It was Saturday morning and lo, there was much crashing and banging and shouting as two sleepy bloggers reacted to the latest in Drag Race fuckery. But first, let’s talk about the fairly entertaining episode that preceded the annoying final 30 seconds.
The general consensus among fandom and the commentariat at the moment seems to be that Drag Race UK is having a much better season right now than Drag Race OG. There’s some truth to that, since the show’s fandom seems to be fairly bored with slick professional queens with costume budgets in the tens of thousands sweeping through the competition long enough to increase their booking rates. It’s all gotten very professional on the U.S. side of Drag Race and that can be something of a turnoff when you consider drag’s transgressive roots, not to mention Drag Race‘s somewhat more raw early seasons. Sometimes, it’s just more fun to watch a bunch of rougher, weirder, more transgressive sorts of drag queens work their way through the competition.
On the other hand, sometimes it’s fun to watch queens who can sing and dance their way confidently through a silly Ru-sical. To be fair, there’s not a lot of drama to be had when most of the queens are competent and confident, although it was those very qualities that incited a minor bit of position-jockeying for the most popular parts.
Denali went on a classic Drag Race journey; one that the show has reiterated time and time again: taking a small part and turning it into a memorable one can provide more of an opportunity than going after the big showy part. It just so happened that the queen who got the big showy part nailed it so hard there was no way to argue against her win.
Still, making Rosé and Denali actually audition for the part was a fun result of all that competence and confidence floating around the Werk Room (not to mention both queens’ rising frustration with Ru’s semi-cool response to their efforts). We’re surprised there haven’t been more of these audition moments given how often queens bicker over parts on this show.
Of course a big reason for Denali’s journey comes down to the wise advice of Miss Annie Hathaway, local actress and Oscar winner, who dropped a charm bomb on the delighted queens’ asses while answering some very good questions about performance and technique with the smooth aplomb of a well-trained and accomplished person at the top of her game. She’s a profesh, sis. Once this stupid fucking bitchfaced, no-talent, tacky-ass, bad credit, homewrecking, pandemic is over they better invite Anne back for a guest judge spot. Imagine her during a lip sync. We bet she’d cry.
We got the usual recording session and choreography scenes, which yielded the usual “This queen’s suffering” and “This queen’s nailing it” sorts of revelations. We don’t mean to sound bored. It’s just that the number itself was the centerpiece of the episode far more than any of the rehearsal scenes.
Let’s face it: it’s been a long time since any of those rehearsal scenes yielded something new or noteworthy. Having Michelle provide coaching is always welcome, however. She’s great with technical advice and she knows how to talk to queens one on one.
We have to admit, as competent as Tina was, her Ethel Merman vocals blended with a Liza Minelli visual was a strange choice, in our opinion. It distracted us throughout her performance because the two styles never seemed to marry all that well. Loved the look, though. And she’s clearly very competent at this kind of performing, although the lip sync mistake seemed to kill it all for her.
Olivia was fine, but she disappeared any time she shared the stage with Rosé.
That girl just dominated every second of her allotted time. It’s kind of a refreshing twist to see the queen who’s “supposed” to win the challenge actually nail it and win it. Cocky fuckups are the usual storyline for this sort of thing.
Symone didn’t learn the appropriate lesson from the elder scrolls of Drag Race history: when you lack the technical talent, serve them as much charisma, uniqueness and most of all, nerve that you can muster up. Queens with horrible voices have won vocal challenges just by nailing character or dominating the stage. This wasn’t mentioned in the judging, but we thought the drag itself looked timid and it was a poor choice to wear the shades throughout the number. She looked like she was hiding. Utica’s minor drama during rehearsal seemed to resolve itself, although her final choreography looked vastly simplified and her delivery lacked any real wit. She was just trying to spit verse.
Elliott’s final look and performance seemed fairly competently rendered to us, despite the other queens shading his rehearsal. Kandy was an absolute mess from start to finish. Let’s be honest here: it was the kind of bad performance that would have likely sent most other queens home.
And these girls absolutely nailed the brief. They took the least showy characters and turned in a performance that held up the whole back end of the musical. We wish their looks were more coordinated. Gottmik’s Russian punk is more interesting than Denali’s Natasha drag.
Category is: YELLOW, gorgeous! ⭐️
— RuPaul’s Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) February 20, 2021
Elliott and Utica were safe. Their runway looks were fairly uninspired, so that tracks.
This was our favorite Tina look of the season. It was cute, campy and fun. We loved the headlights, but we felt like the design could’ve used a little sparkle. The hat looks half-finished. Symone excels at these sorts of Hip Hop Chic looks. She’d be great working as a stylist for recording artists. Having said that, the clashing yellows bugged a little. Kandy’s look is fine, but it felt like an obvious choice that she didn’t do much with. To be fair, there were two taxis on that runway.
Rosé’s choice to do a drag version of The Mask was clever, although Michelle had a point that the dress doesn’t really look yellow standing next to the other entries. That came off like an allusion that she just packed an existing look that sort of fulfilled the brief, although we could be reading too much into it. Not that it matters, since it didn’t stop her from winning the challenge. We liked Denali’s look more in concept than execution. Gottmik’s is fabulous, but in fairness, we’ve dinged plenty of queens in the past for showing up with nothing but high-end costume designs at their fingertips. Nothing wrong with coming in prepared, of course.
🚨 SPOILER ALERT 🚨
— RuPaul’s Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) February 20, 2021
Part of what makes Ru’s decision to pull the trigger on the season’s double-shantay so annoying is that Kandy really didn’t give her any reason to do so. Her performance was bad, her runway look was basic, and while this was a fairly good face-off, it was by no means an epic showdown. Symone clearly had this one in the bag.
We go back and forth on Kandy and we’re not always in full agreement. We don’t think she warrants the kind of support Ru seems to give her, but we don’t necessarily think that’s terrible or out of line. Ru has always had a soft spot for rough queens with a lot of attitude and in terms of reality show storylines (something that Drag Race tends to be very good at, to multiple Emmy-winning effect), there’s always potential in trying to tame and train a rough and wild queen and polish her into diamond status. It almost never shakes out that way, but it can be worth the effort. We’ll just have to wait and see. Ball’s in your court, Kandy. You better show Ru she made the right choice ASAP.
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: WOW via Tom and Lorenzo]
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