It’s the somersault heard ‘round the world.
As a song, “This Is Our Country” isn’t exactly a masterpiece. The episode in which it lives, however, is pretty damn satisfying. This may not go down as one of the great finales in Drag Race herstory, but it’s a pleasant end to a great season—a season most notable for its pleasantness.
And a lot of that pleasantness came from the season’s pleasantest surprise, she who took what would have been a lip-sync disaster and turned it into a stunt. When the lip-sync gave her lemons, she made lemonade.
Condragulations, Kylie Sonique Love! Kylie’s win checks all the best boxes. One: There’s a great long-term story, taking us from “no one likes a cherry pie that bites back” and a dreadful performance in the very first Snatch Game to that gorgeous, jubilant shot of your new reigning All Star throwing her head back in celebration. Two: It’s a deserved win, but not an obvious one, so there’s still an element of surprise. Three: Hers is a groundbreaking win. And four: that somersault!
That’s what we call the Akashia*:
That somersault is a quintessential Drag Race moment. Ru likes queens with some fight in them, and she loves when that fight is transformative. Want to impress RuPaul? Turn a negative into a positive. That’s Kylie’s Drag Race storyline, from start to finish. And in her winning lip-sync, that storyline got a handy visual metaphor in the form of one magical, spiky somersault.
One more time:
The queens spend some time in this episode (and Untucked) talking about what a close race it is, and they’re not wrong. All four finalists do well in the video for
“RuPold Town Road” “This Is Our Country;” as usual, the editors try to make it seem like we’re headed for disaster, but these four are pros and this season has been fairly light on emotional breakdowns. What, is Ginger Minj gonna choke? Never. Is Eureka going to forget her choreo? Of course not.
As mentioned above, the song is nothing to write home about, unless you’re writing home about how you owe “Show Up Queen” an apology**. But the queens make the best of it. All four take the writing of the verse seriously—there’s not one “give me a sewing challenge and I’ll give you what you like” moment—and they all understand the assignment. But here, as in the lip-sync, Kylie has an edge. By tying her story—a journey that brought her to a place of self-love, peace, and joy—directly to her twang, she’s able to use that verse as something like a thesis statement. (And it’s on theme. Always a bonus.)
None of the runway looks, with the possible exception of Eureka’s, are gasp-inducing, but they all look great (and all wore purple, if you count Kylie’s red and blue and a sort of pre-purple runway entry). More importantly, they all give lovely finale speeches. Eureka is the standout in the inspiring-speech category, but Kylie is hot on her heels.
Then we get to the crowning looks and the final lip-sync — one they all perform, albeit individually. Here, to my eyes, Eureka turns in the weakest performance of the four, but not by much; right up until that somersault, it’s anyone’s game. Still, even without that moment, it’s likely Kylie still would have pulled out the win. All four finalists are captivating performers, but Kylie dials it up a notch at the last moment. The other three are lip-syncing for their legacies. Kylie is lip-syncing for the win and for her life, because that’s what drag means to her.
Life is the heel that gets stuck in the fabric on stage. Drag is the somersault.
There’s not much else to say about this finale. The downside of a season in which camaraderie reigns is that there’s little in the way of capital-D drama in its final hours. No one offers to give anyone else $10,000 to let them stay. No one has to vote for anyone. No one declines to say who they voted for. No one shuns Shangela. They all want to win, they clearly love and respect each other—hence all the marvelous shit-talking, something you can’t pull off with such joy if you’re not coming from a place of love—and they’re all clearly overjoyed for Kylie, and to have shared this experience together. It’s a happy ending, plain and simple.
So I’d like to try to do the same. Thank you, dear reader, for reading along this season. Thank you for cheering on these artists, all of whom clearly find a lot of joy in their work and thus share that joy with others. Thank you for supporting local queens—support local queens! Thanks for feeling the Jantasy, for munching the munch and crunching the crunch, for googling “Serena ChaCha wigs,” for telling Pandora she looks like a snack, and for putting on your pink leopard-print jumpsuit so that you blend in with the walls.
Thanks for reading, and for watching. May all your stumbles be somersaults.
* — There is, of course, a related variation on the Akashia: the Shannel, which is when you orchestrate your own mishap so that you can triumphantly recover from that mishap while lip-syncing to “The Greatest Love Of All.” And they’re in the same episode! Season one 4-ever.
** — Dear “Show Up Queen,” I sincerely apologize for comparing you unfavorably to “Read U Wrote U” and “U.K. Hun?” I took your approachable charms for granted. Thank you for having a reasonably catchy chorus. Fondly, Allison Shoemaker.
- Kate’s Corner: “Congratulations Kylie! This may not be the most thrilling finale—the finales often live and die by their Ru single and despite the queens’ best efforts, this is one of the more forgettable in a while—but thanks to the close competition all season and the inter-cast dynamics, All Stars 6 will go down as one of the very best entries in the series. It’s great to see an early-season queen take the crown and of course, Kylie is breaking ground as the series’ first trans woman winner. It’s been a pleasure following along this season, and following Allison’s fantastic coverage, and I have my fingers crossed that the producers will learn some valuable lessons from their successes this season.”
- Untucked: Never forget that one time Trinity wrote down her own name and then forgot.