The Brit-dolls got put through their paces in the kind of challenge we tend to hate and to our complete surprise, most of them managed to make it entertaining and fun to watch. Meanwhile, mortal enemies become frenemies and one of the queens makes a “shocking” decision that probably shouldn’t have shocked anyone.
In fact, the last-second shocker wasn’t really the most shocking part of this episode for us. We kind of expected it to happen (and we think Ru did too, judging by her non-reaction to it). What really shocked and pleased us was the conversation between A’Whora and Tia.
It feels like this group of girls, unlike last season, are taking a while to really warm up to each other. Not that we mind shady drag queens shit-talking each other, but the top of the episode made it feel like they all have either a dismissive attitude about their competitors or a downright vicious one. Then again, we’re huge fans of Tia, so we may just be pissed that so many of the queens keep putting her down. She’s the funniest one in the lot, but we don’t think she realizes it yet.
(that was a pun, by the way)
We’ve always been upfront about the fact that we find improv comedy to be excruciating to sit through, even when very talented improv comics are performing. It’s just not our thing and never has been. If you’d told us ahead of time that this episode featured two different improv challenges, we’d have assumed we were going to hate it.
And to be fair, we don’t think any of the queens truly managed to nail the mini-challenge. Sure, a few managed to tackle it with confidence and even get a funny bit or aside in here or there, but for the most part, our asses were getting itchy sitting through this part.
But the main challenge was actually pretty fun to watch. A lot of these girls are rough in their drag and some of them are rough in their performance styles, but several of them really stood out to us here.
Who knew Bimini could be funny? Not just funny, but smooth and slick about it? Tayce was very good as well (another surprise to us), but Bimini really shined here and we loved her look.
Veronica and Sister, on the other hand, was like listening to one long sad trombone note. What puzzles us is that goths are so easy to poke fun at; so simple to satirize and yet these two didn’t seem to have even so much as a concept for the characters and what makes them funny. We think that came through in their drag looks as well, since they were pretty uninspired. Veronica came in for some criticism, but we feel like the judges should’ve made a bigger issue out of the fact that she defined a goth look as a sequined, strapless, form-fitting gown. To paraphrase Sister, Veronica may as well have held up a sign declaring that she has no idea what a goth is. Sister came a little bit closer, but it felt more like a half-assed Halloween costume than a drag look.
We all know that Ru has her favorites and that she sometimes lavishes too much praise on them, but she’s absolutely right to be gushing over Lawrence all the time. He was clearly the smoothest improv performer, had the character down cold, and even managed a pretty great look. Ellie’s cute and fun, but we have yet to see any reason to consider her a contender.
They were great fun to watch and really nailed the looks although we have to admit we’re getting tired of all the breastplates flopping around. We realize they’re just another tool in the drag arsenal, but we tend to think they can be overused and it seems like a lot of queens lapse into a “dumb slut” persona when they put them on. Not that we minded the character work here, since being loud, tacky and dumb was the whole point of the character.
We can feel ourselves drifting away from the Drag Race fandom on this one. We think Ginny can be fun and we definitely think her campy, clowny drag needs to be given space in a competition like this one. On the other hand, she’s the very definition of “one note” in both her drag and her performance style. We wanted her to succeed in this competition, but as Michelle noted, we don’t think she has much more to offer than she already has. This was a great look and a fun character design – but she did nothing with either. She just went manic and kinda forgot what she was there to do.
Sometimes the makeup mirror scenes can get a little heavy-handed in that “Hey girls, let’s all talk about our childhood trauma” sort of way, but everything about the conversation between A’Whore and Tia felt real and true. Not to bang this drum too loudly every week, but this is why Drag Race is such a phenomenon and why it’s so important to queer people. We can’t imagine how much it would have benefitted us to see a scene like this when we were young and struggling with our identities. To see two queens open up about self-loathing feelings and toxic behavior is immeasurably valuable for any young queer man to see. So much of this conversation was about the larger social sphere of queer male life.
On to the runway, where several of the queens stepped their pussies up (and at least one saved her own ass).
One thing that differentiates UK queens from their American counterparts (in the broadest sense, of course), is that they’re more likely to dive into Ugly Drag, which is why a horror-themed runway was such a good showcase for them.
Veronica’s the one who saved her ass with probably the most creative look of the night, combining glamour with the grotesque in a way that makes her impossible to ignore. We weren’t impressed with Sister Sister’s look. As the judges noted, a mummy is a low-effort cliche and she really didn’t do enough with it to bring it up to Drag Race levels. If Veronica saved her ass with her costume, Sister nearly doomed her own with hers. LOVED Bimini’s look, although we agree with the judges that the face and hair are still too rough. She almost had it and we hope she takes some of Michelle’s advice to heart.
Tayce’s look was good, but we wanted her to do more with it. She’s probably the prettiest of the queens, but her costumes aren’t always up to the level of her face and hair. Ginny should be commended for being so consistent with her look while still trying to find ways to slot it into whatever the runway category is. We were glad the judges didn’t make too much of an issue of her lack of heels, but they were right to ask her to find other ways to make her footwear look fun and draggy. Plus, we don’t really get “monster” from this. Lawrence’s look is amazing, but the bridal shoes are a total needle scratch.
Bless her heart, Ellie tried. We think her face work saved her here because her costume was absolutely hideous. It’s a shame Tia was safe this week because she really stepped it up, combining horror themes with drag glamour in a way only a few of them managed. One of those few: A’Whora, whose look was pure fashion but whose head was pure horror. It was a bit of a shock to hear Michelle of all people ask her to be a little more ugly in her drag.
No arguments with this win.
As for Ginny’s Drag Race Brexit, we watched the fandom lavish love on her last night with some bemusement. Not that she doesn’t deserve love, but Drag Race fandom is funny in that it tends to go nuts any time a competitor tells the show to fuck off. We think Ginny was right to understand that she probably didn’t belong there, but we also think it’s a shame for the queens who were sent home before her, any one of whom would’ve slapped her for the chance to take her place.
Still, she’s clearly a sensitive queen who doesn’t want to compromise herself or put herself through something that might hurt her profoundly, so we support her leaving. We just think walking offstage without so much as a word to anyone was exactly what she said it wasn’t: disrespectful.
Yeah, we don’t expect a lot of agreement on this one, but still: A simple “Thank you for the opportunity, I love you all, but I can’t stay” would have been so much more preferable to simply walking off while another queen is giving it her all to stay in.
By the way, we admired the hell out of Sister for going full HAM on that lip sync, even though she probably could’ve relaxed a bit by this point. It was smart of her to show the judges that she’s got the fire, even if it wasn’t required this time.
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[Photo Credit: WOW via Tom and Lorenzo]