As we gather to watch and discuss this week’s Drag Race from our homes, let’s not forget all the LGBTQ entertainers, bartenders and nightlife staff that are already being hit hard. If you can, order a T-shirt, buy a gift certificate and contribute to bars’ online fundraisers so we have places we can go back to for watching shows like this.
At a time when everything seems so unpredictable, at least we can depend on RuPaul. (OK, well, maybe not always.) If nothing else, she at least delivered us an episode that, while not exactly edge-of-your-seat entertainment, was a comforting taste of something familiar.
It was a real copy-paste week for creative with the mini and maxi challenges both established favorites. For the former, the ladies donned bee-themed quick drag for one of those challenges where they all get like 10 seconds to do a dance solo? It’s the typical twerking and jump-splits we’ve come to expect, but some of the makeup was truly unhinged. Gigi gets the win.
Although the mini-challenge felt rather slight, the maxi-challenge is going to be a marathon. Each of the remaining queens will be showcasing three outfits on the runway in this season’s Balls Ball. That’s a lot of looks! The first category is Lady Baller (Title IX realness). Then they’ll doll up as Basketball Wives, before the unconventional Balls to the Wall Eleganza original creation.
It’s the third round we spend the majority of the episode focusing on, as all the queens scramble to create an outfit out of an assortment of balls provided. There are soccer balls and blow-up balls and pom-poms. What’s not up for grabs, of course, is taste.
Early on the struggle bus are Aiden Zhane and Rock M. Sakura. The former is filled with vindication after her team was tops last week. But, now she’s leaning on a “less is more aesthetic” for her basic bodysuit covered in cotton balls. At least Jan offers a last minute suggestion to use her black-and-white ensemble for a referee-themed lewk.
Meanwhile, Rock has a high-concept that looks like a gumball machine exploded in the doll aisle. She feels confident, but all the other gals have some serious doubts. Both Nicky and Gigi feel the pressure to deliver, as this season’s fashion queens. However, Nicky is newly inspired, while Gigi briefly second-guesses her time management.
Jan is also feeling the pressure. She’s frustrated she’s been merely safe for weeks. It’s a slippery slope for Jan’s preparedness to become obsession and then entitlement, so we’ll see if she’ll push through or a have an Alaska on All-Stars breakdown, offering the other competitors cash bribes. Either way, I’m watching.
We’ll keep our thoughts on the THIRTY-SIX runways in our rankings below, but, overall, it was a strong showing from this bunch. The spectacle is amplified by iconic guest judge Leslie Jones, America’s favorite fan proxy. She absolutely destroys the task, and I’m going to need her and Nicki Minaj to consider joining the panel full time. Could they at least be a sort of Nick Cannon/Sue & Mel-type “presenter?” A host with no power. Just think about it!
The judges have heaps of praise for top performers Nicky, Jaida and Gigi. It’s not very surprising, since these are our three fashion-focused queens. The judges still want more personality from Nicky, but, man, they are gagged by Gigi. She (rightly) takes the win.
Just as predictably, Aiden and Rock are in the bottom, joined by Brita, who’s lack of vision resulted in a hastily assembled and difficult to read pineapple getup. You’d think Brita’s reputation and the strength of her previous performances in the challenges would give her an edge. So, color us all surprised when Aiden is spared.
On the one hand, I’m always excited to see Brita perform, but watching her destroy Rock reeked of that “Stop! Stop! She’s already dead!” Simpsons meme. I mean, she spent a third of the number ripping her skirt apart. Yikes. It’s not even the awkward disrobing, it’s the defeated face. She tries her hardest, she fights, she does, but she just can’t muster up the “just give ’em a show” showmanship Brita has naturally. Sorry.
The judges agree, sending Rock M. back to San Francisco.
Where does that leave the rest of our queens? Let’s take stock with our rankings below! Disagree? Leave your rankings in the comments!
- Granted, this was her week to shine, but Gigi Goode is looking golden. As the judges pointed out, every outfit was not only spectacularly crafted, it also told a story. From her Heathers-inspired Lady Baller to the snakeskin basketball wife to her delightful Balls to the Wall Eleganza, she never looked less than sickening. She may not be a comedian or a dancer, but she knows her complete character, which is more than enough.
- Maybe I’m wrong putting Jan so high even when she fails to land in the top week after week. It feels a little manufactured, though. She was sabotaged by weak teammates and weaker creative for World’s Worst, but she was a top performer in the opening musical and this week. It’s not bad to fly under the radar in the early part of the competition, but she needs to not let the lack of wins get in her head. So far, she’s clearly come to play. This week, I lived for her basketball wife’s rhinestoned tracksuit, and I thought her handmade Balls to the Wall Eleganza deserved more praise. (I liked the soccer outfit OK, but I do think working with the ball on the runway took some sissy out of her walk.)
- Despite next week’s ominous preview, Jaida appears to be excelling. She is a bitch with a vision, and the skills to execute it. I thought her WNBA Lady Baller lewk was a little too on the nose, but she overdelivered with her other outfits. Her third outfit in particular was delightful, and it demonstrated some quick thinking on her part to shorten the dress on account of a lack of materials.
- Widow was a sort of non-factor this week, but she continues to bring it. Something I’m really appreciating about Widow’s fashion this season is how she isn’t afraid to play with proportion to the point of almost becoming cartoonish. Whether it was the lapel on her jockey outfit or the sleeves on her Basketball Wife fashion, it’s a big statement coming from a queen who is already usually making a big statement. It’s that little bit of too much that is just enough.
- Jackie was a pleasant surprise this week! I thought she was one of the strongest of the safe queens, especially that Amanda Bynes She’s the Man basketball outfit. So good. Unfortunately, her other two looks were much more forgettable.
- Speaking of pleasant surprises, could Heidi be a dark horse this season? She was irresistible on the links as a ball-dropping LPGA queen, and she was cold as ice as a Basketball Wife that will take you for all your worth. But, man, if her third look didn’t look like she skinned Baby Bop from Barney, y’all. It’s all I could see!
- Yikes, Brita. There’s just no way to slice it: Your pineapple was crushed. That would be bad enough, but neither her Leatherface Basketball Skin couture nor her sleepy, yellow Basketball Wife fantasy were nearly enough to save it. She deserved to lip sync tonight for what she walked down that runway, but I still have faith her moxie can push her past this.
- I’m less sold on Nicky. I mean, personally, I love her. She’s clearly talented when it comes to fashion and design, and I get a lot of personality from her interviews and cutaways. I just don’t think she’ll ever be able to “give personality” in the very specific way the judges demand. On the runway, though, she’s untouchable. All three looks were absolutely devastating, with my favorite being the unconventional Balls gown with all-over fringe. J’adore.
- Crystal painted a “light” face, the way McDonald’s has a “light” menu. Like, sure, relatively, OK, but by anyone else’s standards … The campy bowling lewk was fun, but the ditzy basketball wife was incredibly pedestrian.
- I’m actually in the camp that LIKED Rock M. Sakura‘s final look (which shows just what I know). Yes, it was a mess, but I did get a sense of method to the madness. (The size, colors, material, placement of the balls WAS intentional, come on.) Unfortunately, I agreed with the judges about the disappointing lower three-quarters of the Lady Ballers tetherball fantasy and her bad padding on the second round. The lip sync was a bloodbath, but I think Rock is capable of doing much better. The emotional toll of this competition seems just a bit too much for Rock, so, in that regard, I’m kind of glad to see her go before having a real TV breakdown.
- I’m over Aiden. Like, I get she does weird. I love weird! I’m just getting an impression that Aiden often confuses people being put off by her personality as being put off by her weirdness. The same way she says she doesn’t perform in Atlanta because “it’s not diverse.” That comment really stuck with me when she said it, and the more I see of her, the more I understand her thinking. Frankly, her final two outfits never should have made it to the runway of season 12 of this show. Even the highly-praised vintage baseball outfit didn’t have much there there beyond the concept and the hair and makeup. The garment itself was kind of … dumpy. Her aesthetic isn’t less is more; her skillset is. She is obviously a creative queen, so the lack of follow-through is just really frustrating to see. Plus, under the bright lights, everyone can see through the excuses.
Also, sincerely, I hope you’re all doing OK. These are scary times, and I appreciate having this silly show to share with you. Stay safe and healthy.