The Cheerleading Challenge Has Already Been Broughten To RuPaul's Drag Race
These ladies can really shake a pom-pom!
After the Very Special Gaga Episode, the season really gets underway this week, with a bitch actually getting sent home. Before the first ax falls, however, we get a solid challenge and an underdog who snatches glory.
Cucu For Cucu Puffs
The suspense is over, y'all. The returning queen is Cynthia Lee Fontaine!
You don't really need to watch this segment to guess how it goes down. Despite the expected grousing about her experience last season giving her a leg up on everyone, the ladies seem genuinely happy to see her. And of course they are! Cynthia is a delightful weirdo who has survived liver cancer since we last saw her. Which makes her a delightful, inspiring weirdo. RuPaul made a good call bringing her back.
However, I don't want to front like Ms. Cynthia is going to win. Though she's charming, I'm not sure her talents run deep enough to secure a victory. Can she pull it together for an acting challenge? Can she perform a Snatch Game character without making it all about her own catchphrase?
And speaking of that: honey, you may want to back off "cucu" a bit. What starts as a quirky tagline becomes a crutch after you say it 100 times per minute. I guess what I'm asking is: what's behind your cucu? Though I realize that by asking that, I've guaranteed that "(What's Behind Your) Cucu?" will be a club single by the end of the summer.
Note: I'm spelling it "cucu" because of this chyron during the main challenge:
If that spelling is good enough for World of Wonder's post-production team, then it's good enough for me!
Three Cheers For These Queers!
This week's main challenge is a cheerleading face-off, which is such a great idea that I could almost trick myself into believing the show has done it before. But it hasn't, so never let it be said that God has run out of miracles.
Before I go on, I have to note that nowhere in this episode does anyone refer to the film But I'm A Cheerleader, despite the fact that RuPaul has a major role in it. How is it possible that this opportunity for winking self-promotion was missed?
The girls are divided into rival cheer teams. As the winner of last week's challenge, Nina will lead RuPaul's Glamazons, and as the returning ho, Cynthia will lead the B-52 Bombers. And yes, that means the B-52s are this week's guest judges! HUZZAH! They don't show up until the end, but guess who pops by the workroom? Lisa Kudrow!
RuPaul says he just ran into Lisa on the lot, and I believe it, since she doesn't do anything except say howdy. We also learn that her performance on The Comeback inspired RuPaul to say "hello, hello, hello!" whenever he comes in the door. Damn. Is there anything The Comeback can't do? I remain nonplussed that it never won an Emmy.
Back to the cheer teams. Nina makes a big deal of picking Jaymes because she "loves an underdog," and Jaymes responds to this pity with a look that says, "I'm gonna barf." Jaymes then interviews that she feels awkward and out of place, and NO SHIT. She spends this entire episode looking lost, scared, or pissed off, and when RuPaul uses the judges' deliberations to mention that Jaymes seemed much better on her audition tape, you know things are bad. If RuPaul has to explain how Jaymes even got on the show in the first place, then she probably reads even worse in the room than she does on screen.
Because of Nina's "charity," the last-picked queen is Valentina, and Eureka says that's because nobody expects much from the girl who has only been dragging it up for ten months. But Valentina's unbothered: "They don't know they just picked a superstar." Let's see if she's right!
List Ten Words That Rhyme With "Floozy"
As they look at their cheer scripts, the ladies realize they'll all have character names like "Floozy" and "Boozy" and "Assy," and "Classy," like Snow White and the Cheering Dwarfs. The point is that they need to communicate these characters throughout their routine, and this gives Alexis an opportunity to show that she's Broadway-ready, honey. At first she takes "Snoozy," but when Jaymes can't make "Floozy" work (surprise!), they swap adjectives. And Alexis kills it both times!
Later, a VERY cute professional cheerleader named Dom (insert Grindr profile jokes here) coaches the ladies on their cheer routines. And y'all, this mess is not easy. There are basket tosses and pyramids and flips, and lord, you know they are hunting for Eliza Dushku's stunt double from Bring It On.
Let Valentina's doubt represent them all.
Back in the workroom, Kimora is a total dream, and I'd love to have her over for a spritzer. JK! She's a see-you-next-Tuesday about everything, and she seems to think it makes her superior if she preemptively hates whatever she's intimidated by. I'm guessing, for instance, that she's worried about the cheer performance and that she's ALSO worried her sewing skills aren't up to par. Therefore, she snots that cheerleading is too hard and only "ugly girls" bedazzle their cheering panties. WHICH IS SO OBVIOUSLY UNTRUE. If you show me a girl WITHOUT bedazzled cheering panties, then I will show you a fundraiser waiting to happen. Point is: Kimora thinks she's fooling us, but she isn't.
Then it's time for real talk! Cynthia recounts her battle with cancer, and everyone rightly tells her that she's amazing for coming back from all that. She is!
We also hear an uplifting story from Peppermint, who once got beaten up in high school, but then discovered that the entire school was on HER side. Her attacker even got expelled! Peppermint is only a year younger than I am, so I'm glad to know that even back then, this was possible. Plus, Peppermint was a cheerleader in high school, and we see some old photos of her giving flawless school spirit.
Lest you think this will give her an advantage, though, Peppermint mentions that she was a cheerleader at "a black school," meaning she mostly did step routines, not gymnastics. But if Bring It On taught me anything, it's that Clovers can do both. Have faith, Peppermint!
Hit The Mat
God, I love this show. These cheer routines perfectly ride the line between "knowingly busted" and "actually accomplished." Nobody here is going to challenge Simone Biles on the floor routine, but a lot of them can execute a decent cartwheel. And when Trinity gets to the top of the pyramid, she serves so much face that I want her to lead a pep rally in my house.
The best part, though, is the cheer battle, when the rival squads read each other with singsong rhymes.
As you might expect, there are roughly 3 billion B-52s puns, including this unforgettable taunt from RuPaul's Glamazons:
Your beehive is busted
Your songs are too slow
You should go retire
In a private Ida- Hooooooooo!
And everyone shakes their ass when they say "ho." I'm living my best life just by remembering it.The B-52s enjoy it, too.
Not for nothing, but they are all in their sixties. Looking good!
Stomp The Runway
This week's runway theme is "White Party Realness." First, though, we see RuPaul, and I'm pleased to report that she's back in drag.
A reader named Jeffrey suggested to me that Ru wasn't in drag last week because Lady Gaga didn't have time to wait for the hours-long transformation. I buy that. Whatever the case, I'm glad she's back in glamorous action.
For me, the rest of this runway is mostly nothing special. I'd hoped that the broad theme of "wear something white" would provoke more than "pretty gowns." However, there are a few stand-outs, including Shea's sexy outfit...
Eureka's black-n-white number...
...and Valentina's wedding dress.
Valentina's the only one who really turns this runway into a performance, with her blushing bride realness, and it makes her seem smart and appealing. Add in her high-energy, face-face-face performance during the cheer challenge, and I have to agree with her self-assessment at the top of the episode. She really is a champion.
Unlike goddamned Kimora, who walks this trash into our lives:
Hey ho, guess what? This is not really a "white party" outfit. It's mostly about those gold gloves. Also? If I can reduce your entire aesthetic to the word "tramp," then you're not that interesting. Perhaps if you'd bedazzled some cheer panties and put them on? BUT I GUESS WE'LL NEVER KNOW.
Ru apparently agrees with me, because she sends Kimora to the bottom two, along with Jaymes. Charlie is also given a low score, and the top three are Shea (who was a strong tumbler during the cheer routine), Trinity (who is praised for her cheerleading), and Valentina. Correctly, Valentina wins. And I appreciate that she wins a collection of custom wigs. I like the prizes that help the girls do their jobs, because it reminds us that this show is first and foremost about professional entertainers
Lip Sync For Your Life
Obviously, the girls lip sync to "Love Shack," and obviously Kimora can't do anything but pout around. Jaymes isn't great either, but at least she gives it a touch of camp. Which is what you need when you're lip-syncing to the goddamned B-52s.
Adorably, Fred Schneider sings along with the track. I love that he still enjoys this song after all these years.
But nobody enjoys Jaymes! Her ass bounces back to the Midwest, while Kimora hangs on for now. But you just know she'll be gone within two weeks.
Most Watchable Moment
Top marks go to the inspiring workroom conversations. Together, Cynthia and Peppermint are getting me into my feelings.