Well, slap our asses and call us bitches. We’re blogger enough to admit when we got something wrong. It turns out, these Dutch gals aren’t just a bunch of looks queens, as we’ve been opining all season. Not that we meant it in a totally bad way, because as a group, they are serving shockingly high-end drag, every single one of them. But in our defense, last week’s Snatch Game was easily one of the worst ones we’ve seen in a decade and we think we can be forgiven for assuming these girls can’t deliver it on stage the same way they can deliver it on the runway.
But first, let the Library be opened:
Dutch Pit Crew, doing the job for us.
We haven’t the slightest idea who Dusty Gersanowitz is but it never mattered, because every queen’s affection and respect for an elder bitch couldn’t have been more obvious. We just love an old school drag queen who’s seen a thing or two and subsequently has a read or two at the ready in any situation. It takes a lifetime to build up that arsenal.
Anyway, Puny won the Library challenge handily and … sure, okay. We can’t say any of these girls (with the exception of Tabitha and Puny) truly rose above the others with their shade skills, but sure, give it to the cute, slightly reserved one to see what he does with it. These things tend to be arbitrary in any version of Drag Race, so why not? Turns out, it was probably the right way to go.
Maybe we read it wrong, but it seemed to us, he listened to everyone’s pick for who they wanted to play, auditioned a few people, and then decided to disregard most of it and simply hand the roles to the people best suited for them. Giving himself the dual role of the fairy godmother and the prince was probably stacking the deck in his favor, but it also put a lot of pressure on him to deliver. All we know is that Keta, Vanessa, and Tabitha were all the no-brainer pics for Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and the Wicked Stepmother respectively. That’s not shady game-playing; that’s someone trying to ensure the best possible outcome.
But before we got to the main number, we were treated to an important and poignant makeup mirror conversation between Vanessa and the Countess about how the former felt after being on the receiving end of so much anti-trans backlash from the drag community. This is when the makeup mirror scenes are at their best, giving the queens a chance to tell the world a little bit about their lives and whatever pain they’ve experienced as queer people out in the world. It’s especially important to see an episode of Drag Race highlight this topic, given the show’s (and Ru’s) slow and reluctant path to accepting trans contestants. If you haven’t read our book (and really, shame on you if you haven’t), suffice it to say it devotes an enormous part of the contents to highlighting the ways in which drag and transgender people have always intersected and co-existed, often influencing each other.
As we said, the number was cute and the cast was surprisingly adept at keeping the energy level up and staying committed to their character’s portrayal. There were no true disasters in the lot, which left the judges with no choice but to nitpick over the usual “you didn’t take it far enough’ complaints.
To probably no one’s surprise, Tabitha was fantastic as the stepmother, camping it up and keeping the energy level up throughout. She couldn’t have been better suited for the role.
Puny was spectacular in her dual roles and both looks were gorgeously well rendered.
Vivaldi, Ivy and The Countess were all okay, but un-memorable, much in the same way Vanessa was. Her Cinderella was too reserved and underwhelming.
We didn’t love either of her costumes, but we were especially disappointed by her ballgown look. That just doesn’t read as Cinderella to us. Keta’s Red Riding Hood looked great and brought the right amount of fetish to the performance. It’s hilarious that this was a fairy tale that revolved entirely around drug use.
The queens were asked to make a statement with their drag and they – or at least some of them – did not disappoint.
The Countess serves beautiful drag but she’s as deep as a puddle and when you ask her to make a statement, she’s not capable of much more than “I’m so pretty, right?” She is, but it revealed the shallowness of her drag. Puny’s statement was powerful and her look was a real stunner. Using the green glass of a wine bottle as a motif to make a drag statement about alcoholism shows you how drag is such a malleable art form. We really wanted to love Ivy’s for being among the first Covid drag attempts on the show and for her Stop Asian Hate message, but it wasn’t a great look.
We thought Keta’s take on mental health, while making for great drag, inadvertently sent a rather unhelpful message. People with mental health issues aren’t necessarily ranting and raving lunatics in straight jackets and you can’t really shrug off mental health issues by putting on a cute outfit. Vivaldi’s another one who showed herself to be a little shallow, with a theme that was explained no further than by simply saying “Deforestation.” It looks stunning, but it said nothing. Vanessa had a great statement and we loved her Trans flag-inspired gown in theory, but we hated the illusion cutouts. Tabitha served up a really strong look and you can tell how much being around the other girls in the Werk room is improving her drag. Her face and wig look the best we’ve ever seen from her.
So Puny takes the win, capping off a fantastic episode for her.
The Countess and Ivy wound up on the bottom, which seemed right to us as well. Personally, we thought Ivy smoked The Countess during the lip sync, but not matter how much she whipped her hair around, we guess it wasn’t enough to get the judges to forget that it was her third time in the bottom.
Our book, 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 Plus via Tom and Lorenzo]