Today I am going to provide a retrospective response to All Stars 8 and where I believe it went wrong. Before I begin, I want to say that overall, I enjoyed this season and was thrilled by the winner. The casting was excellent, the looks on the main stage were epic, and the level of entertainment was on point. However, I would be remiss in not mentioning that it was far from being a favourite amongst the fans and that was largely due to the issues I will be discussing today. A huge thank you to James Bowers on Instagram for allowing me to use his wonderful artwork in this post. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
1.) Heidi’s Self-Elimination
In episode 5, fan-favourite/former Miss Congeniality, Heidi-N-Closet, eliminated herself. Needless to say, her exit from the show was not the kind of drama audiences were hoping for. Unlike BenDeLaCreme from All Stars 3, Heidi was not satisfied with her time on set and track record. Once she realised that production had no intention of favouring her, she began to show signs of wanting to leave. After the Snatch Game, Heidi was confronted by both Kahanna Montrese and Kandy Muse. The former was unhappy with how the Snatch Game went down and the latter accused Heidi of telling Jimbo that Kandy would pick her lipstick the moment she landed in the bottom, despite having an existing alliance. Heidi, frustrated by the lies and drama, walked out. She was immediately disqualified from participating in The Fame Games and did not make an appearance at the talent show or finale. I personally do not begrudge her decision. I understand how important it is to look after your mental health. However, it made me extremely sad and to be perfectly honest, frustrated. We don’t know how far she could’ve gotten or if she would have won The Fame Games had she stayed. Her fans missed out on her fabulous presence and the season, at least for me, wasn’t the same after her exit. Not to mention, Heidi and Kahanna had a vicious, online battle post-season that was awful to witness. They have since apologised to one another, but it contributed to All Stars 8 being a less than stellar season.
2.) The Fame Games
At the beginning of the season, fans were told that the eliminated queens would showcase the runways they would have worn that week, in a new twist titled: The Fame Games. Judging by what we saw, viewers would be given the choice to vote on who had the best overall package by the end. Off the bat, I adored this concept. I thought it was a wonderful idea, considering that the queens spend so much money on their garments and work with such talented designers, only to be eliminated early and not get to show what they actually brought. However, by the penultimate episode, The Fame Games no longer made any sense. If it was all about runways, why did their talent show performances a.) matter and b.) decide who received an increase in their votes? By introducing the wheel, it took away from the autonomy of the voters. In reality, it didn’t matter if objectively Kahanna had the best overall runways, when LaLa’s dynamic dance number gave her the opportunity to triple her votes. Now don’t get me wrong, I love LaLa and I’m so happy she won but if we were going by the original idea – that the winner would be based on runways – she wouldn’t be my first or even second pick. The execution of this new idea was a bit too messy and disjointed for me. I hope we get to see the eliminated looks moving forward, purely because it’s the right thing to do and not because it’s some sort of misguided twist.
3.) The Lip-Sync Assassins
The lip-sync assassin format was exciting when it first launched in All Stars 5. It worked and definitely had its place there. In All Stars 6, it continued to shine and engage viewers but by All Stars 8, it took a nosedive. Let me explain why. Firstly, there was no monetary incentive for the assassins. Only the existing contestants stood a chance of winning money, therefore, the invited alumni didn’t feel the need to try as hard. Some of them probably threw it on purpose so their sister could win some cash. The only memorable lip-sync from the entire season was the first episode between Aja and Kahanna. The rest were quite bland and unmemorable. Secondly, some of the queens invited back (Nicky Doll, Angeria and Shannel) were not “assassins.” I love them but I feel like the entire point of this idea is to have a full-blown, high stakes, lip-sync battle. The only way that works is if a.) both queens visibly show they are fighting for the win and b.) the assassin is one we know to be a worthy opponent. Otherwise, it doesn’t have quite the same impact. Lastly, it was far too convenient that Jimbo just happened to lip-sync against Pangina. Everybody could see how rigged that was. It takes away from the magic and excitement when it’s so obviously staged. Without spoiling anything, leaks have already revealed a different format moving forward. I’m glad production have listened.
4.) The Top Two Format
The top two format didn’t work and that was for one reason only: Jessica Wild. There has not been a top two in All Stars herstory. You could say All Stars 3 but the final four still got to perform in Kitty Girl. If there was ever going to be a season with a final three, it should have been All Stars 8. Jessica Wild was so beloved during her time on the show and her track record was truly impressive. Plain and simple, she deserved to be there until the very end. It makes me wonder, if Kandy had picked Jimbo’s lipstick over Jessica’s, would RuPaul have opted for a final three? It wouldn’t surprise me!
5.) The Rigged Finale
Now before you guys go wild, hear me out! Jimbo was the perfect winner. I have been rooting for her ever since she appeared on Canada’s Drag Race. She killed the entire thing and deserved the title. However, Naysha Lopez has recently come out with some information, proving that production wanted to make Kandy look bad at the finale, in order to justify her opponent’s less than stellar lip-syncing abilities. In the last episode (unseen footage of course), Jimbo was asked what her favourite lip-sync song was. She replied: Milkshake by Kelis. It was later announced the final lip-sync before the crowning would be to Milkshake. Unsurprisingly, Kandy lost her temper and threatened to quit. It was an unfair advantage. They ended up changing it, scared that she would walk out. Furthermore, during their individual performances, Kandy was asked to re-do her dance number multiple times, in the hopes that production could film her messing it up. At one point, she hurt her ankle due to the constant rehearsals and production attempted to get her to talk about it in a confessional. This was so they could use it as justification for the bad take they wanted to air. She refused to acknowledge it, forcing RuPaul to say the winner would be crowned based on their performances all season long, as well as the lip-sync. I understand Kandy’s frustration. She knew there was no world in which she had a chance of winning and was being set up to fail. I don’t think any of that was necessary because Jimbo actually did a decent job in both the number and the lip-sync. It’s things like this that leave a sour taste in my mouth.
Please keep in mind, there were many fantastic things about this season too, but this post is just focusing on what didn’t work. As always, send love, not hate to the queens and keep supporting them however you can.
Thank you so much for reading! What did you think of All Stars 8?
Peace & Love xoxo