong opinion of her. I think that she was up against a cast that was clearly the weakest cast across the board. While she was a strong competitor, she certainly didn't completely dominate everyone, while some other winners did completely annihilate seasons with much stronger casts. My apathetic feelings toward her, the strength of the other queens on this list, and the weak field in her season all combine to land her down at the bottom despite the fact that she's a fierce queen overall.

10) Tyra Sanchez- Season 2
If this list were made after my first watch of Season 2, Tyra might've been all the way at the bottom. The first time I watched season 2, I really, really disliked her. After re-watching the season in May, my opinion turned around on her a bit. Some of the things I said about BeBe still stand for Tyra. Her competition was certainly weaker than modern seasons. The drag was more ready-to-wear. However, I think that Tyra did better in her respective season than she got credit for. Yes, she was a bit unlikable, and yes, she doesn't have as strong of an aesthetic as some other queens, but she was very polished, especially relative to the queens around her. She had a really strong track record-- 3 wins, plus several appearances in the top and only one in the bottom 3. Ultimately, she winds up here mostly because she's not a queen I like very much, and that despite doing rather well in her season, the level of drag that season was still rather ready-to-wear. 

9) Violet Chachki- Season 7
Violet is another queen that I liked more upon a re-watch of her season. Although she was really unlikable at the beginning of the season, by the second half, she'd really gotten a bit of a redemption arc. So upon a re-watch, I saw her in a bit of a different light. I'd never totally hated her, but upon first watch, I'd certainly been rooting for anyone but Violet in the finale. On re-watch, I still preferred a few of the other queens, but I found her to be a much more rootable character and felt like I understood her a bit more. That being said, Violet has some really clear flaws that I think makes her weaker than the queens above her on this list. Violet's big weakness is her ability to perform. She did alright in the lip sync performances, but the acting challenges were absolutely abysmal. That being said, she certainly does make up for it some with her fantastic fashion. So many of her looks have now become iconic, especially the one in the above gif. Like with the last two, season 7 has also been criticized for being a weak cast of queens. While I like the cast quite a bit, I can definitely see that argument, and I think that's a bit of a knock on Violet as a winner. Overall, I like her and think that her fashion is fantastic, but I also think that she has several weak points in her abilities. 

8) Chad Michaels- All Stars 1
I went back and forth on these next two queens, but I eventually ended up with this order because although I think Chad had a stronger showing on her season(s), I prefer the queen that I put in 7th place. That being said, I do really like Chad. Once again, it took a re-watch for me to really appreciate Chad. I've always respected her and her talent and how incredibly polished she is, but it wasn't until a re-watch of season 4 that I began to really grow to like her and root for her. Her personality is much quieter than many other queens, and I think that definitely contributes to the reason that I really had to warm up to her. Chad is one of those people who seems to be almost too perfect. She's so put-together, so polished, and just so perfect that she almost doesn't even seem human. Chad killed it not only in the All Stars Season that she won (in which she basically just demolished everyone), but also in her original season 4. Overall, I really enjoy Chad and I think that she's incredibly polished and amazing, but she's not a personal favorite for me. 

7) Raja Gemini- Season 3
I really like Raja. We're to the point in the list where I fell in love with these people my first time through, and even if they weren't my favorite in the season, I still cheered them on as they won. However, Raja was definitely my favorite in her season, and I really love her outside of the show as well. Of course, I watch Raja and Raven on Fashion Photo RuView, and I usually really like her opinions on things. And on her own season, I think she was also really great. While she was definitely firmly in the "fashion queen" department, she proved that she was incredibly capable in other areas and extremely well-rounded. She proved that she was funny and a competent performer, on top of her amazing fashion sense. While there was certainly a bit of a mean girl vibe to her throughout her season, she was also really fun and snarky and gave interesting confessionals. Like I said, at this point we've gotten to some of my all-time favorite queens and the only knock I really have on Raja is that she was a bit of a mean girl sometimes and that I like some of these queens better than her and think that some of them are even more well-rounded than her and have made bigger impacts on both the show and on drag in general. 

6) Sharon Needles- Season 4
This might be my most controversial placement of a queen, given that Sharon was such a monumental winner and because she's become such an icon for the show. Once again, I see Sharon as mostly tied with the next queen on the list, but for one reason or another, Sharon ended up just slightly lower. Like I mentioned already, Sharon was an incredibly strong competitor, who really made everyone think about drag in an entirely new way. When she walked into the workroom, she was seen as a joke, but she quickly proved that her uniqueness wasn't the only thing that she had. She won an unprecedented 4 challenges throughout the season and did well in many of the other challenges as well. She quickly became not only a strong competitor, but also a rootable, lovable character. She wasn't even really an underdog, but definitely took on that role because of how much people didn't respect her drag aesthetic. Overall, Sharon was just an incredible competitor, a phenomenal winner, and a lovable character. Like I mentioned with Raja, we've gotten to the point where I love all of these queens and the largest difference is just who I like more.

5) Jinkx Monsoon- Season 5
As I mentioned with Sharon, she and Jinkx are mostly tied in my mind. Jinkx edges her out just slightly, for a couple of reasons. When making this ranking, I went back and looked through the Dusted or Busted score cards just to see how they technically compared to each other on paper. That really shed light on how impressive Jinkx was, because she was in the top for nearly every challenge. There were literally only 2 challenges where she wasn't in the top. There's only one other queen who's ever done that, and that queen is also the only person to have a better Dusted or Busted score than Jinkx... but we'll get to her in a bit.

So, given Jinkx's impressive track record, you're probably questioning why she's all the way at #5. If she's that good, she should be all the way up at #2, right? My main reasoning for her being a bit lower (and I think I'm sounding like a broken record here) is just personal preference. There are just some other winners that I gravitate toward a bit more than Jinkx. That being said though, I still absolutely love her. The other slight knock on Jinkx is that she's not the most polished when it comes to her runway. She definitely has a clear aesthetic, and she turned out some amazing looks, but she also turned out some looks along the way that weren't quite up to par. But her performances in the challenges, her personality, and her humor were amazing enough to get her consistently in the top despite some of the lackluster looks. Overall, Jinkx is an incredibly strong queen, a deserving winner, and definitely one of my favorite Drag Race contestants. 

4) Sasha Velour- Season 9
Going into the finale of S9, I felt like Sasha was the underdog. Sure, she had the fan support by A LOT, but Trinity and Shea both had more wins under their belts and were generally seen as the obvious top 2. So, when she turned out those fantastic lip sync performances, I was so excited, just hoping that she would take home the crown. And she did! A look back at her track record proves that she certainly deserved the crown. She was never in the bottom 2 (and hardly deserved her one appearance in the bottom 3), was in the top 7 times (same # as Shea), and probably should've won at least one more challenge than she actually did. But that last one's just my opinion. 

Either way, Sasha was one of those queens who just spoke to me immediately upon the cast announcement. The second she marketed herself as the brainy, intellectual queen, I was sold. And she continued to impress me throughout the entire competition with how well-spoken and witty she was. She certainly wasn't one of the most out-there personalities on the show, but I kinda loved that. I loved that she became the go-to for an intelligent comment on the more serious discussions. I was a bit worried about her versatility at the very beginning, but she quickly proved to be well-rounded, turning out interesting looks, killing the challenges, bringing the humor, and ultimately bringing home the crown with her impressive lip sync skills. Overall, Sasha was absolutely fantastic and I was legitimately cheering when she finally won.  

3) Bob The Drag Queen- Season 8
Let's be honest, S8 should just be re-named "Bob's season." Bob was the front-runner from the very beginning and dominated the competition pretty much the entire way through. While she doesn't have the same flawless track record as some other queens that got a bit lower than her, Bob completely dominated the entire season in pretty much every single way. She was the clear stand-out personality, dominating screentime both in the workroom and in confessionals. She also got the most wins under her belt, beating out Kim Chi. For me, S8 is a season full of interesting, fun, and likable queens, so it should be difficult for one queen to completely steal the show, but Bob did it with ease. Any comedy challenge probably should've just been handed directly to Bob, because she didn't falter in the slightest. Her performance in the RuCo's Empire challenge is possibly the best single-challenge performance in the history of the show. It was masterful, over-the-top acting and comedy at its finest. Her Snatch Game performance was also top-tier. Pandora Boxx's Carol Channing has always been a favorite Snatch Game performance for me, and Bob did just as good a job, if not better. Overall, Bob was just an absolutely phenomenal performer and character, and while her march to the end was predictable, she was clearly the best in her season. 

2) Alaska- All Stars 2
Honestly, Alaska's All Stars win is the majority of the reason that I wanted to include All Stars winners & seasons on these lists. She's always been one of my favorite queens from Drag Race, and she was also probably my favorite to win All Stars 2. While her tantrum in the second-to-last challenge is still extremely off-putting, she's still definitely one of my long-standing favorites and she absolutely demolished the season. She was in the top for nearly every challenge, and she essentially won half of the challenges. She definitely came to win this season, and she proved it pretty much every single episode with how hard she was trying.

And while Alaska wasn't the most likable in her All Stars appearance, she was definitely my favorite on S5 by a long-shot. Don't get me wrong, I loved Jinkx, but Alaska's personality was so hilarious and so endearing, despite the fact that she had attached herself to relatively unlikable people like Roxxxy and Detox. Although Jinkx clearly had the best showing in the season, if not for the public outcry for her as the winner (due mostly to Roxxxy's bullying), I think Alaska could honestly have taken it. She was such a stand-out queen and character, and so many people just absolutely fell in love with her that season. While I'm a bit lower on her post-All Stars, she's still definitely up there as both one of my favorite queens and one of the best queens that's ever been on the show. 

1) Bianca Del Rio- Season 6
This is pretty much a given, right? Bianca Del Rio is far and away not just the best winner in the history of the show, but the best queen who's ever competed on the show. PERIOD. Not to rely on Dusted or Busted scores too much, but Bianca is the reigning champ on there, due to her 3 wins, 5 times in the top, and 0 trips to even the bottom 3, let alone the bottom 2. Not only did she show her skill in the challenges, but she was definitely the stand-out personality of the season. Sure, Adore was also right up there with her, but the development of their friendship was one of the prevailing storylines throughout the show. Although she markets herself as being hateful, Bianca was never afraid to lend a helping hand to anyone who needed it, simply because she knew she could still beat them. 

Sure, she delivered different versions of the same look over and over throughout the competition. But, do you know who else does that? RUPAUL CHARLES. If the looks are put together and polished, who cares if they look similar? Bianca knows what works for her, and she knows the aspects of her drag persona that are important. AKA- her humor, her wit, and her scathing rolodex of hate. Bianca is truly the whole package. She's entertaining, funny, intelligent, well-spoken, and despite being so snarky, she's inherently lovable. Bianca is, unquestionably, both the best contestant and the best winner in the history of RuPaul's Drag Race. 

So, those are my rankings of the winners of RuPaul's Drag Race! Sometime in the near future, I'm hoping to do a ranking of all of the queens in the history of the show, so if that's something you're interested in, let me know!

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