RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K.
There are three things that every queen coming into Drag Race should know: how to sew, that Michelle Visage hates green, and that you better have your Snatch Game character on lock, or you are going to be eliminated faster than Joe Black in an H&M dress. These U.K. queens, with a few exceptions, showed up as prepared as a Boy Scout with two condoms and some over the counter Viagra, and we love them for it. This episode is also especially touching for one centered on a comedy challenge. We laughed, we cried, we gooped, we gagged, we Googled Miriam Margolyes. This year’s Snatch Game is all over the place in the best possible way.
At the top of the episode, all of the queens are assembled together, and absolutely no one is mentioning A’Whora’s gray sweatpant-on-denim outfit, complete with a chapeau, that looks shockingly like American scoundrel Justin Timberlake in his most famous outfit. You know. That one. Ru tells them all they’re doing Snatch Game, and they have socially distanced one-on-ones with him in which they discuss which characters they’re going to do.
Tia Kofi says she is going to do Dame Shirley Bassey, which is a spectacularly bad idea. The thing about Snatch Game is you need an icon with an immediately recognizable personality that can be riffed off of or made fun of. (Either that or, as Gigi Goode proved, you need a fully formed character that is so iconic it will be a hit right out of the gate.) What do people know about Shirley’s personality? Nothing. You can only croon “Goooooolllllllllddddddfiiiiiinnnngggeeeerrrrrr” so many times. Tia switches to Mel B, which is a very wise decision.
Ellie is going to do Vicky Pollard, one of Matt Lucas’s characters from the show Little Britain. I don’t know if anyone has told you, but Little Britain is canceled. I don’t mean that it’s not on the air anymore (though it has been removed from all British streaming services). I mean it is canceled in the more modern sense of the word. There was a long-running sketch insensitive to trans people, blatantly making fun of foreigners’ accents, and, well, blackface. Vicky Pollard, a teenage “chav” who lives in a housing project, would never fly today, because it is essentially making fun of the lower classes.
Lawrence Chaney is going to go as Miriam Margolyes, a character actress best known Stateside for playing Pomona Sprout in the Harry Potter movies. In the U.K., she is a fixture on chat and panel shows (particularly Graham Norton’s Friday-night staple), so a bit more is known of her outsize personality. But how do you make her funny? Unknown. Ru tells Lawrence just to be herself and it’ll be funny, and that is failing Lawrence. I smell disaster.
Bimini says that she is going to do Katie Price, a.k.a Jordan. Trying to explain her to Americans is sort of like trying to explain the infield-fly rule to a Brit. She was a “glamour model,” which is sort of like a Playboy Playmate, who rose to fame in the early aughts thanks to a number of reality shows and the tabloid ubiquity of her tumultuous relationship with singer Peter Andre. If there is an American figure she’s most like, it would be Anna Nicole Smith, but without the rich old man, the drug habit, or, you know, the dying. I already know this is going to be amazing.
Last up is A’Whora, who is doing Louie Spence, a camp dance instructor who became a reality-TV staple. During their interaction, A’Whora gets all teary because she says that as George, her boy self, she has no confidence, that she needs the illusion of A’Whora and her cartoon bitchiness in order to survive. Oh, the poor dear. Stop trying to make me like you, because it’s working. No, I’m not crying. You’re crying!
When we get to the actual Snatch Game, the contestants are Michelle Visage and Gemma Collins, a reality personality known as the GC, and I shouldn’t have to explain it to you, because the fact that she is not a global superstar is a shame. She’s sort of like the U.K. Snooki, but bigger, meaner, and much more unintentionally hilarious.
As the girls are playing the game, there is not a stinker in the bunch, except, well, for the comedy queens, Lawrence and Tia. Lawrence keeps telling these long stories about old actors, and they are falling flat because there is no point and there is nothing funny. Tia just keeps making jokes about Eddie Murphy, as if Mel B’s relationship with the comedian is the only thing that she knows about her. Later, after the game, they lament their performances and wonder why the comedy queens always flub this challenge. I think it’s because Tia and Lawrence are used to being funny as themselves and think they can rely on that. They can’t transition that to being funny as someone else or playing a character, which is why RuPaul’s advice to Lawrence, to just be herself in a challenge that is literally about playing another person, tanked her.
Tayce is shockingly good as Jane Turner from the Australian sitcom Kath & Kim, which got a disastrous American remake with Molly Shannon and Selma Blair. The original, however, is amazing, and Tayce does a great job channeling her bonkers Ozzy spirit. Sister Sister brings daffy life to TV psychic Sally Morgan, and Ellie knows Vicky Pollard well enough to bring all of her catchphrases to the table. However, Vicky is still canceled. Yeah, but no, but yeah, but no, but yeah.
But it is Bimini as Katie Price that is an absolute revelation. She starts by using the distinctive speech pattern but then comes up with a bunch of new and ludicrously sexual lines about the “nipples being the eyes of the face” and how her “implants got held up at gunpoint,” and this is the sort of absurdist hilarity that makes the Snatch Game an annual delight.
The worst part about the U.K. Snatch Game is that someone has to explain half of the jokes to Ru, who doesn’t know what “full balls,” a “chippy,” to “toss off,” or a “bell end” are. They are, respectively, going whole hog, a fried-food establishment, to masturbate someone, and a dickhead. If I were to use them in a sentence, I would say, “I once ran into Harry Styles in Soho, and he was trying it on full balls. I ended up tossing him off behind a chippy, and my friends called me a bell end for ditching them. But boy, did I go full balls on Harry’s bell end. Bollocks, bruv. Spotted dick! Mushy peas! Keep Calm and Bell End On.”
Later in the werkroom, Ellie tells us a story about how her father found her in drag when she was a teenager and kicked her out of the house. However, her mother moved him back in and told his father that he either needed to keep loving his son or hit the bricks. He moved out, and Ellie has had the support of the rest of her family ever since. There are all sorts of things that make me cry — coffee commercials, literally watching any movie on a plane, when I unwrap a Cadbury Creme Egg and it falls on the carpet — but nothing makes me cry more than stories about parents supporting their gay kids. I hope that Ellie gives her mom tons of hugs every day, or at least free sausage rolls from the Dundee Greggs whenever she wants them. We’re getting so much Ellie backstory that I’m thinking she might win this challenge. She was okay in Snatch Game, but for her to win, she is going to need one killer runway look.
The category is Preherstoric, and there are lots of bones — like more bones than the backroom at Adonis (IYKYK). A’Whora wears a bone mask over her face and a corset made out of bones she had 3-D printed, because she is the future, and the rest of us still use the crying-eyes emoji, and kids think we are old. It is a marvel, even though it reads more like catacombs realness than it does 3 million BC. Oh, and then here comes Sister in a Marge Simpson blonde beehive, a tiger-print dress, and, yup, a bone mask on her face. Seriously? This bitch is going to steal A’Whora’s look two weeks in a row, and no one on the show is even going to bring it up? If this isn’t on Untucked!, I swear … I’m starting to hate Sister. It’s like her new teeth are possessed by the spirit of Phi Phi O’Hara.
The tops are Tayce, who kills a witch-doctor look with huge Diana Ross hair and a smiley face on her rawhide skirt that looks like the world’s first graffiti, and Bimini, who is dressed as bacteria, even though her outfit looks like three purple vaginas glued together to make some sort of super-vulva. Complete with blank contact lenses and a wig with enough blonde braids that it could be on Selling Sunset, it is perhaps the most editorial look ever on Drag Race, and it is clear that she is going to be the winner.
Fighting for the bottom like they’re the last three total tops on earth are A’Whora, Lawrence, who is dressed as Ann-Margrock from The Flintstones with one huge sleeve and rotted teeth, and Tia Kofi, whose dress once again looks like it costs as much as Ellie’s mom pays for sausage rolls at the Dundee Greggs, which we now know is absolutely nothing. She’s supposed to be a pterodactyl, but she looks more like a foreskin that is trying to break free from an especially rancid bell end. (Vocabulary, kids!)
A’Whora’s bones are just enough to keep her out of the lip sync, and suddenly we all know it is Tia’s time to go. She has been wonderful, she has been funny, but she has not been prepared. Of all the queens who can benefit from the All Stars glow-up, it could be her, and I hope that Lawrence for Activities makes it all the way to American All Stars, because it could certainly use her wit and charm. Not her outfits, though. Toss all of those into a chippy and set it on fire.