Once again, we are impressed with the energy and creativity levels of this series. It seems the one thing the Drag Race franchise needs most of all after 11 years of American drag, is a full immersion in another culture, filtered through the eyes of Americans. This is why we’re getting challenges having to do with the Queen, Downton Abbey and James Bond (along with popular-with-Americans guest judges like Andrew Garfield and Maisie Williams). If there’s no Harry Potter-themed challenge this season, we’d be shocked.
Which isn’t to say DRUK doesn’t keep things as British as possible for the home audience.
Other aspects of the show remain unchanged, thank Jesus.
And in the grand tradition of Drag Race every season…
The claws have come out. Honestly, we have no idea why everyone turned on Cheryl this episode. Especially since the accusation that she’s being a bit phony and playing to the cameras strikes us as a bit arbitrarily applied. Who isn’t playing to the cameras here?
Also in the grand tradition of Drag Race: Super-bitchy mini-challenges designed to stir up grudges. The Vivienne likes herself very much, doesn’t she? We’re just saying. We can smell a frontrunner but it does a girl no good to start acting like she’s got things locked up by the second episode.
Is it us, or has Ru stepped her pussy up a little? She’s looking great.
Like virtually all Drag Race acting challenges, this one was painful to sit through for 90% of it. But the point of these challenges is, in fact, to challenge all of the queens, whether they have acting skills or not. And the best way to level the playing field is to give them a kind of awful script to plow through. If you look at the history of the show, the queens who either won or got the highest praise in the acting challenges are the ones who took difficult roles and made them funny.
Several of the queens like Vivienne, Divina, Vinegar and Cheryl gave perfectly serviceable if not fairly good acting performances, but that’s not necessarily the kind of thing that gets Ru excited.
Ru is always going to reward the queen who takes things as far as they can go even to the point of ridiculousness. Sometimes it surprises us how few queens understand this fact about the acting challenges after so many seasons of Drag Race. Pick the hard role and play it to the hilt. Baga, possibly THE most British of this crop of British queens, gave a full-on panto performance and overwhelmed or overtook everyone else in the challenge. As an aside, her makeup skills are high-level. That’s excellent, face-altering theatrical makeup.
Granted, you can’t just go hard; you also have to be funny. Blu gave it her all – literally every bit of it – but we can say she ever really landed any of her lines. And Sum Ting Wong shrieked her way through. Scaredy is clearly not a performer and stayed at one level through the entire sketch. Five minutes of whining is not entertaining.
Come through Bond Girls:
#CategoryIs: Bond Girl Glamourama ✨
— RuPaul’s Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) October 19, 2019
Crystal is the best looks queen of this lot. If she could nail a performing challenge, Ru might start to notice her more. Scaredy is also very good at creating unique and idiosyncratic looks that feel like a fresh take on drag. She is, however, completely limited to the whiny, wide-eyed naif character and that gets old very quickly. We get that her name is Scaredy, but you don’t see Baga literally walking around with a bag of chips, do you? Loved Divina’s Yorkshire housemaid performance. Her look here is just okay. It feels like a lesser version of what Crystal managed. She was a bit too hard on herself, though. We can tell she has high standards for herself and she feels she hasn’t met them. Blu? Well. She really goes for it; we’ll give her that. Whatever’s asked of her, she runs headlong into it. The thing is, she’s always at a ten. This looks okay, but honestly, it doesn’t say Bond Girl at all. Way too sci-fi for that.
The Vivienne nailed the runway and continues to combine high performing skills with sickening lewks, which is a pathway straight to the crown. That is the best look we’ve seen from Sum Ting. Vinegar continues to fail to rise to the occasion when it comes to the runway portion. She’s just now a looks queen and it’s already separating her from the pack. Baga’s Laser Minnelli is HIGH-fucking-LARIOUS.
She absolutely deserved the win this week. And despite all her talk about doing Slag Drag and being a working class queen, we have to point out that, while she is all that, she’s still consistently managing one of the highest levels of polish in this entire crop. Vinegar and Sum Ting could take a few lessons. Vivienne should maybe not think she’s got this wrapped up.
Can’t help thinking, after Gothy Kendoll’s exit and this week’s bottom two, that the show is handily dispensing with the youngest and least experienced queens first.
But while Blu is young, she doesn’t lack for performing chops at all. Even before the first note, we figured she had this one wrapped up.
Scaredy is to be commended for making such an impression with so little experience. We don’t know how much on-stage performing is in his future, but he’s crazy-good at costumes and makeup. He was one of the freshest queens to hit the Drag Race franchise in several seasons.
If you want to hear more of our thoughts on this episode, you can listen to the beginning of last week’s Pop Style Opinionfest, where we spewed opinions left and right.
If you want to hear what we thought about the third episode, which won’t air in the U.S. for another week, you can listen to this week’s podcast. Very confusing, we know!
Our book “Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life” is available for pre-order now!
[Stills: World of Wonder via Tom and Lorenzo]
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