Trump Ruins Everything, Even ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ [RECAP and RANKINGS]

Yikes. After last week’s lip sync bloodbath, the pressure was high to deliver this week on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The gals tried their best to step it up, but some truly lackluster creative left us with one of the limpest episodes in the series’ 11-season stretch.

With a field of competitors that still feels bloated three eliminations later, it’s more important than ever to shine under the spotlights.

Unfortunately, with challenges like these, it’s even tougher to put on a good showing.

Take last night’s mini challenge. The queens had to get in Rachel Maddow drag (am I a bad feminist for initially thinking it was a Hannah Gadsby-inspired challenge from last week’s preview?) and then deliver breaking news from a teleprompter.

Few queens even tried to approximate Rachel’s Maddowisms, with only Nina, Brooke, Yvie and Ariel registering any Rachel at all. Scarlet, whom I would slot in fifth, was awarded the win somehow. I don’t know if anyone really knocked it out of the park, including Maddow whose own read was interspersed. The copy was bad, the drag was bad and watching the queens struggle with the language wasn’t nearly as funny as they intended.

Her prize included the power to assign roles in this week’s big lip sync performance, TRUMP: The Rusical. Ugh. This is my escapism, can we just not? Everything is such a mess in the world, and the sharpest comedic minds have already wrung every drop of humor from this. After seeing the queens’ simply reading the news in the mini-challenge, I don’t need to see them *finger wag* reeeeeeaadd the news, ya know?

Scarlet wielded her power mostly responsibly, sincerely attempting to pair girls with parts that suit them. Mercedes attempted to throw herself at the largest role, which caused everyone a bit of alarm. I understand her thinking here, trying to take a big swing, but, gurl, know your limits.

Silky also wasn’t thrilled with her assigned role: Oprah. Which, huh? What are we doing here? How is Oprah involved?

Whatever.

There was minimal squabbling over parts before the group went to choreo with famed Deadpool ballet dancer, Yanis Marshall. In addition to being a ballet assassin, Yanis is not afraid to cut a bitch with his words. Brooke impressed Mr. Marshall with years of professional ballet training, while Ra’Jah chimed in to share she’s trained various styles. O RLY, GURL?

Turns out, that training was some 15 years ago. Ra’Jah is 33, so that basically means she was a child when she was taking dance training. It’s not the same as Brooke, not by a longshot.

Ra’Jah struggled to keep up, Scarlet looked awkward, but it was Ariel who really seemed the most shooketh. Saddled with the largest role, the Instagram queen was already feeling a little insecure. At one point during rehearsal, she completely froze.

Luckily, she did better in the performance itself. The entire thing was structured as a sort of parody of Grease, except it followed all the women in Trump’s orbit. (The less anyone tries to discern a cohesive plot or narrative arc, the better.) Even in the canon of Rusicals, this was one of the weaker entries. It was saved by some real stand-out performances from Yvie (as Kellyanne Conway), Nina (Sarah Huckabee Sanders), Brooke (Ivana Trump) and Silky (Oprah).

Oddly enough, it’s Silky that picked up the win, despite the other three queens named above outshining her (in my opinion, at least). Vanjie, Ra’Jah and, of course, Merceds fail to make an impression impersonating Rosie O’Donnell, Omarosa and Ivanka, respectively.

Most of the girls werked the runway for an Orange Alert theme, as guest judges Tiffany “New York” Pollard and The Soup‘s Joel McHale whooped and hollered. McHale irked Michelle Visage with his shouting, treating the runway more like March Madness than Mystery Science Theater.

It came down to Ra’Jah and Mercedes in the lip sync, and, really, the writing was on the wall before the track “Living In America” even began. Ra’Jah gave a lot of energy, and, even though she lost her wig during the performance, it was Mercedes’ time to go.

Let’s dive deeper into the individual performances in our rankings below.

  1. After a strong start and a few subsequent middling weeks, Brooke Lynn Hytes is back on top, baby. She took the relatively small role of Ivana, and she spun it into gold. She knew the character she was playing, she made smart choices about how to heighten it and delivered it flawlessly. Add to that Brooke’s futuristic knockout runway, and she is surging. (Plus, her little ‘ho-mance with Vanjie will be a storyline too delicious for producers to pass up any time soon.)
  2. This was a great week for Yvie. She was robbed of that win. Her performance in the Rusical was far and away the strongest. She made a full character out of Kellyanne that elevated the cheesy material to the next level. She didn’t just serve haggard, she served “Bitch, I’ve been on four morning shows, physically wrestled the President’s cell phone away, attended two couples counseling sessions, and it’s not even noon!” I loved it. On the runway, the citrus circus ensemble was a highlight, especially alongside so many similar showgirl looks.
  3. Even though I may be the world’s biggest Silky STAN, I wasn’t nearly as enamored with her performance this week as the judges were. Her Oprah was on-target, but I don’t think she brought anything extra to the part. She also didn’t wow me on the runway. Silky is still a strong (and strange) competitor, but I would only give her a B+ this week.
  4. Vanjie may be down, but she’s not out. Rosie O’Donnell is probably the toughest character to portray. Should she have fired some koosh balls? Maybe put on a fat suit? (No. No, she should not.) It’s a shame, because even her lyrics were strikingly devoid of jokes. It was a little bit of a raw deal. I might feel even more sympathy if Michelle wasn’t spot-on in her critique, calling out the sameness of Vanjie’s runways. I hope this is a wake-up call for Vanjie, and she comes soaring back next week. (Also, it was nice to hear Ru echo my own assertion that there is a direct line from Alyssa Edwards to Vanjie.)
  5. I was surprised to see Plastique overlooked this week as well. Her Milania makeup and mannerisms were spot on. Even her reactions and moments out of the spotlight stayed consistent. Don’t sleep on Plastique.
  6. Another unsung shero this week was Nina West. As Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Nina nailed every single moment on stage. Her little solo was perfect, and she imbued every note with appropriate emotion. She gave Sarah tics and mannerisms that both made sense and made fun. I loved her thinking when it comes to the Hello, Dolly runway, but it may have been a bit too literal of an homage to Barbra Streisand.
  7. It finally felt like A’Keria landed herself in the right place at the right time. Stormy Daniels wasn’t the star of the show, but at least she wasn’t stuck in a dead-end like with the Mariah show last week. I was in love with her nude illusion, fringe lewk on the runway with long, long, long, orange wig. A’Keria is exciting in a way that makes me look forward to a time when she’s sharing the screen with less filler queens.
  8. Am I the only one not totally into Scarlet? I just don’t think there’s a whole lot of there there that we haven’t seen yet. Her drag looks expensive and refined. Her aesthetic is classic. Her acting chops are solidly average. I wasn’t crazy about her Betsy DeVos. What was with the martini? Is DeVos a drunk? I thought she was just an idiot. I liked her runway, but the same fabric head-to-toe made it seem like it was created by the absolute most talented person in a freshman fashion design college course.
  9. Shuga is fading into the background for me. So much so, in fact, I forgot to include her when originally working on this post. I enjoyed her Hillary, and I wish we heard the judges’ reactions to her gender-bending runway. Treading water in the middle of the pack is costing Shuga dearly.
  10. Ariel was fine. She was fine in the challenge, she was fine on the runway. She’s fine. I’m waiting for her to go full villain (as opposed to the semi-villain all people who build their brand on Instagram become), which may make her more interesting — and keep her around longer.
  11. When it comes to Ra’Jah, it doesn’t seem like she’s lacking talent. She also doesn’t strike me as inexperienced. It doesn’t appear that her skills don’t translate to this competition. It’s my belief that what’s holding Ra’Jah back is HUBRIS. Oh, the hubris. Her over-singing in the Mariah show and the way she volunteered that dance experience like it was yesterday was almost shocking. Her attitude seems to indicate she has quite the inflated sense of self. That lack of awareness is going to be a huge disadvantage as she makes decisions as a performer under pressure. Her Omarosa was so … small … , and that runway felt truly Junior Varsity next to some of the more exciting ensembles. She needs a more self-critical eye to avoid further pitfalls.
  12. Goodbye, Mercedes. As Drag Race‘s first Muslim queen, I’m glad you were able to share a bit more about your experience as a Muslim person with this audience. She was just way over her head. Granted, Ivanka is almost more about being devoid of personality, but even the wig was bad. (As an aside, if you haven’t seen Comedy Central’s brilliant Jared & Ivanka series starring queer comedians Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp, drop everything and do that right now.) Back to Mercedes … if Ra’Jah’s runway was JV, Mercedes’ look was Pee-Wee league. The lip sync was also lacking. It was her time.

How would you rank the queens?

The post Trump Ruins Everything, Even ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ [RECAP and RANKINGS] appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.

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?

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