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Thirteen Thoughts On RuPaul’s Drag Race: Season Nine, Episode Two

Although we’re only two episodes in, something about this season of Drag Race already feels tiring. Perhaps it feels like it never started? Perhaps there is too much going on? Perhaps this is an example of fandom colliding with critique? Who knows.

This was quite the episode though as it relates to our getting to understand so many people much better. The biggest surprises were also what everyone already knew, an interesting twist in the expected.

Let’s digest, shall we? Here are thirteen thoughts based on the thirteen queens still competing.

13. Cancer Queens
While I said it would be Serena Cha Cha, we all knew it was going to be Cynthia coming back. Like, come on: she had cancer during the season she was in, won Miss Congeniality, and thusly was brought back to redeem herself. No surprise. While she is just a little sweet slice of cute, I do have to say: I wonder if her being on this show again is going to tarnish her brand. Will we get sick of her? I, personally, don’t think she has very much depth beyond what we already saw last season but I’m curious and eager to be impressed: we’ll see. Beyond this, lines like “Hallelujah! My cucu and my pussy is burning!” are why we love her. Moreover, the conversations around her cancer fight with Trinity along with bald Sasha—who dons baldness in homage to her mother who died of cancer—reveals both how sweet the queens are this season and that cancer unites us all (or something).

12. A Little Lisa
Wasn’t it kind of criminal that Lisa Kudrow’s appearance was a brief blip of a cameo? What a shame. She was the one celebrity I was excited to see on the show this season! However, it did do one thing: make you pray that The Comeback comes back. This was like a lost entry into the Valerie Cherish canon!

11. Jaymes The Underdog
As noted last week, I feel for Jaymes. Not because he doesn’t have any big boy pants of his own to wear on this show but because it is so obvious that this lil bb is so in need of a hug. I wish he could survive longer to show the online haters and in-show haters who is boss but, alas, everyone saw the writing on the wall. Even his team wanted him to avoid the inevitable collision between his body and the train of elimination. Alas. We were all unsuccessful.

10. They Can’t All Win
Perhaps this is editing, perhaps it is truth, but this is the first season where the majority of queens feel truly sweet and genuine. They all seem so nice! There is no Phi Phi in the bunch save for maybe the overly prissed puss that is Kimora. Other than that? So many adorable people: from Charlie’s old and concerned schtick to Peppermint’s constant sweetness, Eureka’s willingness to put her heart out there to Valentina’s almost obsessive cuteness, all these queens are bringing their A-games—and their likability.

9. Cheers, Leader
This cheerleading challenge was actually super, super fun because it paired both a physical, personality based challenge without the trappings of being “all about acting.” While that was suggested with the kind Jaymes VS. Alexis beef, that’s not what came to be: it was a lot of cooperative tumbling and very wide smiles amidst Eureka and Charlie’s popped knees. Well done, show, for editing around unnecessary drama. Then again…

8. Too Many Queens
There were fourteen queens total this season. Fourteen. This has happened a few times: the exciting Season 5, the less exciting Season 6, and the frankly exhausting Season 7. Last season’s minimized twelve queens was welcome given the bloat yet, alas, here we are again, where the show is balancing an underwhelming, over-stated element of balancing fourteen personalities who they have to chop down while spread too thin. Edit, you guys. Edit. And what does this mean given Drag Con is at the end of April? Are they going to eliminate half the cast in one episode? Are they going to revert to the old win instead of the stupid live crowning/reunion hybrid?

7. Dom, The Cheerleader Top
Before I forget: how about that Dom the cheerleader top? I’m a little disappointed that there wasn’t any sexual tension between the queens and him. Then again, it was only episode two and the girls are probably not sexually deprived just yet. Still: show me that lil cheerleader daddy, please.

6. White Party Foul
This runway challenge was, um, underwhelming? It seemed both unrelated to the cheer challenge while simultaneously so low stakes. Wah wah. Anyway, there were some good looks: Shea and Valentina were so fabulously fun while it was nice to see some queens pre-emptively take notes, like Nina wearing less makeup and Sasha donning a wig; Charlie is Cher; and I didn’t hate Jaymes’ look and, yes, her padding was on point.

5. Ross! Ross! Ross!
Ross is the best judge on the show. Aside from Michelle (Who does not count.), Ross is just a peach and adorable and funny and genuine. No one can rival him. I love him so much.

4. The B-5zzzzzzzzzzzzzs
How drunk or old or med’d out were the B-52s? They were so underwhelming for such an iconic trio! Also, Cindy Wilson was certainly channeling some Tree Trunks with her presence.

3. Valentina The Queena
Two weeks in and Valentina is the one to beat. Of course she got picked last for the challenge because her polish paired with only ten months of drag makes her a veritable threat. Unlike Pearl’s inexperience, Valentina is the child prodigy of drag! I’m here for it. Her look and performance were so sharp and her kooky Virgen De Guadalupe loving was appropriately off. I cannot forsee her fading under the pressure of the show because, like Amber Adkins, she will use all the drama to shine brighter.

2. Kimora? More Like Kilessa.
Kimora is literally the opposite of Valentina. She’s underprepared, very unlikable, and completely without taste. Seeing her on two episodes is already too much. Her looks are not devastating, her non-nip/tucked face is wearing on me, and she just has such poor judgement. As my father would say, she is ugly “both inside and out.” She’s not even a good villain: she just exists in a void that I’m not sure there’s an audience for. Vegas queens are underwhelming, I guess.

1. Jaymes & The Giant Reality Show Competition
Jaymes. My lil bb! While I think Kimora did a more boring lip sync, Jaymes served a little more. Yet, it was clear that Kimora had another episode in her while Jaymes was basically a book already checked out of the library. She was cute and fun and I believe Ru when she says that her audition tape was very good. This does represent the folly of the YouTube-to-television queens and how television (and movie) producers need to realize online talent do not make for real entertainment talent: they don’t know how to interact with other people. It’s a great metaphor for Internet stars and their lack of charisma when removed from a web camera. I’m actually going to miss Jaymes and, unlike Cynthia, he has a fuck ton of room to grow and is ripe for redeeming himself. I want him back for Season 10. We didn’t even get a chance to know his real name. (James?)

While I did not get to watch Untucked (I’m in Milan for work/pleasure and the episode is blocked ¯\_(ツ)_/¯), I know a lot was revealed about Jaymes. I’m sad I can’t include what information was gleaned. Please @ that @ me.

Anyway, here’s the adjusted power ranking.

14. Jaymes Mansfield (Maintained—and out. Sadly her fate came to pass exactly as expected.)
13. Kimora Blac (Down one. Get the F out, B. Over you.)
12. Farrah Moan (Down two. You know what? I don’t even think I remember seeing her this episode. Moreover, Kimora’s showing illustrates how bad Vegas queens are. Between Moan, Blac, and Berry last season, they leave a lot to be desired.)
11. Aja (Down five. Ditto from Moan. I don’t even remember seeing her? Do I care?)
10. – 8. Charlie Hide & Alexis Michelle & Peppermint (Collectively up one. While I think these queens are all great, they’re just a cheery chorus of smiles that might not go far. I still maintain this. They’re the fat in this bloated cast. They’ll be the barometer for how bad someone does: if you come in below them, you in trouble. Come in above? You’re doing OK.)
7. Cynthia Lee Fontaine (Up six. Cynthia is just sweet as can be but she isn’t a contender. She wasn’t last season and she isn’t this season. She won’t make it above the halfway fold.)
6. Trinity Taylor (Up two. I’ve been very surprised with miss Trinity! I thought she was so ready to get kicked off on the first episode but, alas, here we are, fake ass and everything.)
5. Eureka (Maintained. Same with this one. I want to love her more but I know she’s going to be the beloved fat bitch we all love/hate.)
3. & 4. Shea Couleé & Sasha Velour (Collectively down one. These two put on a great showing and will hover around here until further notice.)
2. Nina Bo’Nina Brown (Down one. Miss Nina rightly hung out this episode. She didn’t do poorly, she didn’t do amazingly, and is still riding off the wave of last week’s win. Chill there, Nina, and you’ll go far.)
1. Valentina (Up three. I love her. She is a star.)

What did you think? What from Untucked am I not accounting for?

Photo via.

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