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At Mid-Season, RuPaul's Drag Race Is Poised for a Killer Endgame

With the race down to 8 queens, we take a look at each competitor's odds and strengths.
  • Anetra, Sasha Colby, and Mistress Isabelle Brooks (photo: MTV)
    Anetra, Sasha Colby, and Mistress Isabelle Brooks (photo: MTV)

    The 200th episode of RuPaul's Drag Race was a milestone for the series that has spawned an entire empire of drag competition shows, but it also marked a significant point in Season 15. With trot-happy TikTok twin Spice getting the chop, we're down to eight queens, after starting out with a whopping (and a bit unwieldy) 16.

    By this point in every season, a hierarchy has been established. The contenders for the crown tend to have separated themselves, and it's now a matter of them avoiding a stumble. The frontrunners have definitely established themselves here in Season 15, but what's striking about this group of queens is that, even though one of them has been the heavy favorite due to her preeminent status within the drag community, the other top queens are making a strong case for themselves. To put it more bluntly: Yes, Season 15 is Sasha Colby's to lose, but queens like Anetra, Mistress Isabelle Brooks, and Luxx Noir London are making no missteps. And that's not even accounting for a late-breaking run from anyone else. We might be on our way to one of the most talented and competitive season finales in years.

    So how do these final eight queens stack up against each other? It's not just about the track record, it's about the queens who put together the best narrative case to be the winner. Here, we take a closer loook at each queen's bid for the crown.

    The Drag Legend: Sasha Colby

    Sasha Colby entered this season with her considerable reputation preceding her. Sasha, who is drag mother to Season 14's Kerri Colby, is one of the most respected veteran drag queens and trans icons in the drag community. In her introduction video for Season 15, she described herself as "your favorite drag queen's favorite drag queen," and that's about the size of it. Season 14 finalist Bosco took to social media and compared casting Sasha on Drag Race to casting Beyoncé on American Idol.

    You can see the deep levels of respect the other queens — and even Ru, who doesn't tend to put the queens in competition up on pedestals — have for Sasha. The question then becomes whether Season 15 is a coronation season, where one queen dominates the field en route to winning in a way that isn't surprising but feels just (Bianca Del Rio in Season 6 and Bob the Drag Queen in Season 8 come to mind), or whether the narrative will be one queen besting the icon.

    Track Record: With her win in Week 9’s ball challenge, Sasha became the first queen to win two maxi challenges (which is actually not the bellwether it seems; only 5 times has the first queen to win two challenges won the season). She's also had two high placements, and zero low placements.

    The Dark Horse: Anetra

    Anetra's performance in the season premiere's talent-show challenge was one of the clearest instances of a queen vaulting herself into contention for the crown withf a single performance. In one short minute, Anetra laid down an electric, agile lip sync, birthed her own new catchphrase in "you better walk that duck!" (RuPaul lives for a catchphrase, so this was crucial), and left her fellow queens screaming in appreciation. She's the perfect candidate to challenge Sasha Colby for the crown. Their head-to-head performance in the Lip Sync Lollaparuza was a fan favorite, and Untucked included a moment of Anetra praising Sasha as a drag institution that ended with the other queens assuring Anetra of what a fierce queen she is in her own right. The Sasha-Anetra final two narrative is looking very likely.

    Track Record: Anetra's one challenge win was in that season premiere talent show. Besides that, she has two high placements, one low placement, and she escaped the Lip Sync Lollaparuza in the final round.

    The Shady Narrator: Mistress Isabelle Brooks

    One of the sneakier ways to determine if a queen is destined for the season finale is if they get a ton of screen time narrating the events of the episodes. This season, that honor has mostly gone to Mistress, the 24-year-old plus-size queen from Texas. Mistress is also the season's shadiest queen, needling the other girls and affecting a mean-girl tone. Not all the other queens have taken it in the comedic spirit it's (mostly) intended, which makes Mistress an interesting case for a win. She's hugely talented, and one of these seasons Ru will end up crowning a big girl at last. But it's been a while since the season's shade queen has taken the ultimate crown (arguably Violet in Season 7, or else you have to go all the way back to Raja in Season 3!).

    Track Record: Mistress has one challenge win, in the Daytona Winds acting challenge. She's added three high placements to that win, and zero low placements.

    The Try-Hard: Loosey LaDuca

    Nearly every season there's one neurotic queen who gets too freaked out about wins and losses and ends up psyching herself out — think Jan in Season 11 or Miz Cracker in Season 10. The last few episodes certainly seem to be setting Loosey down that path. Almost every interview or workroom scene with Loosey is either about how she needs a win, thinks she deserved a win, or the other girls are giving her a hard time because she said she deserved a win. It's hard to imagine a winner's narrative that plays out as if the queen whined her way to the crown, so Loosey will need to turn that perception around quickly.

    Track Record: Loosey's one challenge win is a big one, in the Snatch Game. Otherwise, she's got one high placement and two low placements.

    It's Fashion: Luxx Noir London

    One-dimensional queens rarely take the crown. At some point, a growth narrative needs to emerge, where a queen steps out of her comfort zone to show she's good at something that hasn't been her strong suit — like Trinity Taylor transcending her pageant roots to be a surprisingly good comedy queen, to use but one example. What's fascinating about fashion-queen Luxx this season is that she hasn't even been challenged by the judges to leave her comfort zone. Luxx was overshadowed a bunch in the first half of the season. She’s gotten a ton of talking-head moments and has been bitchy to the other queens, but not as much (or as entertainingly) as Mistress. She's actually younger than Sugar and Spice, but they got the youth narrative. Luxx is clearly one of the more talented queens this season, she just needs to take that next step up in the back half.

    Track Record: Luxx did win the season's earlier fashion challenge, in her sole victory so far. She has one other high placement, and has otherwise been nothing but safe.

    The One Ru Hates: Marcia Marcia Marcia

    For the first few weeks of the season, it seemed very clear that while Marcia Cubed had her share of fans among the viewership. Bne person who seemingly couldn't stand her was RuPaul herself. Ru clocked Marcia in the very first week for not being draggy enough, with minimal makeup and basic wig work. That critique continued, to the point where Ru was putting Marcia's makeup on black even when she wasn't on the runway to be judged — not a great position to be in. But things seem to have improved for Marcia. She's finally getting compliments for her increasingly draggy looks, and her Lollaparuza lip sync victory really seemed to impress the judges. Ru hasn't said an unkind word about her since, nor a kind one either. Marcia could either be the improvement queen in the second half of the season, or she could be gone this week. The field is wide open.

    Track Record: No challenge wins (yet?), but three high placements and zero low placements (yet?).

    The Drama: Malaysia Babydoll Foxx

    For a couple episodes in Season 15's first half, Malaysia was getting a ton of screen time, mostly either by being unsure of her ability to execute the challenges and ultimately getting into arguments with Mistress and Marcia over — in order — Mistress and Luxx being mean girls, and Marcia being sick of hearing Malaysia complain about Mistress and Luxx being mean girls. Being the center of the drama can be good if you don't end up getting eliminated, and Malaysia survived a few episodes where the edit looked like it was setting her up for the fall. That usually bodes well for long-term chances. But Malaysia has fallen back into overlooked territory at perhaps the worst time in the season to do that. There are hardly any easy outs left anymore, so Malaysia's best chance might be to turn into a Kameron Michaels-style lip sync assassin.

    Track Record: No challenge wins, with two high placements and zero low placements.

    The Easy Out: Salina EsTitties

    We've been trying to make the case for each of the remaining queens to win, but Salina might be too tough a task. Things are not looking good. Last week, it seemed like Spice would have to do a LOT to escape the ax that had been dangling over her head for weeks. Which is perhaps the only reason that Salina didn't go home, after an episode where she created the worst of the crystal-themed design, and her decision to lip sync Lil Nas X's "That's What I Want" like a slow-burn domestic drama did not go over well. Her next Lip Sync for Your Life will be her third, which tends to be the end of the line, and it's hard to imagine the show will buck that trend for Salina.

    Track Record: Salina has now been in the bottom two twice, with zero high placements to offset it.

    New episodes of RuPaul's Drag Race air every Friday on MTV. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Joe Reid is the senior writer 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.

    TOPICS: RuPaul’s Drag Race, MTV, Anetra, Mistress Isabelle Brooks, RuPaul Charles, Sasha Colby