Nothing about last night’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race should have worked. A group challenge wringing comedy from overacting in a poorly-written parody? No, thank you. Twists designed to appeal to Ru more than the audience? Pass. Chaps on the runway?!
And yet? Although it was an acting challenge, I had a ball!
It’s a Drag Race episode that requires viewers to turn off even more of their brains than typically necessary, because things get, well, stupid. Not just in the way these parody sketches always get stupid with shrieking and an unnecessarily sexual lesbian love affair. This week’s RuPaul’s Drag Race ascends (descends?) to a whole new level of stupid, and, reader, it surprisingly doesn’t stink.
Though, there is still a bit of a funk hanging in the air at the start of the episode. After another week safe, Daya continues to simmer with resentment. She can’t resist making passive-aggressive (and a few plain aggressive) digs at Jorgeous’s expense. She calls her unconventional materials outfit a “napkin” and dismisses it as nothing more than bric-a-brac glued onto a bodysuit. (Way harsh, Tai.)
Jorgeous, to her credit, is relatively unbothered by Daya’s misdirected anger. She already got her win, and now she’s got some real power.
Thanks to winning the Glamazon Prime challenge, she gets to assign the roles in this week’s production of The Daytona Wind. It’s a silly soap in the tradition of daytime staples, like As the World Turns and Days of Our Lives, and primetime pulp, like Dynasty and Dallas.
The “plot” hardly matters, and the jokes are a loose collection of pop-culture references, funny faces and screaming. Jorgeous plays it mostly kind when giving out roles, only denying DeJa her first choice so Jorgeous could snatch that part.
The gals film with Ru, and there’s not much to report here. Ru really emphasizes the importance of going big and stupid, and, importantly, he tells everyone to leave lots of room for big, dramatic, pregnant pauses in the delivery. It seems like the kind of note he would give to yield the campy soap parody we’re working on. Angeria and DeJa struggle a bit with their lines, but everyone else gives a strong showing.
Jasmine Kennedie manages to be the best and worst part of the day, delivering an absolutely gut-busting performance in some indiscernible dialect. I can’t say it better than Bosco, who describes the scene as “Jasmine is somehow so f—ing terrible at acting, that it has turned itself around, and it has become my favorite thing I’ve ever seen.” Just imagine Alyssa Edwards doing an impression of Goofy reading for True Blood. That’s the vibe.
The real gag isn’t Ru-vealed until the runway. Mama Ru stayed up all night cutting fart sounds into the video during all those pauses. Combined with the queens’ clownish reaction shots, it’s an irresistible good time. Not only is it great to see the gals react in real time, but there are a slew of jokes in the script that take on new meaning if everyone is suffering from loud gas. Even if you consider fart jokes the lowest form of humor, everyone’s having such a blast (pun intended), it’s impossible not to chuckle.
It also makes it harder to pin down any flops. Ms. Paul ru-covers from her hysterical fit of laughter to declare Kerri, DeJa and Angeria all safe; everyone else is a top.
I agree with Michelle when she says Jorgeous was good, but could have been great if she just gave 25 percent more. She looks beautiful on the runway, but her racy, lacy outfit doesn’t really fulfill the “chaps on the runway” assignment.
Of course the judges love Jasmine’s bizarre choices in Daytona Wind. Coupled with neon, graduation-inspired chaps, it’s a good week for the young queen. Daya also finally gets her moment in front of the judges, impressing Michelle with her bootcut, business-bitch chaps. She gives her all in the sketch, packing the performance with small, smart choices that are funny without the sound effects.
Willow wows on the runway in an outfit that looks right out of The Matrix and features a second set of fake arms holding her pigtails (while giving her an atomic wedgie). Of course, Willow is great in the video, but Michelle thinks she’s playing too close to Catherine O’Hara’s Moira Rose from Schitt’s Creek. It’s not really a fair criticism, considering Moira was a rich, Californian on a soap opera. That was sort of the ask?
Bosco gets heaps of praise (and looks hot AF) in a millennial pink, studded biker ensemble. More importantly, she sniffs out all of the pop-culture references in her character, delivering a Reba McEntire by way of Jackie Collins by way of The Walking Dead. This is one sharp queen.
Finally, the real superstar this week is Lady Camden. A trained actress, she imbues almost too much gravitas into this silly sketch. But she’s not afraid to get silly, either! It’s a clear top performance, but what makes her an icon this week happens on the runway. First appearing in a white wig and gown, she falls forward — hard — at the start of the runway. I immediately get a PTSD flashback of Farrah Moan. The judges are thrown. Time stops.
Then she slowly rises, no wig, slicks her hair back, reveals a mustache and a full Freddie Mercury inspired presentation. It’s a stunt! It’s a reveal! It’s genderf—k! It’s so good! Even after the delightful surprise, she just rocks the whole runway. It’s androgynous and sexy and still thoroughly drag. I never want it to end.
In lieu of a lip sync for your life, Camden and Daya lip sync for the win (and $5,000 tip) to Blondie’s “One Way or Another.” It’s a banger. Daya is no slouch, but Lady Camden is punk perfection. The outfit could not work better for this, and Camden even throws in a little gag by removing her big fake mustache, only to reveal the exact mustache painted underneath. Her pro dance training is clear, and she punctuates the whole thing with little moments of humor. So, so good.
Ru agrees and awards Camden the cash. It’s a satisfying end to a very satisfying episode. This season’s queens have cracked the Drag Race code, and they are slaying these challenges and runways. The casts get stronger every season — and, I know I say this a lot — but I think this could be our tightest race yet.
Let’s review where the gals stand in our completely subjective weekly ranking. Tell us your rankings in the comments!
- Willow may not have made the top two this week, but it’s clear Ru is completely enamored with her. What’s not to love? She is clever, creative and very funny. Although her fashions skew more costume than couture, they are well-made, fully-realized and always a little unexpected. Is her Drag Race run a bit too similar to her inspiration, Yvie Oddly? Maybe. But there’s enough unique flavor here for Willow to carve out her own legacy.
- I’m glad to see Angeria survive a rocky reading in the challenge, if only to see her reaction to more makeup mirror conversations about Folsom Street Fair. She still brought it to the runway, looking stunning in a disco diva, Solid Gold outfit. She’s got that “something” Ru is always after, and I expect to see her stick around until the end.
- Lady Camden surges ahead after back-to-back weeks of excellence. That fall on the runway was a thrill, and my little gay brain is still crackling at the thought of it. It wasn’t just a gimmicky garment, it also looked great. Camden ate up every second on that stage. She can act, she can dance, she can sew and she can rock a pussy bow (bussy bow?) in confessionals. I can’t wait to see what she does for Snatch Game.
- Bosco is right there, mixing it up with the top queens. It was good to see a queen zero in on all the little pop culture references in these scripts. She spotted the Reba McEntire/”Fancy” reference right away, and she didn’t let mama down. Keep an eye on Bosco in the coming weeks, as the Werk Room is whittled down a bit, she’ll get more space to shine.
- It’s good to see Jorgeous get her confidence back after last week’s win. She certainly seemed more comfortable on camera this time. I do think we’re seeing her ceiling, but, as Michelle noted, with a little extra oomph, the next level is right there.
- I much prefer the ditzy, kooky Jasmine to the narcissistic Jasmine that never shuts up. Her, um, Southern(?) accent was a hoot, and she served a side of camp on the runway. I like this lane for her. She can avoid some of Michelle’s more scathing critiques if she doesn’t position herself as a fashion queen.
- Maybe I’m being unkind to Daya, because she really did a good job this week. She’s still getting the villain edit, which doesn’t give me a lot of confidence she’ll make it all the way. We’ve trimmed all the fat off this cast, so really anyone could take the lead, including Daya. Hopefully, this week’s top placement will placate her anxiety and let her focus … and maybe show a softer, more likable side.
- DeJa left a big impression during the previous acting challenges, so it was a bummer to see her fade into the background here. I really appreciated her runway. It should be in the dictionary next to the definition for “proportionizing.” The hips were perfectly sculpted, the wig was just the right size. Excellent stuff. In a season this talented, any one of these top 9 could make the finale, so don’t count her out just yet.
- Kerri may have been safe the last few weeks, but she’s proven to be more than just a pretty face (and smokin’ hot body-ody-ody). The problem is everyone else is so strong, so multi-dimensional, so multi-talented, Kerri is getting left behind. There’s still time to make an impact, but she’s got to do it soon.
What did you think of the episode?