Darlings, a veritable tsunami of backed-up, late summer high profile red carpet events forced us to take a break from recapping Drag Race Holland. To the literally tens of people reading these posts, we offer our heartfelt apology. We could have just picked things up with the latest episode, but we decided to do a trio of quick-n-dirty recaps just to keep our “Have recapped every episode of every season of every franchise of Drag Race (except Thailand)” record intact. Off we go, then!
Episode 5 – Dearly Beloved (Family Resemblance)
As we’ve noted many times, the family drag challenge has always been our favorite, because it combines the art of drag with commentary about the evolving nature of queer lives and families. You can line up every drag family challenge since the first one and see how queer life has changed over the last decade. For the mini-challenge, the queens had to conduct a wedding ceremony for one of the history-making couples who first got married in The Netherlands twenty years ago. It was, like virtually all of the improv, comedy, and acting challenges this season, extremely painful to sit through. The Dutch dolls this season simply aren’t performers in the way the show wants them to be.
After that, they all got paired up with mothers, sisters, friends and partners to turn them all into their drag sisters.
The results were amazingly good, which wasn’t much of a surprise. They may not be much in the performing department, but these bitches know how to serve lewks.
Keta and her mother went for a goddess theme using their Indonesian cultural roots. Mama looked great, but Keta looked stunning (which is the most common mistake in the family drag challenge). We love the genderfuck quality of her drag; the way she leans into the hardness of her looks and body. The Countess probably did the best job in making her friend look practically indistinguishable from her and we appreciated how she made sure to give her a gown that didn’t look like hers, but could stand alongside it.
Vanessa did an amazing job with her extremely cute tattoo artist partner. We don’t think it was quite on the level of the Countess’s work, but the story behind the looks made them more poignant, which probably secured the win for her. There’s no denying that a trans woman doing a drag interpretation of the love she has for her cishet male partner is something new for the show and yet another way it illustrates the variety of queer lives out there. Tabitha looked terrible and she did her sister dirty. We think she’s reached the limits of what she can do in this competition. She seems a bit too defensive to ever truly be engaging in a performance and her drag skills aren’t up to the level of the other girls.
We honestly have no idea why the judges came down so hard on Puny and her sister, especially since they were wearing outfits inspired by their dead father’s art work. Seemed kind of cold to nitpick the results when they looked this good and had so much personal history behind them. Vivaldi and her mother looked cute and it was extremely impressive that Mama hand-knitted their costumes.
Puny, Tabitha and the Countess all got told to lip sync for their lives and only one of those queens should’ve been in that position. The reasons for putting Puny and the Countess on the bottom were pure bullshit justifications.
It’s crazy to us that she was sent home on a looks challenge that she basically crushed. We don’t think she ever had a chance to make it to the finals, but we’d have rather the show not twist itself in knots to get the outcome they want.
Episode 6 – Spill the Coffee
Thank you, Drag Race Holland.
Anyway, after a matching mini-challenge that was really only about showing off perky male asses (you won’t hear us complaining), the girls were tasked with hosting a morning show by reading off of teleprompters.
It was exactly as disastrous and painful to sit through as you probably expected. To be fair, it’s really hard to get a sense of how well someone’s doing in a challenge that requires mugging and over-acting when you don’t speak the language. Who landed their jokes? Who came off smoother than the others? These two queens couldn’t tell you. To us, they all looked like they were wide-eyed and floundering through the whole thing. Vanessa had a bit of a meltdown because her bit didn’t go well (she may be the worst at performance challenges) and inadvertently exposed her hair, about which she’s a little insecure. Vivaldi put on her patented sneer and that poor queen should learn how to read the room better. We don’t think Vanessa’s tirade was entirely fair. At some point, you have to just let go of the fact that you’re in a competition with other drag queens who will often get shady about your weak points. Vivaldi was a bitch, but Vanessa can’t seem to let things go and as the argument escalated, she decided to pull the trigger and reveal that Vivaldi has violated her contract by keeping a secret phone.
For the runway, the queens were asked to produce two opposite looks. Tabitha did a wedding/funeral thing, which felt a little unoriginal. Not that the rest of them were any more creative, since all of the themes were basically some take on darkness vs. light, which explains why they’re all in either red or black at the end. Still, there’s no denying that, Tabitha aside, they all looked pretty amazing. It’s almost a shame that Vivaldi’s look was stunning (and clearly more creative than the other entries), since there was no way she was going to win after the cheating allegations surfaced. The show handled it shittily, to be honest. Every single queen, when asked, said that she should be disqualified, but the producers apparently decided they’d rather have drama than worry about the rules.
Because there was simply no way in hell Tabitha was ever going to win this showdown.
We’re sorry to see the only big queen, mature queen, and comedy queen leave the competition, but she really couldn’t deliver the goods.
Episode 7 – Whodunnit
It’s not easy to come up with new ways of forcing the queens to be shady to each other, but having them dress up as each other and give a speech to accept a beauty pageant butt plug trophy has to be considered one of the better ones in recent years.
Please don’t make us explain what they were asked to do next. Suffice it to say, they were all asked to act in a spoof of murder mystery dramas and not one of them rose to the occasion. Sorry to be such bitches about it – and we’re even more sorry to be repetitive in our critiques – but let’s face it: none of these girls can land a line or a joke with any real skill. Whenever someone lands on something funny, it tends to be happenstance more than talent that gets them there. Having said that, they’re all extremely game at this point and while it’s not all that much fun to watch long sketches with over-the-top mugging and very few funny moments (they always wind up fondling each other and making out when they can’t figure out what to do), there’s a broad (pun intended) history of campy overacting in drag. We’re not suggesting any of these girls should be pulling out Oscar-level performances, but we do wish one of them could land a punchline.
The category for the runway was “Double Dutch,” which irked us a little bit because using an African-American phrase for a challenge about Dutch cultural history felt a little too Ru- and America-centric to us. Whatevs. No one on that stage seemed annoyed by it. The girls all served up some fairly amazing drag and looking at the above foursome, we can’t really claim anyone is all that much worse than the others.
We suppose Vivaldi’s salute to CDs and Keta’s salute to the steel industry by way of the Dutch masters each felt a little too obscure for the challenge, but we’d argue that Puny ripping off a Viktor & Rolf design and Vanessa dressing as a cartoon character weren’t exactly original or creative in their approach.
We hate to say it, but the judging of late seems way more concerned with getting to a certain outcome than assessing the merits of the queens. Granted, this is true of pretty much every season of Drag Race. We’ve repeatedly said over the years that it’s better to see it as a variety show with cash prizes than a true competition. Even so, we have no idea why Keta wound up getting sent home. Actually, that’s not true. We suspect she was sent home because they wanted to keep Vivaldi and Vanessa in the finals no matter what, so the question came down to whether Puny or Keta would get the boot.
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[Photo Credit: WOW Plus via Tom and Lorenzo]