Welcome to Canada’s Drag Race Power Rankings! Every week, we’ve debriefed the week’s new episode of Canada’s Drag Race Season 4 to determine which queens were riding high, and which needed she-mergency care. And now that the season has come to an end, we take one look back at our final four queens’ journeys.
3RD/4TH: Denim (last week: 1)
Ultimately I’m glad that Denim made the finale, because I believe her presence both in the competition and as a character all season long merited her making it to the very end. But she was plagued by the problem that often faces runway queens who aren’t great performers who make it to the end: she really couldn’t nail the choreography, and her single was forgettable. I don’t think she embarrassed herself, but in watching the queens’ performances, there was no argument for Denim placing in the top two.
I gotta be honest: the online response to Denim got gnarly this season. The amount of posts I saw ragging on her for her voice? The Drag Race fandom has gotten to some truly low points over the years, so coming after someone for an innate characteristic shouldn’t take me by surprise. But I’m disappointed that a queen who gave us a lot to talk about regarding her drag—even if you didn’t always love it!—was most discussed for something completely unrelated. Denim deserved a better reception this season, and I hope we see her back in a few years after she’s continued to grow as a performer. Give her some improv lessons and she may be truly unstoppable on Drag Race.
3RD/4TH: Nearah Nuff (last week: 4)
I had a moment in this finale where I took a beat and asked myself, “Do I want Nearah to win this whole thing?” It surprised me to think that, because a Nearah win would go against a lot I believe about Drag Race. While I admire what a fierce, fearsome performer the Calgary queen has been, she largely made it into the finale on the merits of her lip-syncing and dancing. This isn’t Canada’s Lip Sync Race, so despite Brooke Lynn Hytes calling her the Lip Sync Assassin of the series (a fair distinction!), I don’t know if I would really be able to wrap my head around her victory.
But when Nelly Furtado called her “an elite performer,” and said she’d be performing all her life, I thought to myself: isn’t that it at the end of the day? Who cares if Nearah can excel at a comedy challenge? She has a fantastic mug, pulled out some gorgeous looks this season and performed like her life depended on it every single time she hit that stage. She is a drag queen, and what is this competition if not to crown the best of the best in that art form? In the end, I’m happy with who won, but Nearah’s run has me reconsidering what I value most on Drag Race. And I cannot wait to pay her her rightful coins when she tours the U.S.—hopefully as soon as possible.
RUNNER-UP: Aurora Matrix (last week: 3)
In this finale, Aurora got the edit I wish she had gotten all season long. We got to hear more about the experiences that led her to this stage, and how her background influences her drag. We saw what an impressive lyricist she is in addition to being a killer performer. We saw jaw-dropping drag in her Coronation Eleganza runway look. And in her final lip sync, we saw the raw emotion and passion that befits a winner of this show. Imagine if we’d seen more of that all season long, instead of Aurora being mostly relegated to the background while bigger characters overshadowed her.
But that’s the point, isn’t it? While Drag Race is a competition, it is first and foremost a television show. The production of this season often enforced that: twists like the Golden Beaver and the lip sync smackdown emphasized most how it all would work as a piece of TV. That kind of approach is going to be divisive; I personally think it’s the right one. Venus, through both her dominance in the challenges and involvement in the storylines, was just a bigger presence all season long than Aurora. And that is how the decision ultimately shook out. Aurora is a star, of that there is no doubt. And I can’t wait to see her back for another season in the future. She just wasn’t destined to be the winner of this one.
WINNER Venus (last week: 2)
I’ve made no secret of my rooting interest in Venus this season. She is charismatic, unique, nervy as hell and incredibly talented. That’s literally the recipe to become Canada’s Next Drag Superstar. Yes, she hasn’t won a challenge since Episode 1, and yes, her makeup is a bit light for what you’d expect of a drag competition winner. But Venus made me root for her through her openness, humour and perspective on drag. I can’t ask for much more when it comes to a favourite of mine.
In the end, the judges agreed, and Venus is Canada’s Next Drag Superstar! After a year of watching my personal picks lose (sorry to Anetra, Jessica Wild and Michael Marouli), I gotta say, it’s great to see Venus take this home. She becomes the first Canada’s Drag Race winner to never place in the bottom, much less even score low, and is also the first after Canada vs. The World winner Ra’Jah O’Hara to triumph with just one maxi-challenge win. Venus’ win is herstoric for many reasons, most significantly that she is the first Indigenous winner of the series. She should be tremendously proud, and I am so happy to see her emerge victorious. Long may she reign!