As we enter into the sixth episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race’s seventh season, the show seems to be losing momentum in a significant way. The girls seem tired by the challenges and in desperate need of a pick-me-up. It’s not a great place for them to exist in, given that we’re nearly halfway through the season, but at this point, you have to hope that we’ll eventually get rid of most of the dead weight soon, and then things will magically transform into a magnificent competition of only the best of the best. Right? Right?!
And Then There’s Merle
Tonight’s maxi challenge centered around the return of founding RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Merle Ginsberg. Ginsberg was replaced by Michelle Visage after the first two seasons of the show, with no real explanation as to why she left. (Though given that Tyra Sanchez won season two, maybe Merle left in shame for allowing such an atrocity to take place.) This sudden departure made for a perfect opportunity for the queens to engage in a little role-play, acting out the exit Ru Hollywood Stories style, telling the tale from three distinct and specific points of view: RuPaul, Merle, and Michelle. This means the queens were left to do another acting challenge, again break into teams to do so. The results were mixed, and for the most part, the contestants just seemed deeply uninspired. In fact, the queens seemed to struggle so much with the judges' characterizations that it makes me worry about next week’s Snatch Game. Is this crop of girls able to portray anyone other than themselves?
Seeing as she won the mini challenge, Ginger Minj was in charge of assigning teams, and despite being able to handpick her own in Katya and Kennedy, the teams all seemed equally ill-equipped to handle portraying the judges. People couldn’t remember their lines, their characterizations were dire, no one seemed to be able to manage coming up with an overarching vision. Regardless of whether it was Team Ginger telling Merle’s side of the story; Max, Violet, and Kandy telling Michelle’s version; or Fame, Jaidynn, and Pearl illuminating RuPaul’s POV, it was all pretty disastrous from the jump.
Poor Fame. After last week’s episode showcased her interesting and unexpected youth spent showing chickens, this week she dissolved into a viscous puddle of bland. Her meltdown during her team’s scene was the opposite of endearing, more like a cry for attention than a cry for help. Despite being awarded last week by her fellow queens, Fame’s inconsistency made me wonder if she’s ripe for a shocking exit in the next few weeks.
Also, she doesn’t get RuPaul’s jokes, which is just a travesty. For two consecutive weeks, Ru has asked Fame, “How’s your head?” only to have her respond with a blank stare and sputtered excuse. Thankfully, Michelle is always there to complete the gag with a disappointed, “Haven’t had any complaints yet.” Someday Fame will get the joke, and on that day, she will rise into the air like a phoenix, reborn in the glory of dick jokes.
Death Be Not Proud
Which means that the highlight of the episode came in a particularly inspired Death Becomes Her–themed runway. The queens seemed to find all of the creativity they’ve been lacking in other areas and funnel it into something great. Some girls went goofy, with Ginger and Katya both meeting their grisly ends via animal means; others went glamorous, with Max ripping out her own heart and Pearl doing her best Sharon Needles and hobbling down the runway broken-doll style.
There was one look that pushed the bounds of good taste in a bad way, yet no one seemed particularly bothered by it. Violet, she of “I have the smallest waist in RuPaul’s Drag Race history” fame, toddled down the runway with an mobile oxygen tank in tow and a corset cinched for the gods that left her with an 18–19 inch waist. The judges, including sentient pile of Supercuts clippings Ariana Grande, who is legitimately pocket-size herself, fell over themselves with admiration for the shockingly extreme visual of Violet’s wasted waist.
The problem with this look is that, first off, it’s not much of a look. Violet has an oxygen tank. Okay. The other problem with it is that, well, having an 18-inch waist is often an unfortunate side effect of actually dying. And while the entire runway is built around poking fun at death and dying, Katya stumping down the aisle with a makeshift shark eating her leg isn’t glamorizing dying in a shark attack, whereas gushing over a tiny waist that most individuals could only achieve with serious self-harm sends a confusing and confused message to outsiders.
Also, it just wasn’t a very good look.
The Real MVPs
As the season drags on, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the judges are the true jewels from week to week. This was all the more apparent this week with each of the main three judges, Merle, Ru, and Michelle, participating in the maxi challenge videos. Not only that, but the additions to the judges panel this season in Carson Kressley (sadly, not in tonight’s episode) and Ross Mathews have been surprisingly strong, high praise for someone still mourning the catty loss of Santino Rice from the panel.
Winning team: Ginger Minj, Kayta, Kennedy Davenport
Bottom two: Kandy Ho and Jaidynn Diore Fierce
Eliminated: Kandy Ho
Line of the Night Honorable Mentions:
“When do I get to blow them? [Beat.][Laughter offscreen.] I can’t say that, either?” —Katya gives the best talking-head interviews.
“I feel like I’m dating you.” —Ross Mathews is uncomfortable with Fame’s oversharing.
“As someone who always wears her hair the same way …” —I was not expecting such self-awareness from Ariana Grande.
“Nobody is asking her to change. Just try something different.” “That’s exactly what changing is.” —Ross makes an excellent point with regards to Max’s perpetually grey hair.
“It’s like Epcot for the thirsty bitches.” —Ginger has such a way with words. And the Pit Crew has such a way with … everything.