Perhaps the most grounding thing we have learned in the nascent days of 2021 is that “RuPaul’s Drag Race” will continue, attempted extremist coup or not. Political upheaval and the imminent demise of our heaving late capitalist hell aside, this was such a fun week on “Drag Race!”
My name is Daniel Trainor and I just want to thank Ru and the girls for giving me LOOKS! FASHION! SHADE! to distract me from the apocalyptic wasteland that is our country and my mind.
I’m Sam Stone, and I will bravely use this platform to announce that I think choreography challenges almost never have a big payoff!
In the words of lyrical goddess Shania Twain…
Let’s go, girls.
DT: We pick things up right where they left off: the Porkchop Loading Dock, which sounds like a euphemism for a glory hole, but isn’t.
SS: The girls who’ve lost their respective lip syncs, who will hereby be referred to as “the losers,” must vote to eliminate one of the queens in the group. It all smells very All Stars to me.
DT: The queens have about 15 seconds to determine who they want to send home. Even the damn Bachelor gets an entire night of champagne and weird confessions about their dead dads or whatever.
SS: The girls seem stressed about who to pick, but not too stressed, because the first round of voting is a tie between Eliott and Utica. Apparently even 15 seconds with either of them is enough for anyone.
DT: To break the tie, we move on to another round of voting, I guess? Girl, this is more confusing than the damn Electoral College. ABOLISH THE PORKCHOP LOADING DOCK.
SS: Abolish Tamisha Iman’s choice of pointed shoulder jacket!
DT: Elliott gets eliminated and this entire thing is a little silly. Isn’t this show supposed to be about charisma, uniqueness, nerve, talent, and monetizable catchphrases? This reeks of middle school cafeteria politics and I don’t LIKE IT.
SS: In the Werk Room, the girls who’ve won their lip syncs gather to gossip and kiki, and it isn’t long before Kandy begins to stir the pot with some ‘winners versus losers’ division rhetoric. Sis, it’s about UNITY in 2021! (just kidding I don’t care).
DT: RuPaul enters the Werk Room in a cowboy hat and tinted sunglasses, looking like Loretta Lynn after a three-day weekend in Palm Springs. In another twist (geez what is this show a pretzel??), Ru announces that Elliott is…wait for it…back in the competition!
SS: This leads into a RPDR first, wherein Mother Ru leads us all in a short sermon about winning and losing. No one is a loser! We’re all winners. Losers are only winners who haven’t won (or something along those lines).
DT: Ru uttering the phrase “losing is the new winning” is, uh, an interesting message at this point in American history!
SS: How sure are we that Ru is not QAnon? RuAnon? Is this something? Hello? Can anyone hear me?!
DT: It’s time for the first Mini Challenge of the season, which calls for the girls to grace us with one daytime look and one evening look “that says ‘I’m a whore.’” As they get into drag, the girls start talking about Elliott like she might be some kind of spy. What intelligence she could possibly be gathering at this point is murky at best. Still, that doesn’t prevent the Winners from repeatedly saying “girl, you just walked in here,” as if the rest of them didn’t just do the same thing.
SS: It isn’t long before Elliott starts coming for Kandy Muse with some “do you think you’ll be eliminated first” passive aggressive twink nonsense, and while Kandy is impressively restrained in her response, there’s no doubt that this will come to bite Elliott in the ass down the line.
DT: Elliott’s clunky diatribe feels less like a legitimate attack and more like a producer got in somebody’s ear.
SS: Wait, this show has producers? I thought it was like Michelle Visage with an iPhone X and a ring light?
DT: It’s also that. On the runway, it’s immediately clear that these queens live in different “daytimes” than I do. Kandy is wearing a full-on gown with a fifteen-pound necklace around her neck. That’s one hell of a brunch look. Her evening look is reminiscent of gay Satan, which, coincidentally, is what the kids used to call me in church. There’s a random hole in the back, but not in a fun place.
SS: Lala’s daytime earth toned situation reads very “bachelorette weekend in Nashville,” but her nighttime dominatrix moment was pretty great, and it’s her walk that really sells it.
DT: Symone’s daytime blazer doesn’t even come close to fitting, but she’s such an undeniable star that it’s hard to care.
SS: Tina’s describes her daytime look as a Carrie Bradshaw fantasy which is weird because she has very Terry Bradshaw energy, and her nighttime look makes me wonder if she’ll ever wear something that isn’t red, orange, and yellow.
DT: For her daytime look, Elliott walks down the runway with all the energy and charisma of a neutered Cruella de Vil. For her evening look, Gottmik looks like Lil’ Kim at the ‘99 VMAs if she had been styled by Elvira.
SS: We move into the Maxi Challenge which is, predictably, to retool Ru’s #1 international smash hit “Condragulations”, and to choreograph a group number. In a season of twists, the faithful choreography challenge remains steadfast.
DT: Miss Ru getting that promo in early this season, darlings! Elliott starts thinking about his verse by writing down the words “rap lyrics” on a sheet of paper, so he’s off to a good start. To be fair, I started this recap by writing down the words “drag race funny time (???)”
SS: We’ve reached the point in the season where we realize none of these drag queens can dance. It always happens and it’s always difficult to watch, and the editors compensate by doubling the amount of sound effects, and cuts to Lala rolling her eyes.
DT: As the girls fumble through choreography, Gottmik comes to the revelation that people are actually going to hear what he wrote down for his verse, in which he reveals his gender identity. Yes, baby, that’s how it works. He’s battling gender dysphoria and two left feet, which is understandably nerve-wracking.
SS: The day of the performance, Gottmik confides in Olivia about his gender identity and it’s a genuinely nice moment. It’s refreshing that they’re allowing Gottmik to tell the story, but it’s not being made into a dramatic arc.
DT: We head to the mainstage for the “Condragulations” performance and, oh no, not RuPaul mouthing her own lyrics.
SS: Symone and Gottmik halfheartedly stumble through their choreography in the second row, but when it comes time for solo verses, Symone more than makes up for her subpar step touches. She, Kandy, and Tina are the standouts.
DT: On the runway the category is “Lamé, you stay!” Gottmik slays in an ethereal, gold, mysterious, otherworldly look. Meanwhile, Symone is dressed as a boxer and, let me tell you, boxing hasn’t been this sexy since Michael B. Jordan’s training montage in “Creed 2.”
SS: Thrilled to announce I don’t know her! Tina stomps down in shiny silver Tin Man drag, opening her lil petticoat to reveal a bedazzled heart. We loved it, ok!? Ok, Tina?! We thought it was good!
DT: Elliott describes her look as a girl who “is going to do a triple axel, steal your man and go out for drinks after.” I don’t think Elliott thinks about where her sentences are going to finish before she starts talking.
SS: Wait isn’t Denali the figure skating queen? Also, we haven’t heard from those girls in a minute, are they ok? Do they need a snack?
DT: When it comes time for judging, the judges….don’t really judge? They love everybody and heap praise on the queens and even tell Tina how to best utilize the cameras. Maybe this really has turned into “RuPaul’s Best Friend Race?”
SS: Great British Baking Show who?! The girls leave the mainstage so the judges can share how they really feel, and Ross wastes no time in declaring Kandy “unpolished,” to which I’m gonna have to give a hearty “bitch…what?”
DT: Also meriting a hearty “bitch…what?” (a new segment???) from yours truly is Ross laughing and clapping while begging “can I keep her?” when talking about Kandy. No, ma’am.
SS: The judges heap (well deserved) praises on Symone and Olivia, and they’re the two girls who finish as our top two queens. As such, they must compete for a cash tip of $5,000. Will anyone go home? Have the Pork Chop Loading Dock queens died from dehydration and neglect? That crafty ‘mo RuPaul has perplexed us again.
DT: At least one thing is for sure: Symone is a star, and she will win this entire competition.
SS: From your lips to Demon god Pazuzu’s ears.
DT: Symone takes the lip sync, just like she’s taken my heart. We eagerly await the arrival of The Losers next week…if they’re still alive?