Once again we’ve surprised ourselves by getting all excited about a Drag Race season. Even after all this time, after recapping every season of the American version and tearing our way through the inaugural seasons of the UK and Canadian versions (not to mention writing a whole-ass book on the show, which we may have mentioned once or twice), if you throw a bunch of bright-eyed, eager and hungry drag queens into the Werk Room to size each other up and dress each other down, we’re like two gay kids on Gay Christmas morning, clapping our hands with glee at each yelled shriek and thrown bit of shade. Of course it helps tremendously when a season – whether it’s an inaugural one or not – casts its queens well, so let’s do a quick rundown of our impressions.
Miss Abby OMG is adorable in and out of drag. It’s kind of shocking that there have been no Brazilian queens in Drag Race history.
Love Chelsea Boy’s look but he didn’t exactly wow the judges this week.
Janey Jacké’s intro look was kind of terrible, which made his final runway look all the more surprising.
We’ll always applaud good Nun Drag when it’s done well. Meghan Schoonbrood had a rough week but she triumphed in the end.
Madame Madness serves great face (love a bearded queen), but we didn’t love this outfit.
Roem. Hmm. Well, there’s always gotta be a Pork Chop.
Sederginne’s drag is campy and kind of aging, but he surprised us this episode. He’s stronger than he first came across.
Ma’Ma Queen. Another one with a pretty good set of looks that didn’t quite set the judges on fire.
LOVE Patty Pam Pam. We think she’s got bitch potential.
Prediction: Envy Peru and Abby OMG are going to be battling it out in the looks department all season.
And while there’s a disappointing lack of diversity in this cast, they’re a pretty well-rounded and professional group. Collectively they strike us as more on par with last year’s Drag Race UK cast than the cast for the recently concluded (and rough) first season of Drag Race Canada. These queens are polished, sharp and camera -ready. Most of them, anyway. We can suss out who looks like the cannon fodder, but honestly, it feels like it’s anyone’s game at this point.
Granted, this episode didn’t give us all that much to go on in terms of figuring out the top queens of the group. The mini challenge was a take on the Drag Race classic: “Ruin a Bitch’s Wig for Pictures.”
Most of the queens were surprisingly bad at diving, but we suppose it’s no surprise that the Brazilian queen in the bikini managed to ace this one easily. Anyway, the main challenge was just a runway challenge, but we honestly didn’t mind because it felt like the episode was giving the queens some room to breathe and introduce themselves.
Fred van Leer turned out to be an excellent host. He was high energy, funny, and kept pushing the girls to give more, more, more. And to be honest, we had no idea his drag was this good. We wouldn’t call this look all that sickening, but we really thought that we were meeting the show’s heretofore-unannounced hostess when she walked out in this. It wasn’t until he opened his mouth that we realized it was Fred.
The girls all turned out surprisingly polished and well-realized looks (most of them, anyway) and a few of them even managed to present some cutely creative takes on the “Who’s Your Queen” category.
Envy’s Queen Maxima was perhaps not the most original idea, but it was flawlessly executed. Sederginne’s Marie Antoinette was hilarious and campy. Janey Jacke’s Queen Bee was a killer lewk, but we wished the wig had a black stripe or streak in it. Roem’s Evil Queen was badly conceived and we agreed with the judges that the boots were all wrong for it.
Ma’MaQueen tried to do to much with her Queen Mary drag, but we laughed uproariously at the sequined Baby Jesus. Drag Race doesn’t tend to reward profane drag, but we love it when it’s done well. Megan’s whole look was kind of a mess. She couldn’t move in the dress (which looked cheap) and we’d never have guessed that was Diana Ross.
We thought Chelsea Boy’s Alien Queen was clever and fabulous but it felt like the judges just didn’t get it. Patty Pam Pam’s Freddie Mercury was clever, on-point, and well done. Madame Madness’s Queen of Hearts was much better than her intro look. She needs costumes that can stand up to the killer face she sports. Miss Abby OMG’s Carnival Queen was flawless, even if it felt a little basic.
Can’t really argue with this win, although we think we would’ve given it to Sederginne.
Nor can we argue with these two in the bottom. We can’t tell if it was brilliantly devious or deviously cruel to make the queen who just revealed her hearing impairment lip sync for her life, but we were impressed that the show didn’t shy away from it. Megan earned her spot in the bottom.
And she quite clearly earned her way back into the competition. We didn’t think there was any question as to who won this.
Sorry, Roem. Some girl’s always got to be the first one to go and you just don’t seem fully baked yet. Still, this was a surprisingly entertaining first episode that proved the old Drag Race format works just fine so long as you cast it well.
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[Stills: WOW via Tom and Lorenzo]