Early in the premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars 2, one of the contestants disses Violet Chachki, the super-slender fashion artist crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar in the seventh season of the show. “Apparently all it takes to win is a corset, so I bought one,” says Ginger Minj, a runner-up of Chachki’s.
The other drag queens around her make mock-scandalized noises. “We’ll edit that out,” Minj says, referring to her previous comment.
“Will they though?” another contestant says.
“No they will not,” Minj replies.
And lo, they—the producers—have not.
As a satire on the ridiculousness of reality-competition TV shows rendered with queer camp verve by its cast of real-life female impersonators, RuPaul’s Drag Race already has claim to be one of the most self-aware television programs of all time. In seven years of airing on Logo TV, every sickening look and shady punchline has carried a web of references to things outside the show—with the ways that actual women look and behave being only one of many inspirations for the madness.
Now, Drag Race enters an All Stars run, assembling notable also-rans from previous seasons. The show had put on an All Stars once before, but it was in 2012—right as Drag Race was breaking through to be the No.1 conversation piece of contemporary popular gay (or at least gay male) culture. The queens returning for tonight’s All Stars premiere represent the best of Drag Race’s ongoing golden age, and the resulting ultra-meta and ultra-amusing celebration of freakiness and friendship feel like a coronation for the show.