RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K.
After all these years, it’s like we can almost feel who will be good at Snatch Game and who is going to be rougher than the green side of a kitchen sponge. Krystal Versace has a hard time being funny? Oh, you don’t say. Ella Vaday, though accused of being bland but hot like a plain bagel just out of the toaster, turns out to be a great actress? As the French would say, quelle surprise. Kitty Scott-Claus, the dark horse of the competition and my clear favorite to win, knocks a Gemma Collins out of the park. I am, as she would say, positively frazzled. But while there weren’t many shocks and surprises until the very last minutes, this was still a very enjoyable episode.
I will tell you who was not having a good time, and that was our favorite East Londoner since Jack the Ripper, Scarlett Harlett. As the episode kicks off, she’s still seething mad that everyone thought she should be sent home after the last challenge. Naturally, this all comes out when it is time for the only mini-challenge worth our time: the reading challenge. Scarlett wins this year’s award for Queen Who Isn’t Funny Just Mean, taking on her compatriots with jabs that are a little too close to the bone to be considered comedy. It is Choriza, Our Lady of the Meaty Tuck, who takes the reading crown for thoroughly roasting the cast but, most importantly, not sparing herself and her dirty tights.
It’s then time for everyone’s consultation with Ru about their Snatch Game characters, and it is basically Ru going, “Yeah, that sounds good, but will you … do someone I know?” Scarlett wants to do Danny Dyer, a famous soap star and notorious East London tough guy, and Ru is like, “Yeah, but what about Macaulay Culkin?” Ella wants to do Mystic Meg, and Ru is like, “Yeah, but what about Nigella Lawson?” Kitty wants to be Cilla Black, and Ru is like, “Yeah, but what about Gemma Collins?” It’s like she doesn’t want them to do any characters that are too English because Ru has no idea who they are and they won’t be funny. That said, she has the same problem with characters like Ts Madison, who are too young for her to know. And those who stuck with their very English references, like Krystal, Vanity, and Choriza, really seem to struggle.
That’s the thing about Snatch Game, we all know who is going to be good at it, but we also know that the real way to win is to make Ru laugh. That’s why an anemic but ridiculous Macaulay Culkin is better than a somewhat realized Margarita Pracatan. It’s safer for the queens to do old camp icons and things in Ru’s wheelhouse, even if they aren’t that good at it. I mean, can you believe he wanted Choriza to do that lousy Cher impersonation that she dusted off at the consultation table?
For those curious Americans, let’s go around the horn and talk about the characters. Gemma Collins is a U.K. reality star and gift to the universe, and if you don’t know who she is by now, I don’t know why you are watching this here show. Charity Shop Sue is a web series that is sort of like if Larry David produced a Quibi show starring Kristen Wiig’s Target Lady character. Margarita Pracatan was a Cuban singer who would do these ridiculous cover songs at the end of Clive James’s very popular late-night show. She was horrible but also knew she was horrible, and James unironically loved her and the whole thing is just wonderful and gay. (For Real Housewives of New York City fans out there, she did a cover of “Money Can’t Buy You Class” on the show.)
You should all know who Macaulay Culkin is, and if you don’t, well, I can’t help you. Gladys Kingston is a Jamaican character from the sketch show Little Miss Jocelyn that aired in the aughts. Amy Childs is a former “glamour model” (read topless model) who was on The Only Way Is Essex (a.k.a. TOWIE), the Jersey Shore meets The Hills show that made Gemma Collins (much more) famous. And finally, Nigella Lawson is the lady who said “microwave” funny on Twitter. The only more famous British chef is Gordon Ramsay or maybe Marie Callender. (Did you know she’s Scottish? JK. I made that up.)
While we’re explaining people, Nadine Coyle was a member of the girl group Girls Aloud, which is why Kitty Scott-Creamed when she heard her name because apparently she stans every girl group that England ever produced, including, possibly, the Sanderson Sisters. Wait, sorry. They’re American but just talk funny. Nadine is known for having the most inscrutable Irish accent in the world and lying about her age to get on the reality show that made her pop group. Judy Love is much easier to understand and on Loose Women, which is essentially the English The View. She’s like Sherri Shepherd except, you know, still employed.
Phew, that is a lot of people who we barely know, but the Snatch Game was pretty good, mostly thanks to Ella’s deft improv skills and Kitty inhabiting a character who is already a caricature and one I think should be retired from the Snatch Game repertoire along with Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. The only difference is that no one can do Bey or Mother Monster well, and Kitty just smashed the GC so hard no one should attempt it again.
On the runway, the category feels fruity, and I’m not sure that everyone got the memo. Scarlett sure didn’t, and I can’t read her latex lime outfit any more than the judges did when they said it looked more like lettuce than like fruit. It sort of looked like the cake from “MacArthur Park” that got left out in the rain if that cake also was radioactive. Kitty’s outfit, while sparkly, also seemed to have nothing to do with fruit other than the cherries she had in a basket and hot glued to her latex. It looked more like stalks of rhubarb were growing up, like, an old trellis who also likes the Sugarbabes.
For my money, Ella, the eventual winner, looked the best in a watermelon dress with a bustle that was also a cape. Cape Bustle is also where they launch gay space missions from, so that is a nice nod. I loved Choriza’s Carmen Miranda–inspired fruit-as-headpiece ensemble, but the headpiece looked like Nina Bo’Nina Brown’s peach face from Drag Race season nine. Vanity had a similar look with fruit on her head, but it lacked the polish and size to really be outstanding like most of Vanity’s looks. I would have put Vanity in the bottom two along with River Medway, who was giving major Tia Kofi ice-cream cone vibes with her bowl-of-fruit dress. That’s mostly because I thought Choriza’s Snatch Game performance was much better than any of the judges gave her credit for, and her runway look was peaches and berries above Vanity’s.
The final lip sync was the biggest gag of the night. The whole time they were dancing around to “Shout” by guest judge Lulu, I thought about how lackluster all of the lip syncs on this season have been. This was especially bad because Choriza changed out of her headpiece into a ratty wig that kept slipping off her head like a milkshake down Nigel Farage’s suit. River took off the bowl of her fruit-bowl costume and was just vaguely shimmying in her drawers on stage. RuPaul rightfully sent them both packing for their lack of passion on the stage, especially to a song that could have really given it some theatrics. But what was the difference between this and the first Charity versus Scarlett lip sync? It wasn’t that much better, and that was a double save? River, like they said in the reading challenge, had really been coasting, and I can’t say that I will really miss her. Choriza, on the other hand, I think brought a lot, and I will be sad to see her go, especially because we never got the meaty tuck exposé that we deserved.