RuPaul and the Drag Race producers challenge the queens by making them satirize their grandparents’ favorite show and the results weren’t just poor, but rather depressingly so.
We realize Drag Race tries to do variations on a theme, but they’d be much better off returning to a Red Table Talk or The View style of program for a challenge like this one. Ru will be the first to tell you that drag queens can often fulfill a court jester role in culture, reflecting it back on itself while being shot through a queer lens. A 45-year-old network news magazine just doesn’t have that of-the-moment feel to it and we could sense how much the queens were struggling to connect with the concept. You’re asking them to parody something we’d wager most of them have barely even seen.
Having said that, if a worthy Drag Race challenge is said to be illuminating as to the talent level of the queens involved, then we’d have to say that the results this time around were alarmingly poor. Very few of these girls showed an ability to think on their feet. Most of them came off – it has to be said – a little sheltered, as if they didn’t know how to act around people they don’t know. That is not a good quality for any performer to have.
To be fair, the challenge was rather deviously constructed to hit the queens on exactly these points. By making such unruly personalities as Charo, Love Connie and Frankie Grande the interview subjects, it became entirely about testing their abilities to take control of an uncontrollable situation. But whatever else you can say about the three interviewees, as wild and untamable as they might be, each of these pros repeatedly lobbed softballs at the queens, giving them opening after opening for a comeback, a straight line, a zinger. Some queens managed better than others, but even the best attempts rose no further than “kept her head above water.” Every single one of them struggled their way through an “I don’t know what’s happening” moment and some of them never got out of it.
Salina had absolutely no understanding of how to relate to Love Connie and it seemed like most of Connie’s jokes went flying right past her. She looked great, though.
These insanely cheap parking lot interviews were a disservice to everyone involved. Come on, Drag Race. You’ve won Emmys. Put a little more money and effort into the staging, please. Anyway, Luxx did surprisingly well. We say that because she would have been our pick for the least likely queen on her team to relate to Connie and respond on her level, more or less. She didn’t quite ace the interview, but she did her best to go with the flow and have fun with it.
Oooh, girl. This was actually painful to watch. Putting it out there first that Mistress has not deserved any of the fan bullshit she’s been subjected to this season, it’s time for her to stop playing the bitch so much and start playing the game. She has her moments, but then a challenge like this comes along and it seems to reveal how limited or unfocused she is.
Sasha comes off like the most emotionally intelligent of these queens, so she did well with Charo; not because she could meet her level (Who could, really?), but because she understood that, went with it, and gave her the space to be entertaining enough that she could bounce off her. It was by no means a great interview, but it was clearly one of the few that understood the brief.
Marcia is a much more polished performer than we originally assumed, but she had absolutely no idea how to react to most of what Charo was saying.
We weren’t surprised that Loosey did well with the challenge. She’s a relatively smooth performer and she probably had the best understanding of what the challenge was trying to satirize. She gave her best drag Barbara Walters. We think the final win came down to her and Sasha and we think Ru responded to Sasha’s sincerity over Loosey’s polished fakeness. In other news, she’s getting really annoying.
This is just embarrassing staging. We almost don’t feel like it’s fair to assess this effort. Her teammates got fully dressed and lit sets, which do a hell of a lot to help a performer. We get that there’s a walk-and-talk interview vibe but they are literally walking and talking in a parking lot. Get a permit and shoot it on a sidewalk, dammit. Anyway, she kept her head above water.
We hate to say it, but Malaysia was obviously the worst of the lot. Completely in over her head, no idea how to save herself, no ability to connect with the scene partner or the concept. She defended/explained herself as being more restrained in her personality, but honey, that’s not a thing on Drag Race. If you can’t rise to the occasion and make it about you, this just isn’t your venue.
The runway category was “Night of a Thousand Beyoncés” and to no one’s surprise, almost all of the girls slayed. This is flawless.
This is campy and fun. We just wish the fake heads were executed a little better.
Also flawless. The Ru heads and purple eyeshadow were great touches.
Pretty much the best of the lot. Sasha’s the girl to beat at this point.
This is so awful that we tend to think she deserved a dressing down for it. She just took some green dress she had and tried to pass it off as an homage. What is with those shoes? Why add a detail that the real Beyonce would absolutely never wear?
Also flawless. Honestly, this was such an easy one for the girls that we think any weak efforts should immediately have landed in the bottom.
This is cute and really suits her.
She took the least complicated stage look Beyonce’s ever worn and cheapened it. This screams “knockoff” way more than “homage.” She’s lucky she did well in the challenge.
Sasha won it handily and we can’t wait to see what kind of stupid thing a ragingly jealous Loosey is going to say about it next week.
Even though we’re still mad at Marcia’s dress, we think it only makes sense that Malaysia and Salina landed in the bottom for this one. It was kind of interesting watching their approaches to “Single Ladies.” We don’t think it’s possible for anyone to dance to that song without adopting at least some of the Fosse-inspired moves from the iconic video. Salina just went for it immediately, but it felt like Malaysia was trying to stay away from them. We can see why she’d want to, since the two of them doing the exact same routine is only going to highlight which of them has it down, but in the end, we think doing the moves was the only way to go with it.
She seems very sweet and she’s extremely polished in her drag. She served some of the best runway looks of the season. But Drag Race calls for a certain level of performance and comfort on stage. She just didn’t have it, not in this format anyway.
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[Photo Credit: MTV via Tom and Lorenzo]
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