Gather round, girls. We’ve got to rush you all through another quick n’ dirty recap in this brief moment of rest between the Oscars red carpet and the Grammys red carpet to come. This episode, the queens walked the painful gauntlet known as the Roast Challenge, which is, we think it’s safe to say, the second-most dreaded challenge after the Snatch Game. But first, a cute little mini-challenge that has nothing to do with drag.
We were delighted to see the show devise a mini-challenge around the instantly iconic Dolly Parton and RuPaul mural by artist Gus Cutty in Asheville, North Carolina. Sure, they tied it directly to a sponsor and none of it truly had anything to do with the art of drag. You could call it just another in a long line of Ru promotions in the form of a challenge, if you want to be cynical about it. But speaking from experience (💅), this crowd isn’t all that great about acknowledging many of the works that have sprung up in response to the show’s success, so we were thrilled to see a talented artist get this kind of spotlight attention from Ru & company.
The results were surprisingly undisastrous, which makes a pretty good descriptor of the episode on the whole.
It’s largely to the credit of the remaining queens that they didn’t hand the producers part of what they were looking for when they manipulated the elimination process all season: drama. There’s no denying a certain tension created by the high number of remaining queens so late in a season, but given the unanimous vote to eliminate Bosco last week, it must have been a huge disappointment to the producers to see all of them decide to get past it almost immediately.
Anyway, there was a roast, and if we sound dismissive about it, it’s only because the episode didn’t yield much to talk about, really. Roasts are hard and the queens who had the most reason to be nervous about it said repeatedly that they were nervous about it and then they bombed, as expected. Dulcé Sloan made for a sharp, funny, incisive coach for the queens, some of whom took her advice to heart and some of whom just plowed ahead with the jokes they were told not to use.
We think several of the queens made the mistake of looking at this challenge the way a weak queen might look at the Snatch Game: If I can just get through it, I’ll be fine. Thing is, you can’t banter your way through this challenge. You need a solid couple of minutes of material. There’s no such thing as “just getting through” the roast. You either succeed or you fail. To be fair, success is a low bar here. Bosco won it and we don’t necessarily have an argument as to why she shouldn’t have, but the best queens raised a couple of chuckles at most and the worst queens were in the bottom less for the quality of their material as their delivery of it. We think Willow had the funniest material, but she didn’t have the smoothness and confidence of Bosco’s delivery. The real surprise was that, of the three queens in the bottom, Jorgeous and Daya did better than we would have thought in the challenge and Deja was almost shockingly bad. Camden and Angeria were solidly mid.
Once again there were several disconnects between what the queens wore on the runway and what the stated category was. Some of the gals went for a literal tutu and others just sort of went for anything puffy or feathery.
The judges loved Bosco’s and we can admit that it was well executed, but it’s only slightly different from the metal corsets and panties she’s worn all season. If she makes it to the finale, this bitch better have the ballgown to end all ballgowns hidden in her trunk. Jorgeous tried to get cute about it, but this is To Wong Foo drag. Willow deserved every gasp and bit of praise thrown at this look, but it really doesn’t say tutu to us.
Angeria’s was just okay, when put up against so many of her looks this season.
Daya’s costume offered a wonderful corrective to the idea that a queen needs to have expensive costume designers at her beck and call to make it through this competition. It’ wasn’t our favorite, but the fact that it was homemade from vintage pieces is impressive. We just hated the crown. Deja followed up a poor performance with Drag Brunch drag. We feel like she just sort of gave up at this point.
Lady Camden looked stunning. Continuing the applique onto her face, arms and legs gave it that Black Swan-esque fantasy feel that elevated it from cosplay to drag.
It’s a defensible win, but it felt more like a storyline being crafted to us.
We don’t think anyone was surprised that more than one queen was going to be eliminated this week. Daya can be a sour little bitch in the Werk Room and confessionals, but we felt like her inclusion in the lip sync was something of a formality. It was clear to us from thirty minutes earlier in the episode that there were two clear chopping-block queens.
We can’t say we’re mad about either of their eliminations. They each got every chance in the world to prove themselves and let the world get a good look at them before their booking fees go up. And we don’t think either of them have any reason but to be happy with how they came across all season. It was just time. Long past time, probably.
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]
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