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!
You know those memes that are like, “I forced a bot to write a [insert thing here] and this is what it came up with?” More or less, that’s what this episode of Drag Race U.K. felt like — and we didn’t even get many absurd jokes out of it. Sit back, relax, and let me explain.
After last week’s lip sync, the typical emotions are in the air. Scaredy needs praise for having the balls to go on the show (she “wasn’t neutered”); Baga needs more tits for all her RuPeter badges (as in, she needs a single tit?); everyone needs a win because they’re starting to feel anxious. I need them to get to the challenge already!
Our mini-challenge this week involves a pole, but sadly, RuPaul tells us, we will not get to see Blu Hydrangea or Crystal pole dance. These queens, like the ladies they are, will dance around the Maypole, till RuPaul calls upon them to break things down. But first, Baga asks, “What the fuck’s a Maypole?” Wikipedia tells me it’s part of European folk tradition and more common to Scotland and Wales; my little knowledge comes from an episode of SpongeBob. As the queens get into quick drag, Sum Ting Wong asks, “Vinegar, ’ave you got any shitty drag I can borrow?” and she’s … not wrong! The dancing itself is fun — we see everyone’s tuppence as they twerk all over the place, and Cheryl wins for choosing to pole dance anyway. Good for her!
For the maxi challenge, the queens must look “posh on a penny” with “rubbish” from a “car-boot sale.” Yes, every season of Drag Race needs a sewing challenge, but this one sounds a bit too familiar. I’d much prefer an early-season ball, or even a recycling design challenge with a bit more of a concept, like when the queens had to work with scraps themed around past contestants in season 11 of the U.S. series. Oh, and by the way, Raven is here! She does nothing except tell the queens they “look like fuckin’ shite,” which should be enough inspiration to get them through this.
Part of me just wants to skip right to the runway because, well, not much happens in the werkroom. But foreplay is important! The queens make a mad dash for their materials and get to work, and it’s very clear very quickly who knows what they’re doing. Crystal studied design in school, the Vivienne immediately has a high-concept look, and Blu thinks you shouldn’t go on the competition if you don’t “know how to fuckin’ make things.” (Say it louder for the people at home!) Sum Ting Wong, meanwhile, will “hope for the best,” while Vinegar is drawing inspiration from a toothbrush. Ru makes his rounds like he’s been forced to make an appearance at a party, small-talking all the queens with no real revelations. He does struggle to find a word for Vinegar’s aesthetic before landing on “hodgepodge,” and again, he’s not wrong! The rest of the room agrees, and this is clearly spelling doom for Vinegar on the runway. Vinegar has some of the most personality of any of the queens, and when she’s on, she’s a joy to watch. I’m not expecting glamour from her at this point, but I don’t feel like I can continue to stan if she doesn’t channel that personality into a look somehow. Anyway, like the resistant partygoer he is, Ru makes an Irish exit without announcing a mid-episode twist, or even telling these queens who their guest judge will be.
At this point, the episode is getting awfully predictable. Queens are trying things they’ve never done before, and other queens are giving them unsolicited advice, but none of it amounts to any tension. Vinegar and Sum Ting, being set up as the bottoms, are both worrying about going home. Meanwhile Crystal, the humble costumer, is getting more confessional time than ever, all but promising her a win. Nobody’s look falls apart at the last minute or runs into a major how-the-fuck-will-I-finish issue. And the painting conversation is about the internet?! For an episode with no interpersonal conflict, there’s no real fight against the challenge either — we’re essentially just told that some queens will be good at designing and some will be bad and some will be passable and that’s just how it is. I never said it’d be good foreplay.
However, Dame Twiggy herself is sitting at the judge’s table this week, and she deserves to be impressed! Maybe she should’ve picked a different episode? Here’s a rundown of the looks:
Divina de Campo: Her high-fashion red, white, and blue look screams space-age David Bowie to me, and feels like one of the most followed-through concepts of the night.
Baga Chipz: The tiny dress made out of copper steel wool leaves me wanting more, just one well-placed accessory, and even looks a little unfinished when she turns around. And three episodes in, I want some bigger hair from her!
Blu Hydrangea: She calls it a supervillain; all I see are those party streamers.
Sum Ting Wong: She can barely move in her “tailored” suit made from stiff curtain fabric, which would’ve said enough, but she flashes us as well to remind that she didn’t make a shirt!
The Vivienne: Her big-shouldered hanging videotapes outfit looks exactly like what she promised in the werkroom, with huge hair on top of it all, and I can’t not be impressed.
Vinegar Strokes: It looks like everyone else got a day and she glued some dictionary pages together in an hour? And Sum Ting already stole her jacket-and-no-shirt look.
Cheryl Hole: I don’t mind this yellow glove-finger look, but I don’t like it either, and I’ve forgotten it right after she walks off.
Crystal: Reader, I gasped. She delivered once-over, with a costume-couture goddess look that I can’t look away from. Of all the looks, it’s the only one where I have no idea what the materials were, which I absolutely love.
In the first shocking thing to happen this episode, Divina wins the challenge over Crystal. I guess I have to applaud that? But it’s a clear attempt to make good on the arc that began last episode, of her feeling like she had to prove that she belonged in the competition (when she honestly did well). I, for one, will be starting my #Justice4Crystal campaign — comment or DM me on Twitter if you want to help make T-shirts or something.
In the bottom, Cheryl gets her “final warning” from RuPaul and is deemed safe once again, pitting new friends Sum Ting and Vinegar against each other in the lip sync. At some level, you could call this lip sync entertaining for how messy it is — it did make me laugh — but both queens only prove that they’re worth sending home. Sum Ting rips her skirt off and struts the stage almost naked, while Vinegar gets on her knees and started sliding (it looks accidental?) on the runway. It was, again, another waste of a good British New Wave song, “Would I Lie to You?” by Eurhythmics. (But keep this up!) And so we say goodbye to Vinegar, who I still love but couldn’t see having a path to the crown after this episode. Let’s hope the show got all its mediocrity out of the way in time for next week’s Snatch Game.
Across the Pond
• Baga Chipz says the most English thing I’ve ever heard in reaction to the mini-challenge: “I am so out of breath, I’m bloody knackered, I’ve got the wrong shoes on, I’m coughing me minge up, I feel like Paula Radcliffe, I’m gonna have a piss in the street in a minute!” It would take a translator to get to the true heart of what she’s saying here, which is out of budget for this recap, so I’m just leaving it here for your appreciation.
• When Ru called the runway challenge “Posh on a Penny,” I had to pause: They don’t have pennies in the U.K., right? But as it turns out, a pence can be called a penny!
• Speaking of the challenge theme, what is a car boot sale, anyway? It seems like some sort of yard-sale-turned-market where people sell out of their cars’ boots, which is British for trunk. The more you know!