Looking back, season 12 of RuPaul’s Drag Race is memorable for a few reasons. First, it’s the only season to have concluded with a Zoom call lip sync showdown. It’s also the only season to completely erase one of its queens from the show due to external misconduct. It gave us plenty of great catchphrases, like “Boo! Aooowwww” and “Look over there!”

But today, we’re here to talk about the sickening top three queens, and in particular our winner (SPOILER) Jaida Essence Hall. With such fierce competition in the finale, what made Jaida the fiercest of them all? Here’s the tea:

1. Jaida Essence Hall serves glamour the house down. *tongue pop*

Let’s be real. Nobody did glamour this season like Jaida. Right off the top of my head, I see that already-iconic sparkly purple gown with the disc headpiece. I see the red makeover challenge look. I see the basketball wife look and the gorgeous orange finale look. Basically, mama served looks for centuries this season. I can’t remember one time she looked busted or poorly-polished. That stars-and-stripes outfit? Come on.

2. Jaida Essence Hall knows how to be funny.

Okay, so the girl’s pretty. What else?

Umm, she’s also funny as hell.

“Look over there!” is one of the standout lines from the whole season, and one Jeff Goldblum referred to as a “beautiful” commentary on American politics. She held her own during Snatch Game as Cardi B, and in the season’s acting challenges as well. She may not brand herself primarily as a comedy queen, but sis has plenty of wit and humor to back up her looks.

3. Jaida Essence Hall is least like other Drag Race winners.

Gigi, Jaida, and Crystal are all undeniably fierce queens. But when we compare each of them to the last, say, five winners of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which of them has the most unique features to add to the Drag Race winners’ circle?

Let’s break it down: over the last five seasons, we have had two high-fashion queens, two wacky/weird queens, and one comedy queen. But when’s the last time we had a pure pageant queen take the crown (ignoring All-Stars)? Season…2? The only queen you could maybe call a pageant queen since then is Bianca, who fits the mold aesthetically but definitely falls under the “comedy queen” umbrella.

So, while Gigi had the strongest report card of the season and Crystal was the quirkiest of the top three queens, Jaida stands out from the winners crowd more than either of them.

4. Jaida Essence Hall is the best queen for today.

In 2020, Black Lives Matter has reached a boiling point with the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The movement has reached new levels of public engagement, with protests across the country and around the world, which have continued for several weeks (50 days at the time of this post).

So, with a highly qualified black queen in the finale this season, what better choice could Ru have made? In such a consequential time for civil rights in the Black community, Jaida is the best queen to carry the crown (and scepter). She is a member of both the LGBTQ and Black communities, and therefore has the most to say about the injustices experienced in each.

The winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 12 is…

In my predictions for the season 12 finale, I gave each of the final three queens at least a decent chance of winning. However, I did give Jaida the lowest odds (25%).

I’ll admit it was a bit surprising to see Gigi lose with the clear on-paper advantage. But, again, this is a lesson: a winning queen is more than a great report card. In addition to winning challenges on a reality show, a queen needs to convince Ru that she will somehow benefit the Drag Race legacy (and indeed the legacy of drag itself) in a way her competitors couldn’t.

And, once again, Mama Ru made the right choice. 

Jaida is fabulous. Plus, she’s hilarious. She stands out boldly in the Drag Race winners’ circle, and she’s the absolute best torchbearer for the Black LGBTQ community today.

P.S. She’s also the trade of the season…is that worth mentioning?

Thanks for reading this piece on our fabulous RuPaul’s Drag Race season 12 winner. Be sure to subscribe to Tyler’s Tea Time for more Drag Race content in the future, including reactions to All-Stars 5 after this week’s finale.

Xoxo! T.