Can Meryl Streep Be The Spirit Animal For RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars?
The girls parody twenty years of prestige films, but are they destined for the Oscars or the Razzies? And what does Nancy Pelosi think about it? Your questions are answered in this EPIC OLD-SCHOOL RECAP.
Immediately after DeLa quits the competition, the remaining girls stumble dazed into the workroom, dragging their jaws along the floor. Morgan seems gobsmacked as she discusses rejoining the competition, and in an interview she reads DeLa for wasting everyone's time if she was just going to quit anyway. The other girls are more sympathetic -- perhaps because, unlike Morgan, they've been around to see the daily proof that Ben was unhappy.
In her perfect way, with her half-closed eyes and Southern drawl, Kennedy manages to be both supportive and exhausted. Here's a transcript of her entire monologue on the subject, which I strongly believe will book you a lead role in a Shakespeare play if you use it for an audition:
From this day forward, whenever someone is wasting my time, I will them to stop playin' the radio.
Eventually, Trixie sees the upside of DeLa leaving: "We've lost our clear frontrunner. So now the rest of us are like, 'Oh my gosh! The likelihood of me winning has just skyrocketed!' This is like your pretty friends not going to prom!"
Then Bebe decides to turn the spotlight on someone who's actually in the room. When she's asked whom she would've sent home and whom she would've saved, she declines to answer: "At this point, we need peace. So if anybody is curious about anything, just know you'll be curious for the rest of your life." That queenly pronouncement is followed by a facial expression that says, "The library is closed forever, sirrah. Carry on."
Shangela interviews that by not removing the lipstick from her "bra titties," Bebe is shrewdly trying to keep her allies all around her. This lets Shangela make a few more Game Of Thrones references. People on Twitter are really dragging Shangela for this throughline (dragon-ing her?), but I don't mind it. She picked a theme when she sat down for her interview segments, and it worked. I say, "Good on you and your narrative cohesion, gurl."
The next day, RuPaul enters the workroom with Nancy Pelosi. Because why not? As Nancy spends a few minutes talking about what heroes the queens are for being themselves and then reminding everyone to vote, I have to reflect on how much the country has changed in such a very short time. I know there's fresh news every day that suggests America is teetering on the brink of a hellmouth, but at the same time, try to imagine Drag Race even existing twenty years ago, let alone being important enough to command an appearance by a Democratic leader. I'm calling this whole segment a win for the United States. (Later on, the judges' table does a funny PSA-style segment about how easy it is to call your Congressperson, which carries the idea of civic responsibility through to the end of the episode. I'm calling that a win, too. We all count, y'all. So let's make sure our votes are counted.)
Using the theme of "strong women," Ru then transitions us to the main challenge, which requires the girls to play "award-winning female characters" who are starring in "the raunchiest girl comedy blockbuster of all time." This film is called My Best Squirrelfriend's Dragsmaids Wedding Trip, which takes us from My Best Friend's Wedding through Girls Trip. That's exactly right, because I refuse to acknowledge that the former is any less current than the latter.
The characters include Sharon Frockovich, a sluttier Julia Roberts; The Queen, a weirder Helen Mirren; Actavia, a maid-turned-rocket-scientist who's made from two of Octavia Spencer's Oscar-nominated roles; the Beige Swan, a crazier Natalie Portman; and La La, a more manic Emma Stone. There's a lot of potential here, and naturally, I'm already mourning that we'll never see what DeLa would've done with this challenge.
As a "welcome back" gift, Morgan gets to assign the roles. There's the usual complaining, game-playing, and stunting that comes with people jockeying for parts. Bebe doesn't understand why everyone thinks she should play the Queen, since that role comes across as uppity and stiff. And I'm reminded that self-knowledge cannot be taught. Never mind her confusion, though, because Bebe is assigned the Queen anyway. Shangela gets Actavia, Kennedy gets La La, and Morgan gives herself Beige Swan. That leaves Trixie as Sharon Frockovich, which she's mad about at first. By the time she shows up for rehearsal with Ross, though, Trixie has found her light again. She knows exactly how to make Sharon the center of attention, mixing power-bitch confidence with a bimbo stupidity that gives me my life.
As Actavia, Shangela serves an upper-middle-class version of her typical persona, adding a clipped accent and businesswoman posture to her sass. It's funny, because Shangela is funny.
Bebe doesn't see the comic potential in the Queen and plays her as a prim, regal lady. We've seen Bebe cut loose before, so I'm confused why she doesn't do it here. Ross specifically tells her to overact, but that gets no results.
Kennedy has a vague sense of what her role needs. Instead of traditional dialogue, La La is given shitty song lyrics, and Kennedy kinda-sorta sings them while she dances around. But it doesn't quiiiiiiite work. It's a little too pretty, somehow. Like, Kennedy looks great and dances well, but she doesn't give us anything beneath the surface to suggest that she's insane.
Ditto for Morgan, who was never, ever going to have the acting chops to pull off this challenge, let alone the skill to make Beige Swan seem like she could truly kill you with her mind. What if Thorgy had come back and played this role? Now THAT would've been fun to see. Instead, we get Morgan insisting she can't make weird sounds or anything, because swans only hiss. This is not the moment for zoological realism.
Back in the workroom, Trixie talks about how Adam Lambert thought she was a bitch. She interviews that she knows she comes off a standoffish, and the other girls -- who have all been touring with her for years now -- say that she does indeed. This same criticism is then leveled at Bebe, but Bebe just laughs and basically says, "Yep!" So she does know herself now? Bebe is a mystery. Morgan, the room agrees, is very friendly and supportive of queens on the road, which is nice. Based on this and other comments this season, she seems to be one of those girls who is great in a club but not quite great on this show.
Then there's Kennedy, who admits that she's tired of being everyone's last choice for a photo at drag conventions and such. I do love this element of All Stars, because it gives us insight on life after this very popular show. And it makes me sad for Kennedy, because she's really talented. I'll take a photo with you, hunty!
On the runway, Ru introduces Michelle by calling her Miss Golden Globes. Michelle croaks out, "Gladiator!," which is a deep cut reference to the time in 2001 when Elizabeth Taylor presented the Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama and seemed like she'd had one too many pink squirrels backstage.
God love Michelle for making this joke. The only thing funnier than Liz's overall demeanor in this video is remembering that Sunshine somehow got a Best Picture nomination that year. Remember Sunshine? With Ralph Fiennes? No? Fine, we'll just say it was Little Miss Sunshine and move on.
The panel also includes Ross, actress Garcelle Beauvais (who is really good in the movie Flight, btw), and Chris Colfer. The runway theme is "Red for Filth," which is a nice callback to Alaska's perfume ad in Season 5.
Bebe arrives in a curve-hugging red bodysuit adorned with red jewels and flares of fabric at the shoulders and hips. They make her look like a scarlet alien, which is a compliment. Notably, too, she's wearing a jewel-encrusted red face mask that she peels off to reveal a lovely makeup job. (We don't see the face reveal at first, though, because the runway is edited to be super-fast. Because the show never seems to remember that this is one of the best parts of every episode.)
Kennedy's look is very ballroom -- a red, spangly evening gown. Morgan is rocking a flouncy dress made out of red Scottish tartan, and since we all know Scots don't wear anything under their kilts, she lifts up her skirt to flash her dick. Sigh. I'm personally loving her wig and makeup, which make her look like Joan Crawford.
Shangela's look is spectacular. She struts down the runway in a dress covered in long red spikes that inflate while she moves.
It's like she's a Mylar puffer fish.
Trixie's look, though much simpler, is equally wonderful.
She's dressed like a naughty German schoolgirl in red short-shorts with red suspenders and a white blouse with cap sleeves. She's got a stack of books attached to the top of her curly blond wig, and on top of that, there's a red apple that she removes and eats. Hilariously, she completes this with red opera gloves and a chunky red bracelet. It's gloriously weird.
Then we get the movie. Or rather, the trailer for the movie. And this confuses me. All the scenes are cut to be incredibly short, so none of the comic moments gets to breathe. Are any of these performances good? It's hard to tell. But at least there's a moment where Trixie uses her baby doll's plastic hand to push back her own bangs. Then there's a final scene where the girls, after eating Actavia's The Help-inspired pie, fart out a chorus of "Here Comes The Bride." Klassy with a K.
Michelle and Ross both ask why Bebe didn't go bigger or at least use a British accent as the Queen, and Bebe says that she thought attempting a British accent might make her seem rude. RuPaul says, "On THIS program?"
Chris and Gabrielle are both gagging for Shangela's look, and Ross loves her performance. Trixie gets high marks for her acting and look, too, with Michelle saying she's pushing herself to great new heights. Kennedy is given a gentleman's C for being decent but not great, which is often the case. But at least Chris Colfer, when critiquing her performance as La La, does a great impression of Emma Stone. He doesn't move his upper lip, which I realize now is the key to this impersonation.
Morgan's look also gets high marks, but she's told that Beige Swan was the most difficult role and therefore beyond her reach. Ru names Shangela and Trixie to the top and puts everyone else up for elimination.
Then we get the standard workroom banter about who should and shouldn't be sent home. Thankfully, there's about 90% less of this shit than last week. Here are the two highlights:
- Bebe is clocked for not admitting that she was less than perfect, but Trixie loves her makeup so much she doesn't care. Trixie says she looks like Ornacia, which is the name of the foam head that Vivacious wore atop her own head during her entrance moment in Season 6. Bebe doesn't get the reference, and the other girls are like, "Ooooh, bitch! So you just won the show and stopped watching?" And maybe she did! Which is amazing, if true.
- In response, Kennedy says that the fans are going to "Mimi" Bebe's ass to death. And everyone is like, "Who's Mimi?" And then they realize that Kennedy doesn't know how to say "meme." HAHAHAHA. Kennedy laughs it off, and oh my god, it's funniest moment of the last two episodes.
Then we get to the lip sync, which is set to RuPaul's own "Freaky Money," featuring a soul-changing verse by Big Freedia. Back in 2014, before she was even on Drag Race, Bob the Drag Queen made an unauthorized video of this song, and it's awesome.
Trixie, wearing a latex body suit that's skin-tight and pink, does a decent job, but she's just not a great lip syncer. She is so talented and funny, and she was by far the best performer in this week's challenge, but her particular brand of lunacy doesn't quite fit the needs of a lip sync where you have to make "getting freaky" be funny.
Shangela gets it, though. However, not everyone is going to want what she delivers this week. Her performance has a vein of cruelty in it, since she performs her nasty dance moves in a fat suit. Coming on top of this week's controversy about Ru's statements regarding trans people, the Drag Race enterprise is seeming remarkably tin-eared right now. That said, it's obvious why Shangela wins this lip sync. Fat suit or no, she's just doing so much more than Trixie, you know? She's grinding, doing the running man, and crawling around the stage on all fours, popping her booty. She can't be denied.
Granted victory, Shangela sends Morgan home, which makes sense. It would be foolish for someone to reach the finals after only competing in two challenges.
The only thing left now is the finale. Who will owe their victory to DeLa's departure? We'll find out soon!