Canada’s Drag Race
This episode begins like a Joyce Carol Oates tweet: on a tragic foot. Kiara has been eliminated from the competition, never to kai-kai again, and even sadder, these queens’ Celine Dion runway lewks look dire in the harsh but honest light of the werkroom. They lack definition. They lack detail. Half of them are flat-out ugly. I stared at Rita Baga and wondered why she was back in her Edith Piaf Snatch Game look. I genuinely believe that this is an excellent crop of queens who for the most part would be able to give the American girls a run for their money … in all aspects of the show except runways. It doesn’t get in the way of the show as a piece of entertainment and a showcase for talented queer performers, but poor Jimbo’s going to need a chiropractor after carrying every single runway on her back. Whew.
The Top Group of Seven (can’t believe they didn’t make that joke) talk about how they’re divided into a Winner’s Circle (Jimbo, Priyanka, Lemon, Rita) and a The Rest circle (Scarlett, Ilona, BOA), and Scarlett — who hasn’t had to lip-sync yet but hasn’t won, either — is starting to get a little salty about it. She tells BOA that her getting a warning from the judges to step it up echoes Tynomi’s final warning before she was sent packing. Rita feels she has to carry the Fleurdelisé for her whole pseudo nation-state, now that her fellow Quebec queen has departée. And just to plant multiple story kernels this episode, I have to point out: Lemon always has such fun looks out of drag, it pains me to see what she brings to the runway.
This episode’s mini-challenge is a fun one. It’s a winner. It’s creative. It’s directly triggering Priyanka, who just ate dirt with her Miss Cleo Snatch game. The queens have 20 minutes to get into fortune-teller quick drag before they each play a Miss Cleo–style seer answering phones for “HoHo’s Astral Alliance” at $3.99 a minute CAD. Their secret caller is Crystal, the famously Canadian Drag Race U.K. RuGirl, who sets them each up for a very fun one-on-one improv game. Rita Baga transforms into Rita Baba-Yaga, taking the “old crone” approach to fortune-telling. Priyanka smartly distances herself from her tire fire of a Snatch Game, going for a Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost thing and cracking Jeffrey up. Ilona wears a snowflake on her forehead and negs Crystal and it lasts the perfect length at approx. 18 seconds (more on this later). I have zero clue as to what or whom Scarlett BoBo was channeling with her voice and look, but it was funny. BOA does BOA, which is to say: She rasps, screams, jiggles a cheap breastplate, strips, and runs away. Jimbo gives us a cross between Elvira, Baby Jane, and Jinkx Monsoon with her vision of a “hideous mole on your testicle” and our gal Lemon wins this mini with the best wig she’s worn so far, unfortunately, and her Gen-Z-cusp impersonation of a millennial.
As a result, she gets to choose the groups for a Cheap Law Firm Commercial maxi-challenge, which is such a delightful concept for an ol’ Drag Race staple: comedic advertisements. Lemon and Priyanka continue giving me a Sasha-and-Shea dream-team fantasy and pair up; Lemon puts Scarlett and Ilona together, further souring Scarlett’s already salty mood; and Jimbo, BOA, and Rita Baga group up in what is sure to be a comedic powerhouse of a group. The members of this last group decides that they’re going to focus on lawsuits related to “Stagettes,” which is Canadian hoser-speak for bachelorette parties, because bachelor parties are called stags and Canadians apparently haven’t heard of the concept of a “doe, a deer, a female deer.” No, no, no. They are stag-ettes. Jeffrey does a walkthrough where he gives the groups some self-help Ru-speak, and it’s worth it for Rita describing her worst bachelorette experience — “I got a finger in my anus” — complete with a “POP!” sound effect.
The teams then have half an hour to film using a green screen and [camera cut to the Pit Crew standing by] props. Stacey is there as their Ross/Michelle/Max Mutchnick acting coach. The way these challenges are usually edited, we see some of the material during the filming footage but get a different picture when we see the final product. In this episode, all of the best bits are laid out in the second act, so I’ll just list them now: Priyanka and Lemon are hilarious as Pussy Injury lawyers. Priyanka talking about her “pum-pum” doesn’t get old, and “Have ya ever gotten so litty, ya splittied ya kitty?” is a literal Shakespeare sonnet. This is the sort of goofy sketch I watch this show for. Team Rita/BOA/Jimbo (whomst I’m dubbing Team Bringo) is totally all over the place, but it’s a fun chaos that clearly tickles Stacey’s funny bone, especially when Jimbo stomps in as a bride-to-be and yells, “IT’S MY SPECIAL DAY!” while terrorizing the Pit Crew. They also depict the extremely Canadian problem of being “whipped with change” at cheap drag shows, because we don’t got $1 bills; we got coins. Most chaotic are the “sissies” Scarlett and Ilona, whose legal bent I could not even begin to understand enough to recap here, but it results in:
Lots of shrieking of the word “sissy!”
Ilona spitting for real, consensually, Disobedience style, in Scarlett’s face.
Scarlett non-consensually WHUPPING Ilona across the mug with a hardcover book.
Scarlett retaliating by bending Ilona over a desk and spanking her with a gavel, which she thinks is called an “anvil.” Lemon did make a prediction in the mini-challenge to “watch for falling pianos,” and anvils are on that wavelength. She do be psychic.
The next day in the werkroom, the girls have had it officially with the sissies, and BOA does a perfect impersonation of them that sounds exactly like the Tim Allen grunt. This week’s Serious Makeup Chat™ is genuinely devastating, as BOA recounts a very violent sexual assault and the girls support her for talking about it and sharing the experience on social media. Ilona offers some additional perspective when the room starts complaining about the piss-poor behavior of bachelorettes at drag shows by saying, “I’ve had more gay men do that to me than I have straight bachelorette party women, TBH.” Relationships between various demographics of drag fans have been occasionally fraught over the years, particularly as Drag Race has brought it further into the mainstream and definitions of drag have broadened, and that tension bubbles under the surface of this episode’s conversation in a kinda interesting way. Priyanka observes that “drag queens are the mascots of the queer community,” which, has she never heard of furries?
The runway category is “Canadian Tux-shedo,” and Scarlett gives the audience some canned, producer-fed origin story about Bing Crosby and a Vancouver busboy that I have never heard before in my life and refuse to believe is the real story behind the glorious denim-on-denim aesthetic. The episode’s extra-special guest host is Tom Green, which caused both Priyanka and yours truly to yell “what the fuck?” Then again, we just heard about how Rita Got Fingered, so Green is surprisingly right at home on the main stage.
The looks this week are mostly unfortunate. Something about Scarlett BoBo’s body language on the runway weirds me out; it reads Smash Mouth, if that makes sense. Ilona has painted herself gorgeously, looking like a young Michelle Visage (in a good way, promise!), but the judges say her ass in those chaps could’ve used a pat of foundation. The judges object to BOA’s look: a bodysuit with scrappy denim wings attached that look like they came from a community-theater production of Angels in America, who took them as a hand-me-down from a community-theater production of Bat Out of Hell, the Meat Loaf jukebox musical. Tom Green likes them, though, and in a charming moment calls his mom, puts her on speakerphone, and has her send over an image of the identical costume she made for him when he was 5 and played “the Wind” in a church play. And you thought you had it bad when you played “the Tree.” At least trees are made of solid matter. Stacey praises Lemon on her runway walk but trashes her outfit; Priyanka’s look similarly disappoints but is less objectionable. Most frustrating is the judging disparity between Rita and Jimbo: Rita wears a frankly ugly zippered tearaway look that doesn’t even look like it’s made of denim, whereas Jimbo gives a head-to-toe club-kid patchwork fantasy. Furthermore, Rita’s cute enough in Team Bringo’s acting challenge, but Jimbo steals the show. And yet: Rita notches her third win, when the other queens are all still tied at one or zero.
The judging is definitely a little fishy feeling this episode. Bringo aside, the judges all praised Scarlett and Ilona’s histrionic sketch while putting Ilona in the bottom for being “one note.” What did that sketch look like to you, sirs and ma’ams? They seem to like Lemon and Priyanka’s sketch the least of the three, and maybe it’s just a taste thing at this point, because it seemed like the clear winner to me. Then, the queens are asked to play the dreaded “who should go home?” game, and call it a slot machine because it’s Lemons down the line, until Rita breaks the curve with the savage read that Ilona should go home “because I thought she was playing herself in the challenge.” Priyanka also defends her Partner in Pussy Payouts. In Untucked Lite, the queens pile on Lemon and she takes it like a champ. It’s also rich that Ilona doesn’t want to be confronted about picking Lemon, even though you know if the situation were reversed, she’d be trying-to-have-that-conversation.ca.edu forward-slash /bothered.
But runways aren’t everything (especially not on this show), so Lemon is saved from the bottom, which comes down to Ilona and BOA. Normally, I find Canada’s Drag Race’s house policy of airing the entirety of a LSFYL, rather than 50 seconds zombie-stitched together, to be a tribute to the talent of the queens and a nice way to spotlight them before one leaves the show for good. However. The grammatically infuriating “Scars to Your Beautiful” by one miss Alessia Cara, though, really dragged, and not the good kind of drag. Ilona planting herself on the spot and sticking her hands out Evita style while BOA spun in very slow circles, for far too long, while the judges pretended to look serious and soulful because the song is a sub–“This Is Me” self-love paean, landed with a real thud at the end of an otherwise delightfully high-octane episode.
It’s a genuine surprise, though, that they send home BOA. Despite a lip sync that read more “For Your Weeknight” than “For Your LIFE,” BOA has been beloved by the judges throughout the season and had been enjoying something of a scrappy-underdog edit. But we’re at that crucial point now where if you land in the bottom for the first time, it could be your last. Biya, BOA.
• “Stay outta my shot, girl.” When Jeffrey gets real and a little meta? It’s a joy.
• “Shut up! I don’t care! I don’t care about your sisterhood!” Priyanka to the sissies, and me to the 2002 film Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
• “I am serving you Angela from Oshawa, okay?” Priyanka continues to deliver narrative. Was this the first time the city of Oshawa, Ontario, has ever been referenced on American prime time? Discuss.
• ”Qu’est ce que fuck?” Jeffrey was on fire this episode.