'RuPaul's Drag Race' recap: 'Ru Hollywood Stories'
First things first, we need to talk about Violet Chachki’s cinch job. Holy Ornacia! Violet would be a negative-60 waist if she ever shopped at Old Navy. In real life, I’m not in favor of anyone slimming down to that level, but in a drag competition, her 16-inch midsection is giving me more lives than a Super Mario mushroom, even as it drains all the life from Violet’s lower extremities. (A gamer gay just informed me that the Mario analogy doesn’t make sense, but I’m keeping it).
I just had to get that off my flabby-in-comparison chest. Back at the beginning of the episode, the kweens discussed Violet’s shady-ass attitude, which Violet explained away as, “Everything I’ve done here comes from a place of humor or a place of truth.” I love that “I’m not being bitchy, I’m being honest” reality-villain logic. It just shows that Violet is on her way to becoming exactly like my favorite drag queen of all time: Jade from America’s Next Top Model Cycle 6.
What an odd creature Max is. While the other ladies engage in some salty Werk Room talk, Max flips her hair and intones, “These girls are all so vulgar.” Is Max the Countess Luann of Drag Race? Max isn’t as tall, and her voice isn’t as deep, but she’s definitely high-class enough. There’s no way she wasn’t going to be prudish about what happened next…
Ru dropped by to play Monster in Your Pants, the most nonsensical Mini Challenge of the season, which is saying something. It was a combination of Deal or No Deal, Wheel of Fortune, and sexual harassment. Basically, a supersize (in more ways than one) Pit Crew lined up, each dude hiding a ball in the crotch of his Justin Case briefs. The balls either had a number on them or a green monster, and if a kween chose the green monster, she would be out of the game. Only Ginger Minj understood the rules, so she won pretty much by default. Katya, who was dressed like Billy Elliot, was too distracted by the bulges to play the game right.
The Maxi Challenge was yet another team performance challenge. Like Violet, I’m sort of over these team acting/singing challenges for now, and this one was especially basic. As the Mini winner, Ginger got to choose three teams of three to act in a trilogy of Ru Hollywood Stories chronicling the shady events that led to Michelle Visage replacing Merle Ginsberg on the judging panel. Honestly, I never cared about Merle, so I didn’t care about these three skits. Sorry if you’re a Merle fan, but I can’t wait for more titillating challenges. We need some Snatch Game, quick.
Ginger did some devilish strategic work picking the teams, nabbing Katya and Kennedy for herself, saddling Max with underperformers Violet and Kandy Ho, and pairing enemies Miss Fame and Pearl together. Ginger should be twirling the long, fire-red chin hair that her tweezers have missed.
The teams performed in front of Ross Matthews, who was directing the videos. Some highlights: Kennedy gave a bizarre performance as Ru. Actually, the Rus were the weakest links in all three videos—it’s not easy projecting that much scorching fierceness. Ginger was serving up some Ursula from The Little Mermaid with her Michelle, which is a totally valid interpretation. Violet’s Michelle looked like a more feminine J-Woww, or actually, exactly like Krazy from Flavor of Love. (I’m incredibly ashamed of that reference.) Pearl’s Michelle was trashy but scene-stealing, and Jaidynn once again had trouble remembering lines.
The funniest moment of filming, however, happened when Miss Fame drove the production to a grinding halt in order to break into a soliloquy on the struggles she was having. She might not be able to remember lines, but she can deliver a tragic monologue like no other. For your reading pleasure, I have transcribed the entire thing:
“I’m so struggling right now. This is honestly the toughest day I’ve had in this competition, and I like to be professional, and this is just embarrassing for me. I wanna do better than this, and I’m hitting a wall. I wanna talk real, and I’m in a room full of people, and this is a chance of a lifetime, and I’m finding myself having a conversation with … myself. I’ve never been to this place before so I’m just trying to be funny. I don’t know what’s better. Should I not talk about my feelings? Should we just keep moving on?”
I have to agree with what Pearl said next: “JUST SAY THE F—ING LINE!!!” After taking a minute to take it all in, Ross said, “Oh my God, I feel like I’m dating you!” Weirdly, I find Miss Fame’s drama kind of charming, albeit totally self-unaware. What kind of diva doesn’t have these breakdowns on a daily basis?
NEXT: A grand(e) jury sends a kween packing
Later, as the kweens were beating their faces, Jaidynn brought up an actual struggle in coming out to her parents. Jaidynn’s mom knows she’s a drag queen; she apparently knows she wears heavy foundation and pink lip gloss, yet she’s STILL expecting Jaidynn to bring home a wife. Now I totally understand what’s holding Jaidynn back in some of these challenges. You have to be fearless to be a top drag queen, so it must be incredibly hard for Jaidynn to come out of her shell knowing that her family will see her do so in a public forum. It’s almost weird to hear Jaidynn say something like “I want people to know that gay is okay” on Logo in 2015, but there are clearly lots of people who still need to get the message.
On to the runway! Ariana Grande and her ponytail were on hand to guest-judge, and Merle broke the restraining order Ru had out on her to return to her old seat. The theme for the night was “Death Becomes Her,” with the ladies all enacting the way their drag characters would meet their untimely end. Katya hobbled down the runway with a shark eating her leg—it was her “best Tara Reid in Sharknado,” and it was gagworthy. Ginger Minj was being eaten by a bear (no, not a member of the Pit Crew, a real bear), and Kennedy was a weird turkey or aardvark or some sort of hideous creature with a gash through it. Once again, Kennedy rode on Ginger’s coattails this week because she deserved to be on the bottom for that costume and for her completely off-center performance as Ru.
Again, Violet’s cinch. I couldn’t tell if Ariana was in love with it or just plain jealous.
Miss Fame had another moment when she poured out her feelings even though no one was asking her to. She even interrupted Ru so she could blab about how she couldn’t shut up (although that was probably the work of Drag Race editors, who deserve to EGOT—no, PEGOT—yes, they deserve a Pulitzer—for what they do). Max got some flack from Michelle for wearing a gray wig yet again, but Ross defended Max’s right to be her signature self. Ariana knows what it’s like to have predictable hair, citing her own thick ponytail.
Not surprisingly, Kandy Ho and Jaidynn were in the bottom two, but we knew Kandy was on her way out. Nobody survives three lip-synchs, as this brilliant statistician, the Nate Silver of Drag Race, points out. (Thanks to Justin for the link). Even though Kandy had built a reputation for her lipsynching skills, Jaidynn outperformed her, in my opinion. Jaidynn moved surprisingly well, especially considering the proportions of her body, no tea no shade no purple hand grenade. Kandy just did the whole slow-to-fast maneuver she’s been doing all season, though the hair-whipping was a nice touch.
Now for the Fierce List:
1. Katya: Still loving this Russian prostitute and her big mouth.
2. Ginger Minj: She’s proving every week that she’s the most talented, craftiest kween in the competition. You have to see Untucked to appreciate how stealthy she can be with her shade. She’s outsmarting most of the competition.
3. Max: I agree with Ross and Ariana that Max needs to be who she is, but I also agree with Michelle that we need to see 50 different shades of gray.
4. Miss Fame: I’m sorry, her drama cracks me up, and when she’s in drag, she’s so statuesque and regal and Asian that all is forgiven.
5. Jaidynn Diore Fierce: Once she puts aside that emotional baggage, I think she’ll really blossom. She still needs that big breakthrough. As Ru and Ariana said, she needs to “break free.”
6. Violet Chachki: I don’t want to give in and say I “like” Violet, but she has some dazzling runway tricks and clearly Ru is charmed. She’s not going anywhere for a while.
7. Pearl: I don’t buy that she’s having this big comeback. Last week’s win was a story line and this week, Ginger’s Michelle was better than Pearl’s. But at least she’s showing she does truly want to stick around.
8. Kennedy Davenport: It seems crazy to put Kennedy this low, but the numbers are dwindling. I think the main reason she’s staying out of the bottom is that Ginger keeps picking her for teams.
RuPaul — as host, mentor, and creative inspiration — decides who's in and who's out.