As we may have
bragged noted a time or two before, we’re one of the few sites/publications/people who’ve been recapping RuPaul’s Drag Race since the first episode. It can be difficult keeping these recaps fresh after 13 years, especially when you throw a book into the mix of our Drag Race obsession/calling. From that perspective, we’ve found this season of all-winners to be especially frustrating. These bitches are giving us nothing to work with. No drama, no tearful makeup mirror conversations or confessionals, much fewer mini-challenges, and very little in the way of actual critiquing from the judges. We’ve been saying for years that Drag Race is much easier and less frustrating to watch when you consider that it’s not a competition at all but a drag variety hour where the host hands out cash prizes. It seems like this is the season where the producers took that characterization literally.
Which isn’t to say that we’re mad at this season or that we’re not enjoying it. The fact is that all of these queens are world-class in their profession and know it. The other fact is that all of them understand the crucible of reality television and refuse to engage with the usual pitfalls or manipulations. These bitches are here to kick ass and take home as much cash as they can stuff in their bras. The result of all of this is that each episode of All-Stars this season has been about assigning them a challenge, watching them execute it, telling all of them they did a great job (which is pretty much true because there hasn’t been one ill-advised choice or trainwreck performance all season) and then trying to add a little drama to the proceedings with a glitter-encrusted plunger. From a drag (or Drag Race) fan’s perspective, this is all enjoyable to watch. From a recapper’s perspective, it’s a bit of a nightmare.
Having said that, we kinda think that both perspectives would come together in agreement that a graduation speech challenge is a little odd for a drag revue and that the results this week were all mildly enjoyable, with few real standouts. Like we said, there were no disasters, but there were only a few LOL moments, the judges’ extremely forced laughter notwithstanding. We think the top three efforts were pretty easy to pick and they all stood out for being original in their approach and for creating an actual character to tell their stories.
Raja’s soothsayer bit was a truly original take, with some smart and funny observations and a couple of well-timed and well-delivered zingers.
Jinkx also came up with an original take/character and delivered the best written and most well constructed speech, starting off with some funny jokes and managing to weave together a story about trauma that actually had a message worth considering. Not coincidentally, she was the queen who managed to pull the most from her own life and experiences in order to say something inspiration. No tea no shade, but most of the other inspiration messages were “If you’re lucky and smart, you might be as fabulous as I am,” which is cute, but got repetitive quickly.
Drunk comedy can get old awfully quickly, but if anyone on that stage was going to nail it, it would be The Viv. She’s a well-honed comedian already and because she’s British, she grew up on exactly this kind of comedy. She looked great and stayed in character, but we can see why she didn’t win a star this time. Her drunkenness was funny, but her speech was kind of repetitive and amounted to a slightly funnier variation on the lesser “Look how fabulous I am now” approaches.
The runway category was “Veiled It” and no one did poorly, although we think a few critiques could have been made. They gushed over Monet’s look but the judges all seem to have decided they no longer care about her long history of underwhelming wigs. Shea’s look was gorgeous and unique. Trinity’s look was an absolute stunner, but SOMEONE should have at least pointed out that she is not, in fact, wearing a veil. Raja served a high-fashion, high-concept look, but the back piece looked flimsy (it should at least not be curling up like that) and the “Voile” pun was obscured by her head. We honestly don’t think the judges knew it didn’t say “Vogue” until she pointed it out to them. We also think her tendency to wear these huge, voluminous pieces isn’t entirely to her benefit. We guess she doesn’t want to bother with padding or corseting or tucking, but we think in a regular season, she would have been called out for that by now.
Jaida’s look was spooky and effective, but we felt like it need some sort of prop. As soon as she mentioned holding a candle, we wondered why she wasn’t doing that. That’s the best, most polished thing Yvie’s ever worn in regular competition. Jinkx’s drag has improved so much since her original season. This was beautiful and the butterfly effect (no pun intended) was clever and well-executed. We’re loving how The Viv keeps working fetish wear into her drag by combining it with high fashion. As beautiful as that blue looks on her, we tend to think the whole BDSM/ball gag vibe would’ve been much more effective/shocking if she were in white.
We mentioned Nancy Pelosi’s first Drag Race appearance in our book, but given the state of the country right now, we can’t say we found her latest visit – and Ru’s near-worship of her – to be all that compelling. In fact, it was kind of cringey, knowing how young the fandom tends to skew and how little that demographic tends to think of her. Another AOC visit might have been a bit more fun and timely. Still, if nothing else, you’ve gotta admire the old gal’s commitment to working those stilettos.
Raja and Jinkx were the rightful winners of Legendary Legend stars, making for a fun combination of queens to face off for a Lizzo lip sync. Jinkx knew how to interpret the material better than Raja did and she racked up another win.
We don’t know how this week’s twist regarding the two extra stars will shake out until next week although we think it’s likely they’ll be given to queens who don’t have one yet, thereby leveling the playing field a little more and making the entire idea of this season as a true competition a little less believable. As for the plunger, it’s being used in an increasingly vindictive manner each week. It’s hard to predict how this will affect the competition and so far, most of the queens are smart enough not to let how it’s being used anger them, but at some point, someone’s going to get well and truly pissed at the queen who handed it to her. The fact that Jinkx gave it to The Viv for just considering her as a recipient the week before is pretty shady. Given her frontrunner status, we think the rest of the queen are likely to turn on her soon.
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: Paramount Plus via Tom and Lorenzo]
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