Another episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, another big challenge for the contestants to attempt, another teachable moment for Ru, and another shocking elimination — if season seven of RPDR has nothing else going for it, at least it’s consistent. “The DESPY Awards” (no, it doesn’t seem to stand for anything) feature paper gowns and meltdowns; who could ask for anything more? Here are the winners of the DESPY Awards’ moment of the night.
The Buddy System
The best part of any reality show is when contestants have to showcase their teamwork skills and work in groups. While previous weeks showed the varying results of self-selected teams, this week’s episode instead opted for the pair-off methods of kindergarten teachers everywhere: the buddy system. Queens are matched up based on whom they were standing with in line, causing the kind of passive-aggressive cooperation best exemplified by sulky teenagers working on a group project for Geography class. Not only do the couples have to tackle a mini-challenge that requires them to replicate classic red-carpet looks with only paper, but they’re kept in said pairs for the main challenge, which tasks them with introducing a category at the newly created DESPY Awards.
Kasha and Katya win the mini-challenge with their representation of Björk’s famous swan dress, with a bonus Joan Rivers to boot, but despite working well as a team, they fall flat when it comes to their hosting duties. The other teams, Jaidynn and Kennedy, Pearl and Max, Ginger and Kandy, and Violet and Fame, are all over the map in terms of teamwork, struggles that manage to translate imperfectly to the main challenge.
Considering the prevalence of glamourpusses in season seven of the show, it’s not a shock that many of the girls struggle with having to be funny for the DESPYs. As difficult as it is to be humorous off the cuff, there’s something even more pronounced when you have to plan to be funny. You can be a terribly witty person, a trait that in the wild often disguises itself as being amusing, but when asked to make that verve sing on paper, something gets lost in translation. This is something that even the comedy queens learn the hard way, as guest judge Kathy Griffin is merciless in critiquing their comic stylings, leaving even practiced emcees like Ginger and Katya questioning their ability to craft a joke.
The Passion of the RuPaul
Perhaps no one this season has had a rougher road to hoe (ho?) than RuPaul herself. While running a show that features your name is no small task, RuPaul has also had to deal with the indignity of underperforming, insolent queens. This week, the queen in question is Pearl. Still hurting from last week’s beatdown from the judges, Pearl has little response to Ru’s workroom questions as to whether or not she’ll be able to put up a more impressive performance this week, growing more and more petulant with each passing moment and complaining that RuPaul had just told her she had no personality. Ru is underwhelmed by Pearl’s refusal to fully commit to the show, with the entire encounter escalating to a stare-down, which only ends when Pearl impertinently asks, “Is there something on my face?”
God help the girl.
I choose to believe there’s some unauthorized footage that was cut from this encounter, which shows Ru dragging Pearl backstage by the hair and slapping some sense into her in a full “come to Jesus” moment. I choose to believe it exists because such action would be the only appropriate response to such deep-seated disrespect. At the very least, this tête-à-tête seems to set Pearl right, and she and Max even manage to win the main challenge, by the grace of RuPaul alone, I reckon.
The Chicken Lady
On a lighter note, the episode also gives us the greatest revelation in recent Drag Race history by informing us that Miss Fame has a storied and complicated history with chickens. She not only raised them, but styled them for show competitions, singing to them and raising them to be the beautiful little show chickens they were born to be. She even hatched them under her bed. And can make disturbingly convincing chicken noises. This would have been a fantastic reveal for any of the contestants, but the fact that it’s the prim and proper Miss Fame that logged so many hours blowdrying chickens elevates it to something absolutely magical.
The best part about the awards ceremony itself isn’t how the queens managed to pull themselves together to put on a pretty funny performance, but the fact that they voted on who would receive the awards proved to be very illuminating. Katya wins “Meatiest Tuck,” which is either purely shade (meaning she’s not meticulous with her tuck), purely compliment (meaning she has a lot to work with when it comes to tucking), or more likely some combination of the two. Jaidynn wins “Most Busted Queen,” which is clearly not a compliment and goes to show how little the other queens regard her as competition, despite the fact that Jaidynn’s really been hanging in there the last few episodes, even when she feels out of her depths.
But the most revealing awards were Miss Fame winning “Sexy, Sexy Drag Queen” and Violet winning “Shadiest Queen.” Though Violet seemed like a shoo-in for the prize, it did say a lot about the fact that she still hasn’t found a way to fit in. Her dismissive attitude is clearly a problem, but the judges also key in on the idea that Violet is a “child of the internet” (whatever that means), and that because of that, she’s not adept at proper socialization, which is possible. But it’s also possible she’s just an asshole. As for Miss Fame, it’s clear that the rest of the crop sees her as a front-runner, which is simultaneously a good thing to know and a huge burden to bear moving forward.
Winners: Max and Pearl
Bottom two: Mrs. Kasha Davis and Kandy Ho
Eliminated: Mrs. Kasha Davis*
*This is the second elimination in a row I’ve disagreed with. I’m not sure what the judges are thinking, but it’s certainly making for an interesting season, if nothing else.
Line of the Night Honorable Mentions:
“Violet, shut your hole!” —Miss Fame is just saying what we’re all thinking at this point.
“I used to think I was funny until I met Kathy Griffin.” —Probably the first time that sentence has ever been uttered, but more power to you, Ginger.
“I’m not actually that young. I’m just ignorant.” —God bless you, Katya.
“I feel very uncomfortable right now.” —Poor Max had a front-row seat for the Ru-Pearl showdown and had to serve as the unfortunate audience surrogate.
“Is there something on my face?” —No, really, this moment will go down in RPDR history. I’m pretty sure my soul left my body.