Idol STANS Are the Devil’s Playthings on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ [RECAP and Rankings]

For the longest time, I’ve considered the Shakespearean group acting challenge from season seven to be the single worst performance in RuPaul’s Drag Race herstory.

Until now.

To call one team’s performance in Thursday night’s challenge a car crash would actually be disrespectful to car crashes. I’ve seen more elegant multi-car pileups on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike. I needed an extra day to even process the whole ordeal.

The Drag Race theatrical oeuvre has never been anything one might confuse with the works of the Algonquin Roundtable, but there’s a certain degree of gamesmanship one expects from the queens that at least keeps the final result on par with a lesser Chuck Lorre sitcom.

Boy, that was not the case last night. Let’s rewind.

Our mini-challenge tonight focuses on the gals tossing on their quick drag and doing their best to sweet talk their way backstage at a Seduction concert at the height of the girl group’s popularity — a super specific time period if there ever was one. Most of the girls are forgettable, but Nina West makes an impression with an awkward oversized tween trying to hunt down her long lost mother, Michelle. No surprise, Silky makes me laugh the hardest when she nearly bulldozes the the whole set down. And yet, Nina and Ra’Jah are declared the winners.

Each gets to pick their team for this week’s maxi challenge. The gals are tasked with producing their own warped take on a Christian TV, except designed to worship divas. They get to pick their divas, do a musical number and a live exorcism/conversion.

Nina West’s team is immediately off to the races. One of last week’s winners, Yvie, is right there with her helping shepherd the weaker players (like Mercedes) with ideas and joke pitches. Brooke and Ariel are looking to redeem themselves after last week’s performances. Ariel even leaps at the chance to collaborate with Silky in a savvy move to smooth things over. They’re worshipping Britney — a pop star ripe for (good-natured) ridicule — and they take off with ideas.

Team Ra’Jah is less successful. They struggle to settle on a diva they all share enough knowledge on, eventually landing on Mariah Carey. Now, Mimi can be cartoony, but there are far easier stars to lampoon. (Madonna, Gaga and Cher all leap to mind.) Kids today.

Ru visits, and their lack of reference is glaring. They don’t know her fans are called lambs, and it only gets worse from there. Ru even abandons his typical Tim Gunn cool-headed guidance to essentially yell at them to get their acts together. And yet? They double down. This is gonna be bad.

On set, Nina and company are electric. As hosts, Nina and Brooke are perfect. They keep the show moving at a great clip, they sprinkle in the perfect amount of jokes and they banter so naturally. Nina is doing slightly more of the heavy lifting, and, even if she didn’t get the most laughs, she was the star around which everyone else orbited. Brava!

The greatest gag was Vanjie. It’s hard to even describe the absolute magic she’s capable of on camera. Some of the most hilarious moments are definitely not intentional, but a lot of them are! She’s smart and funny. She gives us a real intense Britney pastor that whips her hairography around with sickening precision. Yvie is note-perfect as a mall-goth suburban teen who isn’t interested in Britney, leading to a circa 2007 head shaving moment and miraculous conversion. Mercedes’ character … well, the less said the better. She wasn’t good, but she wasn’t terrible enough to derail the scene. Silky and Ariel bring the sketch to a close strong with a musical performance that is just the right blend of melisma and mockery.

Then we get Ra’Jah’s team. Ho boy. Truly from start to finish a disaster. Irredeemable in every single way. As a host, Scarlet makes bizarre choices to trill and titter and roll her eyes back. Her look makes no sense. It’s tough to watch. Shuga Cain is not much better as her co-host. She’s less outwardly offensive to watch, but she’s not charming either. Neither of them really adds any jokes or interest to the proceedings.

Plastique takes over conversion duty, and it’s also a mess. She at least makes A CHOICE about her character to play her mostly sickly sweet, with these flashes of demonic possession at key phrases. It doesn’t work, for sure, but at least she’s going for something. Her target is A’Keria, playing, I guess, some kind of Ariana Grande fan? It doesn’t really track. Most egregiously, they call her failed film SPARKLE instead of Glitter, and it is bone-chilling.

To cap it all off, Honey and Ra’Jah perform what I guess is technically called music, but it is baaaaaad. I’m pretty sure at one point Ra’Jah calls Mimi’s ex-husband “Timmy Mottola.” It is shocking.

Even the often nauseatingly sweet Ross can barely hide his disdain at the end, warning Team Ra’Jah they better bring it on the runway.

Turns out, even that’s not enough to save them. After Nina’s team is given the win and dismissed (Nina took top honors, with Vanjie and Ariel getting praised), things get ugly. “I have three words for you,” Ru warns, “Stink. Stank. Stunk.”

That about sums it up. Ru goes down the line demanding an explanation from each queen as to why this went so incredibly wrong. Even guest judges Guillermo Diaz and Troye Sivan lay into the gals with the same savage insights as the other judges. Plastique tries to tell the judges she is new to pop culture, and the rest of the girls practically trip over one another to share responsibility for choosing a diva none of them apparently knew a single thing about.

RuPaul makes the unprecedented decision to have all the girls on the team lip sync for their lives at once. It’s a much cooler idea in theory than execution. The crowded stage makes it difficult for any of the queens to stretch their legs — literally — so stunting is at an absolute minimum. It’s difficult to even tell what’s happening most of the time.

Honey takes some … chances … and none pay off. She’s trying, I don’t know what, honestly. But it involves rolling off the stage, basically. In her weird latex outfit, the whole thing feels like a bad idea that was cut from Gaga’s artRAVE tour. She just looks so sad and defeated already, it throws the whole thing into this weird other place. In the end, she’s the one eliminated.

(Though, truly we could’ve shed a few extra queens here to both move things along and give this more impact, but whatever.)

OK, so where does that leave us? Check out our totally subjective rankings below, and leave yours in the comments.

  1. I am throwing all my support behind Miss Vanjie. She looks incredible on the runway, she slays every challenge and she has the best confessionals this season. She’s a perfect Drag Race gal. I am just waiting for Michelle to ask to see her NOT in red, but other than that, she’s really standing out in this crowded field.
  2. I’m not sure she’ll stay up here, but Yvie is riding a wave of momentum. She has interesting ideas that are surprisingly well executed. Sometimes it feels just barely a step up from crafty, but it’s ambitious and creative and delightful. I didn’t need the extended penis painting segment, but the result was cool. Again, she was a great actress, and I do like that she had a lot of ideas to SHARE. That sort of creative generosity speaks well of her character, even if her behavior on Untucked screams I’M A MESSY BITCH WHO LOVES DRAMA.
  3. I still love Silky. Y’all tired of that already? I thought she was robbed of the mini challenge win, and I liked her fine in the Britney worship segment. I wasn’t completely wild about the big blue runway, but it wasn’t a mess. Definitely on the safe side this week. I don’t always consider Untucked canon in terms of these recaps, but it is starting to feel like the other girls’ harsher opinions of her are starting to weigh on her a bit. That could drive her to success or grind her into failure.
  4. This was not a good week for Plastique. Much like tax law, ignorance is not an excuse. If she didn’t know Mariah, she should’ve been in her sisters’ ears asking 100 questions, or at the very least remembering it’s GLITTER. C’mon. She looked great while doing the conversion and on the runway. Her mini challenge ditzy Asian character was fruit so low-hanging it was practically subterranean, but, again, that’s kind of the tone of this show in general. She still has a lot of potential to succeed.
  5. I wouldn’t call it a triumphant comeback for Brooke this week, but she was strong in the challenge and looked incredible on the runway. She’s still a stand-out, but with folks like Vanjie and Yvie building momentum, she risks getting left in the dust.
  6. This was wholly Nina West‘s week. She was by far the best in the mini challenge, and her role in the show was crucial. I adored the fringe look she rocked down the runway. When I think of former campy queens that have been successful, though — think Bianca and Jinkx — there’s an extra level of refinement and creativity that we’ve only glimpsed from Nina so far. Maybe she was just off to a rocky start, but I’m still hesitant to believe she’s going to rocket to the top.
  7. A’Keria is lucky her runaways are so good, because I haven’t been impressed with much else. Tonight’s fringey headpiece was a showstopper on par with her wigs-on-wigs-on-wigs-on-wigs-on-wigs runway. I’m trying to think of what her standout talent will be. Maybe she’s a great dancer? I hope there’s something else in her arsenal.
  8. What happened, dear Scarlet? You were so good last week, and just a manic, twitching, non-stop shimmying mess this week. The hair and outfit were awful in the challenge, but I did love what she showed on the runway. Methinks last week’s success made her a touch overconfident. Hopefully this humbling brings her back to Earth next week.
  9. Ariel is not just an Instagram girl by nature of her career, she’s an Instagram girl by the very nature of her personality. Obviously, that’s not a compliment. She was good this week, and I’m intrigued, but I’m honestly more worried about her attitude than her aptitude at this point.
  10. Shuga betta step up. That runway had a lot of impact, but I wonder how it translates to skills for future outfits. It just seems like it was her heaviest weapon that maybe she pulled after this very rough challenge performance. I loved her personality when she first arrived in the work room, but I have some serious doubts after this week. Where was all the charm she arrived with?
  11. As team captain, Ra’jah should have been more on the hook than she was. I guess we can chalk it up to Honey’s bizarre lip sync, but Ra’Jah really got off easy here. She tried to blame her struggles in the challenge on Honey bending the notes, but the musicology of their set was the least of their worries. Even her runway was a letdown. I’m officially putting Ra’jah on notice: Ya got another week or two to sort this out or you’re going home.
  12. Mercedes is so lucky she landed on the team she did. She was the obvious weak link. I get the sense she’s incredibly good at what she does outside this competition, but here she doesn’t fully embody the challenges behind the challenges, you know? She’s likely a great queen, but maybe this isn’t the right place to showcase what she does best.
  13. I didn’t expect Honey to make such a sudden and dramatic exit. She mostly flew under the radar for me the last few weeks, but she flamed out in spectacular fashion. Her song with Ra’Jah was AWFUL, but even that’s not a dealbreaker. Her runway lewk was right, but it still felt wrong? That desperate lip sync while wearing the latex headpiece just felt sad. She is clearly so passionate about this art-form, and she has a lot of talent. I just feel like she needs a bit more time to mature.

How would you rank the queens?

The post Idol STANS Are the Devil’s Playthings on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ [RECAP and Rankings] appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.

The Queens Are Acting Up On ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ [RECAP and RANKINGS]

OK, y’all, week two is down, and I’m feeling way more optimistic about this season.

First off, I’m a little surprised to be in such a small minority that is #TeamSilky. I knew she’d be a polarizing figure, but I have yet to encounter a single other Drag Race fan charmed by Silky. Yes, she’s A LOT, but, you guys, this is reality-TV about drag queens: A LOT is table stakes.

I’m wondering now how many opinions have changed following this episode. Academia is not exactly the friendliest environment to a plus-size, black, queer, effeminate Southern man, but Silky is working toward a PhD. That’s amazing! Yas, Silky, take up space!

But how did everyone else come across? Let’s look back at the queens first real chance to break out of the pack.

We kicked the week off with the gals still ob-cyst with Soju’s little problem. In one of her several hilarious lines of the night, Vanjie talked about a potential cyst the size of “Gauntomino Bay,” and it was impossible not to love her.

Following her big win last week, Brooke was feeling herself, which irritated Scarlet. On the one hand, she warned us “When you feel your own oats so hard, you forget that there are other oats there,” which, really is just good advice for anyone, I guess. More troubling though is Scarlet’s belief that her snoozer of a runway outfit last week was worthy of win. I’m getting strong Milk vibes off this one, and I do not mean that as a compliment.

Our mini-challenge is a favorite: The celebrity photobomb. It requires all the gals to throw together some quick drag — a great equalizer among queens of varying skillsets — and then depend on their charisma, vision and point-of-view. Everyone seemed to have some fun, but two queens really go for it: Brooke — showing off a little booty — and Silky, who got fully nude.

They both were awarded the win, which meant they were the team captains for this week’s acting challenge. The gals were split into two teams to parody a pair of Oscar-nominated films: Good God Gurl, Get Out and Why It Gotta Be Black … Panther.

Brooke led the Marvel spoof along with Nina West, Ra’Jah, Honey, Shuga, Plastique and Ariel. During prep, Brooke floated the idea to Plastique that her character should lean real hard into a cartoony Asian accent, and it’s … complicated. On the one hand, this is the kind of humor this show all too often defaults to, and Plastique seems genuinely into the idea. Still, I’d rather this idea originated with Plastique. Even though Brooke prefaced it by saying it might be problematic, that’s sort of like saying “no offense” or “not to sound racist, but …” Acknowledging it almost makes it worse, because it’s premeditated. Sorry, I’m a #snowflake.

Anyway, the real juicy stuff happened when Ru swung by to visit, and the gals — particularly Ariel — leapt at the chance to throw Silky under the bus for being too much. They seem seem petty and bitter, and Ru is having none of it. “Are you trying to one-up her?” Ru asked the group. They all shake their heads and act coy like Alyssa Edwards as Katy Perry in the season five Snatch Game. No, Ru, never! But Ru was having none of it. “You might want to think about it!”

Now, RuPaul did not become a multimedia mogul by accident, child. So he sashayed right over to Team Silky and reported right on back. When Ru confronted Silky about the assertion that she sucks all the air of the room, Silky responded by saying she’s not sorry for having such a big straw to suck! YAS!

That’s when Silky tells Ru about her Master’s Degree and work toward a PhD, and I — someone who recaps reality TV professionally and won’t stop using the word “lewk” — am mightily impressed. You show them, Silky! You show them all!

Michelle and Ross were directing these romps, and it felt like a real mixed bag. Brooke’s team was up first, and goddamn, her instinct was spot on. Plastique is crushing this challenge. If only Brooke had as much vision for her own part. She could barely wrap her pretty little head around a straight-forward joke: “Beyoncé WHAT?!” Shuga Cain was having fun with her part as a weed smoking Auntie Maxine, and Ariel struggled to not add “gurl” after every sentence. (I feel that, gurl.) I have no idea what story they were telling or what the plot was, but it was sort of fun!

Silky’s team was a much better time, but not necessarily due to her involvement. Off the top, Vanjie was stealing the show.

Scratch that.

Vanjie started stealing the show when they picked teams, and Scarlet was picked last. “Miss Scarlet is looking pressed like a panini, bitch!” Vanjie screamed into the confessional camera. Then, when Vanjie got a copy of Good God Girl, Get Out, she reacted: “I’m looking at this script like it’s the Da Vinci Code!”

Truly, a gift.

As the dorky dad, Vanjie didn’t know what she was giving us exactly, but it was definitely both entirely wrong and completely perfect at the same time. Forget Alexis Mateo, I think Vanjie is a descendant of Alyssa Edwards. SHOW ME THE DNA TEST!

Silky was just OK during filming. She seemed to be having more fun than we were, and it bordered on unprofessional. Kahanna and Mercedes really struggled with their small parts, failing to register any discernible character choices.

The real stars were Yvie and Miss “Last Picked” Scarlet herself. Yvie mopped the floor with her role as “Marnie” (lol), while Scarlet managed to play the “straight” man (lol) in a way that uplifted the entire final project. They are two of the strongest performances to come out of one of these silly parodies I can recall.

As the ladies prepped their looks, Yvie decided to poke the cyst (it’ll catch on) by asking all the gals who was the shady queen who tried to throw Silky under the bus. To her credit, Ariel did step up and own her part in the bus throwing … under. Anyway, the other girls were not as quick to take responsibility.

Ra’Jah in particular did not take too kindly to this Yvie inquisition, and she unleashed … well, it wasn’t a read, necessarily, it was more like one of Silky’s full collegiate courses: “Have you ever seen someone finger paint with their feet? That’s Yvie’s mug. No, bitch, You could never. A girl that looks like you, smells like you, acts like you? No ma’am. An ugly girl could never come for a pretty girl. No. It’s an ugly bitch like you crawling out of the swamp to come for me? Mm-mm, girl. I’m over it.”

That read needs a works cited, honey, because there is so much to unpack. It’s the first Ra’Jah moment I am wholly here for.

The runway theme is What’s Your Sign? We’ll go over most of the outfits below in our rankings.

The judges loved Plastique’s dark, fantastical Aries, and they gushed over her just over-the-top enough performance. Yvie also had an impressive runway (hers was modeled on a mechanized lion in honor of Leo), and the judges were very into her work alongside Scarlet, another one of our top performers this week. Shuga received some praise for her performance, but on the runway Michelle was not getting Scorpio. I have to agree. It felt more Mortal Kombat. Our winners were Scarlet and Yvie.

Brooke’s look (ahem Brewk’s lewk) earned high marks from the judges, but her performance was flat. Ariel didn’t wow in either department. Then our clear bottom two, Kahanna and Mercedes were just out of their depths. Mercedes’ runway was something I could put together in one Forever 21 trip. Not good enough.

Earlier in the night, however, we learned about how Mercedes, the show’s first Muslim queen, was put on a no-fly list. The additional travel burden took such a toll on Mercedes she had a stroke. It’s a very tough story, and you can’t help but root for her.

The lip sync was … not great. Set to Britney’s iconic “Work Bitch,” a song literally any gay man could do a lip sync to at a moment’s notice, I was expecting so much more. Mercedes gave us a little wig reveal with what Ra’jah described as a “Toni Braxton” moment. Kahanna literally was doing round-off back handsprings in heels like a lunatic. And yet? Neither seemed to hit the beats. Kahanna I think at one point almost ended up fashion roadkill, while Mercedes gave us a jump split at the wrong time, and it just felt super awkward.

Mercedes got the win (yay?), and Kahanna was sent on her way.

So where does that leave the rest of our gals? Check out my completely subjective rankings below, and leave yours in the comments!

  1. What a gift we have in Miss Vanjie! Everything that comes out of her mouth is hilarious. I’m obsessed. She’s thankfully not one-note. She’s not entering and exiting every room, conversation and Presidential race like “Miss … Vanjie,” and I so appreciate that about her. Is she an actress? Absolutely not. She got by though on personality and commitment, and that’s more than I can say for a lot of these other gals. Plus, she looks fierce as hell every time. Last night’s look was particularly riveting.
  2. It was a pleasant surprise to see Plastique so easily let herself become the butt of the joke. Often times the prettiest gals are often the most tightly-wound. The attention to detail that makes the ensemble come together is typically so meticulous there’s not a lot of room for “fun.”
  3. Silky did not hit it out of the park this week, but she remains the biggest presence so far this season, eating up camera time like cookies. She was having a bit too much fun during filming, but her runway was fun.
  4. Shuga served us a bit more Snore-pio than Scorpio on the runway, but that performance was perfect. It was just campy enough, but it also stayed at the right intensity for the scene. Shuga’s short time doing drag may come back to bite her on the runway. It could be a matter of just not thinking big enough. We’ll see. However, I love her personality, I think she’s a natural comedian and she has some real stage presence. If her runways are passable, she could go far.
  5. After last week’s strong start, the cracks are already showing on Brooke. She took the starring role, and then she immediately shrunk in the face of the task. The runway outfit was great. I loved the plastic neckpiece, but a strong runway is usually not weighed more than a strong challenge performance in overall scoring.
  6. Good week for Yvie, on stage, off stage, on camera, just all around. She flashed her teeth in the work room, and she flexed her acting muscles in the challenge. That runway look was just like three decisions away from being a craft store disaster, so kudos on that. But even in its success, it still gave me pause. I hope we see Yvie rise like Sharon in season four — a little odd, a little kooky, but there’s a vision and some polish there.
  7. Oh, Miss Scarlet. Last week’s Violet Chachki runway was a dud. Then, to have that holier than thou attitude is not a cute look, friend. However, she slayed this challenge, no question about it. I loved the bubble guns on the runway, I loved the blue makeup. It was like Elsa from Frozen blew Papa Smurf on her way over, which is just truly my aesthetic. Scarlet could steadily climb the ranks, or she can be this season’s villain. Too soon to tell.
  8. Nina acquitted herself nicely this week. She didn’t steal the show, but she didn’t flub it either. Had her runway been a little stronger, she may have ended up somewhere on the upper half of this list. Instead, I got a lot of fire from it, and not a lot of lion. Runway is not where Nina is going to excel, so she needs to bring it extra hard to the challenges.
  9. I’m not entirely sure who Honey is. No, literally. I had to check my notes. That means she hasn’t been a disaster, but it also means she hasn’t been memorable. The lion get up was a little too on-the-nose for my taste. Hopefully she’ll get her moment.
  10. All hail the shade queen, Ra’jah. There’s attitude there that I am very into. They went out of their way to show her struggle with her lines, so we should probably not get too attached.
  11. A’Keria is another queen that just hasn’t had a chance to shine. She was fine in the film as Rhonda from the DMV, but, again, just not memorable. Runway was polished, but not super creative.
  12. I’m not here for Ariel‘s attitude. I’m always a little put off by a self-identified “Instagram queen.” (In truth, I’m put off by an “Instagram” anything — queen, model, influencer, body-positivity icon, stylist, designer, whatever.) It wasn’t that she was a bad actress (she was), but it’s that she was so clearly in her own head. For someone who came in so determined to show us how she’s a real entertainer and not just a walking Facetune or whatever, she immediately crumbled. The outfit was OK on the runway, but the judges were right to call out the poor timing of the little flash. It just illustrates a rookie move and a poor command of an audience. Sorry!
  13. Mercedes‘ win did not feel like a triumph. It makes me wonder if we brought out the sad backstory this soon, and THAT was her big redemption number, maybe she’s not long for this cast. It didn’t feel emotional or like emotional climax I wanted. Her runway was beyond basic, and she couldn’t even commit to holding the bow and arrow. Come on, girl!
  14. Kahanna seems lovely, and she is very hot as a boy, but two week were two too many. Her entry look and runway last week were inexcusable. Had it not been for poor, sweet Soju, Kahanna would not have had the chance to re-enter the work room today. Her gymnastics are impressive, but they lacked musicality in the context of the lip sync. There’s talent there, she’s just not fully baked yet.

How would you rank the queens?

The post The Queens Are Acting Up On ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ [RECAP and RANKINGS] appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.

‘Drag Race All Stars:’ Manolo-She Betta Don’t [RECAP and RANKINGS]

Before I get into last night’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, I need to get something off my chest. I’ve been particularly hard on Monet and Monique this season. I think I just have a hard time rooting for girls who were just on the most recent season competing on All Stars. Give it a minute, girl! Let me MISS you. Put out an album! Tour with the Roast! Do a holiday show at the Laurie Beechman! I don’t know, bitch, put on a backpack and go Reese Witherspoon Wild!

However, I am now fully STANNING. Maybe it was the edit that didn’t highlight their fabulosity early in the season, but now I am gooped, gagged and totally on board. I feel like Monet (as well as Naomi) are getting bolder, more assertive and taking big swings. Monique — never one to take a small swing — is hitting it out of the park. 

But before we go ahead and split the crown among them Cady Heron style, let’s discuss last night’s episode.

Fresh off Manila’s shocking elimination, Naomi was #sorrynotsorry. “I sent Manila home … because I wanted to!” she proudly told camera. But whose lipstick did Monet choose? Oh, Manila, too. Monet made no bones about her logic: She’s a petty bitch from Brooklyn (and I love it).

“Because what’s fair? Life’s not fair,” Naomi explained. I died. R.I.P. me. 

The increased ruthlessness had Trinity shook, but at this point in the competition what even are these report cards? How are they weighted? It’s time to abandon the pretense of fairness and get those claws out. Literally.)

This week’s challenge had the girls dusting off their acting chops for Ru Hollywood Story: Sex and the Kitty, Girl 3. It’s part Sex and the City parody, part behind-the-scenes documentary about the backstage rivalries. 

Because she was last week’s winner, Naomi gets to assign the roles. She makes a power play by taking the lead, “SJP.” (All the characters are hilariously — and wisely, in terms of copyright — named after the actresses, not their characters.) Trinity and Monet both dig their high-heels in about wanting to play “Kim,” the second [*Kim Cattrall voice*] juiciest role. In one of the series most ludicrous moments of manufactured drama, Monet and Trinity face-off in a high-stakes, edge-of-your-seat game of rock-paper-scissors. They even took a dramatic commercial break! They did a slo-mo! 

If this finale is not a rock-paper-scissor round robin battle, I’ll be pissed.

Trinity won the part, and Monet settled on Kristin. Latrice picked up Cynthia, blending the no-nonsense lawyer Miranda with the lesbian aspiring politician who portrayed her. Of course, we’ve got five girls left, and the show featured a foursome, so Ru injected the legendary Kristen Johnston character, Lexi Featherston. On the surface, picking a character that only ever appeared in one episode of the show’s six-season and two-movie run seems odd. However, that character is so iconic, so memorable, the episode in which she appears (“Splat!”) is one of the most beloved in the series’ history. As an unapologetic Sex and the City superfan, I couldn’t be more excited to see Monique in this role. (Though as an SATC scholar, I need to call CONTINUITY ERROR on saying K-Jo was in a coma. We saw her funeral!)

Ross was directing, and the edit really leaned into everyone’s struggle. Naomi was having a hard time blending her personality and SJP’s signature ease and charm. It’s always a tough call on these challenges. There’s a risk the judges will skewer you for playing the part so faithfully that it loses the parody, OR you could get called out for not being true to the inspiration. Naomi certainly made a choice to play the part very NAOMI-as-Carrie Bradshaw, and the result was not great. She also struggled with her amount of lines. 

Ross had to give Trinity a lot of coaching from the Kim Cattrall School of Saying Everything Like It’s Sexual (now accepting applications for the Class of 2023). Latrice seemed fine, but gave more definitive choices between takes telling Monet to stop stepping on her lines. Why didn’t they use that in the actual video? It would have read perfectly as the actresses sniping at each other. Ross, as a director, you need to learn to USE that!

Then, Monique entered and stole the whole damn show. This kind of challenge plays directly to all of Monique’s Moniqueness, and she lit up the screen any time the camera caught her. Even when she was doing the wrong thing, she made it look right. Someone give “K-Jo” a webseries, STAT! Hello, World of Wonder, do you hear me?

On the runway, the gals strutted their stuff in Cat Couture. It felt like a category designed specifically for the judges to use cat puns, and I ain’t even mad about it. (As usual, we’ll talk about specific “lewks” — which, no, I will not stop saying; “life’s not fair,” darling! — in the rankings below.) 

The final video was one of Drag Race’s better parodies. You can tell whoever wrote the script really loved the series, and they peppered in so many specific jokes and references to even the smallest moments. Monique and Trinity both stood out from the rest of the litter with show-stealing performances and purrrrrr-fect runways. 

Naomi’s performance seemed the most off-the-mark, but the edit isn’t the sort of disaster the filming made it seem. The judges were enamored with her runway, an almost kawaii take on the modern cat lady. Monet seemed to barely give just enough in the clip, and her runway was gorgeous (though it did not read “cat”). Latrice made a bigger impression in the video, but her airbrushed safari gown was a dud on the runway.

Monique and Trinity were named the winners, and everyone else was up for elimination. Deliberations seemed tough. It seemed Monet was relatively safe, but both Latrice and Naomi could’ve been in danger. Naomi was this week’s weakest contestant, but Latrice is often safe, at best. (Plus, she was already eliminated once before — this season.) Naomi and Monet both told Trinity Latrice was the choice to go home, and Naomi was not apologizing for it. 

“Honestly, she could tell Latrice what I said about her and I’d be like, ‘Yeah that’s exactly what I said.’ I don’t give a f*ck. Honestly, I don’t give a f*ck.”

Tell us how you really feel, Naomi.

The lip sync was to Janet Jackson’s “When I Think of You,” and, even though it’s not the highest tempo number, both ladies hit every piece of percussion with precision. It was a real fun little number, with Trinity edging out Monique, whose loose top seemed to be a distraction during her performance.

Trinity was picked as the winner, and she elected to eliminate … LATRICE! I wouldn’t call it a “shocking” elimination, but it was unexpected!

Now, if this season has taught us anything, it’s that I have truly no clue who is winning this at any given moment. That’s half the fun. So, read on for my totally subjective (and apparently very off-base) rankings below!

  1. It’s a very tight race, but I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Monique for the win. There are some things she just does SO well. This season has given me such an appreciation for her makeup skills, and her fashions have been elevated. (Though I am still hesitant to say she’s nailing every runway.) This week’s Cat Couture was best in show, for sure. It was campy AND glamorous. It told a story, and it was EXAGGERATED, like drag should be. Her comedic timing and dance skills are expert, and she would be a worthy addition to the Hall of Fame.
  2. Right there with Monique is Trinity. She’s the competitor who has been the most consistently strong in every challenge, and all her runways have been killer. No wonder she’s so concerned about elimination by report card; hers is definitely the strongest. I do have to wonder if her choice to eliminate Latrice had anything to do with Latrice’s comment in the workroom about how the winner should be someone with a platform, not just someone looking to shill singles and T-shirts. Maybe Trinity wanted to send Latrice home, before Latrice got the chance to send her home. Although Trinity’s Cat Couture was fun, it just lacked oomph for me. The mask was a cop out compared to doing the cat makeup, and her catsuit was just too plain. (She rocked it down the runway, regardless.) I got cat, but no couture. This season we’re really talking about the differences between As and A+s.
  3. As much as I am digging Monet, I’ve got to put her in third. She was fine in the parody, and her runway was ambitious. There was good stuff in her lewk, but it wasn’t a cat. The ears were part of the problem, but I think the makeup was a much bigger factor. Compare her face to Monique’s. (Or even her pro-recreation on Instagram. Clock the nose.) Monet just didn’t know how to create the illusion. I’m surprised the judges didn’t single that out more than the ears. Still, Monet’s profile is on the rise thanks to a Super Bowl commercial, and there’s no denying she’s invested in improving her fashion.
  4. Were any of us ready to be as gagged by Naomi as we’ve been? I certainly wasn’t. She missed the mark on the challenge, but I understand the choice she made. She wanted to showcase what she thought the judges wanted to see. This was not her best runway, but it was still classic Naomi, high fashion. I am also LOVING this take-no-prisoners, not giving an F attitude. She feels the least likely of the remaining four to snatch the crown, but she has proven she is worthy of the All Star title.
  5. Oh, Latrice. Yet again, your time has come. She will always be beloved, but, come on, she rarely stunned this season. This week, her performance was strong, but it felt like it was the script doing most of the heavy lifting. That runway was inexcusably lazy, and I must add it to the list of Latrice’s middling ensembles. The returning eliminated queen gimmick needs to be retired for a while. It’s starting to feel super predictable and required, instead of earned.

How would you rank the queens? Who do you think will take the crown in next week’s elimination? Sound off in the comments, henny!

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