I’m back! If you know me at all you know I love some good drag. So after the final episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars aired last night, I simply could not stay silent. Everyone’s tweeting and instagramming #shangelawasrobbed and I’m here to tell you why you’re wrong. Trixie Mattel fully deserved her win.
The return of the eliminated queens as a sort of tribal council jury was a new twist to a season of All Stars, and the eliminated queens’ picks shocked everyone, myself included. I had Shangela and Trixie picked as my top two since BenDelaCreme excused herself from the game, so it was a surprise when Kennedy and Trixie faced off in the final lip sync.
I clearly wasn’t the only one shocked by this turn of events either. Social media is blowing up with arguments about how Shangela was robbed of her rightfully deserved win, and I won’t argue with anyone who says that, but you can’t tell me Trixie Mattel didn’t deserve that win too. During Trixie’s first appearance on Drag Race in season 7, I wasn’t immediately blown away by her performance. For some reason, she isn’t always able to shine in the show’s challenges. It wasn’t until I watched her YouTube show, UNHhhhh, cohosted by the equally delightful and weird Katya (another queen who arguably deserved to win her season of All Stars), that I became a diehard Trixie fan.
When the All Stars lineup was announced, I exclaimed to everyone I knew that Trixie Mattel would be crowned the winner and if she didn’t I was going to riot in the streets. I’m glad that I can now gloat about how I was right along, although I do honestly feel bad that Shangela didn’t get a chance to lip sync for her legacy. When it comes to track record on the show Shangela does come out slightly ahead of Trixie. She won more challenges than Trixie, it’s true, and she won each lip sync as well. Trixie’s only lip sync win came in the moment when it mattered the most, and it was definitely the best lip sync I’ve seen her perform. Although Shangela won more lip syncs, she only won one more challenge than Trixie, and they were both in the bottom twice. So their stats in the show are closer than people give them both credit for.
The real reasons for Trixie’s win lies outside of the show. While Shangela is certainly successful outside of Drag Race, she’s appeared on a variety of TV shows, movies, and released quite a few songs, Trixie is arguably more successful. She created an immensely popular YouTube series, which transitioned into her own TV show on Viceland and headlined her own comedy tour. But the most significant achievement of Trixie’s career for me was the release of her first album. Trixie Mattel is a drag queen that released a COUNTRY music album. That’s never been done before. (Except by Dolly Parton of course.) Most fans of drag overlook this accomplishment because they simply aren’t fond of country music. It’s not unusual for queens to release music but that music is typically pop, something that’s funny and good to dance to in a club. But Trixie Mattel is writing genuinely good country tunes that are sweet and heartfelt. Go listen to her albums and tell me I’m wrong. I dare you.
Overall, Shangela is a perfect example of what drag is. She’s campy, she can sing and dance and make you laugh, but what about her is new and original? Trixie has an image and brand that is clearly defined and original, even if people don’t like her makeup or style you can’t say that she isn’t unique. Although some argue that her look is too limited, this season she tried new things while still looking like Trixie Mattel. She put on a red lip for the Red for Filth runway and even wore brown hair for a challenge! She’s willing to expand what Trixie can look like without sacrficiing her image. Trixie is expanding what drag can be and taking it in new directions while staying true to her drag aesthetic, and Drag Race has always rewarded queens that do that.
Shangela truly deserved to win All Stars, but so did Trixie. If you’re upset about the finale, don’t hate Trixie and don’t hate the show. Go look up Shangela’s tour, listen to her songs, and buy her merch. Support your favorite performers. Don’t spread hate.
And remember, if BenDela hadn’t left the show all of this would be moot.