RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars: The Non-Elimination Format Is Working


RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 9 is unlike any other season of the RuPaul’s Drag Race spin-off. After an uninspired eighth season, the franchise had to idealize incentives for previous drag contestants to return to the show. All Stars season 7 was the first time in the show’s history that none of its cast went home throughout the competition. Instead, they competed for stars that could be won in challenges. The queens with the most stars at the end of the competition moved on to the finale and competed in lip sync battles for the crown.

The show has now adapted the infamous non-elimination format from All Stars season 7 for season 9 after its eighth season arguably flopped. Former Drag Race contestants needed the temptation to return to compete again, which they were granted in All Stars season 9. The show is moving into a new era, and it’s unclear how many format changes will stick around after season 9. Most notably, the queens of All Stars season 9 are competing to win $200,000 for a charity of their choice instead of taking home that prize money for themselves.

RPDR All Stars Season 9 Queens Are Competing For Charity
Despite Competing For Charity, The Queens Were Still Paid

For the first time in Drag Race herstory, all contestants on RPDR All Stars season 9 are competing to win money for charity. In past seasons, the queens battled it out for a cash prize for their benefit. The real reason the RDR queens are competing for charity is unknown. After All Stars season 7, many former franchise winners were unhappy with certain aspects of production and the show’s final edit. All Stars season 8 was a lackluster season that reverted to the original format where the contestants choose who gets sent home each week.

It was an odd shift to return to the original format of All Stars for season 8. The season was further tainted after Heidi N Closet quit mid-season and her fellow competitor, Kahanna Montrese, attempted to leave. Because of this, the season 9 cast was allegedly given a $50,000 appearance bonus plus $25,000 to spend on their runway outfits, per Reality Blurred. While none of the season 9 cast has confirmed these numbers, the information has been corroborated by Drag Race alums, including Heidi N Closet on X and Trinity the Tuck on the Sibling Rivalry podcast.

World of Wonder, the production team behind RPDR, knew that the spin-off series needed a refresh. The $75,000 appearance fee and runaway stipend incentivized the cast to return to the show. It can cost the queens a lot of money to return to All Stars, and in the past, they were never guaranteed to showcase all of their looks throughout the season. Because all queens will stay until the end of the competition, they have a fair shot at showing their drag, which may be why they’re competing for charity instead of personal gain.

RPDR All Stars Season 9 Has Been Received With Mixed Reviews


World Of Wonder Has Put A New Spin On The Classic Format

Since All Stars season 9 was released on Paramount+ in May, the season had mixed reviews. There was speculation about how the non-elimination format would work in a cast of non-winners. Surprisingly, the structure of the competition felt refreshing. At times, it can be frustrating watching queens slack off in competitions that they know they’re not likely to win. However, it makes for a better viewing experience to watch, as the queens aren’t plaguing themselves with anxiety about potentially being sent home early in the competition.

RPDR All Stars season 9 has only released a few episodes, but it’s been an entertaining series overall. World of Wonder has revamped classic challenges that make the competition seem exciting for the queens and viewers alike. For example, in the makeover challenge, the queens were placed in pairs and tasked to put firefighters in drag. The spin on the challenge was that they had to create mini girl groups and write verses together while putting their firefighters into full-drag makeup, hair, and fashions for the first time.

Part of the reason viewers were unhappy with a non-elimination format for All Stars season 9 was the potential for no drama among the cast. With no queens leaving the competition, it was assumed this would strip away the cast’s determination to win challenges each week. On the contrary, none of the queens have slacked off throughout the competition thus far. Instead of sitting back and taking advantage of no eliminations, the contestants have been able to experiment with their drag and test ideas they might not have if they were fearful of going home each week.

Is The Non-Elimination Format Going To Stick Around For Future All Star Seasons?
Will There Be No Eliminations On RPDR All Stars Season 10?

It’s unclear if the non-elimination format will stick around for future seasons of RPDR All Stars. World of Wonder could implement the structure for All Stars season 10 and see how the audience receives the show. The non-elimination format isn’t shying viewers away right now, but it may in the future. Part of the reason that Drag Race is such a successful show is because of its high-stakes nature.

If queens come into the season knowing they’ll be sticking around until the finale, no matter how poorly they perform, the competitive nature of the show will diminish over time.

Only time will tell if the format of RPDR All Stars season 9 is the new structure for the Drag Race spin-off. The lack of eliminations has not spoiled the season so far. It’s refreshing to watch all eight queens vouch for their charities in their confessionals each week. They each have passion for their selected causes, bringing a lighter vibe to the show. While the queens are still competing for the crown and a place in the Drag Race Hall of Fame, it makes sense none of the cast would go home during a charity season.