The Snatch Game episode is, in our opinion and observations, the most anticipated of the season, and the one most likely to cause tension levels to rise dramatically among the queens. When fans of Drag Race talk about legendary performance moments (as opposed to legendary shade-throwing or arguments) during the show’s run, it usually consists of legendary lip syncs, legendary lewks, and legendary Snatches.
Which is why the show tried to milk some drama out of the instance of two strong queens showing up with the same character in their trickbag. Divina didn’t seem to have the confidence that she could beat Baga in a one-on-one Thatcher throwdown and we think she caved a little too quickly on the matter.
Granted, we think Baga basically steamrolled right over her. We don’t mean this in a shady way, but Baga and The Vivienne are fierce competitors who are in it to win it and the other girls need to step their confidence game up or they’re just going to get steamrolled right out the door.
The result was a Divina thrown way off her game. No experts on British culture, we still immediately wondered if the character made a strong enough impression for the references to land and it looks like we may have been right on that. Alan Carr admitted to not knowing much about her. Even so, lack of audience familiarity wasn’t her problem. It was that age-old issue that greets every struggling Snatch Game queen: she had no material. No jokes landed and her natural quick wit seemed totally extinguished. Also (and we hate to say this): this really isn’t very good drag.
Whatevs. Again, no experts on British culture, we were only mildly familiar with what she was doing. She had the character and the look down, but like so much of what Cheryl puts out in the competition, it’s not memorable enough to really register.
Given the range of characters chosen and how much they tend to resonate with Americans (Mary Berry, Julia Child, Margaret Thatcher, Rue MacLanahan and even David Attenborough are all fairly to extremely familiar to U.S. viewers), we tend to think it was all quite deliberate because the queens all know the folks most responsible for their fate (Ru, Michelle, and World of Wonder) are all Americans. So The Vivienne choosing Donald Trump was smart strategy, even though any queen who attempts boy drag in the Snatch Game is risking blowback if they don’t absolutely nail it. The Viv is a savvy girl, however, and she knew she had a hell of an impression up her suited sleeve. Michelle wasn’t really overstating it when she called it the best impression in the history of Snatch Game. This was pro-level work and it was unleashed because she knew she could win the judges over with this one.
Which isn’t to say Baga didn’t make Viv work for it. As much as Divina might think she’d been better off sticking to her original plan, we honestly can’t see a version of Maggie Thatcher that tops this one. Not only was he surprisingly deep on the references, but the addition of the red contacts was simply genius. Like The Viv – and all great Snatches – Baga had a character completely nailed down and ready to go. She didn’t just have a bag of catchphrases; she had an understanding of who she was playing, where the comedy is in that persona, and how that persona would react to anything the game throws at her. Never out of character, always on point, and naturally hilarious. Unbeatable Snatch.
This was cringe-inducing. He didn’t have the look down, didn’t attempt any sort of vocal impression, and had no jokes at the ready. There’s such a massive disconnect between the name on the card and the person sitting behind it. You can’t help but look at both and think “Really?”
As always, Blu’s still in the competition because when it asks him to do something, he calls all-in, talent or game plan be damned. We don’t mean that in a backhanded way. The one thing a queen needs in this competition other than talent is boldness. Ru absolutely needs to see that in her winning queens. And she respects a queen who hustles her way through the competition by being game for anything. It’s a big part of why Shangela was sort of coaxed and cultivated into stardom by the show. This was by no means hilarious – way too much reliance on blue (no pun intended) material that only mildly amuses the first time – but he had a pretty strong look, never broke character or went off the rails. It wasn’t a good performance, but it was the epitome of a safe one.
You can look at every other character on that panel and see the comedy and drag potential (even with Trump) in the choice. There’s nothing inherently funny about the guy and nothing particularly notable about the look – to the point that once again, you look at the card and you look at the person and sit there in confusion. Nothing about this worked, down to the very choice of character.
Ru has definitely stepped her pussy up for this season, although we miss when she used to occasionally wear red wigs.
— Logo 🏳️🌈 (@LogoTV) November 2, 2019
Gotta hand it to Blu. That’s the good shit. Baga’s look felt a bit like his Laser Minelli one for the Bond challenge; something he had in his trunk that he sort of shoved into the runway challenge – only this time it didn’t have as much charm to it. Cheryl’s drag continues to be competent, polished and well-realized, but she hasn’t really nailed a sickening look. This is one of Sum Ting’s more polished looks, but Michelle was so right to point out how plain and badly fitted her body suit was.
Divina’s was one of the best looks on the runway and probably saved her ass after that poor Snatch.
Crystal certainly nailed the brief and the bit with the crotch grinder was certainly unforgettable. We think it probably loses something when done on a well-lit soundstage instead of club. The Viv’s look was kind of surprisingly awful, although Ru defended it, probably because he didn’t want anything to detract from her inevitable win.
Same goes for Baga, who didn’t exactly stun on the catwalk, but gave a Snatch performance that was undeniably among the best. They’re each lucky the other one’s lewk was as middle-of-the-road as her own. If either of them really stunned in something jaw-dropping, there would have only been one justifiable winner.
We think this could’ve gone either way, since Crystal is about looks and gimmicks over performance skill. It wasn’t the most memorable lip sync, but we think the results were clear.
Once again, the least-polished queens are being ticked off the list, one by one. Everyone left has a pretty high level of polish, which means performance is going to become much more important going forward. Which also means that Crystal, Blu and Cheryl need to step it up.
If you want to hear us ramble on in our cartoon voices about this episode, you can check out the end of last week’s podcast:
Unforch, we didn’t get a chance to record a podcast this week, which means you’ll have to wait until next week to hear about Thursday’s episode. Confusion reigns! Also: 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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