Fourteen Thoughts About RuPaul’s Drag Race: Season Ten, Episode One

Can you believe the luck we’ve had with Drag Race this year? We are soaking in a wealth of content!

First things first: this season should be great. It’s already started at an eleven and, instead of shitty twists and turns, the season has firmly aligned itself as a throwback, a journey through drag time to appeal to old and new fans alike. We shall all benefit from this, particularly after having our hearts broken by the All Stars 3 finale (and season nine before that).

Let’s get into it! Here are fourteen thoughts on the season premiere, in honor of the fourteen queens who participated in the episode.

Spoilers, obviously. Proceed with caution.

14. The Pussies Have Been Stepped Up
It was impossible to overlook how, unilaterally, everything was upgraded. The work room is all fancy and big, the sets look much nicer, RuPaul looked the best she’s ever looked, and the cast is just *chef’s kiss*: we are swimming in a sea of good shit. We have all be asking the show to step its pussy up and here we are, with everything stepped up. Well done. (Save for the really shitty, laughable “X” opening shot that looked like an iPhone X commercial made by an eight year old.)

13. The Stress Of The Entrance
As the show has aged, certain things have become staples like the entrance look and “tagline.” This, I’ve realized, is the most stressful part of the show since you have to be funny and memorable and fashionable and cool – all in a handful of words. It stresses me out! No one massively bombed save for The Vixen which wasn’t technically a bomb but a bit of “…uhh, coming on a little too strong there, Battle Axe.” There was a lot of great chatter around the table, from Yuhua and Miz Cracker poking fun at “Hamasaki” to everyone fawning over Mayhem to Eureka poking everyone in the face with her feathers.

12. Storyline Alert: Aquaria VS. Cracker
Another note from the entrances was a storyline emerged immediately: Aquaria versus Cracker, an ongoing saga of the queens imitating each other which is both a real thing and not. Yes, they look the same but, no, they don’t actually hate each other. What was strange about this was that this episode kept offering viewers storylines by fisting them into our asses. This was the first example of this, which you can tell is being whispered to the cast as evidenced by the Untucked tiff where queens were claiming Miz Cracker has made a career copycat of Aquaria. That simply isn’t true, as Monet X. Change asserted.

11. Storyline Alert: Kameron’s Hot Bod
Duh: we are going to hear about Kameron’s hot bod all fucking season. It is a hot bod! His face? A horse. But his body? Ay carumba. Also, Kameron’s aesthetic is decidedly porn-y in a bad way and I’m hoping that the inevitable kiki will happen. How has there not been an in-season hookup between queens yet? I get that they are “all working” but a cast of fourteen gays and no heavy flirting or kissing or anything in a decade of shows? Come on, fam. You gotta get gayer than this. Someone has to try to see if Kameron can catch their dick.

10. They Are All All Stars Now
The cast, by and large, is extremely talented. Last season, you could point out the duds. This season? There is a big blur, from the “Wow, you are good.” to the “OK, top four.” people. This all supports a theory that I’ve had for the past few seasons: queens entering the show are so polished that they are practically all stars before entering, crafting themselves to excel on the show before getting on. This is why someone who is budding like a Jaymes Mansfield did so poorly last season because the way the show works now: you are required to come pre-baked, with a brand clearly decided, instead of using the show to “find your voice.” This was particularly pronounced with the runway challenge, when the queens were placed against queens from the past nine seasons to see if they could sink or swim. Most swam quite well.

9. Return To Form
To that runway challenge, this episode was marked by being a return to form. The runway challenge is a first episode hallmark, typically manifesting as a photo shoot to kick the season off or a runway mini-challenge for queens to strut their looks. The season similar started with a “Not fucking around!” tone since the main challenge was a design challenge. Good god: this was such a breath of fresh air. The visual and design talents the show has championed has long been absent and going back to basics here paid off. It wasn’t high-drama, no, but we got to see the queens work and be creative. More of this! Embrace the origin of the show, producers!

8. Storyline Alert: Eureka’s Knee
Of course, of course, of course: Eureka and her damn knee. Will it be the death of her? Probably not but this was decidedly clocked as something we will be hearing a lot about, particularly as it relates to Eureka’s self-conscious and growth since season nine.

7. Not Cheap
The runway was quite good! No one bombed as majorly as they could have and the decidedly bad – The Vixen’s shitty pool noodle salad, Kameron Michaels’ floral astroturf weeds – really weren’t that bad. The truly awful was singular in Kalorie Karbdashian’s bad money dress which, as the judges pointed out, was a bad interpretation of a dress they have seen a thousand times. Otherwise, everyone else was so great: Aquaria’s Bo Peep realness was beyond dollar store couture; Monique Heart won the challenge despite getting no props for creating a fucking wig; Monet’s bam-bam was a lot of fun; Asia O’Hara was entirely forgettable this episode but her look was a delightfully colorful trash heap; Yuhua had a nice spin on a stereotypical look, something Kalorie could have learned from; Miz Cracker surprised by pushing against type already; Mayhem showed us why she is the respected Mayhem; Dusty Ray Bottoms wasn’t on top but seemed to be; Vanjie was a cutesy floof; and Blair St. Clair somehow did the unthinkable, by almost winning despite being everyone’s assumed first-to-go. That’s the joy of a design challenge: the queens who you’d think would go don’t. That’s how poor, poor Vanjie got the boot. That’s what keeps the show exciting by having us on constant edge.

6. Farrah Aguilera
Um. I didn’t realize they look exactly the same until this moment. There was a cute moment where Christina and Farrah met but it was slightly strange because Farrah wasn’t in the runway challenge alumni something. Interesting. Why was she there but disallowed from participating?

5. They’re All Not Bottoms
The queens selected for tops and bottoms were all not-that-bad. Outside of Kalorie’s kritique, everyone else seemed to get some sort of praise. Take Dusty Ray: he was “on the bottom” but got mostly praised, save for Michelle. And four people on the top? That was slightly unprecedented.

4. Storyline Alert: Mayhem’s Master Class
Mayhem deserved her win and another storyline was revealed: Mayhem being the drag master that she is. This season is her’s to lose which was built to be an in-episode drama for her to win the challenge but will be milked the entire season. It’s her against herself, as we’ll hear. She’s the Bianca Del Rio of season 10.

3. Can Kalorie Twerk?
The lipsync was mostly boring save for Kalorie’s money toss and split. Otherwise, Miss Vanjie sadly offed herself by letting her netting put her in literal poor footing. Kalorie was slightly better but her repeated “twerking” was weird because…it wasn’t actually twerking, was it? She instead looked like the naked chicken that dances in Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” music video: nude, uncooked cutlets sagging off bones instead of shaking, jiggling, bouncing hams you are very eager to eat. This was very disappointing since Kalorie branded herself as a lot of ass. We have yet to see that ass bear fruit.

2. Gone Too Soon. Yet Again
Poor, poor Miss Vanjie. How sad was her departure? It was kind of heartbreaking and a shock, as we saw in Untucked: she did not see that coming. I don’t think anyone expected her to go home first, did they? Regardless, it happened and the House Of Mateo’s second run ended before it began. I did get some Jaymes Mansfield vibes in that Vanjie’s elimination was more painful than usual, some salt-in-the-wound because Vanjie was very entertaining and funny and fun. Will we get to see that? Nope. Poor, poor Miss Vanjie. In another life! Perhaps in an All Stars 3 where all the first eliminated queens vie for the chance to compete again? I’d love that.

1. The Fire & Fury Of Untucked, 2.0
I’m so fucking furious that you have to pay to watch Untucked now. I predicted that VH1 would rob us and this prediction held true. I’m so mad. However, you can stream Untucked on VH1.com so there is a little reach around to solve this problem. The mini-series stands to be as dramatic as usual and this incarnation didn’t reveal much other than the queens’ love of screaming and cravings for drama.

Next episode looks fun! Also: when the guest judges appeared, Bobby yelled, “Eleven!! She looks great!” Sadly, it is not the teen from Stranger Things but slightly annoying pop star, Halsey.

Now that we’ve seen the queens in action, here is the first official power ranking. We’ll compare this at the finale to see how we fare. By and large: it’s hard to rank them since half the cast is solidly “good” but not amazing. Also: this cast is fucking huge.

14. Vanessa Vanjie Mateo (Gone too soon! Next time, Miss Vanjie.)
13. Kalorie Karbdashian Williams (Give me a real twerk or give her death.)
12. Kameron Micheals (A hunk, yes, but so bland. Untucked revealed him to be a fly on the wall. You don’t want to be a fly on the wall as a drag queen. Just ask The Princess, a previous hot-but-boring queen who skated by on hot until she sunk, three episodes in.)
11. The Vixen (She is going to be the Phi Phi of this season. Unsure if she will be much more since her showing on the runway was very extremely Serena Cha Cha.)
10. Asia O’Hara (Asia is good! Sadly, Asia is not that memorable or bad. She is one who is lumped safely in the middle.)
9. Dusty Ray Bottoms (Same, dot face. Show me your worth!)
8. Eureka O’Hara (Memorable and the same old sweetheart but she ain’t going that far. Also: last season, she was marketed as the bitch. This season? Not so.)
7. Blair St. Clair (This is the real wild card! Is this boy scout actually a talent or was this episode a fluke? I’m banking on her being a sneaking success. I could see her going either way, underdogging or dying off. Stay tuned.)
6. Aquaria (She isn’t going to be the bitch, surprisingly, and her storyline with Cracker is going to be solved real fast. She will turn out devastating looks but she will likely fail at lots, falling into that “Is she more than Insta-famous?” as Aja did last season. This is probably a generous ranking but I always fall for the art queens although, really, there isn’t a true incarnation of that this season. Dusty is a bad version of that and Aquaria is more fashion than art. Still, I stand by giving Aquaria this high mark.)
5. Monique Heart (Another wild card! I loved her look and she seems to be sitting atop a pile of talent that we’re going to see peppered throughout the season. She’s the real underdog. She should have been the challenge winner for this episode too!)
4. Monet X Change (It’s easy to put Monet at the top but her issue is exactly what we’re all thinking: she’s Bob The Drag Queen. They look alike, talk alike, and know they are alike. Can she be different enough? TBD but there are three queens ahead of her who have a better chance.)
3. Yuhua Hamasaki (I love, love, love Yuhua! What a fashionable goofball! I want her to win so badly but I think she’s going to have a dumb falter like being bad at lipsynching or something that will kill her chances. Also: how weird, awkward, “Oy.” was her “You all look the same!” moment with the black queens? Yes, Asia and Monique look quite similar but it was very awkward.)
2. Miz Cracker (She proved she is an all star this episode. She already is playing against type and is so sharp when it comes to handling the judges. Eyes on her!)
1. Mayhem Miller (Like Bianca, like Alaska, like Raja, this is her season to lose. They’re building her up to be the “I’ve always applied and never got on!” queen paired with the “She’s a drag veteran!” storyline which always adds up to top three. She should take the title unless she stumbles over herself. A queen like her is her own worst enemy: take the Raja route and fly.)

What a first episode. Thoughts?

I have very high hopes given how quickly last season went down hill. This episode felt like the producers recognized their faults and are trying, trying, trying to reconcile. Let us pray that they succeed, turning this into the spiritual successor of season four that we’ve all been waiting for.

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