‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 12, Episode 8 power ranking: Commercial appeal

(Editor’s Note: VH1 and World of Wonder have disqualified Sherry Pie over serious catfishing allegations involving five men. A spokesperson for VH1 and World of Wonder said the season will air as planned “out of respect for the hard work of the other queens.” In keeping with this decision, we will omit Sherry Pie from this season’s rankings.)

Welcome to Drag Race Power Rankings! Every Sunday, we’ll debrief this week’s new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race to determine which queens are riding high, and which need she-mergency care. A commercial challenge sends an underdog soaring to the top, while a frontrunner never manages to find her wings. Who is in the best shape heading into the top seven?

7. Jan (last week: 2) — ELIMINATED

Jan Drag Race 12

Credit: Courtesy VH1

Jan is a cautionary tale about being too prepared for Drag Race. You can bring the best drag money can buy (or you can sew yourself), psych yourself up for any kind of challenge, decide on a brand to stick to above all else, and you can still falter. Ru never fully got on board with Jan—to be frank, neither did I—and her performance this week just emphasized all the ways her preparation didn’t help her. She was too intense, too excitable and too scattershot in her presentation. Even a stunning Bride Wore Black couldn’t help her when everyone looked incredible on the runway.

I know Jan had (and has!) a tremendous amount of fan love out there, and I’m certain even as I write this that there will be plenty unhappy with Jan’s departure. But in terms of both the challenge and the lip sync, Jan’s elimination was fair. I do hope future applicants use Jan’s trajectory on the show as a guideline: It’s not just about preparing to be the best you can be. It’s about being your genuine self while you’re on the show.

6. Widow Von’Du (last week: 4)

Widow Von Du Drag Race 12

Credit: Courtesy VH1

Thank god for Chaka Khan, because without her backstage visit during Untucked, I think Widow would’ve given up this week. She was so defeated on the runway, and every one of her competitors saying she deserved to go home didn’t help. Although I give her major props that she didn’t blame the other queens or the judges for her position—she knew she failed in the challenge, and took responsibility. But that Lip Sync for Your Life was an absolute triumph for Widow, marking her second tremendous lip sync this season (after her winning “Starships” routine in week one). She embodied Chaka and kept the focus squarely on her even as Jan flipped all around the stage.


I do worry another poor performance and no Chaka to cheer Widow up could spell her doom, but I hope she instead takes this as a kick in the ass and revs up for the rest of the season. If that lip sync is any indication, we may not have seen the last of what Widow can offer.

5. Gigi Goode (last week: 1)

Gigi Goode Drag Race 12

Credit: Courtesy VH1

Well, well, well, the A+ student is fallible after all! I don’t mean to delight in Gigi’s appearance in the bottom four, because she has dominated so much of this competition, and I don’t think this momentary slip is actually going to affect her march to the crown. But as someone who finds perfection boring and wants to see queens rise, fall and rise again during the competition, I greeted this development warmly. That said, despite her ad being a real clunker, and the judges all agreeing on that, Gigi never really seemed like a possibility to fall into the bottom two. I’m choosing to believe that’s because Gigi’s runway this week was stunning, because it truly was. I’ve not been as impressed by Gigi’s fashion this season as I expected from a look queen, but this was a jaw-dropping look. That’s the good news for Gigi fans: Even when she doesn’t nail the challenge, she’ll seemingly still find a way to impress.

4. Jackie Cox (last week: 6)

Jackie Cox Drag Race 12

Credit: Courtesy VH1

The structure of this episode required a top four, but I think if we just had a top three, it’d have been Jackie sitting in Untucked with a cocktail in hand. I did generally like both her runway and commercial, but there was something slightly…I don’t know, kind of over-the-top about her performance? The cheese was the point, of course, as Jackie emulated the very 60s I Dream of Jeannie vibe, and I loved hearing her adoringly talk about Barbara Eden.

My problem was less with the concept of the ad and more with how hard you could feel Jackie working during it. The winner of the challenge’s commercial felt effortlessly charming; Jackie’s was the definition of effortful. If Jan was going to (rightfully!) get critiqued for doing too much, the same should’ve been said to a lesser degree of Jackie. She’s got a natural charisma, but I think Jackie would be doing better overall in the competition if she leaned back a bit. The audience should never see you sweat. Hardly a bad week for Jackie, but not quite as good as the critiques would indicate, in my opinion.

3. Jaida Essence Hall (last week: 5)

Jaida Essence Hall Drag Race 12

Credit: Courtesy VH1

I’m still cackling thinking about Jaida introducing herself as a “terrible actress from Gay’s Anatomy” at the start of her commercial. That the girl who was so worried about her own performance in her premiere episode could now be so comfortable admitting she fucked up shows major growth from Jaida. She’s got ease to her now, and the judges are noticing, calling her the “dark horse” of the season. I’ve wondered for a couple of weeks who could possibly challenge Gigi’s dominance, and if this week’s performance is any indication, it looks like it might be Jaida. (Getting such heavy praise from her competition in Untucked can only bolster her confidence, I’d assume.)

2. Crystal Methyd (last week: 3)

Crystal Methyd Drag Race 12

Credit: Courtesy VH1

I honestly thought Crystal might take the win this week, solidifying the arc of her growth. The judges are in love with her now, and this week, Michelle Visage practically declares her the second coming of the patron saint of Adore Delano, the underdog-turned-frontrunner. While I agree that Crystal’s growth has been impressive, I’m still waiting for an utter wow moment from her in a performance—I did really like her ad (very smart to play up the mullet idea), but it wasn’t quite a home run. A solid triple. I’m sorry, I’ll stop talking in baseball metaphors.

What I need from Crystal is a Jackie in Snatch Game moment or a Widow in “I’m That Bitch.” I need a firm, undeniable announcement that she is here and ready to win the crown. It still feels like Crystal’s having a good time, up for whatever, no pressure, etc. I need to see that fire to be the best for me to fully get on board. That said, this week’s runway was an amazing step toward that kind of declaration; she went in a very different direction from the rest of the girls—doing a zombie bride look—and the result was spectacular.

1. Heidi N. Closet (last week: 7)

Heidi N Closet Drag Race 12

Credit: Courtesy VH1

*Clears throat*


She did it! Our girl did it! Heid N. Closet, first of her name, queen of the Closet, won a damn challenge! Her commercial was a comic triumph, as she finally leaned into her natural charisma and charmed the pants off the judges, Ru, and coach Bob Harper all in one fell swoop. Not only that, but she slayed on the runway too! Heidi absolutely bodied this week, emerging on the top despite incredibly tough competition. That it was Heidi who finally broke the gridlock of Gigi and Sherry wins only makes her victory all the sweeter. What a great result—a fantastic winner for a fantastic episode of Drag Race.

Kevin O’Keeffe is a writer, host, instructor, and RuPaul’s Drag Race herstorian living in Los Angeles, California. His favourite pastime is watching a perfect lip sync.

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