Rigga Choices: Why All Stars 2 Failed as a Season.

All Star seasons are always an odd entity when it comes to reality television series. Fans clamor and scream that they want them, but then almost instantly regret it. All Star seasons sound fun in theory, but once you realize whatever lightning in a bottle that happened in a contestant’s first season won’t carry over, you start realizing how bad of an idea they are.

What’s interesting about this consistent fact is that while the lackluster quality of reality show All Star seasons is consistent, the reasons for that can vary greatly. Sometimes they are too emotional like in Survivor: All Stars. Sometimes they are outright boring and feel like a slog like in Survivor: Cambodia. And sometimes you just end up with a douche nozzle duo coming in and stealing the season from the likable, fun characters like Big Brother US 7. Whatever the case maybe, no two All Star seasons suck the exact same way, and the only reason why we now see potential overlapping is more from the sheer volume of them.

Which brings us back to Drag Race All Stars 2. Why did the show fault, and why was it made the way it was? To answer this, we must go back and ask ourselves one question: Why did All Stars 1 fail?

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The Season Everyone Asked For:

To put it lightly, All Stars 1 was a mess of a season. Duos was a terrible idea of a twist, the challenges were incredibly lame compared to the higher caliber Drag Race usually has for its challenges, and the whatever moments didn’t fill the fans with rage just left them empty and ambivalent. But while these faults persist and don’t get forgiven, the death of the show can be traced to one thing: the lack of character moments.

Unless your name was Chad Michaels or you were in Rujubee, you probably got at most 3 confessionals the whole season of All Stars 1. Drag Race isn’t known for hiding the winner for us, and that mindset was in overdrive during the first season of All Stars. Despite featuring fan favorite characters like Latrice Royale, Yara Sofia, and Nina Flowers, these contestants got very little time to shine on the show in favor of showing why someone else won. A shorter season structure, combined with the duos twist handcuffing everyone together, meant that they couldn’t have both a heavy winner edit and fun character scenes, they could only have one.

In general, All Stars 1 is a hated season. But for this reason, ironically, everyone wanted a second All Stars to be made. Many saw a second All Stars season as a way to fix what was done bad in the first one: no duos, longer season, and to let characters have time to shine.

Thus, the creators of the show gave the fans exactly what they asked for.

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Casting Doubt:

Despite what other complaints I have, the first All Stars season had a killer cast. The seasons were almost perfectly balanced with representation, every Queen had at least one noteworthy moment of their original season, and no one felt like a filler Queen. Because of this set up, I was excited to hear who was going to end up in All Stars 2.

And then the cast came out.

No All Star season should have half the contestants be from a single season. The cast was bloated with Queens from the fifth season, a problem made even more worse when the presence of Phi Phi and Tatianna means that they are pulling from all seven prior seasons, and not just 5-7.

What made these decisions even worse was the season they drew this large number of contestants from. Put bluntly, I’m not a huge fan of the fifth season. Whereas you could probably get away with having five Queens come back from the sixth season, which had a more diverse, less cliquey cast, you can’t with Season 5. By the end of the season, most fans were so fed up with both Rolaskatox and the fights between Coco and Alyssa that they gave Miss Congeniality to Ivy Winters, who was the lowest placing winner of said title until Cynthia Lee Fontaine’s Cucu won.

Oh, and guess who the five from Season 5 ended up being.

So yes, we get more air time for a set of girls we care much less about.

I mean, hopefully Rolaskatox don’t all end up in the final four again.

Lip Syncing For Your Legacy Done Fucked Up Drag:

One of the big fixes to be done with All Stars 2 was no more duos, because duos is an inherently terrible idea that shouldn’t have happened ever. In theory, girls would be forced to work with someone who wasn’t their exact match, and the two can play off each other. What ended up happening was girls huddled together and grabbed the ones that were more talented, that they were familiar with, and most importantly, had guaranteed spots in the finals. So instead of interesting team dynamics, we watched Chad, who was basically predetermined to win the season, drag her friend Shannel all the way to the finale.

Duos was a mess of a twist, and it was so unpopular that the show would be suicidal to do it again. But hey, this is All Stars, and we (apparently) can’t have that without some big, dumb twist, right?

Of course, lip syncing for your legacy sounds good in theory. We still get lip syncs, and only one girl an episode goes home. Peeling back the layers, however, reveals a much worse set of circumstances.

For one, the top two lip syncing as oppose to the bottom two is always going to be a worse lip sync. Katya put it best when she said that once she realized she wasn’t going home, she didn’t try nearly as hard to do the lip syncs. This left a season with really only one good lip sync, Alyssa vs. Tatianna, also known as the only one where they were doing it for their life as well as legacy.

More importantly was how things shook out for the finalists. Despite the alleged power the Queens had to eliminate one another, the top two were still chosen by RuPaul. Not only that, but both who was in the bottom, as well as how many people in the bottom, was chosen by the host.

What does all of this mean?

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The Four Horsemen of the Rolaskatox:

It’s no secret, Drag Race has always had obvious winner edits. RuPaul doesn’t exactly like to hide her favorites, which has lead to some pretty transparent victories. Even by these standards, however, it’s amazing looking back how much the show pushes Alaska as a winner.

Now, credit where credit is due, Alaska isn’t a no talent Queen who needs to be hand held to the end; Alaska has talent, and there’s a reason she did so well in season 5. That being said, the challenges were definitely lined up for her to make it to the end.

Challenge 1: Talent Show (she could do her own song parody)

Challenge 2: Snatch Game (she did well on that before)

Challenge 3: Herstery Challenge (gave the easiest role)

Challenge 4: Shequels (she’s a good actor)

Challenge 5: Comedy Duos (she’s a comedy queen)

Challenge 6: Brand Yourself (she won this in season 5)

Basically, for the first six challenges, not only could Alaska do well, she could do well enough to be in the top two, as she did four times. Because she could be in the top two so often with this lay out, and because RuPaul basically let her win every lip sync, she was able to hand pick who she wanted to be with in finals.

This is why, despite consistently doing poor in challenges, Roxxxy was saved continuously. So long as Alaska was the winner of the lip sync, it didn’t matter how poor Roxxxy (or even Detox) would do in a challenge, because Alaska would save them and eliminate one of the other Queens. Alaska may have acted like this suddenly hit her in the finale, but she knew what she was doing.

This strategy eventually pays off when they have the seventh, penultimate challenge. Much like in her first season, Alaska does poorly at the make over challenge, so she has to be in the bottom. But this doesn’t matter, because

  1. Roxxxy and Detox are also there to save her, or worse case scenario, act as shields and targets to be eliminated before her.
  2. Detox is chosen to be in the top two, which means she’ll win the lip sync and save Alaska.
  3. RuPaul decides that whoever is not lip syncing is up for elimination, and that no one aside for the top two would be safe, meaning that so long as one Rolaskatox member is lip syncing, they will just eliminate the non-member.

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Because there’s no other reason to say this deserved to go home

Despite Alaska’s claims of the contrary, Rolasktox was alive and well in All Stars 2. In fact, as RuPaul’s actions showed, it even gained a fourth member.

It’s not a hyperbole to say Rolasktox killed All Stars 2. Which is a shame, because there’s actually some good parts of it.

The Real Stars of All Stars:

There’s a reason why #TeamKatya blew up as much as it did compared to the other final four on Twitter. Much like in her last season, Katya delivered in every scene she was in, providing fun quotes, and just in general being a delight to watch for a season time. Hell, even her mom Pat was a fun character.

That being said, while I do still like Katya, she shouldn’t have won this season. That honor goes to either Alyssa Edwards or Tatianna.

I’m going to be upfront, I was *not* excited to see Alyssa again in All Stars 2. After rubbing me the wrong way in her initial season, and the emotional meltdown her daughter Laganja had, I thought Alyssa was going to crash and burn on impact in All Stars.

I can not be happier that I was wrong.

While Alyssa is still her loud, potentially annoying self, she’s actually much less competitive this time around. As oppose to last time where she just said she was just a pageant girl, resting her laurels on her lip syncing and dancing abilities, Alyssa went full out in every challenge she did. Sure she didn’t always do well, but she made sure nothing was left of her to show. This upbeat attitude is perfectly encapsulated in her amazing attitude during her elimination scene. Alyssa leaves on good terms, and says that she has absolutely no regrets about anything.

Tatianna, meanwhile, was no surprise for me going in. After rewatching season two in preparation of the season, I fell in love once again with Tatianna and her crazy eyes. Now six years older and wiser, Tatianna has refined her snark and has the best confessional of the season.

“Oh, bitch!”

It’s a shame that RuPaul decided to go with Rolaskatox, because for my money, this was the much better trio to focus on. These three were the show’s consistent and healthy source of great comedy. Even in the face of Adore’s quit or Phi Phi’s meltdown, these three always delivered. Sadly, however, not even their awesome power could stop the force of RuPaul and her snooze trio.

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So, Where Do We Go From Here?:

All Stars 2’s reputation in the months since it ended has been strange and weird to watch. Gone are the images showing an Alyssa, Tati, and Katya final three, and we seem to get more people accepting and praising Alaska, even more than Bob the Drag Queen (it’s cause the latter is Black, isn’t it?). Who knows how well the season will fair with time.

With Season Nine of Drag Race about to kick off, it’s time to close the book and say farewell to All Stars 2.

Anything you guys want to say to it before we go?

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“I wanna key it’s fucking car!”

Delightful.

See you guys in Season Nine.

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