RuPaul’s Drag Race
Sitting down to write this recap, I find myself struggling. How would my time be best used here in this written piece? Should I recount the events of this episode and do my “job,” or would I best help the world by educating the masses on Mariah Carey? Because … woof. To say I hope she never sees or hears about this episode is an understatement. People would die? What has occurred here in this episode of Drag Race is straight up dis-re-spect-ful, y’all. And while we end up with a very strange, clusterfucky lip-synch finale, the likes of which we have never seen before, you can’t say it’s not fitting after what is maybe the most embarrassing collective maxi challenge performance in the herstory of the show. Let’s talk about how we ended up with this mess!
After last week, we know these girls can pretty much execute an acting challenge. So when we get what is basically another one, the bar is high. After a mini-challenge that asks the girls to convince Ru, an offscreen bouncer, to let them into a Seduction concert (Seduction is, of course, Michelle Visage’s old girl group … I only clarify this because now I’m really questioning our community’s ability to diva worship), Nina West and Ra’Jah O’Hara are informed they are winners and therefore team captains. The two must pick teams, schoolyard bully style, for the Diva Worship challenge. Both teams will star in evangelical-style talk shows that focus on one major diva of the team’s choosing. You know these shows where they praise Jesus? Replace Jesus with Robyn. We’re doing that. Seems clear, right? Seems like something it would be incredibly easy for any queer person to do? Sister …
The first team is Nina West, Silky, Yvie, Vanjie, Brooke Lynn, Ariel, and Mercedes. The second is made up of Ra’Jah, Shuga, Scarlet, Plastique, Honey, and A’keria. When they sit down to pick teams, alarm bells start going off. Nina West’s team has a relatively easy time choosing Britney and we, the viewer, feel pretty safe. Britney Spears is a major part of pop culture. Even if you weren’t a stan, you could fill this challenge with specifics. At several different points in her career, Britney was arguably the most famous person in the world and there is a lot to mine from both her high and low points. Have we heard a lot of jokes and takes on her already? Yes. But that is part of why it’s such a guaranteed success for this team. There’s just … a lot there.
Ra’Jah’s team chooses Mariah and it feels decidedly different. It’s not just that no one person in the group is a Mariah superfan, and therefore there is no source for real information. It’s that everyone we’re dealing with here seems to have doubts about anything Mariah has done at all. They are not aware that she calls her fans “lambs,” which I guess is fair, but I’m sure will result in many thousands of angry gays screaming at their televisions. They think one of the most iconic things about her is her “middle part.” Naming her most famous songs, “Emotions” comes up, only to be followed by a short performance of Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional,” which is not corrected by more Mariah-woke members of the group, but reinforced with yaaaas-es. It’s like watching a doctor decide to do surgery on someone while they’re wide awake and begging them not to. It is crazy. Making matters worse, it seems like everyone in the group knows that this is a bad idea, but no one says anything.
It’s wild to know which group will be in the bottom before the challenge even starts, but when Ru does her walkthrough it is truly so clear that we actually may be better off not even doing the challenge. Would it be so bad if we just went straight to the runway? I say this not really out of concern for the contestants, but for Mariah. She’s just been doing so well.
Also doing so well is Team Nina West, who pretty much all nail this. Watching their performance, it sinks in that it’s actually even smarter to pick the famously Southern Britney to worship in a televangelist setting. Nina does a great job setting the tone as the host, and while she has a lot of lines to memorize, she never seems anything less than confident when she’s on screen. The same can’t be said for Brooke Lynn, who is some sort of secondary host giving color commentary, but it’s not weak enough that it’s distracting. By the time Vanjie takes over to perform a live conversion on non-Britney bitches Yvie and Mercedes, she’s all we can think about anyway. Vanjie is truly funny in a balls-to-the-church-walls performance littered with not only copious Britney references, but vocal and acting choices that are all singularly Miss Vanjie. It’s one of the most impactful performances we’ve seen on the season so far, and when Ariel Versace and Silky Ganache take the challenge home with a spirited musical ode to Britney Jean, I find I’ve been thoroughly entertained. I’m more and more taken by Vanjie specifically, but everyone in this group (save Mercedes, whose mortal enemy is words) has done their thing.
It doesn’t take long for Ra’Jah’s team to realize the grave mistake they’ve made in choosing Mariah, a pop star they know nothing about, in a challenge that requires they know a lot about a pop star. They’ve picked a good name for their show with “When You Believe,” and almost make a solid religious connection with the album title The Emancipation of Mimi, but then they’re exhausted. Two references in, the girls seem truly fuckin’ tapped. The whole gig slows to a halt, and Ross Matthews, looking on as director, is in a state of shock. I guess Shuga Cain looks a little bit more comfortable being uncomfortable than Scarlet Envy, but neither come off well.
It does get worse. Plastique Tiara is in the Miss Vanjie role here, and must perform a live conversion on non-believer A’keria Davenport, whose choice is that she doesn’t like Mariah because she is an Ariana Grande stan. I guess A’keria’s performance seems committed to enough, especially in the face of Plastique’s very odd decision to bellow the words “Ariana Grande” like she is the one possessed by a demon, but none of this matters when they claim that Mariah was in the film Sparkle.
Girls, no. We have to at least know Glitter. If we don’t know Glitter, truly why are any of us even here? Not one of these six drag queens knew Glitter? Is this generational? How?! This is the part that feels disrespectful to me! At least let us homosexually exalt Mariah’s great, glorious failure correctly on this television program. Otherwise, why did she go through that at all!? There’s just so much to unpack and I can barely watch the rest of the challenge. I tap out as Honey Davenport and Ra’Jah O’Hara screlt us to all of our own deaths. I can barely watch this anymore. The drag queens didn’t know Glitter.
The next day, Shuga is right to feel afraid about her team’s performance. Honey, meanwhile, thinks she slayed. At least she’s aware of the possibility that she’s wacko? Because she’s wacko. Meanwhile, Vanjie and Brooke Lynn kiss each other on the mouth, Yvie’s dick is out, and Mercedes is uncomfortable discussing her Muslim religion but, I’m sorry, I’m not focused on any of this. The drag queens didn’t know Glitter. Let’s just do the runway.
Troye Sivan and Guillermo Diaz of Scandal are here to watch the fringe runway, and it is overall very fringe. Highlights have to include A’Keria Davenport, serving Egyptian queen fringe goddess and likely saving her ass from elimination based on the challenge in which her team of drag queens did not know Glitter; Shuga Cain’s nod to her Native heritage by way of fringe that should hopefully distract the judges from that time her team did not know Glitter; and Nina West’s funny anthropomorphized mop-lady, decked out in fringe. I bet Nina West knows Glitter. Honorable mention to Yvie Oddly, who certainly attacked the challenge from an outside the box place. I question how polished the makeup is, but it’s definitely memorable. Yvie is always that.
Nina West is the overall winner of the challenge, which I totally understand, even if Vanjie was obviously the funniest part of the Britney group. Nina truly held the team together in a strong way, and her runway is really terrific. Vanjie and Ariel are both commended on a job well done, and then they are dismissed.
The girls barely even get any individual criticism because there’s just so much to say on behalf of the whole group and how badly everyone did. Shuga and A’Keria’s runways are given positive notice, but the judges are justifiably fixated on the complete and utter lack of Mariah knowledge. RuPaul lists a bunch of artists who may have been better choices, and the looks on everyone’s faces say it all. Each and every one of them obviously wishes they would have stepped up and suggested they do something else. RuPaul asks for an explanation from the girls, demanding to know who is responsible for the team’s failure. Each and every one of them refuses to point the finger at someone else. In fact, none of them really say much of value at all. You can tell it frustrates Ru, who sends them away so she and the judges can discuss what the hell to do with these drag queens who didn’t know Glitter.
This is a tough one to figure out. Do you put Honey and Ra’Jah in the bottom two for that musical nightmare at the end of the segment? Do you put Scarlet and Shuga there for setting a really shaky tone? Or do you let A’Keria and Plastique duke it out, because they were truly the two drag queens who didn’t know Glitter. Not only that … but they mentioned Sparkle. The decision is impossible. So impossible, in fact, that Ru announces that all six of the girls will be lip-synching for their lives.
Which I’m sure looked really fun in the room on the day of production! On television, it just looks messy. It’s definitely gaggy to see these girls try to negotiate space where there is clearly not enough, but the tricks that may have looked impressive any other week just look cramped and labored. The song is a remix of J.Lo’s “Waiting For Tonight,” which sort of works because that tune probably slaps in a crowded nightclub, but eh. This was better in theory than practice. Ru seems most negatively affected by the chaos that Honey Davenport is bringing to the proceedings, and she ultimately pays the price and is eliminated. It can’t feel good. In this competition, Honey truly never got a moment. But the fact of the matter is, someone had to go from this team. That is what happens when the drag queens don’t know Glitter.
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Silky on Ariel: She’s an Instagram ho. Nobody care! NO-body care.
Said the bitch! Oh, the Instagays I could tag …