RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under: Queens Down Under

Posted on May 16, 2021

You would think there’d be nothing easier for us than writing a Drag Race recap, given how many years we’ve been doing them, but it’s actually getting tougher because the franchise is in a rut and there are only so many ways you can say “The franchise is in a rut” without being annoying about it (a point we passed some time ago for some readers, no doubt).


There wasn’t anything particularly bad about this episode, but let’s be real here: How long has it been since any episode of Drag Race served up a sickening moment or a jaw-dropping twist?


It’s hard to point to any one thing that’s technically wrong with the current format, but there’s no denying the reality of franchise fatigue. We’re starting to wonder if the international versions of Drag Race should walk away from the American format somehow. At the very least, do we need every Werk Room and stage to be absolutely identical? Even McDonald’s allows a little leeway in how their restaurants are designed. Okay, enough whining.


We keep pointing this out with each international version, but it really is notable how little drama there is among the queens when you compare the cast to literally any of the American ones. The U.S. queens are far more likely to be melodramatic or attention-seeking in a way that we just don’t see with the international girls. These bitches are shady as hell with each other and so far, no one seems to get their ass in a sling about it. It all rolls off their back rather easily.


If a U.S. season of Drag Race featured a moment like this, it would have resulted in a lot of shady side conversations and accusations, with confessionals about hurt feelings and sabotage. It’s hilarious how all of the girls just laughed this off with a “Who gives a fuck?” attitude.


In other news, we’re loving the Down Under thicc Pit Crew.


This was a cute, funny, on-point mini-challenge for a bunch of Antipodean queens, but like almost all mini-challenges, the results were impossible to judge or assess. When the brief is “Act as goofy as you possibly can,” what possible criteria could you use to judge it? It’s always been an excuse for the show to pick team leaders with dramatic potential or to ramp up the competitive nature of the queens in the “Why is that bitch always winning mini-challenges?” sense.


You had to figure that at least a few of these down under girls were going to be as tasteless as they could get away with, God love them.


The main challenge was a standard “write your own lyrics” song-and-dance challenge and again, we’re kind of struck by how little drama there was. In the American version, a queen struggling to hit a note, land a dance move or write a lyric would have been treated like the greatest crisis in the world, complete with tears and Scarlett O’Hara-like declarations of will and triumph, but these bitches just laugh everything off. In this case, it strikes us a particularly Aussie/Kiwi attitude of not taking anything too seriously, which is another argument toward the idea that the international versions need to cater to the cultures of the people they’re casting. If your queens are all highly unlikely to get fussed over details or backstage drama, as a reality show producer, you’ve got to figure out ways to push their buttons effectively.

Anyway, the girls were all fine. It felt like the judges had to struggle to find any sort of difference between the best efforts and the worst ones, but it all felt extremely arbitrary. The looks were strong and the performances were mostly pretty good across the board. Scarlet really did stand out in her group and Electra really did stand out in hers, which makes the judging all the more fucked up, because the former won and the latter was put in the bottom for reasons that have never been applied to any queen in the history of the show. We guess that’s how the producers are trying to drum up drama. It may yet work, because Electra was pretty angry about it – and rightly so.


Please note that Scarlet (in the silver dress) was wildly praised for her runway look while Electra, in the exact same hairstyle and an extremely similar gold dress was raked over the coals for not “elevating” her drag. Come on, Ru and Michelle. You want to drum up drama, we’re all for it. But don’t be so obviously unfair in your judging assessment. The idea that there was some vast difference between these two looks is pretty ridiculous on the face of it.

Anyway, Etcetera and Karen were both deemed safe and we think that’s about right, given their efforts. Etcetera’s look is a little too basic, though. And Karen’s was a little too on the clowny side.


Coco’s look was just okay and we suppose she was a little unsure during the number. We’re fine with her place in the bottom. Anita is clearly beloved by the judges, because this look is a big meh. Scarlet’s look is great and we have no problem with her winning it…

But we still don’t get the critique of Electra’s look for not being “elevated.” You sent the girl in the velour track suit backstage because you deemed her safe and THIS look isn’t elevated enough for you? Kita’s look is fun, but it doesn’t feel like it has anything to do with the category, which was “Bogan Prom.” We’re glad Michelle lavished some love on Maxi, because her drag really is that good. We loved the camp tackiness of this look. In fact, we think it’s our favorite of the lot.


Sure, we guess so. Coco is struggling, to be sure. It feels like Electra’s getting the Tia Kofi treatment. Call her basic and then keep ragging on her for not being less basic, without giving her any true tips or helpful critiques. We can’t really tell who won this lip sync. Electra had the moves, but it felt to us like Coco connected to the song a little better.


And with that, the only queen of color in the cast is sent home (in the same week the queen who did Blackface in her career won). We think it was only a matter of time for Coco, but the optics sure weren’t great. Has there ever been a top seven of all-white queens in the show’s history?


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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