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“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Recap Realness: Blondie Ambition

by Chris Kelly March 29, 2016

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The post-elimination march back into the workroom is touched with sadness because the contestants actually liked Cynthia. She was sweet, fun, and crazy; also, it’s always safer to befriend someone you don’t think will win. After failing at the acting challenge, Robbie is worried that that’s why everyone is nice to her now. (It’s certainly not because of the awesome first impression she made.) Derrick wonders what it means to have a soul, which makes Bob wonder if the Britney impersonator has a brain. A discussion of the specific properties of “soul” leads to some uncomfortable performative blackness from the white lady, though I can’t blame her for thinking that’s what the judges expect after last week’s acting challenge. Best to just play the opening theme song before she starts quoting Maya Angelou.

s8e04 01The next day’s entrance is accompanied by Bob’s new vogue house single, “Purse First,” certain to be available on iTunes after she wins this season. Her songwriting skills are so impressive that Ru is convinced to skip the mini challenge altogether and jump straight to the main event. She assigns the nine remaining ladies to divide themselves into three New Wave trios that will write lyrics to dance hits they will have to sing live. Robbie, Naomi, and Kim link up to form “Team Best Friends,” revealing a bond I had no idea existed. I will update my Erotic Friend Fiction folder accordingly. The NYC gals join forces based on hometown pride, leaving Naysha, Derrick, and Chi Chi to do that thing where you have some random food in your fridge that’s gonna go bad, so you just throw it in a pot and pretend it’s a stew even though the ingredients really don’t go together… anyway they do that but with interpersonal issues.

Step two of Ru’s plan to make these children psychologically destroy each other: they have to decide for themselves how to dole out the three available tracks. Team Best Friends makes a surprise bid for Punk, and no one is sad to see that option removed from the stack. The other two groups have a bidding war over Party (and are presumably disappointed to learn that it’s not a track off Adore Delano’s album), but when Bob gets Chi Chi to admit that she’d rather do Synth, it’s all over. I mean, the discussion isn’t over, they still belabor the point, but resistance is futile when you have three pushy drag queens from New York trying to get what they want. If you’re ever accused of a crime, see if you can get three New York drag queens to be your legal defense team. Guaranteed acquittal.

s8e04 03The flavors on Team Leftovers fail to meld for the rest of the episode. Though they somehow manage to agree on the concept of embodying different shapes, they can’t choose how best to portray that idea. With a little “help” from Betty, Chi Chi suggests wearing full-body obelisks, and then up and leaves when no one buys what she’s selling. Though the editing seems to suggest that Derrick is being stubborn for not wanting to wear a cardboard box, I have to take her side. Like, we are talking about a contestant wearing a literal cardboard box on the main stage. Michelle would raise her one eyebrow so high we’d have to shave back her hairline to find it. Rehearsal does nothing to reunite the girls: they do not see eye to eye about what should be sung, or even what singing sounds like. Lucian Piane tries as politely as he can to convince Lady Barry that she’s no Barry Manilow, but the Britney disease has already corrupted her brain and she’s convinced that she is a pop princess. Somehow, no matter what she’s assigned, she hears “be a pop princess” and is like, “YES! MY TIME TO SHINE!”

They’re not the only band in need of stronger management. In NYC’s corner, Thorgy is driving her costars crazy with her incomprehensible combination of perfectionism and ADHD. She’s vetoing ideas left and right, but then looking left or right causes her to lose focus entirely. By the time they get in front of Lucian for a run-through, Bob has been on red alert for so long that she can’t stop herself from clapping back at the guest judge. Ten more minutes and she’d have paper cut him to death with her lyric sheet. In her defense, though: Lorde is a terrible reference in the context of New Wave music, given that she hadn’t been born yet during that era. There’s precious little drama with the remaining trio: though they’re more Punky Brewster than legit punk, they work well together. True friendship is deciding that you all love chicken wings enough to write a song about them and name yourselves after dipping sauces.

s8e04 06Everyone’s overall competence once again denies me the train wreck I so desperately crave. Team NYC’s ode to street vendors is pure technicolor joy with a surprising amount of supporting choreography. The Leftovers get the shady edit, but the stony faces of the judging panel can’t hide the fact that the hired extras in the audience are pretty into it. The Best Friends remain closer to Ramona Quimby than The Ramones, but the lack of edge in their edgy act ends up being rather endearing. Watching Robbie Turner spit at the audience is as incongruous as hearing the Queen of England loudly fart, and it’s doubly adorable because of it.

Which is not to say that I agree with the win she was handed. Like, we fast-forward through the neon runway, and then Les Chicken Wings are chosen as the best team, and all of a sudden the Turner girl has snagged herself a brand new wig collection. (Which, like: #SHADE.) Whatever, she did great I guess. Sure. The NYC girls are kept onstage so that Michelle can tell them what she doesn’t like about them, but of course they’re all safe. (Side note, though: has Bob presented “ratchet” on the runway at any point this season? I feel like a hand-sewn 1950s house dress and a floor-length black gown don’t fit that description just because you put a six-foot black lady in them, Ms. Visage.)

s8e04 07On the lower end of the spectrum, Dragometry’s inability to shape up means that someone has to ship out. Derrick is given another free pass, though I think she should have been critiqued more harshly for neglecting to apply her throuple-management skills. Naysha, however, is told that her hot runway presentation can’t save her lukewarm synth look, while Chi Chi is reminded that bankruptcy is no excuse for looking cheap. (Even though it sort of actually is.) Time to get syncing, girls.

You’d think that Naysha would have learned from her first elimination, but she refuses to abandon her “titi used to be a dancer” moves. She does, however, immediately abandon her shoes, and eventually her wig as well. I get that it’s tough to do acrobatics in heels, but it’s also tough to win a drag competition without them. And sure enough, the Divine DeVayne manages to flip and finesse her way through the song without removing her footwear. She may have worn the same boots in the challenge, but she shantays to wear them another day. As for Miss Continental: we knew she wasn’t going to snatch the crown after having been sent home once. Don’t worry about her, her bags are probably still packed from last time.




Chris Kelly
Chris Kelly

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