1. Aja’s chief mourner? Sasha. Because, as you may remember from Episode 1, they’re both from BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, THE CRUICBLE OF DRAG AS ART. Even though I write about this show semi-regularly I’m always a little behind the curve, so I only really go round to listening to C.L.A.T this week, a project that takes all four of this years New York queens and throws them into a generoclub blender and I’m only really linking it now because if you haven’t cringed yourself inside out at Sasha’s verse then you’re NOT DOING DRAG. Otherwise the pre-ep chatter this week was about who, as we head into the home straight, has the best (Shea, Trinity) and worst (Peppermint, Farrah) track records in the competition overall. Much play in particular was made of the fact that neither Peppermint nor Farrah have won a challenge yet, which was as sure a spoiler as you could get that one of them was about to win this week’s challenge whatever (and I MEAN whatever) and the other was about to go home. Although I’m watching Season 2 on a ruwatch currently and both Peppermint and Farrah can take comfort from the fact that Jujubee made the final despite never winning a challenge or ever coming particularly close AND she was drunk for literally every challenge. What an icon.
2. The week proper opened with a Mini Challenge, and it was time for the welcome return of the LIBRARY. Although…I say welcome, the last Library that had any reads worth remembering was way back in Season 6 and this year didn’t exactly add lots of new classics to the lexicon. Valentina won (and deservedly so) for calling someone an ugly stripper and yelling “DEODORANT!”. This is the level of wit and wisdom we’re talking about. Makes you miss the days of Jessica Wild sprinting round the room being racist about the Chinese and screeching in Spanish that she had a massive dick. Elsewhere in the challenge everyone made fun of Shea’s bad teeth, Peppermint rambled on about a couch with her usual gift for tight comic timing, Farrah topped out at calling Valentina “Miss Quinceanera” (ooh burn), all the queens bar one held back from reading Sasha (can you imagine a bigger target for a particularly juicy read in this show’s history than Miss “GENDER IS A CONSTRUCT TEAR IT APART” for god’s sake?) and at a particular nadir in the history of this particular challenge, Nina just repeated one of Latrice’s reads from Season 4. This led to a particularly juicy piece of Untucked drama, as Nina grumbled vaguely that she’d someone say she was unoriginal and then Shea absolutely nuked her from space over it. Like, all that was left was a peach pit. Merrily, beneath the dross, there was a drama seed being planted…
3. The Library Journey Of Alexis Michelle.
4. So yes, the great ruckus of the episode, if not the season so far, is that Valentina, Farrah and Nina all made jokes about how Alexis Michelle is a husky gentleman, and Alexis Michelle did not like this ONE LITTLE BIT. Which she expressed via the very mature medium of pulling a massive sulky boo boo sulk face until it was clear that nobody was going to ask why, at which point she launched into a tirade about how he felt let down by his sisters because they KNOW THE STRUGGLE HE’S HAD WITH FOOD, WHY DID NOBODY RESPECT THAT AND LEAVE THAT ALONE IN THE NO HOLDS BARRED CUSSING OUT CHALLENGE LIKE A GOOD SISTER? Most hilariously of all, he then doubled down on this and complained pissily to Ru, who promptly told him that he didn’t give a solitary shiny shit. On the one hand…yes it is a little rich that Sasha and Valentina get a whole sympathetic Vaseline lensed two episode arc about their own disordered eating whilst Alexis gets an official “DELETE IT, FAT” from the show’s Voice Of Authority, but on the other hand, Alexis had no problem mocking Shea’s dental work and it’s a flipping ROAST challenge. Like, they could have come for that weird laurel wreather hairdo you’ve got going on Alexis or…literally anything you’ve worn on the runway, you should be glad they were so limited in the scope of their barbs. Having said all that, by far my favourite part of the Alexis drama was in the reactions of the three “perpetrators”. Farrah of course stood there and whined and snivelled and sighed, Valentina
was absolutely as patronising as it’s physically possible for a human being to be and Nina
remains my other favourite.
5. Valentina’s prize for winning the Library challenge? Getting to decide the order of ceremonies for the second ever RuPaul’s Roast (which Ru called the “Second Annual RuPaul’s Roast” which…no it’s not, read a dictionary RuPaul, God. Sasha will tell you where to find one if you’re looking). Because I know what I wanted to see from these queens after that library challenge was more insult comedy. The twist this time was that instead of RuPaul, the queens would be roasting Michelle Visage. So go through your pre-prepared copy, scratch out “colostomy bag” and write “venereal disease” over the top, bish bash bosh, jobs a good’un. There was very little drama around Valentina’s choices, although Alexis did make damned sure that everyone knew that as a seasoned comic she was well aware that first on and last on are the hardest slots so SHE WANTS ONE OF THEM. Because of course she’s a comedy icon. Sometimes on purpose. That Alexis sprinted so damned hard into this challenge of course makes it even funnier that she (SPOILERS) flopped hard onto her face.
6. As if a harbinger of the disaster to come, this episode featured the first ever appearance of Ross Matthews in the workroom. To tell the queens how to be funny. Based on his experience on Chelsea Lately (I KNOW). Mostly this was in response to Farrah whining (…) about how she didn’t want to upset anybody or be meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeean with any of her roast jokes, and so Ross told her to just stick “I love you but” or “I’m your biggest fan but…” on the front of every read, because nothing says endearing hilarity like insincere passive aggression and that’s why Ginger Minj was Miss Congeniality in Season 7, I remember it well. Otherwise the workroom drama was mostly everyone sitting around fretting that coming up with jokes is hard, and Sasha worrying cerebrally that she’s just too brainy for this life and for this show. Her edge is POLITICS AND PHILOSOPHY damn it, not chlamydia jokes! I’d shake my head at Sasha for being so patronising, but she had to take Nina step by step through the idea of “mutton dressed as lamb” a few seconds later and Nina still didn’t get it. Oh and Peppermint was worried because she’s never roasted anyone before. FAKE DRAMA, SETTING UP HER WIN, PHONY MSM.
7. The Serious Issues Drama Of The Week came as Peppermint recounted a story to the workroom about how only three months ago she’d been detained at a Russian airport because she still had “male” listed on her passport whilst dressing “as female”. Fortunately, Brainy Queen Sasha was on hand to (loudly) explain to her why that had happened (because it’s ILLEGAL in Russia, apparently, I’m sure that passed Peppermint by because the attitude of Russia towards LGBT people is woefully under-reported, and it’s not as though Peppermint was talking about how she’d lived it or anything) and tell her that it was a real tragedy, and Peppermint was on hand to
stare at her like she wanted to stab her in the neck. Or maybe I’m projecting.
8. Anyway, enough beating around the bush, the roast blowed. Given that the first iteration was easily the best episode of Season 5 (although that whole post Snatch Game run is gold) this was *dry*. Compared to the viciousness, creativity, and sheer JUICE of the reads in Series 5 there was just a lot of hackwork. Consider that even in the top three (THE TOP THREE) we had a “…said no-one ever” and a “…but they couldn’t be here so instead we’re having to make do with (x)” and you can see how weak it was. Shea and Peppermint were grimly professional but they would have been lucky to have even merited a safe in the carnival of bitchy delights that was the first roast. Peppermint brought home the win, and believe me the show was doing the most to justify it, splicing in shots of audience hysterics every time she breathed.
For my money the best of the Top 3 was actually Sasha, based on a cutting introductory read of Valentina (“a queen that combines all the excitement of smiling with the thrill of just standing there”) and the fact that she brought a lot of energy and her own personality to the performance (lol especially at this one woman in the audience pulling a confused face at the word “edifying”).
Elsewhere the queens took a leaf (probably misguidedly) from Coco’s book, doing outlandish comedy characters rather than actually having many traditional jokes. Personally I would have put Nina’s Church Lady in the top for her absolutely vicious slice at special guest judge Fortune Feimster (?) alone (“………what’s your name baby?”) and compounded the placement for the fact she
drew her own glasses on, and Valentina’s bizarre delivery and stupid faces
were charming as hell, but I figure I’m always going to appreciate anything that Nina and Valentina do, and even there the material was incredibly patchy. Trinity’s country character was sadly, after previous decent attempts at humour, terrible, but the real horror shows came with the bottom 2. Alexis had one decent idea (Michelle hates green) and turned it into this
flat-lining Jewish Mother She-Hulk monstrosity (WHAT ARE THOSE TITS ALEXIS, WHAT ARE THEY, IT LOOKS LIKE YOU GOT A GIANT SHREK FACE TATTOOED ON YOUR TORSO AT THE CARNIVAL?) and Farrah…well Farrah somehow accidentally reached the level of hysterical anti-comedy, ignoring completely Ross’ “advice” to be nice, and instead choosing just to be incredibly rude about everyone present without any actual punchlines. By the time we got to her snapping “now that Michelle’s dickbreath has stunk up this entire stage” after telling her she was a talentless one hit wonder with no right to judge this competition I was in hysterics, but not in any sort of way you’d be able to reward in a contest based on talent sadly. Exhaling “hmmmmmmmm” like a deflating pool toy after every line might be bizarrely funny, but it’s not America’s Next Top Drag Superstar brand funny.
9. If her performance in the challenge had her teetering on the edge of the Bottom 2, then bodying a guest judge probably tipped Alexis over. Tamar Braxton didn’t seem entirely comfortable being criticised all episode, so I can imagine Alexis calling her out for not understanding why Alexis had painted herself green by yelling “DO YOU EVEN WATCH THE SHOW?” at her landed so hard that incredibly choppy editing was the only way to remove the ensuing rage fit. Fortunately Alexis had a secret weapon to save her in the lip sync
a… tiny hat hidden in her garter. Makes sense. Farrah might have captured Dolly’s sweetness better, and she might have not had to resort to gimmicky running splits and pinwheeling arms like Alexis did, but come on…TINY HAT. Also there was the small matter that Farrah has made it eight episodes in without the judges ever praising her for anything, which could be taken as a sign that she was, well, fodder. Even compared to Alexis.
10. This Week’s Best Untucked Moment :