The Kardashians Inspire RuPaul's Drag Race Music And Tears
Because OF COURSE RuPaul turned their saga into a musical.
Is anyone else thinking this season of Drag Race is a little off? Not that it's bad, of course. There are lot of strong queens -- more than we got in Season 7, at any rate -- and the show is just so generally excellent that even its weakest episodes are better than almost anything else I could be watching. But at the same time, the rhythm has felt wrong on multiple occasions. Whether it's the too-fast editing of last week's runway stomp or the shocking number of queens who are bombing their lip syncs, there's a herky-jerky quality that keeps throwing me.
I don't know. Maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe I'm just mad because I don't give a damn about the Kardashians OR Meghan Trainor. Let's get started, and I'll see if I can sort out my feelings!
Wipe That Mirror, Gurl
You can zip right past this. Just know that Alexis interviews that she's got to win a challenge after being in the middle so often, while Nina throws shade at Shea and Sasha for being a little too proud of their recent victories. If you're thinking, "Wait, Nina won the first challenge, and she was in the top last week, so what's she complaining about?," then that's exactly the point. Homegirl is spritzing herself with Self-Sabotage, a new fragrance by Calvin Klein's second cousin.
Finally, The Pit Crew!
Well thank GOD there's a mini challenge this week, because it means we can ogle the sexy new pit crew!
Hands off the dude in the middle, ladies. I've already booked us a honeymoon suite at the Days Inn by the mall.
The mini involves the queens tossing a quick look together and posing for a selfie that includes all three of those nearly naked men. Everybody has fun -- as would ANY OF US -- but Alexis really turns it out:
That face! And also my boyfriend's face!
I must also give love to Valentina. After RuPaul calls her to the staging area, she says, "Wait! Ru, Ru, Ru! Can you present me as Ms. Venezuela?" And of course Ru obliges, because this is the kind of non-sequitur lunacy that befits a true queen.
At the end of the day, though, it's Alexis who wins the challenge, which means she gets to choose her role in...
A Kardashian Kabaret
...Kardashian: The Musical. This lip-synced theatrical extravaganza is the main challenge, with the girls enacting everything from the sisters' rise to stardom to a not-so-distant future when North West is a space alien who rules us all. (Yes, this is the actual plot of the musical, and I do bless the writers for it. I can only assume the book is by Lin-Manuel Miranda.)
After casting herself as Big Mama Kris, Alexis also gets to assign parts to everyone else. Eureka is on crutches since she blew out her knee during the cheerleading challenge. (Apparently, it didn't truly hobble her until this week.) Therefore, she'll assay the relatively low-impact role of North West. Eureka is a trooper and refuses to complain about her injury. (That's been a trend in musicals recently!)
But you know who DOES complain? Nina Bo'Nina Brown. See, she wanted to play Blac Chyna, who Wikipedia tells me is a model and video vixen who has a baby with Robert Kardashian Jr. But instead, Nina gets cast as Khloe. You'd think that would be awesome, right? Playing one of the three central sisters? But NO. Nina sees it as sabotage and pitches 100 different fits.
As we did last week, let's ask Peppermint how she feels about this:
As Pep notes, there are three black queens and only one black character. That means two of them will be playing white ladies. To that end, Peppermint is cast as Britney Spears.
That leaves Shea, who actually does land the coveted Blac Chyna role. I guess this is her Sutton Foster moment!
Meanwhile, Cynthia is worried that she might not have the language skills to play Kim; and Farrah, who's playing Kylie Jenner, is such a Kardashian fan that she's certain she'll slay. BUT WILL SHE?
Rehearsals Are Hard Work, So Do The Kardashians Rehearse?
Todrick Hall is back to choreograph the ladies and later serve on the judges' panel. He immediately smells Nina's stank attitude.
And what IS IT about the girls this season who just burrow into their self-pity? They should all be watching Eureka, who keeps it light and bright even though she has actual problems right now. Later in the workroom, even Trinity admits that she admires her rival's commitment.
Back at rehearsal, Shea burns up the stage with her hood-girl dancing, and you can practically see Nina finding fresh ammunition for the war she's waging against her own potential. Oh, and Farrah (as Kylie Jenner) and Valentina (as Kendall Jenner) cannot get a handle on their hand-clap choreography. Todrick isn't amused that they keep laughing about it.
This Week In Special Messages
So far this season, the show has chosen this exact point in every episode for a "serious conversation." And while real issues have always been in the mix, they've never been raised with such mechanical regularity. This leaves me torn. I do think it's good to hear about these things, but the structure of the show is making the heartfelt discussions feel phony. Perhaps next week we can have a singalong instead? Just for a chance of pace?
But as for this week, Eureka kicks things off by apologizing again for her eating disorder joke from last week. That leads Sasha and Valentina to (a) accept her apology and (b) talk openly about their struggles with anorexia. Then Shea steps in to acknowledge her battle with bulimia. I don't think I've ever seen eating disorders in the gay community addressed on TV before, so this is excellent. But again, I wish the moment hadn't arrived "right on schedule," as it were.
It's Showtime, Hookers!
Just before the queens perform their musical, RuPaul greets Michelle, Carson, Todrick, and extra-special guest judge Meghan Trainor, whose outfit I present without comment.
(As a sidebar, did you know that Meghan Trainor has recently co-written two #1 country songs? It's true! One is by Rascal Flatts and the other is Lauren Alaina, and both are better than anything on Trainor's second album.)
Anyway, the musical is funny as hell. It starts with Kim destroying the tabloid dominance of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Britney Spears; Peppermint's Britney is especially good.
Then Alexis strides on and absolutely destroys everyone as Kris.
It's great to see her do so well this week. She went to musical theatre school with a lot of people I know, and they all say she's really cool and a very dedicated professional. SO GO GET IT GURL.
Cynthia, Farrah, and Valentina are, indeed, lost, just like the rehearsal promised they would be. And while Nina isn't completely BUTT, she is decidedly low-energy.
And then Shea drops it like it's hot:
She's looking like a potential winner, if you ask me.
Stomp The Runway
The runway theme is Faux Fur Fabulous. And while she doesn't get critiqued by the judges, I do want to praise Sasha's Russian fantasy...
...and note that Eureka is working those crutches like a boss...
...while Nina finally steps up her game with some Mary J. Blige Realness.
Alexis, though, doesn't match the glamor of her work in the mini and main challenges.
Seriously, hooker. Why do you even own that dress in the first place?
Judging And Kvetching
Ru places Shea, Alexis, and Peppermint in the top three, though the latter two both get read for their runway looks. As Michelle notes, Peppermint has now worn a boring pink skirt for the last two weeks.
More specifically, Michelle says, "These plain pink bottoms are getting boring." To which Carson huffily replies, "My god, I'm right here!" HAHAHA!
Anyway, Shea wins...
...and seems delighted about it. Less delighted, of course, are Farrah, Cynthia, and Nina, who land in the bottom three. Nina is declared safe, and I'm guessing that's because of her fierce runway look.
Lip Sync For Your Life
Cynthia and Farrah lip sync to a Meghan Trainor song called "Woman Up," and I'll bet you $3 that this song was created at a brand synergy meeting with Dove Body Wash.
Farrah does her best, but Cynthia goes all out:
However, before Ru can deliver her verdict, a producer runs to the judges' table and takes Ru away. Everyone looks at each other in confusion until Ru comes back and says she's made her decision. She asks Eureka to step forward, and tells her, "We've been in touch with the doctor. You need time to heal, and in good conscience, I cannot allow you to continue in the competition." The other queens all cover their mouths and sob in shock, but Ru ends by telling Eureka she has an open invitation to return next season. Eureka tearfully thanks Ru and the judges and crutches off out of the scrum of queens sending her out with love.
Most Watchable Moment
I know I started this recap with some doubts, but as I wrote about this episode, I realized how much I liked it. Top marks go to the mini challenge, because it's sexy and fun and a welcome return for mostly naked hunks.