A True Queen Never Performs The Matinee
Mark gags on Drag Race's Broadway challenge.
Wipe That Mirror
Guess what, y'all? This is the ONLY skippable moment in this week's otherwise brilliant episode. From this point forward, Paris gets burnt.
All you need to know about the opening is that Bianca del Rio, as per usual, makes a tired-ass joke at Gia's expense, saying she's too fishy for her own good. Gia, as we'd expect, responds by being obnoxiously proud of her slutty stupidity. At one point, she gyrates in a "sexy" way while saying she wants to "feel her oats." Because why use the actual cliché when you can mangle it, right?
The mini-challenge requires the girls to look at extreme close-up photos of body parts and decide if they belong to "females" or "she-males." The biological women include a female wrestler and that hideous "tan mom," and at this point, my liberal-arts mind recoils in horror. There are two or three hyperventilating think pieces to be written about how this segment "punishes" women who look masculine. But RuPaul does not give a FUCK about being politically correct, y'all. If you end up offended, then the queen is probably doing her job. She's probably making you confront some shit, and she can do that because guess what? She's already more marginalized than you'll ever be, so here's a joke about Chynna's man-neck.
Oh, also…Darienne sees a close-up of some boobs and says that since they're obviously a cheap breast plate, they must belong to a she-male. Turns out, the photo is actually of Michelle Visage. That joke was clearly scripted, but I do not care. It's still funny.
The Moment Adam Grosswirth And I Lose Our Minds
Oh, Mary. In this week's main challenge, the queens will be performing Shade: The Rusical, an original piece of musical theatre. For those of you who don't know, I edit a theatre magazine and basically go to musicals for a living. My husband is also a vocal coach to Broadway performers, so there are ALWAYS some show tunes being warbled in my apartment. Obviously, this episode is my T.
Because they won the mini-challenge, Adore Delano and Ben DeLaCreme are the team captains. Trinity is picked last, since she was awful during last week's horror movie challenge.
Meanwhile, Courtney Act and Adore are on different teams, and the show quickly milks the Battle of the Idol alums. There's a hilarious segment that keeps cutting between the two of them hollering power notes.
We also learn that the musical's composer is Luciane Piane, who has been on this show before. Honestly, I don't know why they didn't hire an actual Broadway composer. I'm fairly certain that Michael John LaChiusa or Adam Gwon or Amanda Green would have been down for this, and that would have ruled.
RuPaul Serves Tim Gunn & Rehearsal Pt. 1
During his Tim Gunn walk, RuPaul tells the queens to serve "Tony Award glamour" on the runway, and I'm sure there's a joke to be made about dance belts or character shoes. As they discuss the parts that they'll be playing in Shade: The Rusical, Joslyn says her inspiration for her butch queen character is Bianca Del Rio. Ha!
Then we cut to Team DeLa's rehearsal, which also features choreography from Lucian's sister and piano accompaniment by Our Lady J. The edit makes it look like all the queens are going to struggle, especially Trinity, who once again says she doesn't know what she's doing.
Rehearsal, Pt. 2 & Back In The Workroom
Adore Delano is really shy and nervous about her singing, which does not make sense. Hooker, you were on live episodes of American Idol when the show was at the peak of its popularity! Are you seriously telling me this is more stressful?
She does eventually get over it, though, and for the moment, she seems to best Courtney Act in the singing department. She really does have a wonderful voice. Also, Leganja's hat says "Sonique" on it. Does she mean Sonique the former Drag Race contestant, or Sonique the one-hit wonder behind "Feels So Good"? (Your love, it keeps me aliii-ii-iiive!)
Once rehearsal is over, Trinity and Bianca have a fight about how Trinity can't do anything. It's pretty enjoyable, as these things go. Then Adore discusses how Idol forced him to be in the closet while he was on the show, and his mom backed up the producers. Darienne is obviously prompted to praise Adore for being the first gay Idol, but I'd say that honor goes to Jim Verraros. What up, Season 1?!?!
Still, it's interesting to hear Adore discuss that part of the show, because it reminds you how much has changed in just a few years. Remember how gross Ryan Seacrest's homophobic jokes were? My skin is still crawling.
Break A Leg, Bitches
Luciane is joined on the panel by fellow guest judge Sheryl Lee Ralph, who was the original Deena on Dreamgirls.
As you might expect, the details and references of Shade are spot-on, right down to the "Dragbill" that RuPaul reads at her seat. The show itself is surprisingly awesome, following the journey of a young drag queen as she learns to be herself. Will she be fishy? A comedy queen? A shade queen? She gets tempted in all directions, but finally, she chooses the path of true unity among all her sisters, guided by a wise old spirit who leads everyone in a Rent-style finale. The score is reminiscent of Taboo, the musical Boy George wrote about his club-kid days, and it's arguably just as good as the score for Kinky Boots.
But what about the performers? Well, Team DeLa is really on point, with even Trinity managing to nail the choreography. Her vocals are a little slurry, and Darienne and Gia are a little rough as Comedy Queens, but DeLa and Courtney hold them together. Team Adore, meanwhile, is a mess. Leganja and April are both hideous -- stilted and awkward and embarrassing. But Milk does a good job as the Wise Old Spirit, so there's that.
As for the Idol face-off: Adore's vocals are certainly better, but she's dead behind the eyes as the second-act ingénue. Meanwhile, Courtney, who plays the ingénue in Act One, still sings quite well, and more importantly, she gives a really specific performance. It's not just her voice, but her eyes, face, body, and timing that tell you what a perky little innocent she's playing. Raw talent is never as satisfying as talent PLUS professionalism.
The runway looks are shown very briefly, since the musical takes up so much time. Milk dresses as a pregnant diva in an evening gown, and once again, I'm into it.
Someone please get Sheryl Lee Ralph her own show. She can judge anything. Ant farms. Finger-painting. I don't care. She's REALLY feeling it when she delivers her comments, with the flailed arms and the pulled faces and the occasional high notes in the middle of words. I want more.
Santino foolishly calls Adore the best in show, since he doesn't grasp that Courtney was the all-around better performer. But are we surprised?
When the judges discuss Trinity, RuPaul notes that on the runway she wears "flippers," which are temporary teeth that may impair her speech. It pays to enrich your word power!
Ultimately, Ru puts Darienne, April, and Trinity on the bottom, while the top three are Courtney, Adore, and Ben DeLaCreme, who was quite good as the Shady Queen. Serving award-show realness, RuPaul opens an envelope and announces that the winner for Best Actress in a Rusical is…Courtney Act. And that's why Ru knows best.
Lip Sync For Your Life
For the second week in a row, April has to lip sync for her life, this time against Trinity K. Bonet. The song is the original version of "I'm Every Woman," and while they both do a great job, Trinity really captures the Chaka soul.
Here's why: During the bridge, the background singers wail "I ain't bragging," then Chaka comes back to sing "'Cuz I'm the one." And Trinity ONLY lip syncs the Chaka line, which is exactly right. A diva can't be bothered with the background vocals! She uses that time to endorse her royalty checks!
Once again, Ru makes the right call and sends April packing with the immortal line, "Keep calm…and Carrion."
Compared to last week's filler-thon, this week's Untucked deserves a Peabody. There's a gross/fascinating moment at the end when Laganja's parents do the traditional "we love you" video message. Predictably, this leads to tears and personal stories, but when Bianca del Rio makes a joke and everyone wonders what Milk's parents would say about her turning up pregnant, Laganja goes bonkers. This is HER moment! How DARE the queens talk about anything other than her BEAUTIFUL FEELINGS?! She is a bird, and she will FLY!
Um…girl? Simmer down. Demanding attention makes you sound like a baby.
Before all that, though, there's an incredible moment where Gia looks like a damn fool by trying to read Milk's pregnancy drag. She says that drag is only about looking like a girl, and that Milk doesn't get it. And even Joslyn Fox is like, "Bitch, you ignorant." Gia tries to throw some defensive attitude, and she says something like, "Where I come from, 'ignorant' means you're a worthless piece of trash!" In response, Bianca just shrugs like, "Yeah. Exactly." And as much as that queen gets on my nerves, THAT is a funny bit.
Most Watchable Moment
This week, the top honor goes to Sheryl Lee Ralph. Serve it, Deena!