RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K.
The best part of this very strong episode comes at the very beginning, when Tayce is wiping Sister’s message off the mirror and misreads “camp cows” as “champions.” Isn’t that the very essence of Drag Race? It’s a little bit like a stand-up comedy joke, which is good because that is what the queens are going to be doing this week. I was ready for at least one Roxxxy Andrews to get up there and stink up the joint like a Coachella porta-potty, but shockingly everyone is pretty good. Great job all around, girls.
Before they get to the comedy, though, there’s a mini-challenge where they all have to dress up in “masc 4 masc” drag, which is a helpful illustration of how different ideas of masculinity are in the U.K. compared to the U.S. When this happens over in America, everyone dresses up as a mulleted blue-collar guy who is drinking a six pack just after his most recent stint in the military. It’s a very class-based idea of butchness. Here, Ellie Diamond decides that masculinity is dressing up like Robert Smith from the Cure but if he were actually gay and didn’t just read that way. Boys don’t cry indeed.
No one has the same idea of what a dude should look like. Lawrence looks like he’s wearing a Bea Arthur pantsuit with huge shoulders and glitter strips along with a long black wig and fake beard. Bimini has on a black jumpsuit and an orange wig and looks like a janitor who put a mop on his head and is pretending to be a lady. A’Whora is dressed as Rosie O’Donnell in Exit to Eden. Tayce is shirtless (yes), with some hair painted on his chest (yes), in leather pants (yes), a leather collar (yes), and an orange Iggy Pop wig (no no no no no no no no). The craziest boy drag of the bunch, though, belongs to RuPaul Andre Charles himself, who shows up in the werkroom wearing a little pussycat wig he probably stole from Monet X Change before she got her All-Stars glow up. He’s wearing this with a wide-lapeled ’70s suit. He looks like he’s trying to win a Sonny Bono look-alike contest but has the spirit of Cher trapped inside him.
Ellie wins the mini-challenge, which means she gets to pick the order of the stand-up performances. This leads to the biggest row of the episode, which will pop up over and over again like the case of herpes that Bimini wears down the runway. Ellie puts A’Whora first, herself second, Bimini third, Lawrence fourth, and Tayce fifth, the reasoning being that A’Whora will be awful, which will make her, Ellie, look better. A’Whora and Lawrence take immediate umbrage over it because A’Whora, who no one thinks is that funny, is being thrown under the bus, and Lawrence is worried about being outshined by Bimini, whom she sees as her only competition in the comedy challenge. Bimini and Tayce don’t really care because Bimini knows she’ll slay no matter where she is, and Tayce feels the same way, but instead of slaying she has submitted herself to the idea that she is going to bomb as big as the Manhattan Project.
When the reaction to her decision is bad, Ellie tries to make sure that the order is okay with everyone and Lawrence erupts again: “If you’re going to play the game, don’t ask us if we’re all right.” The only reason Ellie is playing the game is that all of the queens keep telling her that she doesn’t have a RuPeter Badge and that means she’s not as deserving of being in the finale as the rest of them. Ellie wants their approval so badly it’s kind of crippling. At the very beginning of the episode, she says to them, “I saw this as the final five, but did you think I would be here or do you think I’m taking someone’s spot?” Ellie! Girl! You sound needier than a go-go boy whose phone is at 1 percent. They don’t need to give you a passport to exist; you need to claim it as your own.
The debate rages on in Untucked after the queens get their critiques and A’Whora and Lawrence are upset again. A’Whora says, “I would not have made myself shine by doing dirty on every person in this competition.” That statement should be classified as global warming because, much like the ecological disaster, it is caused by bullshit. A’Whora, who has created this persona of being a bitch who will do anything to get ahead at every turn, would have totally done the same as Ellie. Then A’Whora says that Ellie did this out of her own insecurities. Damn right she did, but the reason she’s so insecure is because the other queens keep taunting her about how she doesn’t have any wins. A’Whora is a victim of her own shit talking.
Lawrence pipes up and says, “You didn’t think putting me after Bimini is a huge risk and I could have gone home?” No, she didn’t. She may be your friend, but she was playing to win, which everyone would have done. She wasn’t thinking of you, she was thinking of herself, which is the kind of selfishness any competition requires. As Tayce reminds everyone, it’s not RuPaul’s Bumpin’ Bottoms Race.
I personally don’t think changing the order would have mattered that much, especially because almost all of the queens have pretty solid material. A’Whora delivers her set looking like the young teacher at your school dressed up as Marilyn Monroe for Halloween. Her bit about bottoming being like easing into a hot bath is an instant classic and something I will be stealing for dirty talks at cocktail parties. But the judges don’t like how blue her act was, and, to be fair, it was about as blue as a Smurf getting cryotherapy while drinking a raspberry Slurpee.
Ellie and Bimini are a study in opposites. Ellie is dressed like a Valentine’s Day box of chocolates from the Duane Reade and juxtaposes her usually sunny persona with “Dirty Diamond,” her alter ego who just loves dick. (For me, that is not my alter ego, it is my entire personality.) Her set is so slapdash and bizarre that it somehow gets the judges to laugh. Bimini, who has done stand-up twice before, is polished and calculated, doing exactly what a comedian should: telling actual funny jokes. I didn’t love her “not a joke, just a fact” tagline, but it’s something the judges seemed to.
Lawrence, in a big and poofy wig (“big and poofy” was her name in middle school) and a cameltoe, also tells some winning jokes, including a great one about coming out to her father — but, yes, she could have used a lot of editing. Maybe Alan Carr could have helped her out, but just like in the Snatch Game challenge, the mentors didn’t seem to give her much guidance.
Tayce, as we all intuited, is not the funniest. There’s something about pretty people where they just don’t have to bother becoming funny because, well, people want to fuck them just for being pretty. Can you think of even one comedian that you want to bone? (Okay, fine, Joel Dommett.) Anyway, I loved Tayce’s bit about the love of her life being beans on toast, it was like an Herbal Essences commercial but in a robin’s-egg blue tin. There are the seeds of a good performance in there, but they haven’t sprouted yet. It doesn’t hurt that she’s dressed as the Bride of Frankenstein’s “after” picture when she was cast on The Swan.
The runway looks are all absolutely killer for the Stoned on the Runway theme. Though it’s about “dripping in diamonds,” I’m surprised no one tried to go the stoner route or the Rolling Stones route or to maybe dress as one of RuPaul’s kidney stones. A’Whora gives us a classic nude-illusion Ziegfeld-showgirl dress. Ellie’s outfit, the worst of the bunch, doesn’t even read as stones or diamonds; it reads, like so many of her outfits, as “I want to be Trixie Mattell when I grow up.” Bimini, in a Billy Idol mullet and a nude oversize blazer covered in Swarovski sores, definitely went her own direction with the challenge. I just wish it was a little bit more over the top. I feel like this might have looked a lot better in person than it did on TV. Lawrence takes a hint from Spencer Pratt and dresses as a chunk of rose quartz so big she could be the centerpiece of a Los Angeles vegan restaurant. It’s one of her best outfits yet and gets her out of the old-timey Auntie Mame lane that she so often occupies. Tayce, like so many other queens these days, is channeling Mugler with an armored bodysuit, and I thought to myself, That’s going to be a great outfit to lip-sync in.
Bimini deservedly wins thanks to her great performance and an outfit that pushed the boundaries. When the bottom three were announced, I thought for sure Ellie and Tayce were going to go head-to-head, but Ellie is safe. Yes, she might not have won anything, but she’s still the only queen on that stage to not have lip-synced even once. (Also, when they said Ellie was safe, they made her stand on a riser over Bimini, which was the meanest thing they have ever done to a queen in the history of this show. It looked like Tom standing next to Jerry.)
Pitting best friends and former lovers Tayce and A’Whora against each other is sort of like when Jujubee and Raven had to take each other on, and the lip sync is just as electrifying. The two girls give a slow-jam performance to Dusty Springfield’s “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” like they’re competing for the last pair of silk stockings before England goes on rations for World War II. Giving either queen the victory or the loss would have been warranted. Sadly it’s A’Whora who gets sent packing, which is a shame because, honestly, I think she deserves the final four more than either Ellie or Tayce. She’s shown us great looks, a surprising propensity for performance, and even a bit of vulnerability. Tayce can lip-sync and gives us face, but it’s going to take more to be the U.K.’s First Drag Superstar (sorry, The Viv).