What was that about Canadians being nice? Claws came out on the mainstage and backstage on this week’s Canada’s Drag Race, and, honey, I was here for it.
Everybody seems to be a little more testy (that’s with a Y) than usual following BOA’s elimination at the top of the episode. Lemon is still stinging following her fellow queens’ decision to name her as the gal that needs to go next on last week’s runway.
Most of their reasonings have more to do with personal relationship (and a little bit of cowardice) when justifying their choice to Lemon, but whatever. This is not Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman’s Best Friend Race, am I right?
Meanwhile. BoBo is stewing over another safe week. She’s been consistent on the runway (though I find her “comedic” performances a bit grating), but she feels her time to shine has been delayed. I don’t think she was robbed in any previous challenges, but Scarlett is salty, regardless.
There’s little time to dwell since we’re blowing right by our mini-challenge and going straight to the maxi. This week the queens will be contestants in the Miss Loose Jaw Pageant. It’s a wacky homage to small-town pageants, a la Drop Dead Gorgeous and Honey Boo Boo. The point here isn’t to be a pageant-polished winner, but to play an exaggerated character.
Because she won last week’s challenge, Rita gets to assign the girls their parts. Most of the gals are happy with their parts, save for Scarlett who pitches just a tiny fit about not getting her first choice, but let’s be honest, she’s in mood.
Our special pageant judges include squirrel friend Traci Melchor, legendary drag queen Michelle DuBarry and actor Stefan Brogren, whose appearance on this episode has inspired me to rewatch Degrassi: The Next Generation from the beginning. Jeffrey is playing pageant host, and he’s lots more charming here.
The queens go through a few rounds in character. There’s an intro, a talent portion, and, of course, Q&A. Everything is played for (attempted) laughs, though not everyone is as successful.
Although Rita had an advantage picking characters, her chosen contestant, “Miss Match’d,” is a bit of a backfire. It’s pitched as a hopeless romantic, but Rita plays her broadly as a #blessed airhead with thinly sketched details. Her talent was gift-wrapping, but there wasn’t any kind of direction or payoff to the gag. Making matters worse, Rita wears an ill-fitting nude cover-up top that’s saggy and strange. (Rita’s discussion later about her body and her efforts to cover her tattoos though may explain this choice.)
Ilona portrays “Miss Erable,” a moody teen Miss with a Hot Topic gift card. She spends the sketch whining and making the audience uncomfortable. For talent, Ilona has a shrieking meltdown as she covers herself in paint. It’s … something. It’s just not funny.
Priyanka, desperate to compensate for a lackluster Snatch Game, gives her hotheaded character “Miss Demeanor” a Degrassi-worthy twist: She’s pregnant. It’s the centerpiece of her performance’s climax when, in the throes of an “interpretative dance,” Miss Demeanor becomes Mom Demeanor, giving birth live on stage. (Well, half on stage.)
Scarlett’s “Miss Informed” isn’t so fully formed to me. The impression is a 50/50 blend of Kristen Wiig’s one-upping character Penelope and Jade Jolie’s season five Snatch Game impression of Taylor Swift. The character is definitely irritating, but her best moments are when she’s going a bit wild, including a deranged bongos bit for the talent portion.
The highlights are far and away Lemon and Jimbo. The former channels all the tightly-wound terror of Toddlers & Tiaras into a hilarious, habitual pageant loser, “Miss Fits.” For her talent, she does a note-perfect mime routine that is one of the season’s best moments. She commits fully to the character, even topping off her silly miming with a well-timed final gag walking off the stage and into an invisible wall. She sort of whiffed the Q&A portion with an overly aggressive attack on Traci Melchor (not my squirrel friend!). It wasn’t a total dud, but there were better options. It’s a small gripe. Overall, great stuff here.
Jimbo rakes in the laughs too as the “horndogress” “Miss Behavin’.” It’s big and broad, but it works. She goes full tilt cuckoo during the talent portion, offering outlandish animal calls that blend bawdy and bizarre. The guttural noises and sexual gestures make it impossible not to break out into giggles. However, it’s her Q&A that really slays. She’s practically dry-humping Jeffrey, and at one point she fully deep-throats the microphone. It’s some classic drag antics, but it’s delivering so unflinchingly, it’s impressive.
After the pageant performance, the gals get ready for their Pageant Perfection runway. Tensions continue to simmer until eventually Scarlett and Ilona start sniping over … well, it’s not clear over what exactly, but it’s the sort of delicious, low-stakes reality-TV argument over essentially nothing that scratches the exact part of my lizard brain that drives me to watch every episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. As much as I appreciate the serious makeup mirror talks, sometimes I just want to see two queens go at it half-beat.
The runway is lethal this week, shaking up the standings coming out of the pageant challenge. The judges were again disappointed both by Priyanka’s lackluster improv work and her shrinking presence on the runways. Ilona flopped the challenge and her Beyoncé-inspired runway didn’t gag the judges in a good way. Rita slumped in the skit, but looked her best on the runway. (At least from afar. More on that in a bit.) Scarlett delivered a solid pageant and a beautiful runway, teasing a long-awaited win. Standing in her way, Jimbo’s busty Miss Behavin’ which the judges rightly adore.
Unfortunately for Jimbo, the judges HATE her runway look. I mean, it’s brutal. The gown isn’t great, don’t get me wrong. It’s big and unwieldy and the most polarizing shade of hot pink. She’s dripping in rhinestones and feathers, and it’s all a bit much. The one thing it’s not, according to Jeffrey, is glamour. Jimbo not-so-silently seethes.
The only gal to garner nearly universal praise is Lemon. She continues the child pageant motif on the runway, eschewing the other queens’ traditional drag pageant interpretation. She’s got sassy hands, bobby socks and little tiara in her largest, best wig of the season. It’s the best we’ve seen from Lemon from start to finish, so her eventual win feels pretty expected by the time the judges deliver the decision.
That means Scarlett is safe yet again (you can practically hear her sanity snap), and Jimbo’s dressing down over her dress lands her in the bottom half. She knew it was coming and already unleashed hell on Rita backstage. In our second great confrontation, Rita offered a (slightly shady) piece of constructive criticism (Jimbo’s makeup made her look older), and it prompted Jimbo to RIP INTO Rita’s wig. It was savage. The diatribe over Rita’s lace line will go down as an all-time series great moment of drama. (As will Jimbo’s defiant clapback of Jeffrey’s comments: “You question my taste level? I question your knowledge of the English language.”) She truly could have capped either rant off with “And THAT was the night the lights went out in Georgia!” in true Sugarbaker style.
Despite Jimbo’s breakdown, she’s spared from the bottom, pitting Ilona against Priyanka performing to guest Allie X’s track “Hello.” Ilona gives us another lip sync planted firmly to the floor with arms outstretched. It’s emotional, sure, but it feels like a lot of the same.
Priyanka though pulls her personality through and delivers a comedic lip sync that had everyone smiling. Well, everyone except Ilona, probably. The pastel queen sashays away, but not before a special meet-and-greet with Allie X. (Ilona is a fan; she even has her lyrics tattooed.)
Lemon’s up, Jimbo’s down and it feels like the crown is within anyone’s reach. Where do our ladies stand in my humble eyes? Peep my utterly subjective rankings below, and leave yours in the comments.
- It’s not easy placing anyone squarely atop the pecking order, but if I had to pick at this point, it’s Rita. I’m personally more excited by Jimbo, but her oppositional attitude and delicate balance of glamour and clown feel more precarious. Rita, on the other hand, is dependable. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like the judges like her looks best when they look similar to something Brooke would wear — 80s styling, bright colors, etc. Is it a Canadian thing? Regardless, it seems Rita has the judges’ support and the least amount of ‘Baga-age’ (sorry) going forward.
- That’s still a hard pill to swallow for Jimbo fans. No one has come close to Jimbo’s best moments — the decaying cheerleader, the Leigh Bowery denim getup, the chic Celine tribute, heck, even her Joan Rivers — towered over the other competitors. And yet? You can see the idea sticking with the judges that she doesn’t have the beauty. It might be too much for her to overcome.
- You can’t deny Lemon’s late-breaking surge. This episode was hers, and it was a joy to watch. There’s something about Lemon I’m charmed by. She feels like a scrappy underdog. There’s a lot of talent and charisma, I think she just needs a little more seasoning to get her presentation polished.
- Oh, Priyanka. Improv challenges haven’t been kind to this TV-ready queen, but there’s something about her personality and presence (especially in interviews) that radiates starpower. Too bad it vanishes on stage. Hopefully she gets her groove back before missing her chance at the top.
- I’m also waiting for Scarlett to get that win. She’s been consistently strong on the runway, and I appreciate the commitment to BoBo’s Twisted Metal aesthetic. (Although, to be honest, the smoke effect on the runway is feeling a little too Vape Lord for my taste.) I wasn’t as tickled as the judges for her humor during the challenge, but at least she was doing SOMETHING coherent. Don’t let her low placement in the list fool you; I still think she’s in the running for the win. This is just a very tight race.
- It was time to say goodbye to Ilona. I was surprised how much I’d grown to like the young queen. I appreciate how she represented for her community, as well as her pastel and pop-art flavored drag. I’m sure her youth and attitude were a turnoff for some, but she had a vision and style beyond her years.
How would you rank the remaining queens?