RuPaul’s Drag Race UK: Draglexa

Posted on October 22, 2021

Let’s kick off this recap with two admissions from your manly hosts. The first is that we are shamefully behind on our Drag Race Canada recapping and we have not turned our backs on our Northern sisters. We’ll be posting recaps of the first two episodes within the day. The second admission is that we’re gonna do a lot of bitching for this one. We figured we should warn you now.

 

This was a hugely disappointing episode for a bunch of reasons. You might think the primary reason has to do with the queens’ absolutely abysmal performances in the main challenge, but really, it all comes down once again to Drag Race’s utter staleness as a franchise.

 

It’s possible that this lot may not be the most polished group of performers the show has ever seen. We don’t necessarily think that’s the case, but we do think there’s a serious lack of comedy queens and that may have been one of the reasons why the sketches fell so flat or why the mini-challenge was so painful to sit through. Kitty and Choriza have been shouldering the burden so far, but the rest of these girls aren’t exactly bringing the house down each week. You can get a pitchy queen to deliver a song with gusto or a clumsy queen a dance number tailored to their limitations, but you just can’t make an unfunny queen into a comic – especially when you give them almost no material to work with. And thus we come to our main (and much repeated, we’re sorry to say) point.

Drag Race is just tired, you guys. Every season of the show, even the international versions, feel like a bunch of things being checked off a format list, regardless of whether they’re entertaining or not. “Write a drag advertisement for Alexa.” That’s just about the lamest idea we’ve heard in months. There’s so little to work with there; so few opportunities to bring drag into the conversation. We don’t deny that the queens bear some blame for how bad everything turned out, but even the funniest queens in the world would be hard-pressed to come up with anything fresh or funny to say on the topic of electronic home assistants.

 

We suppose we might not have felt this way if Ru hadn’t hammered these girls for how dull and stale their work was and made some incredibly bizarre critiques (“We want to see what you look like” is just a completely insane thing to say to a drag queen, since the whole point is to alter what you look like as much as you can). Like we said, it may be true that the queens are in a rut, but Ru’s throwing some mighty big stones from inside that glass house of hers. Drag Race as a whole has been stale and dull since it started winning Emmys on the regular and Ru himself has only become more removed and seemingly less interested in the proceedings the more successful the show got.

 

 

Similarly, it strikes us completely ridiculous to criticize a queen for getting in their own head too much when you are literally in the middle of the process of deliberately fucking with their heads by forcing them to choose someone to eliminate. We don’t mind this question being asked of the queens, but it seems silly to ask it and then criticize them for letting it bother them. Let’s be real here, when you ask the queens to name their weakest member, you are openly trying to get them bothered.

 

Further, we just don’t see how you’re challenging the queens in any way when you hand them a runway category of “Look expensive.” It’s too broad to be interesting. Some of the girls chose a Rich Bitch theme and that would have made a bit more sense as a drag category, but expensive? There’s no challenge in that and the results were bound to be as dull and repetitive as they were.

 

Ella’s look was okay, but we really didn’t love the back as much as the judges did. Her wig was called out for being matronly, but it’s time for her makeup to get the same critique. Scarlett’s rich bitch wasn’t too bad, but the outfit really did look cheap. Kitty looked great and she’s overdue for that badge. Choriza’s concept was so poor that we have to believe she just took an existing costume and tried to explain it away. She looked terrible.

 

Krystal is long overdue for the conversation Charity got this week. She’s serving exactly the same drag, week in and week out, no matter the challenge. River was robbed. We understand why Ru felt no one deserved the win this week, but this was her very best drag yet and one of the few who fulfilled the brief. Charity’s costume is gorgeous, but we have to agree with the judges that she’s just serving the same type of drag over and over. She doesn’t necessarily need to deliver mainstream glamour, but there are other forms of freaky drag that don’t rely on the same goblin face each time. There was so much of an opportunity to go really whimsical with the makeup here instead of serving another Halloween face.

 

Nevertheless, we were rooting for Charity going into the lip sync. Scarlett simply isn’t as interesting a queen and the competition could get very dull without someone like Charity to shake things up and challenge things a little. Unfortunately, she’s not the kind of queen who can connect well with a Shirley Bassey vocal and Scarlett seemed to take this one by default.

 

Sorry to see her go, but she was stubborn in the way so many of her kind tend to be in a competition that rewards mainstream glamour. Like it or not, a show like this is going to want to see more from you than simply pushing the envelope.

 

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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