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“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Recap Realness: How Big Is Your Caucus?

by Chris Kelly April 19, 2016

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After the mainstage showdown, Derrick finally understands that “at least three” queens want her to go home. It had somehow not yet dawned on her that in a competition, all the queens want her to go home. (Not to mention most of the viewing audience.) You can see the tide turning against her based on people’s reactions to her emotional display: while Chi Chi is comforted for her struggles during a difficult judging, Not-Britney just gets mocked for the length of her monologue. (There’s a lazy “size doesn’t matter” joke in there, but let’s not.) Of course, not everyone is down for some country-fried sympathy, either: Thorgy can’t forgive that lazy Dorothy dress and wants to do a little bloodletting by removing DeVayne from this competition. (Is there a word for being sorry and proud at the same time? Because that’s how I feel about that pun.)

s8e07 01The remaining contestants must not be morning people (except Bob), because there’s absolutely no conversation before Ru’s video message to them: they just walk in, assemble at the table, and then immediately walk over to the TV. Her monologue about shade goes unexplained in the short term, however, because first we have to look at muscular models in their underwear and imagine them in sexual positions. What drudgery! The actual disappointment, of course, is that almost everyone in the game is a bottom, which seems an awful waste, I mean with the price of meat what it is. Now I can’t marry Miles Davis Moody unless we can find someplace that will let us register for a collection of double-headed dildos.

Regardless, Derrick proves herself to be the Horse-hung Whisperer, winning a free mattress and absolutely no tactical advantage in the game. Sweeping that little interlude away like a sand mandala, we move on to the main challenge this week, which will be to pair up and film adversarial campaign ads. Ru matches Thorgy with Chi Chi since the two of them are fresh from their runway run-in, and Brooklyn’s finest gets right to work writing a multi-volume autobiography. Naomi and Kim are paired to prove how detrimental friendship is. Remember, kids: the only reason to be nice to someone is so they’ll drop their guard and won’t see it coming.

s8e07 02Even a dog watching the show would know to combine Derrick and Bob for the most explosive dramatic potential. Unfortunately for the production team, the warring titans are so laser-focused on winning that they’ll even do the unthinkable and cooperate. Ms. Barry might be dumb (ok, she’s definitely dumb), but she knows that her partner has demolished the previous performance assignments, and she’d carry that damn purse into Mordor if asked. Watch out, though: footage of a blood-covered man in women’s undergarments gnawing hungrily on baby parts is certain to show up in an actual Republican campaign video in the next election cycle.

Since Naomi and Kim are both look queens, they need significantly more coaching to get a decent final product. If it had taken any more guidance, Michelle probably would have given up and starred in both commercials herself. Thorgy needs no pointers, but blinders might help. Typically, having an abundance of ideas is an advantage, especially when most of your colleagues think ideas come from a specialty store, but constraining herself to 45 seconds ends up being tougher than cramming all that dirty old hair into a wig. Unpadded in a cheap suit, Chi Chi shows up looking almost exactly like an uncomfortable portrayal of a gay man from an In Living Color sketch. Her desire to serve something other than hick realness is quickly jettisoned when it becomes clear that she doesn’t have a wider repertoire to draw from.

s8e07 03The next day’s mainstage prep gets political as Bob talks about getting arrested to fight for marriage equality and Kim teaches Derrick the difference between North and South Korea. (Seriously, did she go to some sort of weird school that only teaches pop divas? No one escapes North Korea to go on Drag Race. And if someone did: just give her the prize, she earned it.)

While I miss a lot of the eliminated queens, I’m glad that we no longer have to fast-forward through the fashion show. Bob usurps Thorgy’s claim to clown couture with a harlequin presentation that encompasses the entire sweet dream/beautiful nightmare dichotomy. Derrick delivers the season’s first full onstage transformation, changing seamlessly from one boring dress to another. Her commitment to basicness can’t dent her team’s overall strength, however, and the pair soars to victory. Let’s face it: those videos were hilarious. You could pair BTDQ with 75 percent of a corpse and she’d turn out a stellar product. Somewhere in Seattle, Robbie Turner double-checks the rules to Jenga.

s8e07 05Kim’s predictably spectacular look pairs well with Naomi’s unexpectedly curvaceous homage to Raven, and they skip down the road to safety even though their videos were mediocre. This leaves us in the unfortunate position of pitting two fan favorites against each other in the bottom two. The judges are lukewarm on Thorgy’s eclectic outfit and worry that her ad didn’t cohere into a well-edited final product. (No one mentions the fact that the contestants almost certainly didn’t cut these clips together themselves, but of course production would never be shady and skew the results.) Chi Chi is dressed down for being dressed down on the campaign trail, and both partners lacked the bloodlust Ru demands. If they couldn’t cut each other to bits earlier for the challenge, they’ll have to do it here and now in the lip sync. The goddesses of drag will have their sacrifice.

Speaking of skewing the results, did Thorgy’s entire face fall off during this performance? Because it sure wasn’t on screen. It’s never OK to make sloppy cuts to Jennifer Holliday’s earth-shattering vocal, but it’s especially galling when it’s done with the obvious intent of throwing a good drag queen under the bus. Selectively editing around Chi Chi’s best moments, we sort of a little bit see how she won this round, but I can’t shake the feeling that alternate footage would tell an entirely different story. Hell, Thorgy managed to cartwheel on a bead-strewn stage without getting Showgirlsed into the hospital. Surely that counts in her favor? But someone has to go home every week (except Bob, who is just waiting for that $100,000 direct deposit to clear), so I’ve got to start coming to terms with tragic losses like this. It’s OK, I’m sure she’ll get whatever Christmas stocking full of garage sale leftovers they’re giving to Miss Congeniality these days.




Chris Kelly
Chris Kelly

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