When it comes to assessing any season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, there is no other main challenge as important as the Snatch Game. It’s a fan favorite, of course, but it’s also an excellent measure of a queen’s true skills. They have to pull off a lewk, demonstrate a unique point of view, be funny, be quick, be original and demonstrate a certain cultural savvy.
I wish all reality-TV micro-celebrities were held up to such a high standard.
The U.K. Snatch Game delivered big laughs and a couple of legendary performances that alone justify the inclusion of U.K. queens in an upcoming All Stars season.
The episode was not without its drama, though it was still very measured and polite and British. Both Divina and Baga came packing Margaret Thatcher drags, but Divina has cold feet about two Iron Ladies on stage. She not only cedes the character to Baga, but lends her the blouse and jacket.
Geez, Divina, you didn’t have any jokes you could write for her while you’re at it?
DDC’s short-sighted act of charity would clearly be her undoing. Instead, she opts to go with Julia Child (after briefly considering Victoria Beckham). Julia Child did Milk no favors when the tall queen attempted the famed chef during her Snatch, so I have some concerns about how much “funny” is there.
However, any celebrity could be funny, if you have a unique point of view, just ask Blu. When Blu told Ru she was going to be the former Great British Baking Show‘s beloved judge Mary Berry, I was concerned. Too many queens would think merely playing an older woman with the makeup and the hump and whatnot is the whole joke. Blu though takes it one-step further, choosing to portray Mary as an absolute horndog. It’s very silly, but it’s also a consistent character choice. Not bad for a young queen that’s been struggling to breakthrough the competition and doesn’t consider herself a comedy queen.
Cheryl is playing some kind of U.K. reality-TV dumpster person that I’m sure I would love and will absolutely be a guest judge next season. Crystal is playing Rue McClanahan, or maybe Rue as Blanche on Golden Girls, or maybe just actually Blanche as if she’s a real person and we’re all on the lanai? I don’t think Crystal is even sure.
But I’m most concerned for Sum Ting Wong and Vivienne, but for very different reasons. Both are going for boydrag, including Sum Ting’s Sir David Attenborough and Viv’s Trump. Now, Sum Ting has the voice down, but it’s pretty clear right away the characterization stops there. Meanwhile Vivienne is note-perfect as Trump, capturing both the tiny-handed tyrant’s bizarre tics as well as his very specific, unctuous overall sleazy energy. It’s great, but, my god, I don’t know if I can emotionally sit through it, you know?
Turns out my fears are for naught, because Vivienne’s Trump ends up being one of the brightest shining stars of any Snatch Game in herstory. Put her up there with Jinkx’s Little Edie or Bianca’s Judge Judy. Every single joke lands, and she picks her spots perfectly. It is a master class in this challenge.
Baga is no slouch either. Her version of Margaret Thatcher, I think, might be a zombie? It’s like part-Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady and part … I don’t know, Bunnicula? It’s almost Monty Python-esque in its commitment to the surreality of it all, and it’s the kind of thing I think only a U.K. queen could pull off so effortlessly.
Blu is nigh unhinged (well, at least as adorably, politely unhinged as these birds get across the pond) as Mary Berry. She is always “on game,” as they say, and considering the “blue” material, she manages to keep the answers more than merely filthy. Years from now, they will study “My poonanny tastes like a fondant fancy” as they do “For Sale: Baby Shoes, never worn,” for its perfect word economy.
Cheryl falls squarely in the middle of the Snatch, staying very on-brand as Gemma Collins (another Essex native). She gets some laugh, but nothing she couldn’t have gotten away with as Cheryl.
The rest is a bit of a mess. Divina’s Julia misses groundballs from Ru, literally answering questions about her book (“The Joy of Cooking” … which could have just as easily been “The Joy of F00king” or “The Joy of Cocking,” etc.). Ru loves an easy dirty joke as much as the wittiest turn of phrase, so Divina’s lack of either feels like a real miss when she was looking ready to surge just a week prior.
There’s so much to unpack over what went wrong with Crystal’s Snatch, it makes me wonder how she ever settled on it in the first place. She doesn’t look great. The beat just doesn’t do anything to give the illusion of Rue’s distinct facial structure. (She looks more like Bea Arthur to me.) The jokes were super elementary level and still struggled to connect. Crystal barely managed the accent, which is arguably the most important element of a Rue McClanahan impersonation. It makes me wonder why she didn’t go for a Canadian celebrity where she could lean into her natural accent, take a bag of milk out of her bra, ask Donald Trump if he needs to borrow a toonie, etc.
Write what you know, ladies.
Sum Ting Wong is also a bit of a disaster. The makeup is actually pretty good, the mannerisms are there, the voice is great, but, in the words of Trinity, “Where. Are. The jokes?” It would be a great performance at Madama Tussaud’s, but on the Snatch, Sir. David was clearly endangered.
Overall, it was a quick-moving Snatch Game with real high highs, thanks to Baga, Vivienne and Blu. The lows were merely disappointing. There wasn’t really an out and out disaster like season four’s infamous romper room meltdown. The worst of the bunch were just boring.
Before the runway, our Makeup Mirror Moment(TM) focused on marriage equality in the U.K. There is not marriage equality where Blu is from in Ireland, which the young queen discusses with the married Divina and affianced Cheryl. While marriage equality is certainly nowhere near the be-all, end-all for civil rights, I hope this conversation is a helpful reminder to many more mainstream viewers just how many battles are still ahead.
This week’s runway category is Weird Science: Genetically-Modified Drag Queens. We’ll discuss more of the details about each ensemble in our rankings below.
Shockingly, Ru, along with judges Michelle Visage, Alan Carr and Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell, send Cheryl and Blu to safety. I could see Cheryl, being safe, but why is Blu not in the top three? Why only have a top two? Blu clearly was deserving of the spot, and it’s not like she was edged out by someone else. They just opted to do no third place finisher? It seemed a real shame for Blu, who is really trying to turn up the volume these last few weeks. I get that she’s getting the “you gotta standout” edit, but this feels unfair.
The judges love Baga’s Thatcher, but her runway lewk is lacking. Baga is not a fashion girl, clearly. She doesn’t seems particularly detail-oriented enough to know how to create a very special moment without opening her mouth. It’s definitely something she’s going to have to overcome if she wants to be able to give Vivienne a run for her money.
Though Vivienne isn’t at her best this week on the runway, either. The facial prosthesis and embellishments are gorgeous, but the brown base of her one-piece looks cheap and ill-fitting. It’s a rare misstep for Viv on the runway, but she could have walked down the runway in a sack and still got a RuPeter badge for her Snatch Game, it was that good.
Divina makes up for a weak Snatch with a killer runway. The most alien-esque of the bunch, she did incredible makeup, utilized big plastic bubbles and changed her entire walk to sell her futuristic oddity. It’s a great choice for Divina, who desperately needed to nail the runway to save herself from bottom two.
Crystal also clearly understands the severity of her situation, going completely balls to the wall for one of the most memorable runway presentations since Courtney Act activated her massive wings back in season six. This wasn’t angelic beauty, though. This was some Mad Max, freakshow theatrics that poor Ginger Spice had to practically watch through the hands covering her eyes.
Equipped with a terrifying mouth stretcher adorned with teeth, Crystal took out some kind of circular saw that she ran against metal plates on her wrist and crotch to create sparks. It was honestly very, very cool. I want to see much more of THIS Crystal going forward.
Finally, Sum Ting Wong had a lot of things wrong with this runway. She’s wearing what looks like a Party City version of the Britney Spears “Oops … I Did It Again” red pleather outfit. It doesn’t fit quite right, and it just looks cheap up against some of the stunners on stage. She has a great idea for a Twilight Zone-esque presentation with an illusion that she’s removing her own face. The makeup is ALMOST successful, but up close looks a little elementary. Good idea, not great execution.
It’s Crystal versus Sum Ting Wong in the lip-sync to “Spice Up Your Life,” and it’s the liveliest showdown we’ve seen so far. It’s still not great, but it’s got a little more energy than the ones we’ve seen up until this point. It’s kind of like the difference between someone who’s actually really good at karaoke versus someone who is really good at karaoke. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t feel like there were big moments.
Crystal’s kept, and I’m glad. I’m much more charmed by Sum’s personality, but after that runway, I’m much more intrigued by Crystal’s drag.
Let’s see where that leaves our ladies in our rankings below.
- It’s seeming more and more like this is the Vivienne’s crown to lose. Her Donald Trump was the stuff of legend. I wouldn’t go so far to say it’s the best Trump impression. (Sorry, that honor goes to comedian Anthony Atamanuik, whose characterization of Commander Bone Spur-In-Chief is the foundation of nearly every other contemporary impersonation the last few years.) However, it was the type of performance that transcends the game and could honestly sub in for (the problematic) Alec Baldwin on SNL. This week’s runway was maybe Vivienne’s weakest, but there was still so much artistry to appreciate.
- I’m hoping, as the field narrows, Baga doesn’t become overexposed. The show has a history of taking big personalities and devoting so much cameratime to them, all of tumblr turns on them. (See: O’Hara, Eureka; and Nutmeg-Ganache, Silky.) Baga has the potential to go from great to grating, but I’m most concerned for her sartorial options. Good thing Divina lent her that blazer and blouse, but how much more of Baga’s wardrobe is not up to snuff? She can’t borrow it all.
- Despite a tough time on Snatch, Divina continues to be a wily vet. I’m not terribly surprised to see Divina struggle this week. Even in confessionals, her brand of humor is more performative and strange, weird facial expressions and voices, not pop-culture references and bon mots.
- I’ve made my case for Blu earlier, but it seems so strange how the show refuses to acknowledge Blu’s work. Ru singled her out for props on the runway, but why not recognize her with a top-three placement? In episode two, Ru was already cautioning Blu about blending into the background. It’s like, damn, Ru, it’s only been ONE WEEK (likely one DAY in production time). Give a gal a minute! Plus, I think Blu has been taking some chances, like her three-titted Bond villainess, or that odd maypole character. I’m not saying they were all knockouts, but give some credit where it’s due!
- Cheryl’s still here.
- Before the runway, based on Snatch alone, I would have sent Crystal home. At least Sum Ting had the voice and look down. Then she did her little spark show, and I was back in. This doesn’t seem to be a great fit to showcase Crystal’s talents, which are clearly a bit more avant-garde. The problem is not with Crystal, but with Colin, who portrays Crystal. He’s just got a sort of dry, low-energy that doesn’t endear him to audiences like some of the bigger personalities. That’s not a read, it’s just a difference in style/personality.
- Sum Ting Wong gave this competition her honest best. There was a lack of sophistication to her wardrobe, and she seemed too in her head to rely on personality. I’d like too see what Sum Ting Wong can do a year or two from now, after the exposure from the show, the increased cashflow for costumes and the adoration of fans has empowered her to step into her own power more.
How would you rank the queens?