RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars makes the jump from VH1 to Paramount+ today, marking the first time that the streaming service will be premiering new Drag Race content. This is the show's sixth All Stars season, and it's returning in a super-sized format, with 13 queens competing to join the Drag Race Hall of Fame, up from the usual ten.
The queens gathered for All Stars 6 are a rather ragtag bunch — a mix of three-time competitors, early boots, fan un-favorites, and old-school queens, with precious few contenders for frontrunner status. One could say that makes for a shaky season at the outset, but it also makes for a thrillingly unpredictable season. In the past we've generally been able to look at an All Stars cast and pick out who are the favorites to win and who are just there to fill out the cast. Which can be frustrating if one of your personal faves (say, Mariah Balenciaga in All Stars 5) isn't among the anointed few. This season, though, it truly feels like almost any of these queens could finish anywhere on the spectrum from first to last, and that is exciting.
We haven't had an All Stars season without a clear favorite to win since... ever? Season 1 was all about Chad Michaels and Raven (who finished 1st and 2nd, respectively); Season 2 was tapped for Alaska and Alyssa Edwards (1st and 5th, respectively); and Seasons 3 and 5 were heavily favored at the outset for eventual winners Trixie Mattell and Shea Coulee. Only All Stars 4 felt like a true competition among the queens at the top, and interestingly that was the season where RuPaul couldn't decide and just crowned Trinity and Money X-Change both champs.
Season 6 has the stuff to be even more chaotic. So let's look at the contenders based on the storylines they'd bring to the table:
All Stars 6 features an unprecedented seven queens who finished in 8th place or lower in their original seasons. And even if you want to put an asterisk after Eureka's name because in her second season she finished as runner-up, you can even that out with Pandora Boxx exiting first in her second season, so it all adds up to the fact that a lot of AS6 queens are looking to rebound from disappointing finishes. None more so than Serena Chacha (Season 5, 13th place), who only lasted two weeks in her original season and who was basically blasted by both the judges and her fellow queens for being out of her depth.
Even though her original season was eight years ago, Serena still feels like obvious cannon fodder in this group of queens. Which is why she has the most room to surprise both the audience and the judges. All Serena needs is one standout performance in the first week to turn her fortunes around, something that happened for India Ferrah just last season.
The two other queens most in need of a reputation rebound are Season 11 queens Scarlet Envy and Ra'jah O'Hara. Both were part of the infamous six-way Lip Sync for Your Life that season, and although they both survived it, they were gone by the halfway mark of the season. It's tough to tell what either Scarlet or Ra'jah's ru-demption storylines might be this season. Ra'jah's original narrative was that she kept getting into arguments, while Scarlet didn't have much of a storyline at all.
Two other queens who exited early in their original seasons are Jiggly Caliente (Season 4, 8th place) and Kylie Sonique Love (Season 2, 9th place), but both have major comeback narrative potential and should both be considered dark horse contenders. Kylie, who went as simply "Sonique" in Season 2, was kind of a low-personality sidekick to Morgan McMichaels, ultimately losing out to Morgan in a lip-sync. But she's come a long way since then, famously coming out as transgender in the Season 2 reunion episode, the first Drag Race contestant to do so. She appeared on the Drag Race Holi-slay Spectacular in 2018, earning impressed raves from fans who may not have remembered her first time around. Given the decade-plus since her first season aired and her finally being able to compete as her full self, Kylie Sonique Love is as close as this season has to a brand new queen.
Jiggly Caliente might have an even more drastic glow-up to present this season. In Season 4, Jiggly was an entire mess, from her looks to her performances to her workroom arguments with other queens. Jiggly was wildly unsure of herself, something that is ready-made fodder for a redemption arc on All Stars. Jiggly has since also come out as a trans woman and has worked as an actress on shows like Pose. Her looks have also become quite refined, and even her teeth are now capped and gorgeous. Jiggly might snatch the most-improved trophy before the other queens are even in the door.
Besides Kylie Sonique, the most veteran of the All Stars 6 queens are a pair of former Miss Congeniality winners, Pandora Boxx (Season 2, 5th place; All Stars 1, 11th place) and Yara Sofia (Season 3, 4th place; All Stars 1, 5th place). All Stars 1 broke the seal on allowing refugees from the cursed All Stars 1 season to compete again, with both Manila Luzon and Latrice Royale putting up great showings. But those two queens had elite reputations and a narrative that they were held back by the AS1 teams twist. The same applies to Pandora, who was quite vocal in her displeasure at being saddled with Mimi Imfurst as a teammate, but her sour-grapes narrative really tarnished that Miss Congeniality crown. Meanwhile, Yara Sofia has advanced to just-short-of-the-finale twice now, and that seem, well, about right for her. Not sure what else there is for her on Drag Race or why she's back again.
The all important All Stars redemption arc — probably the most significant weapon a queen can wield in these seasons — has a close relationship to the question of confidence. RuPaul sure does love an "inner saboteur" narrative, where a queen must learn to conquer the voice in her head telling her she's not good enough. Is this always the bugaboo with every queen? Not really. But you try telling Ru that! This year's contender to advance by squashing her own inner saboteur is Trinity K. Bonet (Season 6, 7th place), whose original arc saw her plagued with self-doubt, even as she slayed several lip-syncs. Eight years later, Trinity says she's coming back full of confidence, which could mean big things for her if the judges latch onto that story.
Meanwhile, on the other side of that coin is Jan (Season 12, 8th place), who has arguably too much confidence. Her biggest impact from her season was becoming a meme for her stunned reaction to not winning the Madonna Ru-sical challenge. Which, to be clear, she should have won. But when "aggrieved for brilliance not recognized" becomes your brand, it's a real short ride from there to villain edit, which is where Jan might be headed. Jan is the most recent queen to return for All Stars 6, and it may be too soon.
There isn't actually a ton to say about A'keria C. Davenport (Season 11, 3rd place), except to say that she's one of the few queens this season who actually made it to a finale, and that could take her far. Every season needs a steady center who will reliably do well at most competitions and entertainingly narrate from the confessionals. Those are two things A'keria can do quite well. And while that might end up adding up to runner-up rather than eventual champion, I think it's smart money to say A'keria could find herself in the finals once again.
Somewhat famously, through 13 regular seasons and 5 all stars, RuPaul's Drag Race has never crowned a plus-size queen, an omission that has grown more glaring over the years. With four big girls in this year's cast, including three who've previously made it to the final episode, this feels like this really should be the year that glass ceiling breaks. Silky Nutmeg Ganache (Season 11, 3rd place) was a force to be reckoned with in her season, but the perception that Season 11 was a weak season, combined with the fact that she ended up being pretty well disliked by the Drag Race fans when all was said and done could make an All Stars crown an uphill climb. Another queen who fell into disfavor with fans was Eureka O'Hara, who originally competed in Season 9, had to bow out with an injury, and then returned in Season 10 to a series of major arguments with queens like The Vixen, en route to a runner-up finish. Eureka has since somewhat rehabbed her image via her performance on HBO's We're Here, and she has certainly proved herself to be a favorite of RuPaul and the judges. If her trajectory from her first two seasons is to be followed, Eureka could be a major contender.
But the queen with perhaps the most potential to be the first big girl winner is Ginger Minj (Season 7, 2nd place; All Stars 2, 8th place). Ginger was considered the favorite to win Season 7 before Violet Chachki took the crown. And then she quickly returned for All Stars 2, where she was overshadowed by her more popular season-mate Katya and was one of the first queens eliminated. Since then, though, Ginger has stayed active within the Ru-niverse, appearing in films like Dumplin and in the RuPaul-starring AJ and the Queen. Moreover, with the dust of All Stars 2 having long settled, Ginger's low finish there is largely seen as a consequence of bad timing and superb competition. She's easily one of the most pedigreed queens on the AS6 cast, and she's the rare Drag Race runner-up who also has a redemption narrative. She could very well be the queen to beat.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 6 premieres June 24th on Paramount+, with new episodes dropping Thursdays through September 2nd.
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Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.