Thanks for the shout-out, JBC! We’re sorry we spent the season criticizing you.
Having said that, it’s a damn shame the show’s fandom has once again run another person off social media. Jeffrey is too harsh as a judge, but that’s true of Brooke Lynn just as much. There’s no reason for the show’s fandom to be going after the judges for … judging. It’s what they’re there for. While we maintain the entire judging panel could use a rethink – or at the very least, some direction as to how to critique on camera without looking like a bitch about it – there’s no need to be calling for anyone to be fired or for hounding them off social media.
It was a treat having a pro on the judging panel for once. The show’s fandom often expresses some anger at how harsh Michelle can be, but we think she drew a very sharp distinction from the other judges. It was especially notable how gingerly she stepped around the issue of padding and acknowledged that the ideas surrounding such things have changed in recent years. We outlined how this happened in our book; how the judging shifted away from “You’re giving me ‘boy in a dress'” to something a bit more accepting of the broader, more modern definition of drag — and it was nice to see her acknowledge it, even as she noted that Drag Race has a specific set of expectations surrounding the kind of drag they reward and a certain level of polish and beauty is still expected of the queens. Note also how she managed to tell a queen that her face makeup didn’t match her body makeup without making it sound like she was body-shaming (something JBC couldn’t manage a few weeks back when he went after Ilona for the same issue).
And since we’ve already stepped in it, we may as well take it all the way and enrage everyone by saying … Jimbo wasn’t robbed. But first…
This was a surprisingly difficult quick-drag mini-challenge. We actually loved how the girls were put through their paces and asked to constantly shift their performing style from minute to minute. We can’t say it was particularly illuminating as to who was better at taking orders on the fly, but Rita seemed like a perfectly fine choice for the win.
When the main challenge was announced, we seized up a little. The Ball challenge is specifically looks-based and it requires something the queens of this season haven’t yet figured out how to do: demonstrate the kind of high-level polish that Drag Race expects. We talked a bit about this last week. It’s not a comment on the queens’ abilities as drag artists so much as it is evidence that most drag queens don’t know how to present their drag for high-definition television. It took the U.S. version of the show a good three or four seasons before queens regularly showed up exhibiting that level of polish and presentation.
Granted, because this was a make-do challenge, the expectations are naturally going to be much lower than your average ball, but it was clear that the judges expected the dolls to show up on the main stage looking as sickening as they could manage on a budget.
Jimbo started off strong, with possibly the best executive realness look of the lot – or at least, the best one to stick to the theme. We will note, however, that even here, she fell into her “dumb slut” persona.
A mess. We have yet to be truly impressed with her technical skills or sense of style.
Hilarious and fun while remaining on point and serving up a character. We occasionally have a problem with her level of polish, but we thought she really stepped her pussy up this week.
This was the best of the bunch if you don’t care about the fact that this ball was snow-themed. It’s a great look, but the newsprint suit was an odd choice.
This was another fun look but again, we’re back in “dumb slut” territory with her and we’re not sure it truly reads “apres ski” so much as “cold weather party girl.”
This was a bold choice, but we have to side with Michelle Visage on this one. Even if you call this “drag” rather than just costume work, it’s the kind of drag that doesn’t require any technical skills to pull off – and that really should be considered a big problem in a ball challenge. This is how straight guys do drag.
Loved this look. Totally on point for a Canadian snow challenge and kind of wittily executed. She’s able to pull off a sort of drunken party girl persona without lapsing into the kind of “dumb and trashy” thing Jimbo seems to default to.
We said it last week: The one thing Scarlet has over the other girls is her presentation skill. This is truly fabulous work. Having said that, all four of these queens fell down for the final Snow Queen category:
The dress and crown are just piles of mess and the makeup – which, to his credit, he seemed to understand was a problem – was totally wrong for the category. Again, falling into that kind of trashy-dumb persona, which isn’t what the category’s about. We look back on his earlier looks – the one with the fetish dress and the mouse ears, the Celine Dion homage, the Leigh Bowery homage – and we can see that he is extremely creative and can put together some drop-dead drag, but he really fell into this “play with my hair, touch my titties” persona in the last few episodes.
Another total mess. That’s three for three, Rita.
She knew it wasn’t great and she knew Michelle was going to call her out, which is to her credit, but we don’t understand why she didn’t try to correct it ahead of time. That paper half-skirt is tragic.
We don’t love this look and we feel, like Rita’s and Jimbo’s, it’s a bit of a pile. But the pearls and the makeup and the wig managed to elevate it just enough. She earned this week’s win.
Just as these two earned their spot in the bottom. Unfortunately, it almost felt like Jimbo just gave up halfway through the lip sync. We’ll give it to Rita: she doesn’t really pull out sickening looks, but when you back that bitch up against the wall, she pulls something out of herself. Jimbo never should have attempted a lip sync in that outfit, let alone that mess of a crown. He spent the whole song distracted by the task of trying to hold it up.
Look, he’s absolutely our fave of this season’s crop of queens and we think he’s a far more interesting drag queen than the remaining top three, but it just felt like the last few episodes he fell into a style that didn’t do him any favors and it seems like he resented some of the judges’ critiques too much to course-correct. We love a trashy drag clown, but as Michelle pointed out, Drag Race has certain expectations of their queens, even if those expectations might seem restrictive or pointless to them. It is, in effect, a pageant and like every pageant, they’re going to penalize you if you fail to meet their guidelines. Sorry, Jimbo fans!
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[Photo Credit: WOW via Tom and Lorenzo]