When I stopped reviewing The O.C. I said I was going to look for shows that were more my style. I honestly cannot think of a show that’s currently on TV that I love more than RuPaul’s Drag Race (tied with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.) I have seen every single episode of every single season of this show. I got into during season 2 and was able to go back and watch season 1 before they scrubbed its weird vaseline-smeared amazingness from the Internet. Outside cooking competitions & Project Runway, I’m not really into reality TV. But Drag Race occupies this beautiful space between high art, wacky reality show, and complete camp. It is beautiful and I love it more than I love my own children (spoiler: I don’t have children.)
Let’s do this! (also SPOILERS if you haven’t seen episode 1!)
When the show started I almost cried. I missed you so much, Drag Race. Never leave me again.
I guess the best way to do this is give a short recap of what happened on the show and then run down each queen. As always, everyone comes in looking fabulous. Ru enters in another one of his great suits and opens the library, which Alaska wins because she’s motherfucking ALASKA and she’s the one to beat this season. The main challenge is a talent show where Roxxy and Tatiana place in the top two. They lip sync for their Legacy, which is the big twist this season. Instead of the two bottom queens lip syncing and then Ru telling the losing queen to sashay away, the two top queens lip sync against each other. The winner of the lip sync will then eliminate a girl she chose from the judges’ bottom three picks. I do like this twist but I can already tell we’re going to spend Untucked levels of time on choosing who to eliminate over workroom and runway time, so I’m not really thrilled about that. I’m here for the looks and the talent, damn it. I don’t care who is no longer friends with who.
Queens (in the order they entered the Workroom)
First in the workroom is Katya. I love her evil Russian hooker from a Bond movie red latex thing, and I typically don’t like Katya’s outfits. I do think Katya is one of the prettiest queens to come out of Drag Race, right up there with Courtney Act and Delta Work. (Delta has one of the most beautiful faces I’ve ever seen.)
Katya’s talent is gymnastics. It’s fun and she’s damn good at it. Good for you, Katya. Bring home the gold for Mother Russia.
– “I could walk away from this competition with at least $350,000 dollars. (pause) I didn’t go to fucking school for math.”
– “But I’m here to show the world that I’ve turned into a total fucking monster!”
Her entrance outfit (and pretty much her whole aesthetic in this episode) is 1980s neon flashback realness. I listen to the RuPaul Drag Race Recap podcast and they hated her hair but I think it works for the 80s-on-acid neon nightmare thing she’s got going on. (They also made a huge deal about her neon eyebrows in the confessional – Daniel, darling, its paint, not dye. She’ll just paint them back on every day!)
I thought Detox was fine during her season. She wasn’t amazing for me until the reunion episode where she came dressed like she had stepped of a silent movie screen.
This look encapsulates why I love drag so much. It’s a perfect example of how drag is an art form of its own. This look was living art.
Detox’s talent show song thing wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever seen her do, but it was very Detox. She’s committed to the neon electric future and good for her. The outfit was fine for what she decided to do with her performance. She’s safe from elimination.
- Alyssa Edwards
I have to admit that I am not the biggest Alyssa Edwards fan in the world. I think she’s really good at what she does but what she does isn’t my thing. I don’t love her entrance outfit, but I do love the jacket she wears in the talking head interviews. +10 for that.
During the talent show Alyssa does a lip sync/dance number that’s fine. I’m not blown away by it. Her outfit is appropriate for the challenge and I wouldn’t mind having that robe she wears in the beginning hanging in my closet. I also liked her head-piece. She’s very middle of the road and that’s what keeps her safe from elimination.
- Phi Phi O’Hara
I HATED Phi Phi during her season. She was angry and petty and she seemed to stir shit for absolutely no reason. She was one of my least favorite queens to ever grace the runway. Then I heard that she was doing something she called 365 Days of Drag on Instagram, where she posts a brand new look every single day. Curiosity got the better of me so I checked it out – and I’m so glad I did. She is insanely talented and creative. She’s open about how she’s coming on the show to try to rehab her image, and I’m willing to give her another shot. Also, she came in the workroom in Sexy Riddler Cosplay! As a comic book nerd myself (I even have a podcast about comic books!), I love this so hard.
Phi Phi’s decision to sing a capella during the talent show sends her to the bottom. I feel for her because I know she wanted to shine based on the strength of her voice alone, but she just couldn’t find the note or the rhythm. She’s understandably upset when she lands in the bottom three.
Her dress was cute but I didn’t love the Lady Gaga hair.
- Ginger Minj
I love Ginger Minj’s name. I do not love Ginger Minj’s drag. However, the entrance outfit? SLAY. This is the best I’ve ever seen her look:
A big girl rocking a bathing suit? As a fellow big girl, I approve and give her all the applause.
Then she ruins it by wearing whatever that blue thing was during the talent show. Girl. I get it. It is hard to find clothes when you are a big girl. But this blue thing looked like you found some fabric in the remainders bin, tied it to your body, and called it an outfit. It’s not good. It’s too bad you didn’t save the cape/bathing suit thing for the runway because that would have probably sent Michelle Visage into a coma.
Her song was good, though! She’s a decent singer and her choice of song was good for the competition. She’s safe.
Michelle: “Literally I couldn’t take my eyes of your vagina.”
Ginger: “Thank you.”
- Roxxy Andrews
I remember thinking Roxxy was not the nicest queen in the world during her season, but I did like her. That wig under another wig????? That alone earned her a spot in All Stars.
The cute black dress she comes in wearing is great and I would like to own it (I do not have the legs for it, however.)
As for her talent – Roxxxy. Fuck you. Fuck you for having the most perfect body I have ever laid eyes on and looking like a god damned goddess in your lingerie. You look amazing and you killed everyone with your routine. (PS – I always thought your body looked amazing, even when you were heavier.)
- Coco Montrese
Another one of my least favorite queens ever to walk the runway. I don’t know why they picked her when there are a million other queens that could have taken her place. Latrice? Delta? Nina Flowers? Shannel? Acid Betty? Yara Sophia? I would have even taken Shangela – AGAIN – over Coco.
I do appreciate her entrance look – the Dorito compact is cute and I will always embrace those who live the Hat Life. As a woman of a certain age living in Southern California, I too live that Hat Life in an effort to keep the evil Day Star off my rapidly aging baseball mitt of a face.
Coco’s talent show number is….not very exciting. I appreciate what she’s going for with the old Hollywood dance but it doesn’t translate well. What the judges said about her outfit was spot on – we lost her choreography under it. It would have been better if it was more sheer so we could see her legs and feet, or if it tore away. It ended up looking more like a little girl dancing in a nightgown than a glamorous star telling a story through dance. She rightfully ends up in the bottom three.
Obviously, Alaska is the queen to beat. She comes in wearing a garbage bag and makes it look fucking amazing because that is literally what Alaska does. She is the definition of “drag artist.” She’s beautiful, smart, funny, and irreverent. This is her competition to lose.
Proving what a powerhouse she is, she sings a song about being gay during the talent show. She’s funny, she knows exactly how to use her face and body to punch up every word she’s singing, and she does it all while looking like a fantasy Barbie doll. Most importantly, she knows that what she’s doing will make Ru laugh. I’ve always said that if a queen can make Ru laugh she is guaranteed not to go home during that challenge. Alaska does all that and more and she’s safe.
– “No one can do Alaska like Alaska. But I encourage you to try.”
– “Detox. No, really, I mean it. This is actually your intervention. You should really stop this.”
I feel bad because I think I’ve said “I didn’t like her on her season” for MOST of the queens in this competition! Well, I didn’t like Tatianna, either, because she just rubbed me the wrong way. However, she was 21. We’re all annoying assholes when we’re 21. Some of us never grow out of that phase (like me)! She looks great in her entrance outfit.
Tatianna is the most surprising queen during the main challenge. When they announced she was going to do a spoken word, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes because I have seen (and performed!) some terrible spoken word in my day. While her poem wasn’t a literary masterpiece, it was cheeky and fun and, most importantly, it’s something the entire audience loved. She really impressed me with this because it was so far out of left field and she nailed it 100%.
Her outfit is pretty great (though I feel like I’ve seen Raven wearing something similar before) and I loved loved loved that cape. She’s rightly in the top two with Roxxxy.
- Adore Delano
LOL at “I’m Adore Delano and I’m a messy slut!” Her entrance look is very 90s riot girl. I like it, but I’ve already lived through entire armies of girls looking just like this (see: I am old and went to high school in the 90s) so I’m not seeing anything super innovative about her look. She looks great in it, though, and I love that she’s daring to go outside the super cinched pretty pretty princess looks that seems to be the drag queen default.
She’s ok during the talent show. I actually own some of her music so I know that Adore is a very talented singer, but she seemed a little shaky and pitchy in the beginning – maybe because she’s used to having a backup band and she didn’t have one this time? As for her look – it’s fine. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it, either. I think Michelle was overly critical of this look, but it’s like she said – this is All Stars and the bar has been raised. Going against the typical drag grain may be good for Adore’s career outside of Drag Race, but it’s hurting her in the competition because it’s not what the judges are looking for.
The queens all go backstage to discuss who they will eliminate. Roxxxy makes the most of her status in the top two by pulling each of the girls aside individually to discuss why they think they should stay. This is a very good way to get a lot of camera time, so good move, Roxxxy.
Adore, who was torn apart by Michelle for her look, is in tears and says she doesn’t belong on the show. Michelle was pretty tough on Adore but I think it’s to be expected – if you have ever watched more than an episode of this show you know what Michelle is looking for in a queen fashion-wise. If you don’t meet those expectations you should be ready to hear her yell at you every week. I’m not saying it’s not shitty, but it is the way things are on Drag Race. It’s ok to do something outside that box, but it may not be rewarded on the show (see: Milk and her beard, which I thought was inspired but the judges hated. Or see when Milk dressed as Ru in Boy Drag for a runway challenge. Again, I thought it was a great move. The judges did not.)
As I said above, I really don’t need to watch the girls figure out who they’re going to eliminate and then watch them stuff lipsticks into their tops. I don’t care about what may happen to the aliances and friendships on the show. That’s the kind of thing that I hate on other reality TV shows. I watch Drag Race because I want to see talented queens participating in crazy challenges and then looking amazing on the runway.
Tatianna and Roxxxy lip sync for their legacy with Roxxxy coming out on top. She, thankfully, sends Coco home. However, Ru has a video message for Coco saying that her journey isn’t over and she may have a chance to rejoin the other girls. NOOOOOOOOOO. NO. I hate that. Every time they bring a queen back she is eliminated the same episode. Don’t. Bother.
CONSPIRACY THEORY TIME! I won’t pretend that the producers didn’t have a hand in Phi Phi not getting eliminated. She’s got a redemption arc that they’re interested in playing up and it wouldn’t do much good to send her home episode 1 without any overly bitchy or “I’ve changed!” footage in the bank. Adore has the Michelle drama keeping her through elimination but Coco’s rivalry with Alyssa is over so she’s not going to bring any drama.
(Special shout out to Michelle Visage for introducing me to the word “vagedie.”)
At the end of each review I’m going to post my guesses for who is going to be the top three queens at the end of the season. My top three after watching this episode: