It’s time for a game within a game on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season six: Snatch Game! Of course, All Stars rules are in effect, which means instead of the stacked panel gameshow free-for-all, we get the Snatch Game of Love, a divisive challenge among the fandom.
There are, of course, good and bad performances, but the challenge itself has its own quirks. For starters, the inspiration switch from Match Game to The Dating Game doesn’t feel quite right. It’s somehow more of a parody and less of an homage. However. By splitting the gals into two smaller groups, there’s less of a frenzy for screentime. It’s great news if you’ve got a lot of sharp material, but it’s a nightmare for struggling queens. And, boy, was that on full display this week.
I at least have to admire this cast for showing up prepared. Everyone’s got a character down, and they all (eventually) settle on a POV. Competing for the hearts of Cheyenne Jackson and Fortune Feimster, the gals get gussied up in their best celeb drags, but not everyone can stand the hot seat.
Ginger, Trinity and Kylie
Our first group really comes out swinging, starting with Snatch Game superstar Ginger as the iconic comedian Phyllis Diller. I wish Ginger pushed her costuming and voice further, but there’s no denying the jokes were there. Let this be a lesson for future comedy queens: When it comes to Snatch Game, portray a, well, comedy queen. Roseanne, Paula Poundstone, Sarah Silverman … it doesn’t matter. Because, as Ginger demonstrated, it becomes less about the character and “What would this person do in this situation?” and more about just firing off punchlines. It’s all about making Ru laugh, and Ginger has her in stitches.
From the outside, Trinity’s Whitney Houston looks fantastic, but even TKB knows this is not her challenge. She admits she’s not a quick queen, which I disagree with, but whatever. Her frontrunner status becomes something of a hindrance here, as she’s hoping to skate by based on her previous two wins.
It’s a risky move, and it’s certainly not any fun to watch. Ru and the queens even try to feed her the very obvious joke about “having nothing,” but even that reaches Miss Fame levels of “How’s your head?” obliviousness.
I came into this week most concerned for Kylie (who reminds us she was the first queen in herstory to be sent home after Snatch Game performance). When she announces she’s doing Dolly Parton, I immediately raise my hackles. I must confess, in the interest of full disclosure, I am a HUGE Dolly Parton fan. (I am actually, truly writing this from Pigeon Forge as I’m visiting Dollywood.) It’s an excellent Snatch choice. Dolly is a big personality with a very specific sense of humor that is perfect for this exercise.
Kylie has it all down. Of course, she’s giving us the body-ody-ody, but she’s also got her Dollyisms down. (Even the little hand stirrup at the end of her sleeve was a nice detail.)
The best part is the interplay between Ginger’s Phyllis and Kylie’s Dolly. It’s a relentless volley off Ru, off one another and both dunking on Trinity. There are almost too many jokes to keep up with. Ginger obviously has a slight edge, but Kylie stays right there with her, matching her punchline for punchline. Ru looks like he needs oxygen.
Eureka, Pandora and Ra’Jah
The last time we saw Eureka play the Snatch, the judges loved her Honey Boo Boo. It’s a character that worked so well with Eureka’s big personality and broad, physical humor. This go ’round, she’s choosing to channel the legendary Divine. She looks incredible. The makeup, the hair and the body are perfect, no notes! The problem is with her characterization, which seems based exclusively on Divine in Pink Flamingos. It leads to a repetitive and unpleasant Snatch dominated by Eureka as Divine campaigning for murder. It’s not a train wreck by any means, but all her bluster throws a lot of sand into the gears of this group.
Pandora, for example, is quite rattled. Already reeling from last week’s trip to the bottom and subsequent shocking tie, she’s also coming into this challenge with huge expectations. Pandora famously stole the show (though didn’t win!) the first every Snatch Game with her Carol Channing. This time, she’s trying to do Kim Cattrall. It’s not a bad idea, but Pandora plays her in the most obvious way possible — in character as Samantha Jones making non-stop sex puns. Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave a lot of room to respond to what else is going on in the game. It’s all very one-note, and she sort of shakily warbles that note.
Finally, Ra’Jah makes the brilliant move to do La Toya Jackson. Already, La Toya is a character, and there is a TON you could do here. More importantly, Ru LOVES La Toya. In the werk room, Ru gives Ra’Jah a little anecdote about La Toya once saying her favorite food was sushi, but she doesn’t like fish or rice. With that, Ra’Jah is off to the races. I mean, she crafts every single joke around the notion that La Toya is just a sort of ditzy bundle of contradictions. Way to take the note!
This trio lacks the sizzle of the first group. It’s uncomfortable to watch, and even Ra’Jah’s little nuggets about being a workout instructor who hates working out can’t put enough sparkle on the aggressive turd Eureka’s Divine is making us all choke down while Pandora’s sadsack Samantha just sort of sits there in a pile.
Even our celeb contestant, Fortune Feimster, can’t pick a winner.
The runway tonight is pop art themed, which sounds so promising, but everyone mostly comes down in Warholian frocks plastered with colorized portraits of themselves. Yawn.
Trinity is a notable exception, combining this week’s pop art theme with a political message for Black and Trans lives. It also looks STUNNING, but the combo of art and politics really hits here.
Kylie shows a little something different as well, highlighting some buttcrack cleavage — a thing I didn’t even know existed until now! Ra’Jah misses the mark with something a little too simple, and not pop art enough.
The judges have extraordinarily high praise for Ginger and Kylie. They make a point to tell Kylie this is the hardest they’ve seen her pushing herself in this competition, and I agree. Unfortunately, the win still goes to Ginger, whose PPM (punchlines per minute) was just undeniably higher than all the other girls (maybe combined).
Of course, the judges ding Trinity, who continues to shrug it off. (She’s also thrown a bit by guest judge Tina Knowles-Lawson, who’s a real bore.) But once Pandora is in the bottom, the writing is on the wall.
They try to tease the unexpected, claiming Trinity is resting on her laurels and basically hedged her bets not trying in the Snatch Game. But, come on, this should have been Pandora’s week. If she wasn’t going to get a dominant win in the Snatch Game, then when? After stalling out the last few weeks, this was her chance for a comeback that just never got off the ground. It’s clear she’s got to be the one to go.
Ginger lip syncs to Sheena Easton’s “Sugar Walls” against season 12 Miss Congenialty Heidi N Closet. Heidi loses her wig early in the number, and we all know what that means. Regardless, Ginger serves the kind of campy, silly sync we’ve come to expect to great success. She snatches another win, and another $20,000. She pulls out the lipstick to reveal it’s Pandora’s time to pack her wigs and go.
That leaves us with only a top five (and then, like, maybe a bunch of other queens off competing on an island for some kind of Merle Ginsberg Memorial Idol). If this “game within a game” ends up being just another week where the eliminated girls compete in one challenge for the chance to come back, this is going to be a disappointment. But we’re running out of time for it to be much more than that!
What do you think the game within a game will be?
However it shakes out, whoever returns, there will be quite the competition awaiting. After so much complaining about this season’s cast prior to the premiere, this batch of All Stars have proven more than worthy of the title and, perhaps, provided us one of the most unpredictable, neck-and-neck All Stars seasons.
Where do the ladies stand? Let’s review in this week’s rankings.
1. After a series of strong performances, a second win and a second winning lip sync, Ginger is our new official lead. She was so snappy in Snatch, and all her runways have been particularly polished. (Though sometimes I question her taste level a bit.) It is starting to feel like Ginger may capture the crown over our former frontrunner.
2. Trinity’s whole problem her first time around was that she gave up on herself when things got too hard or she was pushed out of her comfort zone. This was certainly not as dramatic as that, but she did carry an air of resignation and the quiet confidence that her previous challenge wins would carry her through. (She wasn’t wrong.) With Snatch in the rearview, though, Trinity may be able to dance and rap and act her way easily into the finals.
3. I was expecting the judges to come harder for Eureka. I also appreciate how she took big swings, but there’s no denying there was a lot of misses. She’s just so striking, so tall, so brightly colored, so well put together, it’s tough not to be a bit impressed/entertained whenever she’s on stage. Even when she’s not doing great, she’s a lot of fun to watch. She knows her Snatch wasn’t great, but she gave it her all. Without a challenge win under her belt, it’s tough to say she’ll be able to overtake Ginger or Trinity in the top spots.
4. Although she’s been jockeying fourth position a bit, Kylie is coming through at a great time. I was very impressed with her Dolly (and, again, I say that as someone with Dolly Parton permanently tattooed on their body, presently sitting in Pigeon Forge, about to make my second pilgrimage to Dollywood this week). Most of all, her performance was a pleasant surprise, and it was disappointing not to see the judges put more weight on that (as opposed to Ginger, whose comedy bonafides were long ago proven). This is, after all, a reality show, not a true comedy competition, so reward us with a little story, you know? I’d love to see Kylie continue to ascend, and it’s not unthinkable that Kylie could sneak up on everyone and actually win this whole thing.
5. OK, Ra’Jah! It was extremely savvy to pick such a Ru favorite for this exercise, and wiser still to incorporate one of Ru’s favorite little La Toya-isms into the act. Did she lean a little too heavily on it? Sure, but at least it was funny. Ra’Jah’s La Toya was easily the best part of the second group. The runway wasn’t my favorite. Sadly, I think we’re almost at Ra’Jah’s time to go. She’s a great queen, will always be an All Star, yada yada yada, but we’re almost at the top four, and those slots have been claimed.
6. There’s no way Pandora could have stayed after the Snatch Game. She whiffed it, and it should be her signature challenge. This was the moment to turn this all around, and it just didn’t happen. I do think there’s a tiny amount of credence to her claim that Eureka’s character was tough to work with, but the fault was in the lack of depth to her character. Even the “funky spunk” reference Pandora made in confessional would have been the kind of specific choice that gives the character life. (Also, I would’ve loved to see a little of season three’s Raja doing Tyra Banks screaming about Naomi Campbell, except Kim Cattrall dropping the sexy, cool exterior to go absolutely ape over her bitter enemy, Sarah Jessica Parker.) There was just no denying this was Pandie’s time to go.
How would you rank the queens?