We must have watched this episode a half dozen times by now, which means we’re very comfortable saying that this could be one of the best seasons of Drag Race you’re going to see. It’s got everything you would want from a highly entertaining season of your favorite drag queen competition. The queens are talented, hungry, and rough around the edges, and the judges are energized and excited to dive in. In fact, we haven’t seen Ru or Michelle this energized and engaged in quite some time.
From an American viewer’s perspective, it’s refreshing and even a little exciting to have a collection of Queens from an entirely different culture bringing a different flavor of drag to the table. It’s also a bit refreshing to see a bunch of queens in the workroom who aren’t constantly referencing the show’s history or comparing themselves to past contestants. They’re fresh, in other words.
And there’s a decent range of styles and ages on display. Frontrunners to our eyes: The Vivienne, Baga Chipz, and Divina DiCampo, with Vinegar Stroke, Sum Ting Wong and possibly Crystal medium shots. Take all that with a grain of salt, because in our long history of recapping this show, our prediction rate is nothing to brag about.
(but for real: keep your eye on The Vivienne and Baga Chipz)
As for the babyqueens in the group, specifically Blu Hydrangea, Gothy Kendoll and Scaredy Cat, what they lack in experience ( especially the latter two), they make up for in freshness and energy. Granted, Gothy could’ve used a couple espressos.
As several queens pointed out during the episode (in some highly staged conversations for the benefit of the American audience) British drag, unlike the American drag seen on the OG Drag Race, is rougher and a bit less about “realness,” with a preference toward a more trashy form of glamour that pulls from reality television queens and TV presenter styles, rather than, say a pop singer or movie star or pageant winner. It’s going to come up in the judging because Ru and Michelle are struggling with how to apply Drag Race criteria, which calls for a specific level of polish, to a style of drag less concerned with such things. British drag is less influenced by ball culture or pageant culture in comparison to American drag. There’s also much less of a Hollywood influence on British drag because naturally whatever celebrities inspire British drag queens are much more likely to be found on British television and in British movies, which is a major reason why the British panto style of comedy tends to be much more prevalent than the Shady Bitch personae of American drag. Not that we want to overstate things here, but generally speaking (and even outright stated in this episode), there are differences and it seems clear that this show is going to make the effort to highlight them and talk about them.
The mini challenge, like so many many mini challenges, was painful to sit through at times but this is part of the appeal of the show. These queens really did not know what to expect and it was illuminating to see how they react when they’re thrown off their game. And like so many mini challenges, the winner was a rather arbitrary choice. Scaredy was fine, but if you asked us, it should’ve gone to Vivienne.
Andrew Garfield may just be one of the most game judges in the history of drag race. he was having a grand old time not just enjoying the show but interacting with the queens and flirting with them. It’s always much more fun when the guest judges dive right into it; even better when their super-fans.
And now for stunning and not so stunning looks.
Category is: Queen Of Your Hometown 👸
— RuPaul’s Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) October 12, 2019
Impressions: Crystal is serving up high-level drag, Cheryl Hole’s Essex look was hilarious, especially with the little details like the uneven spray tan, Sum Ting Wong gave us something to look at, Baga Chipz’s Amy Winehouse tribute was hilarious, The Vivienne knocked it out of the park (to use an in appropriate Americanism) with her Pete Burns tribute, and Vinegar Strokes really needs to step her P up.
Now serving: Queen Elizabeth REALNESS, hunty! 👑
— RuPaul’s Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) October 12, 2019
Creative and kind of witty, especially with the coin motif repeated in the dress.
Clever, but his baby shtick is going to get very old very quickly.
A good look, but not a great one.
A bit rough in execution (like all of his drag), but funny and creative.
Clever and creative. And while she is to be commended for her transformative abilities (to the point that Michelle really stuck her foot in her mouth by assuming she was wearing a fake nose) and absolutely deserved the win, we have to point out that all that facial work did not result in making her look anything like the queen. As Ru pointed out, she looked way more like George Washington.
Oof. Sweetie. We’re rooting for you, but this is a mess.
Bless her heart. She’s got great talent as a looks queen, but Drag Race expects all of its queens to be as much of a library of cultural references as Ru herself tends to be. Which means really young, really inexperienced queens simply can’t provide what the competition asks of them much of the time. We get what she was going for with this look, but nothing about it truly referenced the queen and the dress itself was an odd design that made her look half-naked unintentionally.
And let’s face it: there was no question how this lip sync was going to go down.
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 second 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]