March 31, 2023

Game-changing new rules and an all-winner cast gets ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7’ off to a thrilling start

Listen up, RuPaul’s Drag Race fans: All Stars Season 7 is finally here. It’s the ultimate showdown, the Quarter Quell of Drag Race, the culmination of over 10 years of the franchise. In short, it’s the “All Winners” season. That’s right: Every queen appearing on All Stars 7 has won Drag Race in the past, making this season the tournament of champions.

And wow, what champions they are. We’ve got Jaida Essence Hall, the winner of Season 12; Jinkx Monsoon, the winner of Season 5; Monét X Change, the winner of All Stars Season 4; Raja, the winner of season 3; Shea Couleé, the winner of All Stars Season 5; Trinity the Tuck, the other winner of All Stars Season 4; The Vivienne, the winner of Drag Race UK Season 1; and Yvie Oddly, the winner of Season 11. Truly legends, every last one, and each with a specific and exciting point of view when it comes to their drag.

The new rules of All Stars Season 7

This is no regular season of Drag Race — and not even a regular season of All Stars. All Stars 7 plays by a new set of rules. For the first time in Drag Race herstory, no one is going home. Ever.

Instead of standard weekly eliminations, All Stars 7 operates more by a point system. The top two queens of the week each receive a Legendary Legend Star — a title that everyone milks for all its worth. Then, the winner of the lip-sync between the top two gets the ability to block a fellow competitor from receiving a Legendary Legend Star the following week. The top four queens with the most Legendary Legend Stars at the end of the season participate in a lip-sync smackdown to be crowned Queen of All Queens. So while no one is going home, strategy is still key.

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7 celebrates its queens’ achievements

While the blocking mechanic is sure to cause some good old reality TV drama, the first episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7 (the only one I have seen as of writing this) feels less like a competition and more like a celebration. The queens greet each other with excitement and respect. There’s a clear sense that, while one of them will triumph, this round of All Stars won’t tarnish their previously awarded crowns. If anything, this is a chance for the queens to let loose and show the world just how much they’ve grown since winning their seasons.

Right off the bat, the first episode sets up some touching story beats. Jaida Essence Hall, the most recent winner of the group and the queen who won the first COVID-era season of Drag Race, expresses gratitude to her sisters for welcoming her with open arms. The Vivienne, the only representative from an international season, wonders how well her drag will translate overseas (spoiler alert: It translates great). All the queens, but especially Shea Couleé, get emotional when they have the chance to walk in front of THE Naomi Campbell. Who wouldn’t?

Monét X Change and Trinity the Tuck deliver good reality TV

Of course, this opening episode is by no means a total hugfest. It begins with the infamous (and fundamental) reading challenge, resulting in quality zingers. Monét X Change and Trinity the Tuck, who both won the fourth season of All Stars, discuss forming an alliance when it comes to choosing who to block. Moments like these are proof that these queens are not just excellent at drag, they’re also excellent at Drag Race. They’ve been through the reality TV gauntlet before and know what’s expected of them, and now they’re back to show off their skills and give us great TV in the process. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Episode 1 of All Stars 7 is full of what every Drag Race fan could wish for: the return of some of the franchise’s most iconic queens, indulgent Drag Race-specific twists that I won’t spoil, a runway full of stunning looks, Naomi Campbell, an entertaining lip-sync, and the promise that we get to spend time with all eight of these queens for the whole season. Is there a chance that this new twist flops? Maybe. But we’re in the hands of Jaida, Jinkx, Monét, Raja, Shea, Trinity, The Vivienne, and Yvie, not to mention a panel of judges who couldn’t be more excited to see these queens again. We are guaranteed a good time.

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7 is now streaming on Paramount+, with new episodes every Friday.