Is it us or does it feel like all of the air has gone out of this season? It doesn’t feel like anyone on the production side is even trying to produce an interesting reality competition and this year’s gaggle of queens doesn’t seem to have a lot of fire under their asses. We’ve been saying this for a long time now, but more than ever, we think it’s time for the U.S. Drag Race shows to start shaking up the formats and their casting. Personally, there’s no challenge we love more than a DIY drag challenge (we’re the OG Project Runway bloggers, after all), but despite the likeable (for the most part) queens and the (relatively) good work they produced this week, we were pretty bored through the whole episode.
If ever an episode needed a fun mini-challenge to kick things off, this would have been the one. You’re down to only five queens and every one of them is currently on their best behavior, so nearly 40 minutes of them chatting pleasantly while they sew just isn’t all that interesting to watch.
Always fun to see classic queens like Shannel and Raven again, but these Werk Room visits are simply a bunch of people talking at each other in platitudes. There’s no real advice given aside from extremely anodyne and universal observations like “Be yourself” or “Show them what you’ve got” or some such thing. Ru is marginally better at these scenes because she’s got a much larger self-help vocabulary at her disposal, but we really wish they’d just let whatever queens are doing these pep talks be much bigger bitches about it. Raven is legendarily shady, but they have her walking through that room like she’s Oprah or something. There’s no bite to it anymore.
Anyway, the challenge was to assign each queen an aesthetic (and accompanying box of notions and fabrics) that another Drag Race queen is known for, although we’d argue that there isn’t enough of a difference in style between most of these queens for it to be all that notable. They all opened their boxes and pulled out extremely similar fabrics and notions – except for Trixie’s, who has one of the most definable styles of any Drag Race alum. Really, what is the difference between Kylie’s drag aesthetic and Trinity’s? Or between Shea’s and Monet’s? Oh, well. We’re not mad at this episode, just bored by it. Let’s get to the only thing about it worth discussing: the final looks.
Credit to Kandy for not coming out in a bodysuit, although we think that had more to do with the fact that she doesn’t have the skills to make one. Even so, we were surprised to her produce a semi-decent look. The dress is simple and has a few issues with it (the fit is too tight and the bust is wonky), but she nearly saved the look with some very good styling. From the neck up, she looks great.
If they awarded the win based on creativity and execution (typically how most design challenges are judged on most reality competitions), Jimbo’s reinterpretation of Trixie’s aesthetic would have been the hands-down winner of the night. She made witty use of the sheer floral and her execution of the pink PVC was masterful, from the sleeves to the molded breasts. Unfortunately, Drag Race tends to hand out wins based on storylines instead of results.
This was another look that surprised us. We didn’t think she had it in her to pull of something as relatively polished as this, especially since she kept scrapping nearly finished designs. It’s not perfect by any means. The critiques about the neckline and sleeve were on point. She and Kandy wound up with the same problem: a passable if problematic effort that wound up in the bottom because it was way too simple. Also, that horrifying wig line could not have helped.
We could have told you ahead of time that Alexis was going to win this week. Not because it’s a design challenge and she’s good at that sort of thing, but because she hadn’t won any challenges yet and the production decided it was time to justify her continued presence. Having said that, this is a shockingly good effort from her. We still think Jimbo’s look was more creative and technically more impressive, but we honestly can’t offer one criticism of this. It’s nearly flawless and she looks great.
A solid third place effort behind Jimbo and Alexis. It’s well executed and looks pretty great on her (although that green fabric is kind of ugly), but it’s not the most impressive design in the world. Still, it’s clearly better than Kandy’s and Lala’s rather minimal efforts.
So Alexis wins this one handily and gets pitted against Nicky Doll for a lip sync of “These Boots Were Made for Walking,” in remarkably similar costumes. We don’t think either of them aced this one. They both seemed rather tentative with their movements and it felt like they were both treating the song with more seriousness than it deserves. Go for camp, bitches! You’re drag queens! The only fun part was when they both broke into the Nancy Sinatra dance at the same time. Still, we think Alexis edged Nicky out slightly for the win, possibly because it’s easier to interpret a song when you’re a native speaker of the language.
We were pretty surprised to see her send Lala home. She and Kandy have some negative history and it’s pretty clear that Kandy is a Ru favorite. Lala’s a weaker competitor, but we guess Alexis was being truthful when she said she wouldn’t be devious in her choices if they chance arose.
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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