The queens got shoved into the girl group challenge wood chipper and the editing got completely ridiculous in this latest installment of RuPaul’s Incredibly Truncated Variety Show. We’re gonna need neck rubs today because we practically got whiplash from this one.
The hook for this one is that each of the groups will be performing old lady drag in one of three music genres: country, hip hop and metal.
A little showdown occurred and, because the show is so truncated now, threw the editing off for the entire rest of the episode. In the new Drag Race, you can’t have three musical numbers AND minor conflict in the same episode without sacrificing… well, pretty much everything else. Anyway, Sasha and Malaysia’s group went up against Mistress Isabelle and Luxx’s because each of them wanted the metal number (which we would not have predicted).
We’ve been doing this a very long time, so we’re kinda past the point of declaring who was right and who was out of line. They’re drag queens. They needle each other and constantly jostle for a superior position. Things got a little heated both here and later on Untucked, but we can’t imagine it’s going to amount to much. In the end, they settled it by picking names out of a hat (which they could have done in the first place, but that would have robbed them all of the chance to be dramatic), with Sasha’s group getting the metal song and Mistress’s having to settle for the country number.
Sasha got exactly 45 seconds to talk about being a trans woman who’s thriving and surviving. That’s all the time you get for reflection on RuPaul’s Forty-Minute Talent Showdown.
If we’re being honest, we don’t think there was much of a difference in quality among the three groups. The worst performers were just a few degrees lower than the best. This is not to suggest that this is an uncommonly talented group of queens. It’s more like there are no standouts in the lot. The Banjo Bitches acquitted themselves nicely with their unwanted country number. Of the three groups, theirs was the only one who remained consistent in their portrayal of old ladies. Luxx and Mistress – the two who fought hardest for the metal number – were easily the standouts, although Salina did alright for herself. Marcia was also there.
The Rocking Old Gs also did okay for themselves, although every one of them acted like a young person in old age makeup. Similar to the Banjo Bitches, this group had three strong performers and one forgettable one. Sasha killed it. If anyone had asked us, we’d have named her the winner of the challenge. Malaysia and Aura both brought energy and commitment to their performances, but we kinda think the judges overpraised them during that 15-second critique segment. Spice did Spice, just with more lines drawn on her face.
It was clear from the minute their song started that it had already been decided that the Ol’ Dirty Bitches were the weak ones. It’s not that we disagree entirely with the assessment, but more and more on Drag Race, the judging requires these over-the-top hysterical reactions to semi-decent work and utter stone-faced responses to the work that is only a few degrees below it in quality. We think it’s fair to say that the polish and the energy level of this group wasn’t as high as the other two but it still feels like putting Robin and Jax in the bottom was a largely arbitrary decision. Spice, Marcia, and Anetra were pretty much on the same level as them. Loosey was the only queen on that stage to do good old lady drag. Unlike most of the rest of them, she actually looked like an old lady instead of like a drag queen in a gray wig. And she had the voice down cold. We think there’s a case to be made that she was the winner of the week too.
Every queen got 2.5 seconds to show their runway looks, which means screencaps and assessments for all of them are simply out of the question. If Drag Race can’t be bothered to show you the actual drag, we can’t be bothered trying to pick up the slack for them. We’ll stick with the tops and bottoms.
Anetra’s look was kind of incomprehensible to us. We don’t think you can combine tie-dye with a showgirl aesthetic. She’s a fierce drag queen, but she needs to show a little more range. Jax’s look may honestly be one of the ugliest things we’ve ever seen on a Drag Race stage. Robin’s look is generic, which has been the case with a lot of her drag.
Mistress’s look was gorgeous, but we tend to think it’s stretching the definition of tie-dye. Sasha’s look is stretching the definition too, since it looks more like painted latex to our eyes. Granted, drag is – or can be – about artifice, so we can’t get too picky about this sort of thing. We’d like to say we liked Sasha’s look as much as the judges did, but it didn’t really appeal to us.
Aura’s look was not only great, it was surprisingly stylish.
Condragulations to her, but this felt like a random choice. They seem to not want to over-reward Sasha or Loosey, even when they’re clearly doing the best work.
As we said, there were other queens just as worthy of being in the bottom, but watching these two face off, we couldn’t claim that it was entire unfair to place them there. They’re both too bland and low-key in their efforts. One of them needed to go and the other needed to get that warning to step her pussy up. Robin’s whole performance here was restrained in a way that was really frustrating to watch.
We’d like to say we feel bad for her, but at this stage, if you’re not coming to Drag Race with every intention of being a total force of nature, then you probably shouldn’t be there.
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 The Year by NPR is on sale wherever fine books are sold!
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[Photo Credit: MTV via Tom and Lorenzo]
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