RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars
This week, Farrah Moan’s elimination is commemorated with whines from all of the remaining contestants, who remind us yet again that it is difficult to send one of your competitors home. But Valentina, principled as she is, explains her decision simply: This is All Stars. This is not “Give a Third Chance to a Girl.” That is, of course, my show that I am producing for Freeform about Hillary Clinton’s upcoming 2020 presidential run. Just kidding! I think …
I have to call something out right now before we get into the episode. Valentina is basking in the afterglow of her lip sync win and a cut to Monét’s confessional reveals that she is beyond pressed that she didn’t take the W and earn $10,000 because she “knows she slayed that lip sync.” Reader, in what world? That lip sync was a C-grade bodysuit reveal we have seen thousands of times and could see coming a mile away and one admittedly gaggy jump into a split. But to actively feel like you should have won? After that? And to then confront Trinity the Tuck of all people about how your wardrobe is superior to hers? What is going on here? I get that this kind of overconfidence makes a cold open pop but, like … Monét! It hasn’t been happening. And it continues to not happen with this episode, which contains a bottom-two placement I roll my eyes at. The episode screams “I am produced!” in a way I don’t like. We know it’s produced, but it shouldn’t scream that. Here’s what goes down …
Ru reveals that this week we’re doing the Snatch Game, but with a twist! The Snatch Game of Love is the name of this game, as we’re infusing the Dating Game into the traditional formula. Contestants will now have to remain in character as their chosen celebrity while they woo a celebrity bachelor. It’s basically a normal Snatch Game, we’re just shakin’ it up a bit. Drama immediately envelops the workroom as Gia Gunn and Trinity have selected the same character: Caitlyn Jenner. Right off the bat, it seems like it makes sense for Trinity, whose demeanor seems well-suited to Caitlyn’s. However, Gia is a trans woman, just like Ms. Jenner, and feels this gives her some claim to the character. Her competitors shut this reasoning down, and I’m inclined to agree with them. Claiming ownership over performing all trans people because she herself is trans seems like an easy stretch for Gia, and she knows it. Without backups, and backed into a corner, Gia opts to portray Cardi B’s nail tech Jenny Bui because of her ability to do a broad Asian stereotype. Cool.
For a group comprising so many dynamic personalities, there’s actually a ton to prove here in this Snatch Game. Naomi was famously at her lowest when she last performed in this challenge as Tiffany “New York” Pollard, Latrice could barely even perform due to being distracted by her season-four competitors’ “romper room fuckery,” and Monique was eliminated after barely registering as Maxine Waters in season ten.
The first group, competing to win the heart of Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy, consists of Monét as a sweaty, manic Whitney Houston, Naomi as daytime talk-show host Wendy Williams, Trinity as a bowlegged Caitlyn, and Valentina as a committed, maybe even too committed, Eartha Kitt. From the jump, I’m willing to give Monét the benefit of the doubt because the edit is shady toward her: They didn’t have to spoil the fact that Monét had a spray bottle on hand in order to appear sweaty, and they definitely didn’t need to include her spritzing herself. It ruins the illusion and it’s not fair to her. However, Monét is simply not committed to the character. The differences between her and, let’s say, Valentina are clear in that while neither of them really slay the challenge, Valentina is at least committed to playing Eartha Kitt. You can see it in her eyes. She’s acting. Monét is acting … like Monét. On top of all of this, it physically pains me when she refers to her debut album as being “You Give Good Love” (a single) from 1998 (a decade off). Honey, it’s rule of culture No. 83: If you’re gonna have statistics, bitch, they better be right. I get that “speaking fast” was Monét’s character choice as Whitney, but you have to think before you do so. I’m sorry! I’m disappointed! I’m a fan!
Valentina, Naomi, and Trinity are all playing their character throughout the Snatch Game of Love experience. It’s almost like Monét is playing the character only when it’s her turn. She never stops being herself. Naomi is surprisingly good (a narrative for her this season) as Williams, who is honestly a dream Snatch Game character, and she caps it all off by fainting. Later, she will be commended by the judges for making that a surprise despite wearing the exact outfit Williams wore when she took her infamous tumble, and I have to agree. Naomi excels at the Snatch Game! Snaps for her.
The star of the round is obviously Miss the Tuck, however, who plays Jenner for all she is worth. “Malibu, baby!” gets me every time, and the performance is altogether a massive success because it feels like Trinity is having so much fun with it. She obviously came prepared and selected a character she feels comfortable improvising as. That’s the big mistake that a lot of the girls make when they are preparing their Snatch; the impression does not necessarily have to be “good,” you just have to be comfortable enough to be funny doing it. Case in point: Alyssa Edwards as Joan Crawford. The impression is not “good,” but no one’s mad. Because we’re laughing!
The second round is a lot less fun than the first as they compete to impress the handsome actor Keiynan Lonsdale from Love, Simon. Tiffany Haddish is a perfect selection for Monique Heart, and she has a really good run about midway through the game that makes it clear that she is a fan of and has studied Haddish. She, and I hope you forgive me for this, ready. Manila continues to push the boundaries of what is racially acceptable with her Barbra Streisand. The nose is questionable to say the least, but it is also really funny, and I agree with Michelle Visage during judging later that it is a caricature on top of a caricature on top of a caricature of Streisand, and she is certainly committed to it.
Gia does the most to say the least as Jenny Bui, and is ultimately more irritating than anything. She frequently interrupts her competitors, especially the easily frazzled Latrice Royale, and it’s probably because she is so uncomfortable the whole time. There’s not much to say about Royale’s Della Reese because Reese never gets portrayed, really. Latrice is Latrice from the very beginning, and she is so shook by Gia that it never gets beyond that. At this point, though, she should really be able to rise above, and the “Gia is distracting” of it all kind of feels like a convenient excuse. I just don’t think the Snatch Game is Latrice’s game.
Gus chooses Trinity and Keiynan chooses Manila, and this is a good sign that they will probably be the top two All Stars of the week when all is said and done. In the workroom following the Snatch Game of Love, the girls all blow off some steam and talk about the trauma and the drama of it all. Gia swears she wasn’t trying to bother, distract, insult, or hurt anyone during the game, despite the entirety of last week’s episode centering around her attempts to bother, distract, insult, and hurt Farrah Moan, but it does feel genuine here. The cracks in the Gia Gunn veneer are starting to show, and it’s becoming evident at this point that there’s something bigger going on with her.
I’m surprised when Trinity floats to Valentina that she is a contender for the bottom two because it feels absolutely clear to this recapper and Snatch Game scholar that the bottom is clearly some combination of Gia, Monét, and Latrice. Sure, Valentina wasn’t directly answering questions from bachelor Gus, but she was performing hard throughout the challenge and the things she was saying weren’t not funny. Literally, to quote Jasmine Masters, you might not like what she was saying, but you can’t say she wasn’t funny. This quote feels applicable now, my gay ass thinks.
The first discussions of eliminating stronger competitors when given the chance are brought to the table by Manila, and it was only a matter of time. The field is getting more and more competitive as the weeks go by, so we’re going to lose some fierce girls. Personally, just for my own entertainment’s sake, I prefer it when the contestants who are better at playing the game stick around, but the fact of the matter is that All Stars is a whole different beast than a regular season, and we are talking about $100,000. You can’t blame someone for wanting to make their road to that prize a little easier. We may be getting messy, sweaty! And soon!
Before we get to the runway, let’s just all give a standing ovation for RuPaul’s colorful little number on the main stage! And I do mean little, honey! We never see her go this short, and it’s really fun and refreshing. Yes, Ru! Shake it up late in the game! Express yourself! She could go to the beach in this! Category is “Boots the House Down” and away we go.
Monét comes out looking like if Samus Aran were more obviously a woman. (That one was for all my gamer queens.) Facially, she looks stunning, and I really love this hair on her, but the outfit looks like she went to Modell’s and bought something too big for her. What is going on with the top of the shoes by her hip? I don’t get it. I don’t get how you hear that the challenge is “Boots the House Down” and you bring this. I don’t get it! And all I want to do is get it!
Naomi serves us Horned Beast as Runway Goddess with her ensemble, which is cool, but I’m distracted by how good Gus Kenworthy’s puns are. Slay, bitch! You are a funny ho! He’s having fun and I like him a lot. Do I have a crush on Gus Kenworthy and does this make me revolutionary? Anyway, Naomi is Naomi. She’s gorgeous. It’s not giving me “boots,” though. Moving on!
Change all of my social-media accounts to Trinity the Tuck stan accounts, honestly, because I am obsessed with everything she has done on this show. “My look, bitch, is sickening.” And she’s right. Blessed was the moment where my mother (I am home for the holidays giving the gift of RuPaul’s Drag Race to my parents) exclaimed, “Wow! She is really a woman!” in response to Trinity’s black-and-gold buckled look. I love everything about it too, mom!
From the shoulders up, Valentina is startlingly beautiful, as she always is, but I just know she’s going to get read for the crotchal fit of her nude bodysuit, which also doesn’t shout “boots” to me despite, I guess, sort of qualifying for this runway theme. Monique Heart’s runway has a fan in me due to its narrative, though I can admit it looks more simple than what we’ve seen. Still, she looks confident and beautiful.
Manila likely solidifies her position as one of the top queens this week with her bound and gagged, completely hopped runway. It’s bunny and bondage, and the carrot in her mouth is an inspired touch. This is classic Manila in that it’s fun and silly, yet fashion. Gia Gunn looks … good! It’s denim and it’s boots. Can’t say it’s not. She is beautiful. It’s just not a spectacle and not trying to be. Latrice caps off the runway with shimmering, shining fringe jewels on her boots to match those on her top. She looks like she is loving her entire life, and we love her life right back! A runway presentation to feed the children and make us happy. Happy children!
Monét and Monique are immediately named safe, which is tough to justify regarding the former! What exactly moved Monét into the safe zone? When someone can tell me how she was funnier and looked better than Latrice and Valentina, I will eat my hat. Give me the hat and I’ll eat it. There was no denying that Gia was the weakest this week and deserves to leave, but this reeks to me of producers wanting to make this more interesting than it was and machinating an unjustified bottom-two situation because of it. I really dislike when they do things like this. I feel it talks down to the audience, like last year when BenDeLaCreme “won” her lip sync to “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” against an iconic and lived-in Bebe Zahara Benet so she could dramatically eliminate herself. We see through it. Be fair.
Naomi, in the “high but not top two” placement for the third week in a row, is named safe alongside Latrice, meaning the bottom two is Valentina and Gia, and Trinity and Manila will rightfully duke it out in the Lip Sync for Your Legacy. Gia all but tells the top two girls that she is uncomfortable being there, judged as a man dressing up as a woman, when she is a woman and didn’t realize she’d feel this way until now. Keeping her there in this state would seem cruel, so no amount of editing can hide the fact that Trinity and Manila, who baits us by going back and forth about how she’ll play the elimination game, know what the right thing to do is.
The lip sync to “How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston could probably be a lot more fun, and it seems like both of the girls play it a little safe, but they look the part as ’80s pop divas and Manila takes the win. She gracefully eliminates Gia, who then says while writing her lipstick message that she would have liked to stay (?). I wish Gia all the best, as it seems like (via her social media) she’d like to tell a very different side of her All Stars 4 story than the one portrayed, and I hope she’s not too pained by the way she was depicted, fair or not.
We are down to seven competitors who all have the potential to wow us. Several of them already have. Will we see those special few (Trinity, Naomi, Manila) continue to wow us, or will the more unpredictable contestants (Monique, Latrice, Valentina) step their pussy up? And when is Monét X Change going to be Monét fucking X Change? We can’t wait. Like … we literally can’t wait.
SAID THE BITCH! A Weekly Quote Roundup
Monét, in the workroom, is explaining her ideas to portray Whitney Houston.
Monique, in confessional: We gon’ pray.
… Said the bitch!!!!! America, score one for the atheists.