RuPaul’s Drag Race: Bring Back My Queens!

Posted on May 10, 2019

To steal a timely quote from Mama Ru herself, we have one thing to say about this episode:



It’s time for us to state a hard truth about RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11: It’s just not a good season. While there have been a handful of standout queens (most notably, the one sent home last night after being passed over for her excellent work far too much), it has not been a season full of gag-worthy let alone meme-worthy moments. Starting with the “Slap Out of It” mini-challenge this episode (which was unfunny and went on way too long) and all the way through to that insanely piss-poor lip sync, it’s become too obvious not to be stated: this crop of queens is not up to Drag Race standards.


Collectively, they’ve all manage to produce some of the worst, most awkward improve, sketch comedy, and Snatch Game results. The choreography seems to get dumbed down for them, going by the rehearsal scenes vs. the final dance numbers, and pageant queens like A’Keria and Brook Lynne keep soaking up all the judges’ praise because they’re the only ones who have any real polish on that runway. There are no truly shining stars among this bunch.


They are, for the most part, a nice enough bunch, but Silky has been a problem from Day One and it’s really weird watching the show struggle with that fact. Scarlett made the mildest of bitchy observations and while confrontations are built into the werk room scenes, Silky’s high dudgeon over the fact that someone might have expressed an opinion about her was exhausting and not remotely interesting. Worse, it never feels like we’re looking at an angry or offended person defending herself when it comes to her. It always, always, ALWAYS comes off like someone constantly needing to be the center of attention and professing to a level of offended that we just don’t buy. Silky didn’t care that Scarlett said something mean. Silky just wanted another reason to have all eyes and ears on her at all times.


And we have to say, “WigGate” has got to be the LEAST interesting “scandal” in Drag Race history and the fact that such a banal topic has resulted in several arguments and altercations is another example of just how bad this season has been. These queens can’t even do drama well.


A big part of our disappointment has to do with the makeover challenge itself. In prior seasons, the family makeovers were a way for the show to celebrate the idea that queer people often have to create their own families around them due to rejection by their families of origins. They also pay tribute to the concept of drag families and they tend to be a showcase for drag queens to teach non-drag queens about the art or for queer men to have conversations with straight men or women about their differences and similarities. It’s always been among the more heartwarming of the show’s recurring challenge (we have a chapter devoted to it in our book), so it was a bit disappointing to see it stripped of its usual undertones and instead used as another way to get the queens to fight with each other.


Having said that, the results were pretty good overall, although we suppose that’s to be expected when everyone in the makeover is already a professional drag queen.



We think if Yvie had saved this concept for herself she might not have gotten so many complaints from the judges. Trying to get Scarlett to make it work just showed how singularly Yvie it is. She’d have been better off doing more of her freaky, full-coverage, costume-based drag. This just looked too much like trash pickings.



As noted, these made great Pride parade costumes, but they are absolutely not working as stagewear or runway fashion. The wigs were bafflingly terrible and we have no idea why Nina thought bike shorts made good drag. Love this queen, but her sense of her own body in drag is not as developed as it needs to be. Drag queens need to have a deep understanding of their own body and proportions. As fabulous as some of Nina’s drag can be, we’ve never seen anyone on Drag Race who hadn’t figured out how to dress herself to her best effect. A shoulder-accentuating top half and bike shorts is just a stunningly bad combination for her body.



Can’t really argue with pageant drag when it’s done well. Still, A’Keria got assigned her own drag cousin. That’s a bit of an advantage and we have to judge the results accordingly. Also: she made sure she was the prettiest.


Honestly, Vanjie should have won this. He took a queen who looked nothing like him and who works drag nothing like his and made the resemblance so strong that a couple of times, we really had to look for a second to determine who was who. And the way he repurposed costumes so that one of them had a dress while the other was in a matching jumpsuit was a much more creative way of applying the challenge than…


Just wearing matching gowns. There’s no denying this was good drag, but we felt like the difficulty setting for Brook Lynne was the lowest one in the room.


This was just awful drag, top to bottom. As per the usual whenever Silky is critiqued, she had a lot of excuses, but at this point in the competition, anyone trying to excuse a consistent record of bad drag on the main stage should be going home.




We won’t deny that it’s hard to suggest that Nina should have stayed based on that awful lip sync, but it’s no harder than suggesting Silky should. They were both terrible. Say what you will about Nina’s proportions or costume choices, she doesn’t present bad or sloppy drag on that runway. Silky has done so every week, with a string of excuses as to why every time she’s called out for it.


We realize we also can’t argue that Nina should have stayed because she’s the nicer queen, but dammit, it’s the truth. She works hard, does her best to listen, and has been one of the most polished and likable queens all season. If Ru wasn’t going to send them both home (which honestly would’ve been hard to argue with), there’s no way keeping Silky over Nina makes any sense.

This season only has a little time left to course-correct before folks start declaring it officially The Worst.



[Stills: Tom and Lorenzo via VH1]

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