I miss the old days before Drag Race blew up when a morning show challenge would definitely feature guest hosts Kathy Lee and Debbie Matenopoulos. It’s not that Naya Rivera and the adorable Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman were bad, but this episode desperately needed some silliness.
Instead, the workroom teemed with unnecessary team drama, the queens struggled with the main challenge and we suffered through the third lackluster lip sync this season. Even the judges didn’t get to crack jokes on the runway.
If it sounds tiresome, well, it was.
Fresh off last week’s lip sync, Aja stomps into the workroom frustrated over her harsh critique. Her first instinct is to dwell on Valentina’s success, angry that she wore so many (hideous) garments, while Valentina was praised for wearing a leotard.
Ru comes in to rush us right into the main challenge (no mini-challenge once again). They’re going to split into two teams to produce competing morning chat shows. Trinity’s win last week earns her a spot as captain, while Aja is rewarded for being the better loser in the lip sync. Sure.
Aja chooses Valentina first for her team, despite their little developing tiff. She and V are going to report on entertainment, including drag queens memes. Maybe it was the material, or maybe it was their interpersonal drama, but whatever the reason, they never seem to click. Alexis Michelle and Farrah are fine but forgettable as Team Aja’s main anchors.
It’s Shea and Sasha that steal that show. Hosting a cooking segment on slipping RuPaul Chocolate Bars into healthy meals, Shea and Sasha successfully put a Sapphic spin that was the episode’s only truly LOL-worthy moment.
Team Trinity had a much harder time. Captain Tuck picked her rival Eureka to show how well she can work with anyone, and, boy, did that backfire. Their personalities clashed right from the beginning. Trinity dictated roles, while Eureka does her best to needle and push and basically drive Trinity crazy at every turn. During the broadcast, Trinity is dull and Peppermint stumbles over lines as anchors. Nina and Eureka pull off a funny bit about edible drag on a dime.
Things fall apart for Team Trin during the entertainment segment. An overly rehearsed Charlie Hides hampers Cynthia’s cuckoo cucu. Charlie is sticking with the script a bit too much, and, AGAIN, for a comedy queen, fails to land a single joke. It only gets worse from there. During the group celeb interview, Charlie steps on guest Naya Rivera’s answers and then pre-emptively bungles the end of the segment by jumping in to send the ladies to commercial without a sign-off (and without giving Naya a cue to leave the stage).
As the ladies prep for the runway, producers toss several scraps of low-level drama. Valentina puts Aja on blast for talking smack, and Aja actually gives a pretty heartfelt apology and explanation for why she was feeling low. Then, Sasha and Eureka clash over an eating disorder joke. Then, just for good measure, Charlie gets a teary segment about losing friends to HIV/AIDS. None of these segments feel completely fleshed out or earned, and I would have traded all of them for a “Whatcha Packin’?!” mini-challenge in a heartbeat.
The runway this week is “Naughty Nighties,” though I thought they were saying “Naughty Nineties,” and I was really excited for the retro fashions. In fact, even as I was watching the runway, I was still convinced it was ‘90s themed. (“Ooh, Courtney Love!” “Lil Kim, mama!” “Yas, Shania Twain!”) It wasn’t until the judges were giving their critiques that I realized the mistake.
Shea and Sasha are given top marks, and Team Aja were all safe. Then, Ru pulls that trick where they ask all of Team Trinity who should go home. It feels really early in this competition for this kind of shenanigan. Relationships and drama have barely been formed. But, anyway, the vote is a threeway split between Trinity, Charlie and Peppermint, but the real notable exchange is between Trinity and Eureka. The big girl relishes the opportunity to throw Trin under the bus, and Ms. Taylor takes obvious offense. It’s hard to get invested in this feud when they’re both so unlikable, to be honest.
Ru puts Charlie and Trinity in the bottom, and their lip sync is a bloodbath. Trinity isn’t GREAT, but she’s GOOD, and that’s enough to send Charlie sashaying away. The oldest queen in Drag Race herstory needed a jazzy scooter or something up there, because she doesn’t move.
The lip syncs this season have been the series’ worst. (Yes, worse than Honey Mahogany and Vivienne Pinay.) Maybe it’s because of the influx of social media and YouTube queens, but Charlie’s been doing this since before the internet (and maybe before the invention of the telephone). Don’t try to tell me you just flat out don’t lip sync. I’ve seen Lip Sync Battle, it doesn’t take a genius.
Let’s see where our queens stand now in our power rankings below.
1. I’m still loving Shea. She may not steal the spotlight as much as Valentina, but she’s funny, she’s creative, she’s likable. She’s the most balanced queen we’ve got this season. She feels like a lock for Top 3. If Valentina, Nina or Sasha have even the slightest stumble, Shea will take the crown.
2. Valentina didn’t light up this challenge the way she has during the first few episodes, but polished presentation and quirky personality are going to carry her far. She stood up for herself to Aja without turning it into a Real Housewives shouting match.
3. I don’t know what to make of Nina’s breakdown on the runway. Earlier in the episode she mentioned in a confessional that she was a Debbie Downer and she’s always in her head, but we never saw that in action. I imagine this is a set up for a future fumble, but, for now, I’m still pleased with Nina’s performances and lewks. (Plus, RuPaul’s running gag with her last name consistently makes me chuckle.)
4. Sasha was a joy on Good Morning Bitches, and she certainly has a signature look. I still just can’t shake the feeling she comes across a touch too serious. So far, her best comedic moments were from prepared scripts and plans. I wonder how she’ll do when she needs to be more off-the-cuff.
5. The gap between the top performers and everyone else feels wide. The rest of the gals are all sort of jockeying for the middle, including New York gal Alexis Michelle. She was pleasant enough as a morning host, but did she crack a single joke? I wanted this to be more Rip Taylor, less Kelly Ripa.
6. I had an experience at the NYC premiere with Eureka that I didn’t think much of until this episode. Typically, journalists (and also idiot television recappers like myself) get some time to chat with the queens one-on-one. I record these convos for easier write-up later. I thought I asked her “Do you remember where you were when you heard you made this season’s cast?” but she interjected, “This is season nine! You said season 10!” I was embarrassed and apologized profusely, but when I played back the recording later, I definitely did not misspeak or say season 10 at all. Maybe it was just a loud room and hard to hear me, but, after watching this episode, I’m viewing the incident in a whole different light. Eureka obviously has an attitude problem, and it’s shading her overall work.
7. Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman clearly sees something in Cynthia that I’m missing. She’s predictable in every challenge (“Cucu!”), and her runway ensembles always fall just on the wrong side of tacky. She’ll make it to Snatch Game, I think, but I don’t expect her to make it to the end.
8. Peppermint needs to step it up. Despite last week’s relatively strong showing, she’s yet to have a truly memorable moment.
9. Aja toned down the makeup slightly after last week’s critique, and, thankfully, she turned down the attitude a touch to. Coming for Valentina will not endear her to viewers, so glad they put their beef to rest quickly.
10. Trinity vs. Eureka feels like a real no-win scenario. Ladies, ladies, you’re both awful. Trin’s lip sync and lewk are fierce, but in front of those “live” morning show cameras, she was dead fish.
11. Farrah: Who?
12. OK, Charlie. Not only are you the least funny comedy queen to appear on this show, but you may also be the series’ worst lip-syncer. Are you telling us everyone in London not only “sings live” but they also stand perfectly still while doing so? It’s not the mouth moving you seemed to struggle with, it was the leg and body moving. Gurl, bye.
How would you rank the queens?