RuPaul's Drag Race recap: Prancing Queens
If you look at social media and online comments about this season, you’d think Drag Race were f—ing it up worse than Vivienne Pinay and Honey Mahogany in their double-elimination lip sync. As a series, though, I’d argue that the Drag Race machinery is as on point as it’s ever been. Considering it’s in its seventh season, the challenges still feel fresh, Ru is still serving up her everything, the roster of guest judges has been impressive, and there are queens with ever-deepening backstories. I always hold out on calling a season of reality TV a dud because it’s often the case that we don’t warm up to a batch of contestants until it’s almost over.
But yes, after bingeing on seasons 4 and 5 this weekend, I must echo what everyone’s been saying for months and admit that the magic is palpably lacking from season 7. In my opinion, it’s not that the show’s creativity is lagging—it just hasn’t been the perfect mix of queens that’ll give us a Raven-Jujubee friendship or an Alyssa-Coco feud or a Laganja backstage breakdown or a life-giving LSFYL. The dynamic has been a lot of young queens being ignorant and seasoned queens being bitter. It ain’t that cute.
I started the episode with this stank outlook on the contestants, and they didn’t prove me wrong. Ginger and Kennedy, or “The Old Lady Brigade,” were being nasty—and not even in a funny, shady way—about Miss Fame’s elimination, and Pearl was way too proud of the pitiful LSFYL she had just survived. I’m still mad that Kennedy napped through Untucked.
The mood started changing during the funny Fake Housewives of RuPaul’s Drag Race tagline Mini Challenge, although none of the queens were as fake and stilted as an actual Real Housewife in one of those openers. I loved what Katya did to her forehead with all that tape, and Violet (“When times get tough, I just breathe through my nose”) looked a lot like Ramona Singer with her crazy eyes and taped-up nose, only fishier. Katya won in my book for best tagline (“What’s the best part about being married to a sociopath? The constant threat of danger keeps you so thin”), which could apply to a lot of women on those shows.
Violet won the challenge and got to assign the couples for the dancing Main Challenge, which turned out to be amazing. The half-man half-woman runway theme was one of the best I’ve seen in Drag Race herstory. Pearl, of course, was super-handsome as a butched-up man. Violet was a vision in her split look; the male Violet, or “Pablo,” was exactly as you’d expect: slender, sickening, and mustachioed—an “absolute work of art,” as guest judge Alyssa Milano said. The dude version of Ginger looks like he works at a comic book store and rented a tux to attend the Sci-Fi Fan Fiction Writers of Costa Mesa Awards. The biggest surprise to me, though, was how hot Katya looked as a manly man. From some angles, he looked a little like Chris Evans—Katya should do boy drag in everyday life! Guest judge Rachael Harris said he was “a douche-y guy,” which is probably the reason I’m turned on.
From the rehearsals with Carson Kressly and his DWTS partner Kym Johnson, it looked like the dance routines were going to be disasters. Ginger and Pearl especially didn’t seem too confident in their dance skills, but when showtime rolled around, they all turned it out. I was impressed by how elaborate the choreography was. Pearl and Kennedy did an excellent job, and I was shocked by the way Kennedy moved—I didn’t know she was one of the acrobatic queens, but then again, she didn’t show much of anything in her first LSFHL. Katya and Violet seemed the most assured and had a lot of chemistry, whereas Ginger and Trixie were the shakiest but not nearly as bad as Ginger thought. I actually thought Trixie was the one lagging—Ginger had practiced through the night, and it showed.
Ru had a hard time choosing a winning and losing team because she was impressed all around, but she ultimately made the right decision (does she ever not?) Katya and Violet won, and Ginger and Trixie had to lip sync. Of course Ginger and Trixie played up the comedy, and Ginger clearly outshined Trixie—she even pulled a Showgirls by tripping Trixie while climbing between her legs. Trixie ended up getting sent home again, surviving the single-episode curse that Kenya Michaels had fallen victim to—this time, we can’t be too upset about her elimination. It was great to get a little more of her, though.
Now for the Fierce List:
1. Ginger Minj: She’s proving she’s the most talented queen in the bunch by pulling something out in lip syncs despite a lack of dancing skill, but she should think about coming across as more likeable. I know Miss Congeniality and the Next Drag Superstar are not the same thing, but we all want a winner we can get excited about. Her s—-talking on Untucked has been out of control lately.
2. Katya: Still love her, and she’s clowning around a lot more in the Werk Room. We still need to see that she will cut a bitch to win, though.
3. Violet: Despite all the hatred from Kennedy, maybe the incredible looks will be enough to take Violet to the final three. She’s a lot funnier than the other queens give her credit for.
4. Pearl: Flah-zee-dah may get her to the final four, but maybe not the final three. The main reason I don’t want her to get eliminated is that I don’t want to sit through another one of her lip-sync performances.
5. Kennedy: She’s talented, but I can’t take her lack of energy. It’s different from Pearl’s laid-back demeanor or “flah-zee-dah”—it’s a sort of tired world-weariness that brings down the dynamic.
RuPaul — as host, mentor, and creative inspiration — decides who's in and who's out.