Nearly ten years have past to reach this moment. RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 Episode 14 marked the 10th crowning of America's Next Drag Superstar from the main series. And, 13th overall if you include the three winners from RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars.
Aquaria walked away with the crown and scepter; ushering in the latest reign from a fashion queen. She stole the spotlight in one of the most volatile and emotional seasons yet.
We were promised a season that would be "10s, 10s, 10s across the board!" But, did RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 deliver?
Firstly, the new visual updates to the series were a welcomed improvement.
Don't get me wrong, RuPaul's Drag Race was great before the changes and it didn't need any tinkering around. We were all fine with the brown walls in the Werk Room. However, the sparkly pink walls added more flair to the already energetic studio.
The added touches were meant to make things bigger, better, and bolder. This was the 10th season after all; reaching this landmark was a celebration for all. Especially when we all had to witness the awful filter from RuPaul's Drag Race Season 1.
Imagine if that effect was still around today? (It is so cringeworthy.)
A nice stylistic change this season that was appreciated was the neon effect. Having the words and challenge designs utilize the colors kept the season consistent. The neon added a fun element to the already bold setting.
When it came to RuPaul's music, the team did a good selection with their choices for the game elements.
I'm not the biggest fan of "Snapshot." So, whenever the queens had to walk down the runway to the tune, it didn't elicit too much excitement. However, the song worked for what it needed to be.
Still, the best selection still has to be "The Realness" for RuPaul's Drag Race Season 8. That tune worked perfectly for the runway, and it raised the excitement whenever the queens had fun with their outfits.
In the case of post-elimination, the same can be said about "To The Moon!"
All of the contestants had a blast dancing around and celebrating to this song. You couldn't help but want to dance with them. This tune was the perfect choice to lift up spirits after the elimination.
The casting team deserves a raise after their work on RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10.
Every single queen chosen had a fire within them that made them stand out. While we can also thank the editors for shining the spotlight on the players, the contestants also brought it out within themselves. They opened up, and we learned a lot about them (in most cases).
Arguably, there weren't many "filler queens" this year. (To define this term: These are the contestants who don't stand out or will be remembered compared to the more enigmatic queens. They typically get the early eliminations with little fanfare and fade from the spotlight.)
Kalorie Karbdashian-Williams and Yuhua Hamasaki are probably the two queens who could be classified as the filler queens. Mayhem Miller and Blair St. Clair came close to this classification, but they had stepped it up during certain moments, only to get little attention.
Seriously! Blair's acting needed more praise, and Mayhem didn't deserve to be in the bottom the week she went home.
Monet: Asia O’Hara, you are the Amazon queen. You get your tights from Amazon, you get some of your outfits from Amazon, and apparently, they sell teeth too.
[Everyone laughs. Asia smiles brightly.]
Monet: And Miz Cracker! You call yourself “as thin, white and salty.” But, you’re forgetting “bitter.” Bitter that you are a New York City queen that had to f*** Bob the Drag Queen to get to the top.
[The Vixen and Monique Heart shriek in laughter and jump. Miz Cracker does a twirl.]
Monet: And that’s shade.
As compared to some of the other contestants, we were gifted with many Drag Race alum who made the scenes more enjoyable. Players like Monet X Change, Monique Heart, Miz Cracker, Aquaria, Eureka O'Hara, The Vixen, and Asia O'Hara predominately stole the show. Feelings aside about certain people, these queens led the plot.
Kameron Michaels had her moments, but she was separated and extremely quiet to be involved in anything. And Dusty Ray Bottoms got eliminated too early on when their storyline was taking off.
Plus, we can't forget about the power of Vanjie!
Vanessa Vanjie Mateo broke the internet after being eliminated on RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 Episode 1.
Sure, Drag Race GIFs and quotes are highly popular, and you can usually find them anywhere online. However, "Miss Vanjie" found its way into mainstream culture and EVERYONE was talking about it. Even celebrities and news outlets were incorporating it as part of their responses.
What started as a throwaway line after her elimination soon spread like wildfire. Almost every episode of the season had a Miss Vanjie reference!
This viral moment showed just how popular and influential RuPaul's Drag Race could still be. And with the series making its way to a bigger network on VH1, more eyes were tuning in.
Hopefully, the series doesn't try to force and replicate this magic. Let it happen naturally and see if something does emerge.
Miss Vanjie... Miss Vanjie... Miss... Vanjie!Vanessa Vanjie Mateo
One of the things we witnessed from the contestants was their openness to share about their struggles. Sure, we love reality TV drama, but it's the human element that pulls us in. These queens delivered on that front.
My heart broke on many occasions when they opened up about their pasts or the inner conflicts they dealt with. Dusty and the gay conversion therapy, Monique and the religious conflict, and Blair revealing their rape story were some of the moments where the queens had a real talk. This competition was just a game, but their life beyond the pink walls was still real.
They've struggled with a lot, and them opening up helped us to connect with them more. RuPaul's Drag Race might not be RuPaul's Best Friend Race, but it surely is a good therapy session.
Now if only Miz Cracker would start believing in herself...
Aquaria: Can we talk about how your best drag is someone else’s wig though? That’s confusing.
Aquaria: I brought my best drag. I didn’t borrow my best drag. Baby, obviously we weren’t being judged on OUR best drag.
Monique: Oh my God, children, is the library open?!
Aquaria: I’m saying the hair was borrowed.
Vixen: I had another wig that matched yours as well.
Aquaria: Okay, I’m just saying that...
Vixen: So, what are you saying?!
Monique: Girl, what’s the tea? Don’t be shady just because.
Vixen: So, I won and you’re in the bottom. You wanted to be shady and it didn’t work.
[Cut to confessional]
Monique: America, let the facts be the facts. Vixen handed Aquaria her ass in a gift bag, gift wrapped, there you go, Merry Christmas.
The fights were also on the forefront, but it was the argument between The Vixen and Eureka O'Hara that caused the most debate.
The Vixen has a valid point about the racial discrimination she receives as an African-American queen. The negative messages she gets on social media are 10x worse than the comments Eureka would ever get. And, the editing stereotype and perception that could fall on her is one based on ethnicity.
It's a topic that needs to be addressed, and it's great that Drag Race/Vixen brought it up.
RuPaul and the queens, on the other hand, also had a valid point about the way Vixen fought. She didn't need to always ramp it up to 10 and unleash on the others. There could've been times where she stood back and refused to take the bait.
Eureka is just as much at fault for pushing Vixen. They're both at fault for the fighting; it's a learning opportunity for the both of them.
RuPaul: But, you can came into the competition saying, “I came to fight!” And, you know, it’s not like you were...
Vixen: Yeah, so, I came into the competition saying, “I came to fight!” Never once did I start a fight.
[Monet makes a face]
RuPaul: Hey, wait, is that true? It looked like you were instigating things.
Vixen: When did I instigate?
RuPaul: This thing between Aquaria and Miz Cracker.
Vixen: It’s not instigating to tell someone the truth. It’s not instigating to tell someone.
RuPaul: Oh, you can also not say anything!
Vixen: You could, but what’s wrong with telling someone the truth?
RuPaul: Well, if you’re gonna tell someone the truth and it’s going to create tension in the room... then that is creating a fight. You also have a choice to not say anything.
The challenges were either hit-or-miss. While a lot of them were fun and exciting, some of the games didn't pop or they were confusing at times.
A few standouts included the app commercial on RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 Episode 3, the Bossy Rossy segment on RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 Episode 5, and the social media influencer transformations on RuPaul Season 10 Episode 10. Those three examples don't even include the long list of other fun games like the fashion ball, the Cher musical, and the underwear memory test.
And, we can't forget the return of Snatch Game or the Reading is Fundamental challenges.
Though, where things took a misstep were during the Breastworld challenge on RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 Episode 9, the pancake Mini Challenge on RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 Episode 11, and the evil twin challenge that caused Miz Cracker's elimination. Some of the challenges felt filler to speed up the competition. Also, RuPaul's judgment favored certain queens more than others.
The biases against certain queens became more obvious this time around. There was no rigging towards players; everyone had a fair shot. However, some queens got away with more leeway than others.
In particular, Eureka O'Hara wore less than stellar outfits and didn't get reprimanded.
Blame it on either being a returning player or the fact that RuPaul liked what she stood for. But, Eureka didn't get read for filth for her lackluster outfits. It was noticeable during RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 Episode 11 when Kameron got chastised while Eureka did the exact same thing with her looks on the runway.
The same could be said about Miz Cracker.
She got faulted a lot with the "bridesmaid" curse; she was always so close to the top prize but held back. RuPaul had to have hated the way she produced herself. There's no other explanation for why Miz Cracker kept being ignored.
Miz Cracker's elimination is still one of the most baffling. On the other hand, we can add it to the list of strange bottom twos/threes that were present this season.
The runway outfits this year were a vast improvement. Kameron Michaels, Aquaria, Blair St. Clair, and Asia O'Hara stepped it up to lead the charge. Their looks were stunning all around.
A majority of the other queens had stellar moments that propelled them to the top, like Miz Cracker's Eliza Doolittle look and Mayhem's DIY outfit. And, there were the outfits that were memorable for all the wrong reasons. (Looking at you, Monet and the sponge!)
RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 did bring up a hot debate item about the cost of competing in Drag Race.
Before a season starts, the queens are given a general list of runway themes they might encounter during a season so that they can prep outfits beforehand. During UnTucked, Kameron Michaels and Miz Cracker revealed the lengths at which they had to pay for custom outfits. Competing on RuPaul's Drag Race is not cheap!
Michelle: I love a conflicting pattern. Tonight... it’s a full-out war.
Michelle: There is the leg things with the crystal fringe and then we open the acid-wash shirt and there’s my giraffe, yes.
Monique: You said giraffe but I got brown cow.
Michelle: Girl, that’s a giraffe.
Michelle: Cow’s aint spotted like that. That’s a giraffe.
Monique: I saw it and I was like, “Ah, brown cow! Stunning!”
Some of the queens, unfortunately, were faulted because they didn't have the money for elaborate gowns. In particular, Monique Heart and The Vixen were sidetracked the most for their looks. In some cases, Monique was scrambling the night before to finish an outfit from materials she got in the studio.
There needs to be a better understanding of the disparity between the contestants so that they're not unfairly compared.
Of course, Aquaria would turn out the best looks of the season. She's a former fashion student with the time and money to create intricate outfits beforehand. While in the case of Monique, who didn't have a dime to her name, she was left to whip up something passable to fit the challenge in the 24 hours she had.
The judges started this point during RuPaul's Drag Race Season 8 when Chi Chi DuVayne complained about the money issue. Though, they need to understand that things aren't as simple as they make it out to be.
Lip syncs were the true stars of the season.
All of the queens turned it out when they were forced to lip sync for their lives. Not everyone accomplished their life-saving song, but they created memorable performances that we will rewatch in the future. In some cases, certain queens earned the title of "lip sync assassin."
The Vixen, Monet X Change, and Kameron Michaels are the definitive lip sync assassins of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10. They didn't play, they SLAYED!
Some of the unforgettable rounds included Monet vs. Dusty, Vixen vs. Monique, and Kameron vs. Eureka.
RuPaul: Now, the time has come to crown our queen. Ladies, I’ve made my decision. The winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race... America’s next drag superstar is... Aquaria.
[The crowd erupts into cheers. Aquaria is given the crown and scepter]
RuPaul: Is there anything you’d like to say?
Aquaria: Sometimes in life, you’re not always given a second chance, but if you do, take advantage of it. And go out with a bang.
RuPaul: Now prance! Prance, my queen!
[Aquaria does her winner’s runway walk]
Aquaria winning the prize fits with the storyline of the season. She never ended up in the bottom, she won the most challenges, and she had the intelligent quips that RuPaul LOVES in a winner.
Her style of winner drag could best be aligned with Raja of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 3 and Violet Chachki of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 7.
I was quite happy that she won the crown. Aquaria was one of the queens that I predicted would make it to the finals, so yay for premonition! She earned the prize after the work she put in.
It's a shame that we didn't get to see a lipsync from her before the finals. She killed it with her high energy and acrobatic moves. Another lip sync assassin was hiding away inside the look queen.
What did you think of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10? Were you happy that Aquaria won? What was your favorite moment? Share your thoughts in the comments.
RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 airs Thursdays on VH1 at 8/7c.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.