I know it’s not possible, but words can’t describe how badly I want to see a Ru-sical devoted to Tiger King. I mean, come on. If they tackle it, it won’t be for like two more seasons, and by then it will seem overplayed and obvious and unfunny.
Like most of last night’s challenge.
Even I’m tired of hearing myself complain about the early episodes of these super-sized cast seasons. With so many queens, there’s only so much camera time to go around, so jokes have to be big, broad and there’s little time for character work. That just leaves the queens reciting the script — which, who is writing this? Is it Carson? (I know it’s not Carson.) I just think about what an exciting voice from queer comedy (like The Daily Show‘s Jaboukie Young-White, SNL‘s Bowen Yang or The Rundown‘s Alex English) could do with these.
I say all this as someone (and I’m not proud to admit it) who still watches Grey’s Anatomy every week. If anyone is sitting squarely in the center of the Venn diagram between Grey’s Anatomy fans and RuPaul’s Drag Race fans, it’s me. So, this should have been extremely my “thing.” And yet?
Before we get to the main challenge, there’s a rather slight mini-challenge where the gals each picked an oversized, fake pill. Whoever picked the bottle with the pink pill got to assign roles in the main challenge. Your winners are Nicky and Gigi.
The fashion gals first get input from the ladies about which parts they want to play. They foreshadow a little tension when Widow and Sherry stake out the same role. Plus, Aiden is angling for a part that seems out of her depth.
Gigi and Nicky give the gals mostly what they want, save for the aforementioned three. Widow seems the saltiest about the slight, even pouting during Ru’s visit. When Ru asks why so glum, Widow tells her she was hoping for a more serious role? I think what she means is meatier or bigger role, but she sort of doubles down, saying that she’s being typecast, because she was the drunk one in the improv challenge.
I mean, most of that isn’t even true. This character wasn’t necessarily a drunk. It’s clear that she was just bratty because she didn’t get the part she wanted, and this thin justification just underscores that.
Ru also lays into Aiden a bit in the workroom. The young queen attempts to once again lament how fish out of water she is with all these big city mice, etc. etc. Ru is quick to correct her that this isn’t anyone’s natural element, so suck it up.
Finally, Ru has some words for Brita. After last week’s lip sync, Brita needs to bring it. She seems poised to rise to the challenge, but it quickly falls apart on set.
First, she’s paired with nemesis Aiden. These two were sunk during improv, and let’s just say their chemistry hasn’t improved. Brita is playing Dr. Sandra Okrrr, and I can’t tell you anything about her. Brita is clearly trying to make a lot of CHOICES so it looks like she’s doing SOMETHING, but I can’t tell what she’s trying to sell. Is Dr. Okrrr dumb? Shy? Sassy? Slutty? All of the above? Unclear.
Personally, I think Aiden fares even worse. She’s playing a Mae West type, which just means she does the exact same joke over and over. It’s not a good impression. She doesn’t know what to do with her body. Also, her shake-and-go, Party City wig needs to be adjusted throughout, and it’s infuriating. It just seems really amateurish, even by these standards.
In spite of her protests, Widow is clearly killer as a drag queen in labor. She shares her scene with Gigi, who’s decided to play a ditzy doc with just the right amount of tics and flourishes. Jackie, playing the titular Meredith Gay, also layers her performance with just the right amount of special sauce. She clearly understands the jokes, and she knows how to deliver just enough reaction when she’s not the focus.
Widow shares another scene with Nicky, who clearly struggles. She’s playing a half-French drag baby with bad makeup? Ok … It’s not that I don’t think Nicky can be funny — she’s funny in confessionals! — but I’m concerned that she thought any of this was funny. She’s wearing “bad” makeup. That’s it.
Jaida has a hard time filming as well. She’s playing the hard-ass Bailey figure, and it’s a lot of medical jargon to truck through. She’s rattled, but the edit comes out OK. There’s also Jan, who plays Meredith No. 2 (post-face transplant). I think Jan wanted the part because it SEEMED like the star of the show, but actually, by painting so close to Jackie’s Meredith, it sort of ruined the face transplant joke. How much funnier would it have been to see either Heidi or Crystal in this role?
Instead, they’re playing two queens with a fork driven between them, right through the stomach (reminiscent of the seminal Grey’s Anatomy, “Into You Like a Train”). It seems fine enough, but nothing too memorable.
On the runway, it’s Planet of the Capes! We’ll dig into the outfits in our rankings below.
In a strange twist (possibly a forced edit due to circumstance), the top HALF of the competitors are sent to safety once Sherry Pie earns another win for her portrayal of Meredith’s mother. That means everyone on the stage is in trouble, including Jaida, Brita, Heidi, Crystal and Nicky.
The judges had to read Jaida for struggling while filming, but her runway looked great, and she was able to get by with the right edit, so she seems safe. Brita padded well, but Michelle didn’t like her ass-less skirt. She needed more levels in her performance, which she interprets as range. I’m not sure that’s 100 percent accurate; it’s more about establishing, ugh, a base reality (hello, yes, I have taken an improv class, hello) so the comedy hits harder.
Heidi was fine in the challenge, but her runway was a mess. It’s a sequin catsuit with Supremes hair and a rainbow cape and … whew … it’s a lot, but also not enough. Crystal got high marks for her makeup and outfit, though I feel like the opera gloves were the one thing Coco Chanel would have advised to leave back at the workroom.
Finally, Nicky Doll got dragged for not taking her baby character even further. Not even her GORGEOUS Thierry Mugler-esque runway could save her. (Any of the judges’ qualms about this look should be immediately dismissed — it’s one of the most genuinely beautiful garments we’ve seen on the runway.) The queens are asked who should go home, and everyone chooses Nicky (even herself).
It all comes down to Nicky and Heidi in the bottom lip syncing to true KWEEN Kim Petras. Nicky does what you would expect her to do, which is look stunning. She’s not bad (the French-cool, fashion-bitch energy is actually perfect for a Petras performance), but Heidi is fighting with her whole heart. Yes, she’s sloppy. Yes, her wig came off (!!!), but, still, watching the two of them, there was only one I needed to see more of next week. That was Heidi.
Ru agrees, bidding adieu to Nicky.
Where does that leave the rest of the girls? Let’s take stock with our rankings below. Disagree? Leave yours in the comment.
- Wow. I have been pleasantly surprised week after week with Gigi. She’s not just a fashion girl, though she slays every runway with ease. She may not be a comedy queen, but she knows exactly when to chime in with a joke AND how to turn her lack of dance skills into a performance choice. That’s almost a more impressive skill than having the best dance moves or funniest jokes — knowing when and how to use that talent goes further. Her Troop Beverly Hills-inspire cape outfit, like her Heathers Lady Baller lewk, was a delightful reference without being too literal.
- Man, if Jan doesn’t win something soon, she is going to SNAP. It’s almost as if that’s exactly what the producers want to happen … It must be crushing her to go another week safe, especially when she is giving so much to every performance. I’ve been consistently charmed by Jan and impressed with every runway. What gives?
- It certainly felt forced to show Jaida struggling in the challenge. I guess if they needed something to discuss with everyone in the “bottom” half, it makes sense to show a little hardship, but it translated fine to film. Jaida is not an actress (or a dancer or a singer); she made that abundantly clear. But, like Gigi, she’s better than she lets on — clever girl. Surely though her runway had something to do with her safety, because she looked great. All her stuff is sort of chintzy and pageant-y, but it’s interesting and obviously made with a lot of care, even if it’s not “fashion” but some standards.
- I run hot and cold with Widow, and I guess that’s how she is with the girls, too. She has these mood swings, which can be quite off-putting when she gets pouty. But when she is on, whoo boy, she is on! She gave one of the strongest performances in Gay’s Anatomy, and I adored her watermelon runway. (Though, I don’t think she needed the nipple reveal.)
- Another solid showing from Ms. Jackie, who, along with Widow, would have rounded out our top three of the night. She’s still middle of the pack for me for now — not enough screentime in early challenges and not the strongest wardrobe — but, she could absolutely DESTROY Snatch Game AND the comedy/roast challenge, so I’m ready to see her surge as the field narrows.
- You know, I was ready to write Crystal off completely. I figured she didn’t have it in her to deliver makeup Michelle would approve of. Then, this week, Michelle compliments her face — which is also a compliment for taking the note. It’s a good look on anyone, but it’s a good time to shine while others are starting to show their cracks.
- I just love Heidi. I hope she sticks around forever, but that lip sync was not good. Yes, she deserved to win, and she gave it her all, but it wasn’t good. She has the potential, I just hope she can summon it all in time. Also, that runway was not good, and if that’s the caliber she’s come packing, well, I have concerns.
- It might be harsh, but Brita needs to drop down in these rankings and realize we were rooting for you, we were all rooting for you! Ok, Ok, not to be too harsh. Brita is obviously TRYING. She definitely wants this, but it just seems like she can’t figure out how to give the judges what they want. It’s frustrating, because she has the talent and the experience and the drive and the vision. Something just isn’t clicking.
- This was Nicky‘s big chance — a silly, comedic challenge, AND she gets to pick the parts. She had everything in her favor, and she still wasn’t able to pull it off. Nicky Doll can tell a story with an outfit like few others, and that’s enough for a successful career. She has uniqueness, nerve and talent to be a star, but, unfortunately, it’s the charisma she’s lacking to be the next drag SUPER star.
- Oh, Aiden. At first, I liked the spooky, Southern queen. I even felt like she was being ganged up on, like Jinkx Monsoon in season five. But, really, what’s happening here? That challenge performance was so bad. It didn’t help that the writing made zero sense, but what choices did Aiden make? Beside the Mae West voice, what else was there? I’m reminded of a similar SNL sketch, which, if you watch, you’ll see how they heighten the joke. I’m not expecting Aiden to be Melissa McCarthy, but how, HOW is she not even in the bottom for what she did on camera (and another basic outfit on the runway). Unlike Jinkx, Sharon Needles, and other queens ganged up on for being a little different, Aiden doesn’t seem to have commitment and drive to her own vision. I think they’ll keep her around longer as this season’s primary conflict, but she’s just not cutting it for me.
How would you rank the queens?
Stay safe, stay healthy and stay the f*ck inside, please.