RuPaul's Drag Race Is More Sickening By 6 AM Than We Are By Noon
Between bouts of anxiety, the ladies create morning shows!
Before we journey through this episode, I want to say a word about bitches. More specifically, I want to explain what makes me forgive a bitch for her stank attitude.
See, if a girl goes apeshit because she's stressed or insecure, then I can relate. I have spat several nasty comments in my life that were motivated more by my own issues than by my animosity toward my target. And while I never feel great about myself when this happens, I do try to smooth things over by owning my mess. When my baser nature gets the best of me, the least I can do is apologize.
Hence, when a Drag Race contestant acts like a big C but then calls herself on it, I feel like she's cool. When she refuses to own her assholery -- call it "the Phi Phi Phactor" -- then I must show her the door, the hand, and the winter of my discontent.
This given circumstance will inform how I discuss what's coming next. Thank you for listening. Now let us begin!
Wipe That Mirror, Gurl
Aja strolls into the workroom feeling totally shook by being in the bottom two. She quickly takes it out on Valentina, whose continued success she feels is undeserved. Alexis jumps on board to agree -- though I don't remember anyone asking her -- but instead of getting bothered, Valentina's calmly looks in Aja's face and tells her to chill out. In an interview, Valentina emphasizes her point with a series of "I don't care" gestures:
And to her credit, Aja immediately clocks herself. She apologizes to Valentina in a way that seems sincere, and then everyone agrees to get on with it. Well played, gurl. Well played.
The Best Part Of Waking Up Is A $5000 breastplate In Your Cup h3>
Sadly, the mini-challenge is scuttled for the fourth consecutive episode, and now I'm worrying that they won't do the Reading is Fundamental and Puppet Queen minis. But they will, right? RIGHT?!?!
Anyway: the challenge this week is to create a morning show, and the twist is that it will be taped "live." Meaning there will be no second takes. That's pretty great, since it demands that these girls treat a television episode like something akin to a stage show. You've either got it or you don't, honey!
Trinity and Aja are team captains, since the former won last week's challenge and the latter survived the lip sync. To join her on Good Morning, Bitches, Aja chooses Shea, Sasha, Alexis, and Farrah. And also Valentina. Aja interviews that even though she's still giving V some side eye, she's "really curious what the judges see in her." Later, she adds that she might "be able to channel that in [herself]." This is a backhanded compliment, but it suggests that Aja is big enough to strategize well, even when it hurts her ego.
Meanwhile, Trinity selects Peppermint, Charlie, Cynthia, Eureka, and Nina to join her on Not On Today. Please note the order of these picks, because the girls selected first will later end up in trouble, while the girls selected last will be riding high. As Alanis would say, that's like ten thousand queens when all you need is a knife!
Eureka, Know Thyself
When rehearsals begin, all the attention is focused on the various squabbles at Not On Today. And if you momentarily feel like you're watching a documentary about Matt Lauer's dressing room, I won't blame you.
First up are Trinity and Eureka, whom you'll recall are big pageant rivals. (SNORE. YAWN. SNOOZE.) I think Eureka is incredibly talented and really fun to watch, but she is also very young and quite nakedly insecure. This manifests itself as constant, constant backtalk and arguing. It's like she afraid that if she doesn't make herself heard at all times, she will never get heard at all. Flashing forward, this comes up again during runway prep when she makes a joke about eating disorders that accidentally offends Sasha, who has struggled with food. Rather than just owning her mistake, Eureka gets hysterically defensive, and it's all very exhausting. It's clear where this is coming from, and I'm guessing that as Eureka gets older and more confident, this stuff will fade. BUT IT AIN'T FADED YET.
Let's ask Peppermint how she feels about Eureka's booty-basement attitude:
Trinity gets bothered as well, even as she's trying to keep the team focused, and interviews, "I'm trying to be a good Southern belle and not punch this bitch in the face." HA!
Meanwhile, Charlie falls into the trap that seems to snare almost all the older queens on this show: they've been doing this for so long and have developed such particular habits that it's hard for them to collaborate with anyone. I get it: being a drag queen for thirty-plus years means learning to be self-sufficient. But I just wish the older girls could all be like Chad Michaels, who has learned to marry her professionalism with her sense of fun and wonder. Charlie, though, has developed a sense that she knows best. As she tries to prep a segment with Cynthia, she keeps freaking out that Cynthia is going off script, saying words incorrectly, and generally acting crazy. But Charlie. Girl. You can't make Cynthia a focused businesswoman any more than you can make a hedgehog look dangerous.
It's Showtime, Hookers!
Ross Mathews is on hand to coach the ladies during their live broadcasts, and first up is Good Morning, Bitches.
Alexis and Farrah are very professional as anchors. They're not the most memorable, but there's something to be said for just showing up and doing a good job. Meanwhile, Aja and Valentina seem like they really hate each other during their celebrity gossip segment. It's awkward, but it's fun as hell to watch.
And then come Sasha and Shea, who just KILL IT during their how-to segment. They're showing us how to incorporate Ru-themed candy bars into healthier parts of a meal, and they quickly turn each other on.
Most importantly, they're clearly having fun. They both have some hilarious ad-libs; at one point Shea says, "Yeah, toss that salad!" in such an innocent-yet-horny way -- like she's just discovering her genital urges right there on TV -- that I have to lay my head down on my desk from laughing so hard.
The how-to segment is just as great over on Not On Today, with Nina and Eureka playing ghetto galz who show us how to replace expensive drag products with cheaper alternatives. Butt pads, for instance, can be swapped for slabs of ham! And if you want to take a little nibble, then so much the better! It's hilarious, and just like the earlier segment, it works because both queens are relaxed and improvisational.
But oh lord, the rest of this team. Peppermint and Trinity keep getting lost as they read the teleprompter, and they don't have the chops to recover. And while Cynthia is her hilarious self during the celebrity gossip segment, Charlie is so uptight that she can't go with the flow. She actually corrects Cynthia ON AIR by showing her where she's gone off script. Charlie! You need to make like a terrible Adam Sandler movie and just go with it!
Later, when former Glee star Naya Rivera joins all the co-hostesses for an interview segment, Charlie keeps interrupting her to ask new questions. And then, when Charlie notices that Peppermint and Trinity have missed their cue to wrap up, she jumps in and tries to end the show herself. It's deeply painful to watch, especially since nobody knows how to respond to this chick on the side of the screen suddenly trying to cut to commercial. I feel for Charlie, because I know she must be yearning for the perfection she can attain as a solo performer. But still: if the anchors are flubbing, don't jump in and make it your problem.
This Week In Special Messages
Before the girls hit the runway, Charlie tearfully recalls all the friends she lost to AIDS. Because she's in her fifties, she reminds us, she was losing people before anyone even know what has happening. It's sobering, and it's important to keep that sense of life's fragility in mind.
Stomp The Runway
After Ru introduces guest judges Rivera and Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (who plays the conflicted gay producer on UnREAL), we zoom through the runway. We spend so little time on the "naughty nighties" looks, in fact, that we only get to hear the judges' funny comments about Nina. But at least Nina is sickening, y'all.
I will never apologize for loving this kind of out-there look. I've also got praise for Shea's eleganza...
...and Sasha's latest appearance with a bulky prop.
Judging And Kvetching
Ru immediately announces that Shea and Sasha are the night's co-winners, while the rest of their team is safe. That leaves critiques for Team Not On Today. Eureka, Cynthia, and Nina all get praised, but Nina, sensitive flower that she is, still starts crying. She says it's from happiness and gratitude, and while the judges appreciate her heart, they also tell her to toughen the hell up.
Charlie, Trinity, and Peppermint are all on the bottom, and the judges correctly come for Trinity and Peppermint's looks:
For this queen, Peppermint is the worst offender. She basically tucked a pink napkin into the waist of a lacy afterthought. Still, I understand why Charlie and Trinity are the ones who end up lip-syncing. Trinity was team captain, and while Peppermint had sparkle during her klutzy morning show performance, Charlie was completely rigid. We later learn that the judges hated her runway walk, too, with Naya saying she was dead behind the eyes. OOPS!
But before we go to the lip sync, let's appreciate RuPaul's delivery of her "bring back my girls" line. She does this amazing, half-assed a capella version, which ends with this face:
After a perfect amount of silence that leans JUST on the edge of becoming uncomfortable, she smiles proudly and says, "I got that from the Glee show!" She is my queen.
Lip Sync For Your Life
This week's song is "I Wanna Go," one of the many garbage Britney Spears cuts that somehow became a hit. From the start, it's clear that Charlie has given up. She just stands there doing nothing, even while other contestants are yelling at her to get something started. She even interviews that she's waiting for the axe to fall.
Trinity, meanwhile, is all the way live.
She flips, she spins, she grinds the floor. And most importantly, she makes the song seem exciting.
Thus, Charlie goes home. She may have fizzled in the end, but I still like that old gal. She's smart and talented, and I'm pretty sure she'd be fun to watch in a show that she controls.
Most Watchable Moment
I refuse to choose between the how-to segments. Savor them both!