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Heidi N Closet’s ‘I’m Leaving’ Moment Is Proof The ‘Drag Race’ Needs To Change

Let me start by saying that despite all its flaws, I like All of RuPaul’s Drag Race Stars 8. I love that for the first time in this show’s history, we’re seeing a lot of queens who didn’t make it far in their early seasons. I love that we can see what all the eliminated queens would have worn on the catwalk if they hadn’t been told to walk away. But – and it’s a big but – the tension between the reality the contestants are living and the reality the producers want to put on TV is giving me a headache. drag race The stakes for a franchise are now too high for production to subject these queens to this rigged rigamarole. The season already feels like it’s reaching its breaking point – and we’re only three episodes away! But watching Heidi N Closet crumble and say she’s quitting the competition in week 3 Not returned episode is emblematic of this whole problem.

To put it into context: as far as the fandom goes, Heidi is a lock for the final four of the season and maybe even the win. She’s naturally funny and loved by fans and RuPaul, which means she’s also loved by the production. On top of all that, Heidi has progressed in a way worthy of an All Star and, more importantly, an All Star mount. You know the production wants to keep Heidi N Closet for the long haul and maybe even give her the $200,000. So what drives an undisputed leader to – in Episode 3! – raise your arms and say that she is leaving the series? Production trickery, mom.

Drag Race All Stars 8 - Heidi Says I'm Leaving
Photo: Paramount+

After narrowly missing out on victory last week, Heidi took part in the ball challenge with two prepared looks and a dress she made from items found at the supermarket. You know Heidi thought she was winning that ball challenge. Even the winner of the week, Jessica Wild, thought Heidi was going to win at the time! But after all these efforts, Heidi was deemed safe. And, because Heidi has been on this show before and is a savvy queen, you know she can see the gears turning behind the scenes.

Heidi knows she didn’t win the RDR live acting challenge because the producers had already booked Pangina Heals as this week’s Lip Sync Assassin and they needed to see her dueling fellow castmate Jimbo due to their story. She knows she didn’t make it to the top this week because the producers needed to have two more contestants, Kandy Muse and Jessica Wild, on the main stage since they’re the only two queens who didn’t have been criticized, and because another contestant, LaLa Ri, needed a “redemption story” after her iconic/disastrous bag look from her season’s ball challenge. Therefore, Heidi did a lot of work and probably lost a lot of money for the safe. There’s a reason to be angry about this beyond just not getting the praise you crave. On all stars, winning a challenge nets you $5,000, and winning lip-sync this week came with an additional $30,000 prize. It’s not just about winning a challenge. It was about not winning $35,000 because there was probably “no story” there.

Drag Race All Stars 8 - Heidi's Ball Tracks
Photos: Paramount+

Also BTW: congratulations to Jessica Wild, who killed it in the ball challenge and also earned the win and the $35,000. Reminder: you can criticize the show without criticizing the queens, and praising a queen does not mean killing another. In the end, all of these queens are doing beyond their best and deserve all the winnings and money they get.

Either way, it’s all dramatic, isn’t it? All This is reality! Spending a lot of money seemingly and not even coming close to getting that money back because, as you can see, no good reason is high stakes crap! But none of this can be part of the all stars narrative because it’s a behind-the-scenes drama. We see the effect on TV but not the cause.

Be certain drag race is a big deal and the stakes are incredibly high. These queens know that the edit or “story” can impact their social media, bookings, and bank account outside and beyond the TV show. When the show puts the queens up or down based on the story and not what we see with our real eyes, the queens have to accept it from tactless, clingy fans. For example: Kandy Muse — who is an icon and my absolute favorite drag race queen on Twitter – had to put up with anonymous names in her mentions dragging her for something the production did.

Know that personally, I adore Kandy Muse and love the looks she’s been wearing this season, including two of her prom looks! Personally, I’m not enamored with the… 8-bit silver alien spaceship look she created. It may be a spaceship for his alien Judy?

On the other hand, Ms. Kasha Davis gave herself the montage of a chopped queen from the start of the episode. You don’t pull out your husband’s picture and say how grateful you are for your family unless you know you’re going home. And know how drag race works, it’s most likely that the producers saw Kasha making a dress that made the loofah dress in Vanjie’s season 10 Barbie bouquet look conservative and dismissed Kasha and said, “I love that picture of Mr. Davis at your Werk station. You should talk about him! And be so sincere! And if you want to thank Ru for giving you this opportunity, go ahead!

But then again, why wouldn’t Kasha want to make peace? Like Heidi, she also dealt with arbitrary placements in the first two episodes. Kasha could have easily been on top after the girl group challenge (her track “Brunch!” is the only thing I remember from this whole song), and she could have been on top after doing double duty In RDR live and make them laugh both times (although that butterfly looks…). After two weeks of good results and dust, why should a 52-year-old queen with a loving family, a successful drag career and multiple irons in the fire continue to play a game that literally requires you to plead your case and cross your fingers for salvation? As Kasha herself tweeted after her elimination, “I have never and will never beg.” But the rules of all stars dictates that, well, you pray if you’re down there. It’s history. Instead, Kasha walked out gracefully and on her own terms because she wasn’t ready to play by the unwritten rules and because the show had quietly ignored her solid work for the first two weeks. You have to wonder what her state of mind would have been if she had been seen in the first two weeks.

Drag Race All Stars 8 - Mrs. Kasha Davis Exists
Photo: Paramount+

To add another example of queens behaving with an eye on production and their minds on editing, we see very little of Jimbo in all stars 8, which we know is unusual because she was a comic weirdo who ate sandwiches, stirring shit in her previous two seasons. Now it feels like whole episodes pass and we forget Jimbo is even there until she completely smashes the track. I think Jimbo has learned that she is a master of drag race in the form of a competition RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK vs. the Worldbut she also learned from her quick exit that she is not as good at drag race like a reality TV show. The show saw drama with her early elimination and they went for it. Seems like it’s Jimbo’s course correction: focus on the game and stay back for the reality TV part. Maybe that’s why Jimbo’s opening phrase this season was: “I didn’t come to race, I came to sail.

The production and The Edit are not only an important part of the series, but also of the fandom. There are entire YouTube channels with hundreds of thousands of subscribers dedicated to unraveling the edit and “destroying” drag race. At this point, talking about production trickery is as much a part of the show as it is the tracks.

RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 8 - Queens
Photo: Paramount+

It may be time for the series to tear down that fourth wall. Let the queens speak out that queens are only at the top because they literally need screen time. Leave confessional images of queens saying “no” to producers inviting them to comment. I want to see queens talk about such a risk bombing challenge because he won it the first time. Think of all the new shady stories that can be told!

What’s frustrating is that we see so many identical “scenarios” every season. all stars likes underdogs who overperform and queens who are constantly trying to get short. The show loves queens who bomb or win challenges they won or lost the first time around. When these stories happen naturally, like Kahanna Montrese winning the Girl Group Challenge or Kylie Sonique Love crushing Snatch Game in Season 6, they’re so rewarding! When these stories are forced, however, it leads to the queens reacting the way they react in all stars 8.

The other option is to cut out all the old predictable stories and let the queens do what they do best: entertain. How about booking Pangina as a Lip Sync Assassin? Would a confrontation between her and Heidi really be less entertaining? And if a queen is undeniably safe for the third week in a row, then leave her safe and chew her. If a queen is a clear winner for the second or third time, give her the win. A seemingly rigged head-to-head race is far more boring than one where a queen dominates and boosts all of her sisters’ competitiveness.

I feel like I write this all the time, but these are drag queens. drag race is the only reality TV show in which each competitor knows how to give a good television. The problem now is that the show is actively preventing them from giving good television. These queens are reacting to something, but the show can’t show it because the show is pulling the strings. So either let the series draw be the show, or cut it out of the show altogether. Queens are here to race, not cruise. So let them race.

New York Post

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