**DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do NOT reflect those of DragQueenMerch.com**
Two episodes in, and honestly? I’m in. After the atrocity of blandness that was season 8, I was a little worried that a new set of queens would be just as underwhelming. Thankfully, that’s far from it… we’ve been blessed by the gods with fourteen killer new queens. Really, it’s such a solid group, arguably the strongest since season 6.
Here’s my personal rundown of THE CAST, in alphabetical order:
AJA (IG @ajathekween) – An Instagram queen who made it on Drag Race (an impressive enough feat in itself). She’s a sweetheart with great energy, very cool and grateful to be there. That being said, I really hate to say it, but anyone who’s been keeping up with her on social media is probably thinking the same thing: she looks better in pictures. Because of this, her being on the show may give some “Instagram Queen”-haters a reason to justify their argument that these kinds of queens are all hype. Which sucks. But I’m still enjoying watching her.
ALEXIS MICHELLE (IG @alexislives) – When I first jotted down some quick notes on each queen before writing this, I forgot about her. That says a lot. Still, she reminds me of my friend from theater who’s notorious for half-complaining/half-bragging about how many lines she has.
CHARLIE HIDES (IG @charliehidestv) – Honestly? So funny. Like, she seems lost half the time, and when she doesn’t, she’s just happy to be there. SUCH a sunshine. Contestants like her (along with the majority except Eureka- more on that later) make me think that this season is the least ego-filled yet. Good riddance.
CYNTHIA LEE FONTAINE (IG @cynthialeefontaine) – YES. As clichéd as queens returning is at this point in the series, I’m really glad it’s her returning. Like, I literally stopped watching season 8 after she left. (Speaking of which, this season in itself is such a breath of fresh air. SO MUCH BETTER. I don’t care if I lose Drag Race fan points, I’m not ashamed at all to admit that season 8 was unwatchable.) WHAT a great energy, such a firecracker!
EUREKA (IG @eurekaohara) – I mean, GIRL… she’s gotta go. She probably won’t leave for a while, but boy oh boy if only. The ONLY queen this season whose personality I just cannot get behind. Ever since the tears in the first ten minutes of the premiere, I was like, “bye.”
FARRAH MOAN (IG @farrahrized) – WHAT A CUTIE! Seriously, I couldn’t stop saying this as I was watching, to the point where my sister was like, “Stop saying that.” Just, so adorable. And naturally too, she’s not trying to come off as sweeter than she actually is. At least not that I can tell.
JAYMES MANSFIELD (IG @jaymesmansfield) – Okay, after seeing her “Meet the Queens,” I was down. I had no clue what kind of ride she was gonna take us on, but I was on the line. So I was disappointed to see her get caught in her head and go home first. It was justified, but I was still sad to see her go in such an underwhelming way.
KIMORA BLAC (IG @kimorablac) – Wow. She REALLY doesn’t give a f*ck. She’s not trying to seem overly bitchy (which some queens do, and which is always really cringe-y and not at all as cute as they think it is)- she just IS a bitch. That’s my thing, like, as long as a queen or a person or whoever is being their honest, natural self, I can roll with it. She somehow achieves this perfect balance of being bitchy, relatable, and loveable at the same time. I didn’t even care that she was bitching about not being able to sew (11 seasons into a sewing competition show). She’s everything, and everything Kandy Ho thought she was (sorry!). Kimora is a star, a firecracker. M e m o r a b l e.
NINA BO’NINA BROWN (IG @nina_bonina_brown) – The OBVIOUS winner. I’ve known this since “Meet the Queens.” I think this is a very strong season overall (again, ESPECIALLY compared to the inexcusable season 8), and I genuinely appreciate each contestant except for Eureka, but Nina is just SO next level. And she’s so chill about it too. She knows who she is. I enjoy watching her, but it’s still slightly disappointing that this is now the second season in a row (first being All Stars 2) where we had such an OBVIOUS winner from episode one. But who knows.
PEPPERMINT (IG @peppermint247) – Kandy Who?
SASHA VELOUR (IG @sashavelour) - So creative, so i n t e r e s t i n g. She’s smart. I feel like she’s the first art queen to not be immediately spat on by the judges for not being girly enough. But there’s still time, so we’ll see.
SHEA COULEÉ (IG @sheacoulee) – Is she this season’s narrator (akin to Katya in Season 7, Bianca in Season 6, etc)? I don’t know how to feel about that, or what about her commentary justifies that. I’m excited to see her makeup post-season 9, after her seeing her busted beat on TV (sorry bout it).
TRINITY TAYLOR (IG @trinitythetuck)– Strong performer, strong look. So why is she unmemorable thus far? Why is she not considered a frontrunner when all the pieces are there? Is it just me?
VALENTINA (IG @allaboutvalentina)– She’s the polished aesthetic of Violet without the personality. Not gonna lie, she kind of creeps me out for some reason? She just doesn’t seem human? I don’t know. I hope this changes, because she’s clearly talented and clearly will make it far in the competition.
I’ve said it at least three times probably, and I’ll say it again: it’s a strong group.
And it’s not just the queens: I’m LIVING for Ross Matthews this season.
Now onto some OVERALL NOTES:
- I’m loving the timeslot. I know Friday night timeslots are often viewed as undesirable by execs, but with a cult show like Drag Race, it’s perfect. Viewing parties!
- Is this season being filmed in higher quality than usual? Or is this just the season of bad skin? Both?
- It’s so funny to see the back-to-back contrast between the makeup on All Stars versus Season 9 (aka post-seeing-their-busted-beats-on-TV versus pre). It’ll also be funny to see the adjustments that the Season 9 queens make to their makeup in the future.
- The show took a risk in taking so many social media queens this season (Aja, Farrah, Kimora, etc). It’s also risky and interesting considering that they did this for their first season on a semi-major network. I’m digging it so far. I wonder if this built-in cast member popularity will become a casting trend for future seasons.
- It seems like most of the queens this season aren’t trying to categorize themselves as strictly “Comedy Queen” or “Pageant Queen” or whatever. I appreciate this, because it shows that they all know themselves enough to not feel the need to cling to such labels. Also, it shows that they are smart and strategic. They know the competition.
As far as specific events in the two episodes are concerned, here are some STRAY OBSERVATIONS:
- Can Lady Gaga judge permanently? She gave more to the judge’s panel than just another dispensable warm body. She was by far the smartest, most insightful guest judge yet. Like, she genuinely made me think differently about how I was analyzing each queen.
- Okay, WTF was that Lisa Kudrow cameo? I didn’t think a cameo could get any stranger and more questionable than the Anastasia appearance in All Stars. Did they literally just find her on the lot?
- This is stupid, but while watching the cheerleading challenge, I couldn’t help but think how funny it would be if they brought in a guest choreographer who was just completely unqualified. Because it’s funny how they always bring in the top, most acclaimed/award-winning/etc guest choreographers, no matter how small the challenge is or how simple the choreography is.
- That lip-sync was disappointing. It’s such a great, classic song, but TBH, I realized as I was watching that it is genuinely hard to lip-sync to. I never thought it was hard to lip-sync to any song, but this song is the exception. It’s because there are three people singing, and the point of a drag queen lip-syncing is to breathe life into a song by embodying a character performing it. How is one supposed to make “Love Shack” a single character when there are three different people singing it? Therefore, it was an inherently underwhelming, unfocused lip-sync to a fantastic song.
It’s a fun time for the drag community. We’re on VH1, we’re booming on social media, we’re on red carpets. Hell, I’m at my sister’s university right now, and there’s a queen on the cover of their school magazine. It’s crazy!
We are HERE.
Til next time, see ya sis!
- Liv "Queen" Moody