Eleven Thoughts About RuPaul’s Drag Race: Season Ten, Episode Four

This week was a brief dip in energy. Not a dip in goodness, no, but a dip in energy.

Thus is what happens when you go back to the drawing board: design challenges only bring so much umph. Then again, do we always need to be at a fifteen? Some weeks can stand to be at an innocent ten like this week. The sad thing about this is that this cast, in some ways, isn’t equipped for design since most of what came out of the two hours of making was “Eh.” at best.

Enough of this though! Let’s unpack, in closer detail.

Spoilers, obviously. Proceed with caution.

11. And What, Monique?
The episode started, again, with Monique trying to pump herself up, that she should have won or something. Monique. You are not Asia. You are not Aquaria. You are not Mayhem. You are not Cracker. “Really, girl?” as Mayhem said. Clearly, Monique is the delusional queen of the season because she has yet to deliver much of anything. Stay tuned, I guess, because this was the first example of true fake bullshit since the end note of Monique versus Mayhem was such an extreme nothingburger that it wasn’t even a burger: it was just nothing.

10. So Many Mini-Challenge Winners!
This was a fun, backhanded modeling challenge that didn’t advertise anything on Ru’s behalf! The girls donned quick drag to photobomb photos, a chance for them to bring the giggles and the personality. And? Most of them did super, super well! Asia and Monique and Dusty and Blair all did so great. Even Cracker’s cracker off was cute! I very much appreciated this and very much love that the show is giving time for mini-challenges so we actually can see the queens do more than “assignments.”

9. …But Aquaria??
This didn’t seem warranted. Like judging last season – or on All Stars – I’d invite Ru to explain more why people win a mini-challenge. Aquaria’s wasn’t that great and this isn’t the first mini-challenge win this season that didn’t seem forced. Thus, a little explanation would be nice. It could be a single sentence! But I would appreciate some insight into why Aquaria’s seemingly staged, seemingly coaxed picking up of shit got her a win over so many other more fun and funny entries into the competition.


8. The Return Of Shawn (And Vanjie, Who Will Not Die)
I know he’s “old” and “hairy” and “alternative” but I long for the days of the Pit Crew being not muscle twinks or twunks or whatever. They’re all the same now! So fucking boring. Thus, it was nice to see Shawn Morales make a cameo. Wish he was topless, sure, but it was a sweet callback in a callback season. Also funny? Vanjie’s ghost still lurking around the workroom. I’m impressed at this point that she had such a hold before the queens knew she would be a viral sensation.

7. A Very Special Climate Change Episode
Did I fucking dream that a fucking episode of my favorite fucking show would dedicate an entire fucking episode to climate change and to conquering fucking climate change deniers? Did I fucking will this into existence? I cannot believe this happened, still, and I am so grateful. I feel so seen. Climate change is a gay rights issue! The planet is queer!

6. Yet, The Irony Of Waste For Waists.
I’ve been mulling over a big investigation of the wastefulness of Hollywood for years (Since I started “in the biz,” a decade ago.) and this episode ironically highlighted this problem: how much fucking waste did these queens create in attempting to craft garments? Will these garments ever be worn again? Monet’s use of fabric – or at least Asia’s keen analysis of said use of fabric – emphasized the waste that was happening on screen. I was surprised no one called that out or that the parameters of the challenge were to use recycled materials or something similar. Nope: waste this shit for an hour of television. Producers producing trash: typical.

5. Spider? Meet Donkey Kick.
The “donkey” kick moment with Eureka? This week’s spider-on-the-dress. Thank you for this lightness, editors/producers/whoever. (And for Cracker’s somewhat staged interrogation of Aquaria which yielded the great “Sugar daddies: apply here!” bit. Also: Monet’s misunderstanding of English accents and Monique’s goofy laugh.)

4. Too Many Outfits, Too Little Memories
The problem with such a big cast with so many outfits in an episode with so few looks queens is that we end up with runways that are too much to handle with too little to remember. That was the feeling here: a lot going on with too little to actually care about. Aquaria was cool, sure, but Miz Cracker? Fine. Kameron Michaels? Are you kidding me. There were some moments of excellence – Eureka’s martian look, the Vixen’s clear bikini, Asia’s cold weather outfit, Mayhem’s space look – but most looks fell flat. The real winner this episode was RuPaul who continued to up her game, to show that she really can be quite fashionable. The fact that she didn’t remove her mask this episode spoke volumes. (And, sadly, the bib popping out of her choker at points was a downer…but still conceptually fabulous! She beat her queens at the game.)

3. *Hearts* Asia *Hearts*
Did Asia deserve to be on the bottom? Unsure. Did Asia deserve the support from her fellow queens for helping out and being all around fantastic? Yes. Asia is such a gem and this was her Mayhem Miller “Wake up!” moment. Not as pronounced or as devastating, no, but it was a moment for her to recalibrate her approach to the competition so that she can continue to divide and conquer, in her way. The bottom otherwise was completely warranted because Dusty was so bad and Monet was a thorough misstep.


2. Dusty On The Bottom
Dusty. Poor Dusty! Like the last three queens, she was underbaked. Is this the theme of the season? Unsure. But Dusty just was all one note and that note didn’t play well across four episodes. Her dismissal cuts the New York queens in half and seemingly takes them out of the running since Aquaria won’t be winning and Monet is on that struggle bubble, about to pop. Dusty did bring a uniqueness to the competition but it’s something we’ve seen before and before and before and she didn’t do it better than we had seen. Bye! (But I did like the lipsync. Monet was so great and Dusty was fine but, as Ru noted, that is what all lipsyncs should be – mostly because of Monet.)

1. We Gotta Talk About The Show & The Vixen.
A few things. Vixen is the season’s real trade and I feel like not enough people are talking about that. Second, the racial undertones of the show and cast are coming to a head which is so fantastic. Why? Because The Vixen is confronting the show and the fandom, forcing their feet to the fire to see how racist they are by constructing narratives against black queens. It’s quite great. Plus! Her hosting Black Girl Magic speaks volumes: she won’t be silent on this issue. She is so unapologetic and, hopefully, this brings her to the top. She has yet to shine in a way that Asia or Miz Cracker or Mayhem or Blair have yet to shine but she has it in her. She will get there. Something major is happening with her, whether the show knows it or not. I’m very eagerly awaiting to see what happens to her on the show because she is rewriting many narratives. About fucking time.

For the first time, I don’t really remember what’s happening next week. I did clock quick drag which is another good sign but I do not recall anything else outside of that.

Now. To the ranking, which I have waffled on quite a bit, eventually agreeing to some shakeups as we reach the bottleneck of mediocrity and mid-season slumping.

14. Vanessa Vanjie Mateo
13. Kalorie Karbdashian Williams
12. Yuhua Hamasaki
11. Dusty Ray Bottoms (Down one – and out. We knew she was going soon and, well, it happened. Bye!)
10. Kameron Micheals (Up one, as a formality. I “get” what people are seeing in her and I am here to say that what they are seeing is a bunch of bullshit. She gotta go. She has yet to do anything substantial and is skating by on out-of-drag pretty, which they aren’t even exploiting.)
9. Monique Heart (Maintained. She is worth keeping for her laugh alone.)
8. Eureka O’Hara (Maintained. She could go further, sure, but she ain’t winning.)
7. Monet X Change (Down two. Quite a fall from grace. She will likely climb back up but her current output sees her at the halfway point.)
6. Aquaria (Up one. Same here but bumped up one because Monet’s looks have been so bad.)
5. The Vixen (Up one. She’s climbing! She has yet to have any major moments outside of her win but that clear bikini did it for me. Keep raising that volume, Vix!)
4. Mayhem Miller (Down Three. Another fall from grace! She is idling for whatever reason. I want Mayhem to win so badly but she is not delivering, at the moment.)
3. Blair St. Clair (Maintained. I originally had her higher but knocked her back where she was because she didn’t shine as brightly as she could have this week. Particularly: the fur coat with no reveal. Blair. You know better!)
2. Asia O’Hara (Up one. Yes, she was on the bottom, sure, and she might not last forever but there was a lot of airtime this week dedicated to what a peach Asia is, particularly following her major win last week. She is good queen content and I’m hoping she can continue to evolve upwardly.)
1. Miz Cracker (Up one. Cracker is on a bubble for me. She is so great, yes, and this week’s showing was good, sure, but I’m losing my love for her as other, less expected queens shine. Still, like Mayhem, I know she is top three material barring some massive fuck up. Perhaps I’m just jaded but we all know how this game works: you gotta be the total package and Cracker clearly is that, just like Mayhem.)

Thoughts? I’m done writing about this show today and am slightly fatigued from not getting a break between seasons but whatever. My tiny cross to bear.

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