Breast Friends Forever

How RuPaul’s Drag Race season 9 skipped the drama for cute & cuddly

While Season 9 has had its fair share of drama, some corners of the fandom are upset the show has devolved into a real-life RuPaul’s Best Friend Race. In contrast to the more visceral shouting matches from previous years, this group of contestants is more prone to apologies and gentle discussions of their feelings, outliers in the age of nasty, needless Trump drama.

But if we’re being honest, the show has always had a warm heart. (Let’s not forget that last season’s arch nemeses Bob and Derrick ended up burying their feud after they worked together.) Shea and Sasha are only the most recent example of queens who have gotten all cute and cuddly.

Here’s our rundown of Drag Race’s best friendships…

1. Raven and Jujubee

These two queens were separately shady on Season 2, but got closer on Drag U and finally joined forces on the first iteration of All Stars. Their closeness gave life to one of the franchise’s most memorable lip syncs: as Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” blasted, the inseparable sisters sobbed through the performance, each too distraught at the thought of sending the other home to continue. In terms of emotional impact, future contestants may never surpass this gut-wrenching moment.

2. Raja and Delta Work

Proving that close bonds don’t eliminate drama from a season, these two members of the old guard used Untucked as an opportunity to join forces against their competitors. Taking the “when you don’t have anything nice to say, sit next to me” idiom to heart, they settled into the Interior Illusions Lounge and dished on anyone who crossed their path. Plenty of viewers thought they were too mean, but sometimes there’s nothing better than listening to a seasoned queen read people to filth.

3. Sharon Needles, Chad Michaels, and Latrice Royale

In the simpler days of Season 4, before production locked contestants in their rooms when they weren’t filming, these three notoriously hung out all night smoking pot and being ridiculous. United as much by their mutual distaste for Phi Phi O’Hara as they were by their mutual enjoyment of each other, they sought to fill the workroom with happiness and shenanigans rather than conflict where possible. And it didn’t deny the audience any pleasure: their improvised musical interludes like “Don’t Share Your Needles” and “Jesus Is A Biscuit” were every bit as delightful as the infamous “Go Back To Party City” showdown.

4. Jinkx Monsoon and Ivy Winters

Though the Race has yet to spawn a romance, we came close when Season 5’s winner fell hard for her already-partnered but admittedly adorable cohort. The pair might not have sealed the deal, but they still got in their share of cuddling, canoodling and general cuteness. They at least introduced us to the possibility of queen-on-queen action; let’s all keep our fingers crossed that this potential is finally realized with next year’s crop of hopefuls.

5. Bianca Del Rio and Trinity Kardashian Bonet

No one assumed that the author of the Rolodex of Hate would cozy up to anyone, but she ended up being one of the most helpful competitors ever to enter the workroom. This softer side was most apparent in her effort to coax Trinity out of her shell. Their partnership started as part of a commercial challenge but ended up lingering after they filmed their piece, and both of them benefitted: Bianca suddenly came across as less prickly, while Trinity got to show that she was more than just a pretty face.

6. Katya and Trixie Mattel

Katya had a lot of friends on Season 7: she connected with Fame over their shared sobriety and with Ginger over their shared acerbic wit. But the link that outlasted them all was her union with Trixie. Their explosively popular YouTube series highlights how perfect they are together: their neuroses, contrasting styles, oddball sensibilities, and occasional sexual tension make them best buds and even better TV.

7. Bob the Drag Queen and Naomi Smalls

The Shade Tree may have been a ridiculous (and quickly abandoned) addition to the series, but it gave Naomi a place to sit on Bob’s lap, and for that alone we should be thankful. The NY comedienne and the LA supermodel might have seemed like unlikely bedfellows at first, but their season-long sisterhood (which flirted with flirtation but also never led to anything serious) served as the perfect counterpoint to the ongoing tension between Derrick and… well, everyone.

8. Ro-Laska-Tox

Without question, the most iconic alliance in Drag Race herstory is this tremendous triad. Their initial run on Season 5 saw them joining forces against Jinkx only to break up near the finish line when Alaska felt the weight of her association with the group dragging her down in the eyes of the judges. But that juicy drama was nothing compared to their reunion on All Stars 2, which again sent Alaska into a full-on last-minute meltdown, but also put fans into near-apoplexy when underdog Roxxxy was repeatedly spared over fan favorites like Tatianna and Alyssa. Their unofficial contract neatly proved that being nice once in a while isn’t the same as being boring.

Are the queens this year really too nice? Comment below!

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  • Kieru

    This season is probably the closest we’ve gotten to The Great British Bake-Off levels of cordiality and support. The contestants have been almost laughably nice to one another; for the most part the only time you see anything remotely ‘attitude’ is when one of them is calling out another for not being able to recognize their own quality and talent.

    I kind of love it. It shouldn’t matter what your Drag aesthetic is; support each other.

    But even more than “Let’s be friends!” season 9 seems to be defined by the sheer volume of queens that basically eliminated themselves.

    Nina Bonina Brown was so negative and so focused on shifting the blame elsewhere; gone.
    Valentina thought she was untouchable and didn’t even bother to learn her lyrics; gone.
    Cynthia Lee, same as Valentina.
    Charlie Hide wasn’t even willing to ATTEMPT a lip sync; gone.

    The list just goes on.

  • DCguy

    The one that was starting to get on my nerves was when Alexis Michelle kept blaming other queens every time her outfit got read, saying that they should have told her how she looked.

    One of the most idiotic comments on Drag Race.

    • Xzamilloh

      Gurrrrrl, don’t even get me started on her ass doing that crap. This is a competition!! That’s why I hated that “Rupaul’s Best Friend Race” vibe this season. If you look like shit, I’m gonna look at you, smile, and thank Chinese Jesus (Chinesus) that I am one less person likely to be lip syncing that week. She took little to no responsibility for the way she looked, and then that fur episode making Farrah Moan sit there and listen to her whine when Farrah was trying to prepare for her lip sync. Ooooof, I would have just got up and left.

  • Xzamilloh

    There’s a huge difference between notable friendships during the seasons and the snoozefest Season 9 has been overall. But, like others on the ‘net have said, it is likely because these queens have seen how other queens get ripped to shreds and decided to dial it down. Hell, Alexis Michelle — admittedly she worked my nerves this season — has gotten some serious hate on Twitter that is entirely unwarranted, and it’s probably because fans wanted someone to hate.

    This season had some of the most lop sided lip syncs I have ever seen. The only one that stood out was Aja and Nina Bonina in terms of both bringing it like they still wanted to be there. Charlie Hides gave up, Nina gave up against Shea, Valentina didn’t even know the words (really? REALLY?)

    I’m sorry, but the majority of us watch for the drama just like we do for the drag. I do not come to be preached to about body acceptance, eating disorders, blah blah blah. I applaud them for putting this out there, but a few times was enough. Eventually it became very “After School Special”.

    The lip syncs sucked, Snatch Game sucked (And why the hell redo Kimono-She Better Don’t Madonna runway again??). And why on earth was Cynthia brought back to the show? She brought absolutely nothing and had more time than any of the queens to prepare.

    The only person I find myself rooting for at this point is Trinity Taylor because she is the first pageant girl to show some serious versatility and character.

    I don’t know… not my favorite season, and that’s after watching Season 7.

  • DistingueTraces

    I like it when they’re friendly and collaborative — I pretty much watch for the runway and get embarrassed when people are yell at each other, just like in real life.

    BUT, the workroom scenes have been a bit overly-careful this season. Sasha has my favorite looks, but she really was insufferable with her “Don’t joke about that” to Eureka.

    Alexis later got blowback from Ru about not wanting to be teased for her weight — but why would she not expect people to tiptoe around her insecurities when the group has apparently agreed that eating disorders are Never Funny?

    And yeah, the girls taking dives in their lipsyncs — three of them, and I’ve NEVER seen it in the past! — has been both poor TV and very foolish for them. That’s the last screentime on national TV you’ll be getting for a while, and the focus is on just you and one other queen for a solid couple of minutes. Even if you know you’re going home, it’s your last best chance to build the fanbase that will support you after the show.

  • He BGB

    My favorite moment was when Pearl (where is Pearl BTW?) Got shady with Ru. Is something on my face? I thought Ru would turn on her but I think he appreciated her spunkiness. It’s a reality show so you need drama and table overturning, unexpected pregnancies and arrests for assault and battery. Wish the contestants would go off on judges and Ru more…. just for fun. Lots of self control there, so no I don’t want them to play nice.

    • CarlIsle

      I loved that moment too because quite frankly I’m sick of the way most of the queens revere RuPaul like a deity. He’s human and he makes mistakes and there is nothing wrong with calling him out on it. Look at his decision to crown Tyra Sanchez.

  • manuelm80

    I would say it’s more Naomi and Kim Chi than Naomi and Bob. Same with Bianca, she was tighter with Adore. But I agree, I yearned for some Phi Phi VS Sharon level drama. It’s entertaining to watch every once in a while.

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