RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars
What a week in the world since our last episode, jungle kitties. From Ru’s inflammatory remarks (and subsequent apology) to DeLa’s self-immolation on the hallowed Drag Race main stage, it seems we’re officially past a major inflection point for both the show and its host-pontiff. Here’s hoping Drag Race embraces inclusivity and a more nuanced understanding of gender, but until then we’ve got an acting challenge to take in, okrrr?!
The remaining girls enter the workroom freshly addled by Wite-Out-gate, with Morgan feeling particularly blessed by her return to the competition. Her confessional take on Ben’s exit seems a touch ungrateful when she questions whether Ben wasted anyone’s time, but that’s just some good ol’ Morgan McMichaels candor for you. As everyone settles in, Bebe refuses to reveal which lipsticks she drew “out of respect for DeLa,” which is a bold-faced lie and brilliant strategy to keep the peace. The other girls press Bebe for more info, but she calmly declines. Shangela then compares Bebe’s behavior to Cersei Lannister’s, which is most definitely a stretch, and then forces her Daenerys analogy down our throats again. She is gunning for that under-five in Game of Thrones, guys. Or at least, like, a video-recap-hosting gig for some site like Cosmopolitan? We see it!
The girls are suddenly joined by RuPaul and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who, after delivering a simultaneously emotional and innocuous talking point about how important voting is, immediately rushes out and dethrones Lisa Kudrow as the most random Drag Race cameo ever. Somehow, we then segue into a maxi challenge about “strong women” in which the queens must play Oscar-winning roles set in a raunchy comedy called My Best Squirrelfriend’s Dragsmaids Wedding Trip, and returning queen Morgan is given the strategic task of assigning the parts.
Bebe, absolutely the Helen Mirren of this group, gets assigned the Queen, while Shangela is gifted the role of pie-making rocket scientist Actavia. Kennedy will twirl and leap as the Emma Stone–inspired La La, and Trixie Mattel is set to put those titties to the test as Sharon Frockovich. Every role seems well-suited to each queen, except for Morgan’s. She gives herself the role of the Beige Swan, an homage to Natalie Portman’s Black Swan, and her performance lives up to its name. It’s beige.
And not beige in an accessible, homey way. (To be honest, we [read: Matt] are a fan of beige.) It’s beige in a boring, nondescript, uncompelling way. It’s hard to tell if the part is severely underwritten or Morgan is just not giving it anything, but it’s worth noting that Trixie and Kennedy were eyeing this part, so there must have been something on the page that made the role attractive. Also, if Morgan’s big strategy remains the same and she’d like to see the stronger girls exit the competition, it’s baffling that she would go out of her way to throw such a softball to front-runner Shangela, who gives her role more pizzazz than Octavia Spencer’s thrice-Oscar nominated ass ever could. This is less of a read on Octavia’s skills than it is praise for Shangela, who just knows what’s up on a film set. Halleloo!
Bebe, who for some reason is surprised to be given the role of the aloof and imperious Queen, struggles with taking her space in the challenge, especially in the presence of Shangela, but Trixie’s entrance provides some competition for Best in Show. She gets lots of great one-liners that fondly recall Erin Brockovich, and nails the flooziness that the role requires. Kennedy is fine as La La, if a little labored in her delivery, but Morgan is, to borrow Trixie’s assessment, truly dead on arrival.
This performance confirms the fears we expressed last week that reintroducing an eliminated queen just brings down the whole program from an entertainment standpoint, especially at the expense of many more vibrant and watchable ones. The “curse” of returning queens usually getting eliminated their first episode back isn’t so much a supernatural phenomenon as it is expected by design. Morgan’s performance is lackluster and reveals that the show isn’t doing itself any favors with elimination gimmicks and the novelty of eliminated queens re-entering the fold. For what it’s worth, Morgan came in tenth. That’s just the T. Sorry, girl.
As the girls prepare for the “Red for Filth” runway, the topic of Adam Lambert’s dressing down of Trixie and her attitude is brought up, and it’s revealed that this perception of Trixie is actually held by many others in the drag community. What may read to some as a dry, benignly antisocial vibe comes off as grand, snobbish, and rude to others, particularly other queens. Specifically, an incident in West Hollywood is discussed where Trixie came into conflict with other queens due to her standoffish demeanor. In a talking head, Trixie acknowledges that she sometimes rubs people the wrong way, and it’s something that she’s always wanted to change about her personality. We like moments like this on the show for two reasons. One, it reminds people that these queens have lives outside of the show, and it’s always good to remember that there are talented drag performers out there who should be supported. Two, it is refreshing to see the show willing to dive into the good, the bad, and the ugly with even their most popular and well-loved contestants. Sure, it’s fun to pile on whichever queen is unlucky enough to get the dreaded Villain Edit, but all of these contestants are three-dimensional and it’s nice to get a glimpse into the conflicts of their day-to-day lives.
Case in point: As the girls discuss what people think of them, Kennedy chimes in and declares that she’d like, for once, to be the queen that people get excited about outside of the show, and reveals that it’s her primary motivation to be on All Stars 3. This is not the first time that Kennedy has expressed a desire for popularity, for positive attention, and to not be the “second thought” at meet-and-greets and appearances. We’d like to say here, once and for all, that Kennedy Davenport is a gag and you should get in line for her at DragCon, because she deserves it. Should she probably have gone home already? Yes. But if her concern is that she doesn’t have the kids gagged, we’d like to tell her that she most certainly does. We’d line our gay asses up for you, Kennedy. You had us at hello (by which we mean season seven).
Cut to the main stage, and we have to stop everything to gag over Garcelle Beauvais. This woman is absolutely stunning. Whoever picked out that lip color is America’s Next Drag Superstar. It is the gag of a particularly delightful panel intro, in which Michelle reminds us of the defining moment in gay history when Elizabeth Taylor announced Gladiator as the Best Drama at the 2001 Golden Globes, and Chris Colfer reminds us that some people just do not age. This bitch could still play 16. Fuck her!
Everybody’s rocking rich and rosy regalia on the red runway this week, and there’s really not a misstep in sight. Not to pile on Morgan too much, as her Judy Garland–inspired look is great, but everyone else serves something truly special. Bebe’s bejeweled mask is stunning, Kennedy’s gown is red-carpet worthy, Trixie steps confidently and sexily outside her comfort zone as an apple-touting, books-balancing librarian, and Shangela serves us shock and awe yet again. We’re not even sure how she pulls off her gradually inflating spiky look, but it’s like she’s some sort of fierce sea creature getting hornier and hornier as she makes her way toward the judges. And the wig? Wig.
The trailer for My Best Squirrelfriend’s Dragsmaids Wedding Trip confirms exactly what went down in rehearsal, as Shangela and Trixie are the true standouts. They are both also praised for their runway looks and are the clear top-two All Stars of the week. Earning some constructive feedback on her performance but immense praise for her runway presentation is Bebe, who joins Kennedy and Morgan in the bottom three. As the queens walk offstage, it’s clear that the only real contestants at risk here are Kennedy and Morgan, barring some controversial Morgan-esque decision by Shangela or Trixie to take out Bebe.
Deliberations seem to take on a more jovial tone, probably because everyone knows and is resigned to what’s coming, and there’s a very funny exchange in which it’s revealed that Bebe may not watch Drag Race at all because she doesn’t understand an Ornacia reference Trixie makes to describe her outfit. Kennedy follows that up by declaring that the fans will “me-me her ass” and Shangela incredulously asks if she means “meme.” They all laugh and so do we, and it’s fun to watch the girls crack each other up. These are our best friends! What a time!
The top four go off to have a discussion about eliminations while Morgan sits with her cocktail on the couch, and while the show can attempt to drum up drama here, we know that neither Bebe nor Kennedy are going home when there’s a girl in the mix who has missed most of the competition and gotten the lowest judges’ critiques yet again. The decision isn’t difficult, and as we head to the runway all we can do is hope that the lip sync is entertaining.
Which, girl, it is. The song is “Freaky Money” by RuPaul herself featuring bounce superstar Big Freedia, and both Trixie and Shangela really go for it. The former does a swell job despite admittedly not being a “lip-sync assassin,” but Shangie pulls out all the stops. Ru had to stifle her laughter at the mere sight of Shangie’s huge, disgusting frock and the reveal of the fat suit underneath it causes her to lose her mind. Shangela keeps surprising and delighting with each and every performance and choice she makes in this competition, and it’s becoming clearer and clearer that she deserves that spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame. Or at the very least, a recurring role on Game of Thrones. Or that Cosmopolitan gig. Just give her a job! She’s a professional!
Morgan is sent home and it’s onward to next week’s finale! Will the Hall of Fame inductee be Bebe Zahara Benet, Shangela, Trixie Mattel, or Kennedy Davenport? Or will, like, Milk come back? You can never put anything past this show. ‘Til next week! Call your reps!
SAID THE BITCH: A Weekly Quote Spotlight
Bebe Zahara Benet, on the lipsticks she drew: “If anybody is curious about anything, just know that you’ll be curious for the rest of your life.”
… SAID THE BITCH!!! Bebe stands her ground as the rest of the girls give her flak for not telling them who she picked to go home. She delivers this in that poised, regal cadence Bebe is known for, and follows it with wonderful side-eye. It’s “Bitch 101,” and we are enrolled.