A sketch show is always better when the drag queen is crying…
1. And so it was time for the show’s annual “Celebrity Impersonation” episode. I have to be honest, I was expecting “Snatch Game”. Who wasn’t expecting Snatch Game? Especially as, with Pandora gone, 8 of the 10 remaining queens had either never had a go at Drag Race’s most infamous challenge or apparently underwhelmed in it – Alexis Mateo’s Alicia Keys and Chad’s Cher being the other 2. I say “apparently” because I still say that Latrice’s Aretha Franklin was an underrecognised piece of Comic Genius. But no! Instead of Snatch Game (or, to British Audiences, “Snatchety Snatch”) we got Ru Paul’s Gaff-In, a tribute to tragically unfunny American sketch shows of the 1960s. Which proved to be, well, mostly tragically unfunny. But we’ll get to that. Would have killed for Snatch Game though. Or Hollywood Squeers.
2. BUT FIRST! We had RuPaul’s usual Mini-Game. The pointless, nigh-on random hors d’ouvres before each episode’s main course. Except this time it served some purpose – showing just how thrown together a partnership Latrice and Manila are. Who can forget Latrice listing everything he knew about Manila (“you’re from Minnesota………………”) or Manila huffing that she was a fan of Ru’s OLDER WORK as though that’s something that Latrice should have known just by looking at her. Otherwise it was fun to see the obvious bond between Shad, Yarlexis and Rujubee, and a bit less fun to find out the…preferences of a few of the queens. Or, indeed, Raven’s underwear situation. “The devil wears nada” indeed. It was also the point where it became obvious that we were getting close to Brown Flowers last stand, as Tammie showed her versatility, fleixibility, and predictability, by sniffing Nina and yelling “GRASS! SHE WEARS GRASS UNDERWEAR! BECAUSE IT’S ALWAYS GREENER!” *wink*. It’s a wonder they didn’t win every single challenge isn’t it?
3. The choices of celebrity impersonations this series felt…odd. Lots of the queens choosing to do people who are already comediennes (Bea Arthur/Lucille Ball/Fran Drescher) or who have been parodied so many times that it’s nearly impossible to do something fresh with them (Madonna/Oprah). Then again, Manilla’s approach of “MADONNA HAS A GAP IN HER TEETH! THAT’S HILARIOUS!” seemed to go down well with the judges in the end, as well as in no way tired jokes about her adopting BRAHN BABIES. Really everyone seemed to be angling to get out of the way so that Yara could do what she does best (running around dancing and screaming incoherently in a thick Latin accent) and steal the win easily as Charo. Certainly makes more sense than when she decided she wanted to try to be Amy Winehouse anyway. The award for most ill-advised choice obviously goes to Nina Flowers whose La Lupe looked nothing like La Lupe (I checked) and didn’t really have anywhere to go with Yara trumping her handily in the Bonkers Latina stakes. Runner-up prize goes to Jujubee’s brief flirtation with being Nicki Minaj, which was thankfully aborted at the last minute. Who could do a drag parody of a woman who already is one?
4. Let’s all take a brief moment now to pay tribute to the queens complete inability to write stand-up comedy. Really this challenge was missing Shangela and her well-honed instinct for a catchphrase and a punch-line. Nothing was quite as poor as the efforts from Season 3’s Stand-Up challenge, but when your joke-writing challenge is basically won by someone making jokes about queefing and a cocaine baggy, you’re not even going to trouble Mrs Brown’s Boys are you? Happily this lead to several moments of mangled timing, awkward silence, and daggy dance in order to fill the gaps. My personal favourite part, which I rewound at least 5 times amid gales of laughter, were Latrice’s “Oprah”‘s attempts to interact naturally with Vicki Lawrence as “Mama”. Not an inch of that camera went unmugged as whatever joke there was got lost. Oh, and also when Latrice just kept on yelling “AND YOU GET A BROWN BABY!” long after the joke became funny (which was 5 minutes before it started, as predictable as it was) in some sort of attempt to be Family Guy. And when you can’t even clear that low bar… As it was, the best comic timing of the episode came from the Pit Crew. Or at least…their penises, entering the room a good 30 seconds before the camera bothers to acknowledge the rest of them. Both of them know how to cream pie as well…
5. Damn that shot of Manila and Sahara together was a tearjerker wasn’t it?
6. After Latrila picked up the win last week whilst wrapped in carpet with an iPod strapped to their bellies, I have to say I’m glad that this week’s fashion show was a lot more composed and coherent. I wasn’t really at home to Raven & Jujubee’s crowing that they were SO IN SYNC because they’d both brought Mod outfits (…in a room full of other drag queens in Mod outfits), every team managed to come up with far more attractive looks than the hideous MESSES that Pandora and Mimi walked out in just a week ago. My own personal fashion highlights were probably Nina Flowers as an impeccably painted 60s diva (complete with amazing flower detailing) and Shannel’s flower child, with the flowing lines and psychedelic patterning making the best of her…heft. Honours must also be granted to Yara Sofia who looked impeccable as ever. Really it was her episode, and I wouldn’t begrudge Yarlexis the overall win this week, entirely on the back of her work, even if I think they’re now the weakest of the four teams remaining.
7. I’ve heard a lot of people ragging on the team twist, and I think it’s sad, because it’s an interesting direction for the show to take, if only for a mini-season. I mean…most of the people complaining are Pandora fans, and therefore best ignored, but it’s sad that people can’t appreciate having some of the show’s most shining stars back in a context that isn’t the incredibly tedious Drag U. It’s nice to see people being supportive of one another and having one another’s back – that short sequence when they all said who would potentially be lip-sync’ing this week and why for instance. And really, who doesn’t love sinner jism? Or whatever it was that Latrice said. Or maybe I’m just saying this because we’re only one series removed from PhiPhi and her…concept of teamwork. Speaking of which, wasn’t it great to hear Jiggly’s name spoken in this episode? I’m enjoying all of the callbacks to the minor queens of seasons past (Milan Invasion next please) and Jiggly was truly a Drag Race trainwreck for the ages that one. She really did always get the joke last as well…
8. Could this week’s Lip-Sync For Your Life have been more choreographed for Tammie Brown to have a redemptive moment? Having refused to perform in Series 1 because she was being asked to perform the modern music of the devil (/Michelle Williams), let’s give her a big old slice of Ethel Merman to do, to show she can really lip-sync. Of course there was always a danger that Nina Flowers would feel herself a more natural fit for th…just kidding. The thought of Nina Flowers hoofing it round to Ethel belongs to a Universe entirely separate from this one. As it was, it was Latrice vs Tammie, and Tammie did well to run Latrice close, tapping in to the natural vulnerability that she imagined to be at the heart of “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, but in the end, once Latrice started twirling away like a majorette, truly EMBODYING “Let’s Go On With The Show”, her goose was cooked. Still, a much more intriguing battle than last week’s flop. I’m just waiting for some to press the Shemergency Button. I hope they tag in like DeVon Dudley and hurl someone through a table.
9. And so it was we said goodbye to Brown Flowers, and the second of this year’s “really? her?” left-field choices. And let’s be honest, Tammie really did a much better job of building on her legacy than Mimi did. Her reading Michelle Visage for filth was better than anything Mimi did in two series combined, and “COME ON THEN TELETUBBY, TELEPORT US TO MARS!” will be on my own personal gif wall for a long time to come. I do however, remain steadfast in my belief that Tammie Brown can only ever be a background character in Drag Race as she’s far too niche a queen to really be competitive. I’m just glad that they ignored her inability to do or be anything other than entirely random chaos, CHALLENGE BE DAMNED, for long enough to stretch her stay out to two whole episodes again. Nina I’ll miss on another level, just because she always looked beautiful, but the show’s moved in such a different direction since her series that it’s no surprise to see her eliminated early.
10. Untucked then…I guess it’s only fitting that the Comedy Episode saw the tears flow most freely, but midway through I was unsure whether these queens would be able to get back out to be judged without some heavy duty Tramadol. I guess investigating the relationship between a gay man and their fathers was always potentially going to be touchy ground (although oddly it was Nina’s tale of how her father had always been 100% supportive of her being gay…they’d just never really been close generally, that hit closest to home for me). First we had Chad and his 25 year estrangement, then Manilla talking about feeling like he’d let his dad down by being gay (and this was on top of his story of trying to commit suicide from the episode proper), then Yara’s incoherent sobbing and tale of rejection, then Nina’s story, and then finally Latrice talking about her background of spousal abuse, and drug and alcohol addiction, culminating with a defiant confession that he’d always hate his own father for failing as a man…I mean, it was eye-opening stuff, but I’m left hoping that it’s Willam accompanying the fluffy pink box again next week, rather than more wrenching drama. A recapper can only take so much, you know?