YAY! It’s Drag Super Bowl weekend, darlings! Because no challenge in the long herstory of Drag Race is more competitive and kills more dreams than that mine field of drag, The Snatch Game.
Oh, the picture above is totally gratuitous and has nothing to do with our opening sentences, but who gives a shit, right? Enjoy.
The queens were asked to pay homage to Mama Ru’s punky (Brewster) roots and the results were …
Honestly, who knows? The editing was seizure-inducing, so you have to figure the performances weren’t worth focusing on. Tina won a little bonus and everyone moved on to the task at hand: perfecting their respective snatches. We were treated to the usual scenes of Ru asking some of the queens about their Snatch plans and those same queens squirming and deciding they’re “going to prove Ru wrong” and honestly, have these bitches never watched the show? We have no idea why there are still queens who underplay the importance of the Snatch Game challenge or the prep work that’s needed to pull it off effectively.
Like Ru, we’ll never pass a chance for self-promotion, so we’ll just say that our book has an entire chapter devoted to the Snatch Game, why it’s important, and all of the various traps and pitfalls a queen has to navigate on her way through it. Suffice it to say, it encompasses all the parts of drag that Drag Race rewards the most: a look, a plan, an attempt to push past one’s limits, quick thinking, funny moments, and an appreciation of camp. You cannot come into it thinking you’re going to wing it. You have to have a deep understanding of the character you’re playing and how they relate to the original person it’s based on. It’s less about impression than it is about capturing an idea of someone in the funniest possible way.
Over the years, the challenge has shifted slightly away from traditional celebrity drag impersonations; first by an increasing number of queens to choosing to play male characters, then by a trend to come up with the least likely choices and by stretching the idea of celebrity. There’s nothing particularly wrong about choosing to do social media or YouTube personalities, but the problem with these choices tend to be how amorphous the persona actually is. High-level celebrities are essentially caricatures already, which is why they tend to make the best choice. And reality television personalities are often the easiest of all, because they’re nothing but broad emoting, tacky tastes, and catch phrases.
Historical figures are tough to pull off, largely because history is so full of tragedy, death, and exploitation that it can be tough to find the comedy in it. Symone’s choice to do Harriet Tubman was INSANE, but she actually pulled it off. In fact, we think the high risk combined with the pretty damn perfect execution should have landed her in the top.
Gottmik had a leg up on her Paris impression because she knows her, she’s done her face, and her natural voice actually sounds like her. All she really had to do was nail the makeup and the voice to land herself in the top. That she had so many funny lines and observations about who Paris is made her win a no-brainer. She really mopped the floor with the other girls.
We don’t think Rose’s Mary, Queen of Scots was quite as high a risk as Symone’s Harriet Tubman. The look was fantastic and she can clearly nail the accent, but the jokes were a little one-note. A really good attempt, but it would only be a winner in a weaker Snatch Game.
Meh. Richard Simmons is flamboyant and we suppose you could classify his mannerisms as effeminate, but this looks like a middle-aged lady who’s a fan of Richard Simmons, not Simmons himself.
She had the look and she had some lines. We wouldn’t call it the best of the lot (and as per usual, Ru overreacted wildly to every semi-decent joke), but she certainly did well enough to be safe.
Horrible. Just painful to watch. Gottmik nailed it when she observed that a choice to do a relatively obscure personality is that you either wind up flailing about or over-explaining yourself. Olivia chose the former.
We feel like the actual drag was only so-so, but Denali had the jokes, the mannerisms and the voice down. She was fantastic.
We’re finally seeing what made all the other queens so dismissive of Elliott all along. His work so far has practically been defined by mediocrity and this low-key version of Rue McClanahan was just another example of it.
There was no part of this performance that owed anything to the person it was supposed to be based on. We’re all for a queen who’s weird and creative and would rather be anything but expected. There’s a long, happy history of envelope-pushers and performance artists who performed drag. There is literally no place for them in a show like this. When she started eating paint, we just felt like someone should call her an Uber and send her off to a performance gallery or something. Girl, this is Drag Race and the Snatch Game. They want looks and jokes. At this point, pretending you don’t understand that (and it seems to us that Utica is a little too in love with the faux naif image she projects of herself) is just kind of annoying.
Category is: Fascinating Fascinators! 👒
— RuPaul’s Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) March 6, 2021
First thought: Jesus, they’re running out of categories for the runway. But y’know? You give a bunch of queens a fairly broad brief and they’ll show up in some wildly creative looks.
It really is kind of disorienting bouncing back and forth between Drag Race UK and Drag Race OG each week. The final girls in the UK are pretty high level in their looks, but the U.S. girls come with costume trunks in tow.
The judges seemed to really love Olivia’s look and there’s good reason to think it saved her from the bottom. Personally, we found it a creative idea but an underwhelming look overall. We’re SO GLAD to hear Michelle call out the critique we’ve been making all season about Rose. Her looks are almost uniformly unflattering because she loves these hugely ruffled garments. No problem with this one, though. She looks great. Utica’s is as weirdly creative as expected. It’s also, in the nature of so many of her costumes, a little overdesigned.
Denali gave a great Snatch, sported a really cute headpiece, made use of her skating skills — and then flubbed it by coming it in a costume shop rental of a look. Girl, at least get some sequins on that thing. And why wear the tights over the skates, figure-skating style? We agreed with the judges when they gushed over Gottmik’s look. He’s working on a high-fashion editorial level and it’s really paying off. But we thought the safety pin looked a little craftsy. We’re glad that Michelle was able to bring herself to like Elliott’s flamingo pantsuit, but we absolutely hated it. From the neck up, she looks great, but she’s never really turned out a great look below that.
🚨 SPOILER ALERT 🚨
— RuPaul’s Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) March 6, 2021
Elliott should have been able to mop the floor with Utica for a song like that, but her lip sync suffered from the same issues she’s had with everything the show has asked of her. She just doesn’t have any fire under her ass. Every attempt seems designed to just get her safely to the next challenge. Time to start clearing the decks for the more competitive girls and Utica, weird as she is, still has something to offer.
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]