This was a sort of brisk, no-frills, down-to-business episode of Drag Race with no drama; just a bunch of queens getting down to the work of doing the kind of drag Ru wants to see. It feels like the need for conflict or drama has started to drain out of the group; not so much because Tamisha is gone, but because by the time she left, everyone learned that it was probably a waste of time and energy to indulge too much in grudges and shady talk. This may have been why the Library challenge went by so smoothly, with nary a ruffled ego or feather in sight. A few of the queens got some good digs in – Gottmik once again showing himself to be way more than just a makeup queen who can serve body looks. And of course, there’s always at least one sad disaster. We’re looking at you, Elliott.
It’s something we’ve said enough times now that we feel like we have to mention it every time it comes up: we’re not huge fans of improv. We don’t actually feel all that strongly about it, but we figure you should take our assessments with that rather large and glaring grain of salt.
Having said that, none of these bits were excruciating to sit through, so there’s that. Sure, the energy level went up and down constantly and most of the jokes fell flat for everyone, but there were enough little moments here and there to keep it relatively fun and blessedly quick. Most of the best work was character-based, by which we mean the queens excelled at creating fully realized characters and sticking with them even if some of them didn’t quite manage to make them funny or interesting. Rose and Denali once again gave smoothly professional work that got largely overlooked by Ru. Not to sound like apologists, but we kinda get why Ru isn’t really responding to them. There’s such a thing as being too smooth and confident in your work. It can tend to take all the edge and fire out of it. They were very good, though. Even if their characters were huge cliches. LaLa was pretty much lost in the scene.
We thought Olivia did the most she could with a difficult part and we absolutely agree that she should’ve been singled out for it, but we honestly think she might have been a bit over-praised here. And is a mime really all that hard a character in an improv situation? She had little pressure to come up with funny lines or retorts, after all. She just had to resort to some well-timed moves. The real surprise for us was Gottmik, whose droll, dry delivery established her as one of the best girls of the night. And we loved her look, if only because she didn’t fall back on trashy drag like so many of the other girls did. Utica was a mess. Sorry to keep hammering this point, but her problem in every challenge and runway is that she thinks if she just acts as weird as possible it’ll make her more interesting. Her character didn’t make a bit of sense.
Kandy was the biggest surprise of the week; not just because she opted for a low-key approach and stuck with it, but because it actually paid off for her. She seemed to know who her character was down to her fingertips and was able to use that knowledge to respond consistently and sometimes hilariously to what was being fed to her. She wasn’t perfect, nor do we think she was necessarily the best, but between this performance and her runway look, she established a ton of good will from the judges. Symone was perfect and she should have won it. Hilarious, self-assured, consistent and smooth throughout the whole challenge.
Meh. Believe us, we understand and appreciate that drag comedy can be very broad and deliberately stupid. There’s an entire queer theater tradition based on the very idea of being as ridiculous as possible. But we just felt that both of these characters were flat, dumb and basic. “I’ve got a big ass” and “I’ve got big tits” might be the start of some fun improv, but for these two, it was the entirety of it. Tina had more energy, at least. Elliott’s way too wrapped up in himself to thrive in this competition. At this stage of the game, if people don’t like you, you need to get over it and get on with winning instead of obsessing about it.
Category is: BEAD IT! 😍✨
— RuPaul’s Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) February 13, 2021
Starting with the safe girls…
It’s almost hilarious how Rose and Denali just keep getting waved through – although we can understand why they wouldn’t think so. Both of them served pretty much perfect high-end looks this week. Ru said “Meh” to both. Gottmik’s anal bead look was brilliant high-camp drag. Combined with her smoothly confident improv performance, we feel like she should’ve gotten way more love. Tina’s look was hideous, unflattering and cheap-looking.
The rip in LaLa’s costume was unfortunate, but it still had to be held against her. As Michelle said, you figure out some way to minimize or hide it. The point is almost moot, however, since the costume itself was the bigger problem: Basic as hell. Olivia’s was really cute. We wonder why no one mentioned that she basically copied Kandy’s hair from the Bag Ball challenge a couple weeks ago.
It’s a great look, but we don’t understand the wig choice at all. You’re doing a bloody vampire bride and you opt for a Carol Burnett wig? That’s Utica’s problem in a nutshell.
We thought maybe Kandy got a little overpraised for this look, but we can’t deny it’s her best work. Symone’s look was an absolute stunner. She should’ve been the winner.
The judges really loved Elliott’s look and there’s some evidence that it helped her in the end, but we honestly thought it looked more Halloween than drag. The shape of it was terrible.
Having said that, while reasonable people may disagree…
They’ve got what it TAKES! 😍
— RuPaul’s Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) February 13, 2021
We don’t see how Elliott wasn’t the clear winner of that lip sync. LaLa gave it her best try, but Elliott really surprised everyone with his energy and commitment to the song.
It’s tough to watch a good queen like LaLa go a week after a great queen like Tamisha did. We can understand why it wound up at this result, but the season is skewing odder and odder in terms of the judges’ decisions and favorites.
Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life, a New York Times “New and Notable” pick, praised by The Washington Post “because the world needs authenticity in its stories,” and chosen as one of the Best Books of 2020 by NPR is on sale wherever fine books are sold!
[Photo Credit: VH1 via Tom and Lorenzo]
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