RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K.
Programming note: Vulture Drag Race U.K. recaps post after the episode’s BBC presentation, which streams simultaneously in the U.S. via WOW Presents Plus. Each episode will then air on Logo the following Friday. So U.S. viewers waiting to watch via Logo, consider this your spoiler warning, henny!
Let’s just skip past the beginning-of-episode formalities quicker than Selena Gomez turned around and just released “Look at Her Now” after “Lose You to Love Me,” because we all know why we’re here: to see a British Snatch Game! It’s “the biggest trending topic since Brexit,” Ru says, and I’ll let that cringey reference slide for the fact that it’s not not relevant to the rest of the episode. (You’ll see.)
We’re immediately treated to some Snatch Game drama, which is, in my expert opinion, some of them most delicious drama on the show. Divina shows off a wig and explains that she’s prepared former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, which prompts Blu to lay a hand on her arm to tell her that Baga is also planning to do Maggie. They even both demonstrate their skill with the same line, “The lady’s not for turning” — which is apparently a reference to a speech? This is just the beginning of the U.K.-specific political references this episode that flew right over my very American head, but what I do know is that Divina made a bad decision by giving Margaret (and Margaret’s clothes, no less!) to Baga without a fight, after Baga said she hadn’t really prepared anyone else. (It’s never touched on in the episode, but I think Baga just didn’t want to give up the character.) Oh well, Divina will just do Julia Child!
Ru soon comes for his rounds, bringing along Alan Carr! Every season, RuPaul Charles impresses me with his ability to guess a contestant’s Snatch game character based on the wig and clothes they’ve laid out — and I have to say, I didn’t expect one of the comedic effects of a U.K. spinoff to be that he’s become terrible at it! Give me a whole hour of RuPaul looking with puzzlement at an outfit only to be told it’s for someone like Sir David Attenborough (“I’m not getting it because I’m American?”) and pretending to know who Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry is!
Anyway, it’s business as usual except for that the Vivienne has three impressions prepared, including a take on Beatles associate Cilla Black, complete with fake teeth, that brings the whole werkroom down. I can tell that it’s a winning choice, and I just want to see more! I’m also pulling for Sum Ting to choose iconic “sensual” TV chef Nigella Lawson (glorious! golden! globules!) over … a nature broadcaster? But Blu has gotten in touch with her saboteur side and knows Nigella would be strong, so she pushes Sum Ting toward Sir David. If Divina won’t play the game, at least someone will!
And fuck my drag, right, because we get to the Snatch Game and I see that not only has Sum Ting chosen Attenborough, but the Vivienne has ignored my advice through my laptop screen and is all oranged-up to play Donald Trump. Joining them are Divina’s Julia Child, Cheryl as TV personality (from Essex) Gemma Collins, Baga’s Maggie Thatcher, Crystal as Rue McClanahan (as Blanche Devereux of Golden Girls), and Blu’s Mary Berry.
We’re off, and I’m ready to be snatched. Even if (skip this part, Alec Baldwin) I’m tired of Trump impersonations, I have to agree with Ru that the Vivienne does a spot-on voice, although we all know Snatch Game is about more than an imitation. I’m not sold on the jokes, which seem less like off-the-cuff responses because of how highly referential they are. There are a few good lines (“A bath of piss, it’s great. That’s how I keep my color”), along with some excellent banter with The Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher. And speaking of! Baga gives her a vampire-esque look and doesn’t miss a beat with her deep voice — when Ru is surprised that she’d call Michelle Visage “Belgrano Spice,” Baga simply replies, “Like the ship, she likes to go down,” and it’s the best line of the whole show. The other standout, to me, is Blu, who takes the adorable old baker we know and love and turns her into an octogenarian sex fiend. That there’s absolutely no backstory just makes it better.
Exactly one girl, Cheryl Hole, falls in the middle for me — her doing an Essex girl meant she was the only one not using some level of a voice, but it was fine — and the rest (including a winner and top from last week!) were varying degrees of bad. Divina’s Julia Child isn’t quite as bad as Milk’s confused one from season six, just boring. Ru puts jokes right in front of her and she still misses them — I mean, every Julia fan knows she enjoys “cooking with wine”! Crystal is the least memorable alongside Cheryl, but with fewer jokes; she gets exactly one at the end about McClanahan’s death from syphilis. And then there’s Sum Ting, who dragged up someone who is the polar opposite of drag and whose performance veers more toward educational than comedic. Couldn’t she have just ceded her time to Baga?
In the werkroom the next day, Blu, who for some reason thinks she needs to apologize for breathing comedic life into Mary Berry, stirs things up once again by asking Divina if she thought she could’ve done a better Thatcher. Divina thinks she could have, and I would like to see it!
Saboteur though she may be, I cannot continue to shade Blu Hydrangea in this recap because, as the girls are painting, she gets into a conversation about marriage (Divina is; Cheryl and Crystal are engaged) and explains that Northern Ireland doesn’t yet have marriage equality. I’m not so interested in the queens’ shock over it (I grew up in Kansas and rural Pennsylvania, so these things sadly don’t surprise me), but when Blu reveals that she and her partner agreed to wait for equal marriage instead of getting a civil partnership, I started to lose it — especially given this week’s news that the country has legislated marriage equality. I hope she enjoyed celebrating.
After the runway, where the category was “genetically modified drag queens,” Cheryl and Blu are both declared safe. I have to assume it’s so Cheryl wouldn’t feel alone while she untucked — Blu’s Snatch Game performance was certainly the most interesting, and that eye felt out-of-the-box for her. She might be growing on me, can’t you tell? I’m thinking the Vivienne will notch a second win for her Trump based on judges’ comments: she beat Baga on the runway (I’d love to see a real dress and some big hair!), even if I’m not getting this revolutionary performance that Ru and Michelle are fawning over. But Ru announces that they both win, and they won’t even have to split the badge, because the show’s prizeless budget can afford two! This, to me, is justice; Baga’s performance felt the most British of the group and it would’ve been a shame to leave it unrecognized.
Sum Ting Wong’s fate as a bottom is sealed with her cheap catsuit look, but I’m torn on Divina versus Crystal given both of their innovative looks. Ru deems Divina safe for her stunning flowery outfit, although I personally preferred Crystal’s industrial take on the challenge — and she made sparks literally fly when she used a saw on her metal costume pieces. Guest judge Geri Halliwell (hey, Ginger Spice was the guest judge, by the way) may have been scared, but it’s something I would pay money to see. Crystal and Sum Ting’s lip sync to “Spice Up Your Life” is fairly average, though, except for the sheer spectacle of Crystal performing bubblegum pop in that outfit. And Sum Ting Wong, who should’ve done Nigella Lawson anyway, sashays away.
I was never really that into Sum Ting, but I did appreciate the end of this episode, when she’s met backstage by Geri, her biggest fan. (“I feel like Sum Ting Wong embodies Britain,” she says during deliberations, to my American confusion.) “Maybe you can be called Sum Ting Right,” Geri tells her, before pronouncing her name as Sum Ting “Wrong.” But it’s the thought that counts, and one that adorably capped the episode.
Across The Pond
• One of the best moments of the episode involves Alan Carr explaining a tit shrug to Ru and Crystal. Apparently it’s an English thing? “Do you have that in America, tit shruggin’?” he asks, after seeming to do one off-camera when talking to Crystal — who has no idea what’s going on. (Give her a break, she’s Canadian!) “Don’t just make a, we do, don’t make out and just leave me hanging here! Don’t we?” Alan pleads. “No, I don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s just you, Alan.” All Crystal can do is laugh and act cute.
• We have got to talk more about the supposedly iconic cleaning lady Kim Woodburn, who seems to pop up every episode. By my research, she seems like if Marie Kondo acted like Wendy Williams and Judge Judy? I just want one of these queens to properly show me why they love her, and I would’ve loved to see the Vivienne do her for the Snatch Game!
• Among many other things that I’ll just let you listen to for yourself, Blu’s Mary Berry refers to her “poonanny.” I can think of few more awful combinations of words than poo + nanny, so I hope we don’t have to hear this one too much.