I’m going to come out and say that this season of Drag Race is the best in a very long time, a return to form that focuses on the content of the show instead of the world outside of the work room.
We are all winners, as a result. Three episodes in, we have a clear idea of what’s at stake, who the power players are (for the most part), and how the rest of the season will take shape. How? Because of how the episodes have been crafted, how stories are being produced and what subjects are being deemed as important to include versus what is not (and how said subjects are delivered to us). This episode confirmed a lot of this, which is what we need to discuss.
Let’s get into it and I will try to keep my giddiness to a minimum, to critique and analyze without too much peppy bias.
Spoilers, obviously. Proceed with caution.
I didn’t watch Untucked this week or last week because it is no longer free and I hope VH1 can hear my screams, my gnashing teeth at their capitalist cloak. Anyway, the episode I assume started off with carrying on a storyline from said post-show, in which people came for Vixen for borrowing someone else (Monique’s?) wig and therefore docking her win. Sure. Whatever. That borrowing shit is a tired storyline that is seen every season and, as we know, is just something that sisters do. Non-issue. Shut up, Aquaria. My issue? Her fucking edges were so bad. Did no one tell her that she had cascades of baby hair making a halo of black hair under her red headed locks? They should have. The wig situation was busted in a very Alexis Michelle “See Something, Say Something” sort of way, reminding that sometimes queens are and are not supposed to be your mirror.
11. A Porn Star Is Born
Another quick drag mini-challenge! I love it. Yes, another commercial (This week for chocolate bars, last week for a new song.) but the presentation of it was so much fun. The queens who got what was going on (Blair, Monique, even Yuhua), soared while the others (Aquaria, Miz Cracker) seemed to dance around the 1970s porn audition subtext happening. It was a subtle joke around Harvey Weinstein while incorporating the aesthetic of “gay for pay” that all paired with pumping up a chocolate bar was a super success. It was fun and ridiculous and so very, unabashedly gay. That is what we need on television. Not televangelizing about being bullied in high school. (Ahem, Sasha.)
10. The Drama Of Team Work
The challenge gave us three captains – Blair, Monique, Monet – who picked pretty stellar teams all around despite the lopsided assignments, i.e. Team Butterface was clearly the best app. Accordingly, drama unfolded about who was doing what and how the commercials would play out. It was pretty standard fare until we had things like Yuhua not rising to the ugly occasion and Mayhem being supremely wishy washy for no reason (because it’s too early for her to be “tired” but around the right time to play it safe, in the middle, before busting balls to the top). All this is to say: there was some good setting up of who would sink and who would swim.
9. Film Divas
The filming was cute and fun, for the most part, while a few people were total disasters (Kameron, Yuhua, accidentally Mayhem). What was best about this – outside of Asia’s iconic sour O-face – was how much fun everyone was having in addition to Asaf Goren, the new Pit Crew member that everyone is talking about, who is probably most likely a reality show fame whore circa 2008 living in 2018 but good god his dick. The Pit Crew, in my opinion, has gone down hill, neither being hot nor cool but the addition and usage of Asaf in these commercials really got me excited, so to speak. More of him, more of this bawdy fun, please.
8. The Battle Of The Mononyms (Or The Aquaria Has No Clothes)
Post-filming came the rehashing of Aquaria versus Vixen where we saw a storyline that I vaguely heard of being discussed on the Untucked that I did not watch: Aquaria cannot take what she dishes out, often resorting to the attacked white woman trope instead of being an adult. She tries to be shady and is just dumb, leaving her ass out for someone like Vixen to brutally beat because Vixen can – and does – beat asses. Case in point was Aquaria running away, off set, to cry to whoever the cast wrangling mommy is. It was almost impressive how much of a baby she was! Vixen, as we’re seeing, is a competent threat and is scaring people, as she should. I don’t quite know how the show can reshape her narrative from being “angry black woman” but fuck Aquaria for enabling said dynamic.
7. Curse Of The Spider Women
How great was this mini-moment of the spider on a dress? This was so dumb, so left-field, so unnecessary of an inclusion that it worked. Why? Because it showed that this season is indeed a throwback to earlier iterations of itself but also the root of reality shows, where things happen and cameras are there to observe. This, to me, was big proof that the producers are letting the queens be queens instead of constantly whispering in ears. In other seasons, this moment would have been left in the edit bay. This season? We’re getting all the good stuff, all the stuff that makes great television, with no PSA agenda.
6. Poor, Poor Dusty
Speaking of PSA agendas, the Dusty moment about her family? Devastating. Again, this is how you handle problems like queer acceptance and “coming out”: naturally and with grace. No one asked, “Dusty, tell me about your coming out story.” at the poking of a producer. It just naturally came out. Perhaps someone had poked prior but it was the sort of moment that felt so seamless that we, as the audience, couldn’t help but get all sorts of emotional for her. More of this, please! Or, you know, keep on keeping on. I’m impressed.
5. Feathers In Your Mouth
Sadly, Dusty’s sob story couldn’t save her from her fucking ugly ass feather dress in a fucking dumb runway. I’m exaggerating, sure, but everyone looked bad. Save for Vixen and Asia, everyone else was pretty fucking paltry, barely even suggesting a wigless unplucking by how good they looked. Feathers are difficult and, surprisingly, there was an utter lack of diversity and creativity in the types of feathers included as noted in this week’s Fashion Photo Ru-View. What we got, for the most part, were things that looked better in theory than in execution.
4. Commercial Vision
The commercials weren’t all terrible! Save for Monique’s team. Asia and Blair (and Eureka!) really stole the show, showing off that they’re absolutely threats in this game. Those who sank – Kameron, Yuhua, Mayhem – really did sink, illustrating not necessarily who is bad at an acting challenge but who wasn’t entirely memorable or capable of crafting a character and concept. Good challenge, pretty good results, and a very, very pill popped Courtney Love.
3. To: Asia & Blair. I Love You.
I didn’t expect Asia or Blair to be as good as they are but they are so good. Their spunkiness and charm in and out of challenges are bewitching me and, good god, Asia’s runway outfit may be one of the top ten best of the entire series. It was just so well thought out, well executed, and was the sort of costume that reminds you of the old school and new school fashion powers of drag queens. It was fun, it was ridiculous, it was perfect. Asia deserved every bit of praise for her Tweety face and ugly face while Blair fittingly was the runner up – again.
2. Yuhua Will Maybe Not Be Forgotten?
I feel like a moron for not seeing Yuhua’s fall last week as writing on the wall that she simply wasn’t baked enough to be in the game. That’s one thing I give this season credit for is shaking everything up in terms of expectations. I had Yuhua in my top three! Then she disappeared. Her lipsync was pretty terrible (Air guitars? Ew.) while Mayhem did a now-iconic plucking herself to nothing to kick Yuhua’s ass. I’m curious if we will see more of Yuhua because I still maintain that she is incredible. Ready to be on Drag Race? Unsure. She has some big potential for All Stars but first three out rarely get remembered as they should.
1. The Real Winners? The Story Producer.
I kept saying this while watching this episode but the real winner of this season are the producers. Whoever was story producing on set, picking out which storylines and people to focus on, really is setting a tone for this season that is working so well. It’s fun, it’s tender, and as gay as this shit naturally is. I also don’t feel like we’re seeing the puppet strings getting pulled in a way we were repeatedly seeing in seasons past. The resulting television is more natural and more entertaining to behold. It makes it feels like you are watching a show instead of something that needs to be picked apart for what it could have been. If you are reading this producers or World Of Wonder, blink twice – and keep this up.
Next week seems like fun! Why? It’s a design challenge and includes yet another mini-challenge. Again, this season is returning to form and I’m excited by the pace it’s keeping. I no longer await episodes with dread but am getting giddy for what is coming our way.
And now to the ranking, which got somewhat fucked up for better or worse.
Vanessa Vanjie Mateo
Kalorie Karbdashian Williams
Yuhua Hamasaki(Down nine – and out.)
11. Kameron Micheals (Up one. A formality. Is she going to go anywhere? When are they going to talk about his body? He seems so boring but they’re purposefully ignoring or keeping him around for some reason. Perhaps so we can see Marilyn Manson come to life?)
10. Dusty Ray Bottoms (Down one. Dusty is fun but ultimately fine. She also sobbed her story out so she might be gone soon.)
9. Monique Heart (Up two. Monique thinks she is hot shit but she keeps letting herself down. The first week’s card dress? Flawless. Second week’s Cookie Monster couture? OK. This week’s feather bride? Eh. Losing steam with me, Mo. Step that puss up.)
8. Eureka O’Hara (Up two. I really like Eureka! I don’t think she stands a chance at winning but was successful enough this week that we saw the twinkle in her eyes and the fight in her soul. Let’s see where this takes her.)
7. Aquaria (Maintained. She’s going to go out at the mid-point in true fashion queen form.)
6. The Vixen (Up two. She is growing on me and she looked gorgeous this week. She has such a fight in her that I hope propels her to the top. However, it’s getting pretty tight up there and I’m not sure she can squeeze her way in.)
5. Monet X Change (Down one. Eh. She was fine this week. Not bad, not good, still better than most but is slipping from the top. She needs to bring it next week!)
4. Asia O’Hara (Up three. She really did bring it this week and, while her being top four is something I’m unsure about, she certainly has been flying high. I hope she can keep up the momentum!)
3. Blair St. Clair (Up two. Yuhua’s loss is Blair’s gain because this spot belonged to the eliminated queen. Bye!)
2. Miz Cracker (Maintained. I might doubt this because she was not very memorable this week but I maintain that she will be top two.)
1. Mayhem Miller (Maintained. Ditto. She prematurely went dead behind the eyes this week but will be storming back. She said so herself. This season is hers to lose.)
Thoughts? I have no hesitations saying that I love this season. Don’t fuck it up! Don’t throw a Valentina twist and kill everything!