As I always say, you don’t really know a queen until you’ve seen her Untucked. Untucked is truly essential viewing for any Drag Race fan—it’s where the most toxic shade gets thrown and the real character development happens. Other than the fact that it’s now on YouTube, it’s taken on a totally different tone this season. Up until now, it always looked as if it were directed by Andy Cohen—just a sparkly extension of the main event with most of the same legendary Drag Race editing and friendly lighting and free-flowing vodka cranberries. Now it looks as if it were directed by Kathryn Bigelow on a $26 budget. Last week, the Untucked felt so stark and serious that when Jasmine was sashaying away, it looked as if she were about to board a helicopter to a war zone, not a white loser-van that would take her to the airport. I’m not saying I don’t like the new incarnation—it definitely feels realer—but you never want a drag queen to be too real. That’s when the illusion fades and you see all the backne and ingrown hairs.
If the comments and tweets are any indication, this season has been a letdown so far. I usually don’t pay that much attention to that kind of chatter because people do that EVERY year, but it’s starting to seem true. There are a few wily queens so far, and the show is, as always, entertaining, but at this point we need someone to step up and really surprise us, and every week it seems less likely that that’s going to happen. That said, I still believe in Jaidynn Diore! And shocker: Maybe Violet Chachki? More on this later.
Once again, we’re being treated to another comedy challenge. This time, the queens will be doing a spoof on one of RuPaul’s own songs. The Minj is the most in demand for her singing skills, the white girls all flock around Trixie, and Max, Jaidynn, and—surprisingly to no one—Violet are the leftovers. “Let’s just do it,” says Max, trying to stay strong as she rallies her rejects.
The team brainstorm really exposes the girls’ approach to comedy. Miss Fame, who just moments earlier said Jasmine’s joke about popping the corns to feed the children was disgusting and weird, suggests doing raunchy and sexual stuff “because that’s always funny.” And because Miss Fame is the resident authority on funny. Pearl unhelpfully shoots that idea down and bitchily settles for Trixie’s idea of turning “Dance with U” to “Tan with U.” Pearl tries to throw Trixie under the bus by unenthusiastically pitching the idea to Ru and pinning all the credit on Trixie. But Ru LOVES it! Pearl isn’t even sharp enough to make her friend look bad. Don’t underestimate Ru’s taste for kitsch.
But you can’t over-estimate it either. Mrs. Kasha Davis shows off her parodying skills for Ru with a Rihanna song she once messed with: “sub-sub-sub-sub … burban-ban-ban-ban” to poke fun at suburban ladies. Wow, that is some gentle comedy. Even my 55-year-old Korean mother would say, “That’s less funny than Family Circus.” I swear I saw a glint in Ru’s eye that said, “You basic, basic-ass bitch.”
After the kweens have written their lyrics, they head into the recording booth with RuPaul’s producer Lucian Piane, a prematurely silver fox whose name must have given Ru all sorts of pun ideas. The ladies fall into three groups: the ones who can kinda sing, the ones who need to play up the comedy, and the ones who THINK they can really sing, like Miss Fame. In the immortal words of Patti Lahelle, did you break your arm reaching for that high note?
Violet refuses to take direction from a professional musical producer, Pearl comes in behind the beat, and the white girl team, especially Pearl and Fame, can’t get along. File all these things under things that aren’t surprising. As my friend Justin said, “Pearl and Fame are too lazy to even f— they’d just stare at each other’s naked bodies and yawn.” Really, get several rooms, you two. What’s truly surprising is Kasha Davis’ performance. I can’t find the words to describe the sound that comes out of her throat so I’ll let the Minj do it for me: “Ethel Merman and Paul Lynde had a love child bursting forth.” Kasha’s whole vibe, from her over-excited performance, gurgly voice, and Golf Store outfit—seriously, what was with that loose-fitting polo tucked into those light pants—was so gay it was almost straight, like the lamest dad in the world. All she needed was a cellphone holster. I can’t forgive this. Any of this.
NEXT: Did the right one sashay away?[pagebreak]
Super-nerve-wrackingly, the kweens have to film their music videos in front of Ru and Michelle. Team Trixie is a full-on disaster, with Trixie randomly wandering in and out of the frame, and their choreography isn’t even close. Katya saves the shoot with an over-the-top performance, but the whole concept is pure slapstick. When Katya ate her own skin flake, I gagged, and not in the good way.
I loooooooooooove the awkward moment in Team Minj’s shoot when Ru calls a time out when they get to the lyric “Except for Drag U, that really was a rough spot.” Ru channels Jasmine Masters by getting all defensive, saying, “Well that was one of my favorite jobs—it changed people’s lives,” as if it were the Make-A-Wish Foundation. But clearly Ru, unlike some of these other kweens, has a sense of humor, and eventually gives their overworked but clever QVC music video the win, with Kennedy Davenport taking top honors. (How many times can Ru make the “LaGuardia… Newark… Kennedy” joke? No shade, though. I laugh every time.) I personally would have given the win to Team Max. Their Adore-Bianca-Courtney (ABC) video was hilarious and the performances were on point. I agree Jaidynn was the standout, but Max got an overly harsh critique because honestly, how are you supposed to channel Courtney other than looking super-pretty and being kinda boring?
The final lip-synch has to be one of the most boring in history of this show. I guess Trixie brought a little more life to it than Pearl, but it was a total draw. Pearl was over-dramatic and intense for such a light song—normally I’d think the juxtaposition were intentional, but this is Pearl we’re talking about. Trixie ended up sashaying away, which I know some people will be upset about, but that girl wasn’t winning this competition either. If you’re going to be a comedy girl, you really need to be a comedy girl.
Here’s the kween-by-kween breakdown! There has been strife and upheaval in the past week, so be warned.
1. Max: Deciding the top spot this week has been tough because Max isn’t quite the dynamic personality we expect of a front-runner, but I love her “antique androgynous Antoinette” look this week with those micro-pasties. She’s a smart, dignified lady, but I agree with Michelle that she needs to take off that gray musty wig one of these days.
2. The Minj: Talented as always, but she needs to tear away from the pack and really start going after that Burger King crown.
3. Katya: Without a doubt the funniest queen in the competition, but I wish she’s been underperforming in challenges.
4. Jaidynn Diore Fierce: She was my winner for the challenge this week. Plus, she’s so adorable. She needed to find her confidence, and I think she’s starting to.
5. Miss Fame: She’s delusional, but I guess that’s part of her name.
6. Kennedy Davenport: She turned it out this week but it doesn’t make up for last week. Not yet, at least.
7. Violet Chachki: Ru appreciates an ingenue, so I think Violet may be around longer than most people would like. I was a little surprised how much credit Ru gave her for being “smart” and having “studied,” but her fashion is great and that ass made Jessica Alba want to eat her alive. Justin did note that she needs to work on the contouring, though: “Her actual man face is softer than the Rushmore angles she chisels into her face.”
8. Kandy Ho: I still haven’t forgiven her behavior from Week 1, but she’s been solid over the past few weeks.
9. Pearl: I’m getting bored with this one. She still hasn’t woken up.
10. Kasha Davis: After this week, I can’t. Her lameness has nothing to do with her age.