Drag Race Recap: Enter the Oprah-Bots

dragreWe’re covering Logo’s only worthwhile show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, in all it’s queeny, catty glory. This week, it’s all Oprah, which means wild weight swings, crazy people jumping and lots and lots of thoughtful, sympathetic nodding,which the girls will need after they butcher their attempts to channel the Big O.

Straight Roommate is really excited to watch the show and was sort of disappointed more of you didn’t talk about him last week in the recap comments, which is mostly my fault for not including his more provocative opinions. I’ll try to make up for it this week. For starters, as Ru is going over the prizes the winner receives, he says that he thinks that the Absolut sponsorship is lame and that throwing a rainbow flag on something is not enough to be an actual endorsement of gays. “It’d be like if Denny’s started offering waffles and saying it was to show their support of black people.”

Which is a great way to start the most racially tense Drag Race to date. The girls arrive and video Ru tell them that this week’s challenge is going to be about channeling someone famous and the girls all share a knowing look and solemnly declare that it’s time for impersonations.

Actual Ru shows up in the workroom and has the girls do a quiz wherein we learn that there are actual drag queens who don’t know the last name of Dorothy and Straight Roommate opines that “Ru is one of those rare people who are much better looking as a woman than a man.” The contest doesn’t seem to matter at all and is just a set-up to declare that this week is going to be all about Oprah.

Shannel the Showgirl freaks the fuck out. She asks if Oprah will be there and of course she won’t, because seriously, Oprah has better things to do. But this doesn’t stop Shannel from declaring, “Oprah is the most amazing person on earth.”

picture-110The girls have to channel their inner Oprah and everyone is excited except for poor Nina, who has never seen Oprah because somehow Oprah only shows up on cable in Puerto Rico and she doesn’t know who this mysterious and wonderful woman who gives away cars and wisdom is.

Shannel can’t shut up about how she’s the biggest Oprah fan in the world and explains to a dubious Bebe that Oprah is “responsible for who I am today”, which makes us wonder if Shannel gets Oprah’s self-empowerment message. In any event, Shannel used to weigh 217 lbs and was a miserable fat kid until Oprah came along and showed her the benefits of rapid weight change.

Everyone is scared of Bebe because she looks like Oprah, but the real worries come when Rebecca asks Bebe for her dark make-up and starts to do blackface. Shannel comes over and explains that it’s about channeling your “inner Oprah” in a serious manner that says, “Um, yeah, please don’t do blackface,” and Rebecca washes off her dark, dark make-up, sparing us from seeing how Santino and Ru would respond to a drag in black face. Which would have been interesting, but we’re pretty sure the producers would never have let it happen.

Based on her makeup, Akashia is doing doughy Oprah, and this episode is all about redeeming Akashia, it seems, which is never a good sign. We find out that she lets people stay at her house rent-free, which supposedly categorizes her for sainthood, but from what we know about Akashia just convinces us she’s either engaging in human trafficking or starting some sort of bitchy drag cult in her living room

Ru asks her what her inspiration for Oprah is and Akashia says she’s doing Oprah as if “she were speaking at–“, but we never find out because Ru interjects “The Tuskegee Institute?”– which is the best line of the show so far.

Ru calls the girls “Squirrelfriends”, which Straight Roommate explains is gay slang, though I’ve never heard it (admittedly, I do not go out much these days), but he says his gay BFF Jason uses it all the time, so there you go. I don’t know how I feel that I’m getting my gay slang news from a straight guy, but hey, that’s the 21st Century for you.

picture-42Nina Flowers finds out that part of the challenge requires hr to be on teleprompter which prompts her to say “Okay, that’s nice” with the voice of someone who does not read English well and Shannel has once again pronounced herself the winner of the competition before it even happens. “I’m the biggest Oprah fan here, so as far as I’m concerned, this is already over.” Have we told you we hate Shannel yet?

Logo seems to have taken our advice and the ads this week are for the Oscars and Medea Goes to Jail instead of the awful gay shows they produce– though we probably imagine this has something more to do with the show being successful enough a draw to lure real advertisers. Oh wait, there’s a Noah’s Arc ad. Blech.

Anyway, the competition is broken into three parts- they must read some news from the teleprompter using tricky words like “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad”, sell some infomercial item and interview Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott, the stars of Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood, also a World of Wonder production. Three cheers for cross-brand promotion.

Bebe’s Oprah is the best. Ongina looks like Asian reporter Tricia Takanawa and even makes a cute joke about it. We love Ongina. She’s approachable, funny and has her stuff together. She’s got the C.U.N.T. mantra down. She is the only one who manages to sound like a real talk show host, too. The rest of them are all various shades of terrible.

Bebe is more Avon Lady than Oprah and asks too many questions and doesn’t understand that the interview isn’t about her. Akashia doesn’t stand for Tori and Dean and makes an ass of herself by bending over and showing Tori her ass. Nina Flowers doesn’t know how to read a queue card and asks is Tori has HIV, but rolls with it and manages to salvage the interview.

On Vaseline Alley the guest judges are media consultant Howard Bragman and Mad TV‘s Debra Wilson Skelton who screams something about the winner being on her show, which is funny I guess because Mad TV is canceled. I guess there’s just not a huge market for awkward uncomfortable humor, what with Joan Rivers cornering the market.

picture-35The runway show allows the girls to wear their own looks (What? No, “Channel your inner Gale?”) and Shannel is Medusa, Ongina is a cross between Bjork and Madeline Kahn, Bebe is Tina Turner meets Lion King and Akashia falls on the runway!!!!

And Akashia falls on the runway!

And Akashia falls on the runway!

No, I am not typing the same thing over and over again to boost my word count, it’s just that we s this moment repeated fifty times, with loud doom drum playing, in slow motion. The producers think they’ve found the drag equivalent of the Zapruder tapes it seems. To Akashia’s defense, she sort of recovers with a spin and twirl, but yup, she fell.

The judges dissect and Ru tells Shannel, “I haven’t seen much vulnerability from you; we need to see some vulnerability,” and as a response Shannel blankly blinks her bedazzled eyes and mutters, “Input confirmed,” or something along those lines. The judges think her costume is too showgirl and we don’t see what’s “showgirl” about a giant wig made up of snakes and fake breasts encircled by asps. Oh wait…

Rebecca is sweet and fun and we’re sorry we don’t say more about her in these recaps, but thus far she’s sort of boring. Of all the contestants, she most looks like a woman and who knows, maybe she’s the sleeper of the series?

Bebe, whose wig is the size of a small boulder gets “Most improved” and Debra says she is the “only one with an X factor.” Jade looks great, but her dress shows her package and she sucks at channeling her inner Oprah according to the judges.

picture-54Bebe is pronounced the winner, which we don’t really care about because Shannel and Akashia get to “Lipsync for your life” as the bottom two. Thus far, Akashia has managed to win these things, but she’s yet to have any real competition. Last week Tammie just sort of gave up, but Shannel didn’t lose all those pounds for nothing, dammit.

They lipsync to Whitney’s “The Greatest Love of All” and then just as the bridge of the song heads to the final climax, Shannel loses her big wig-o-snakes and, rather than giving up, she perseveres on. The judges go wild as wigless Shannel takes them home and there are two ways to look at this: One is that Shannel lost her wig and managed to demonstrate her “vulnerabilty” and nerve at just the moment she needed to. The second is that Shannel knew she had to do something dramatic and took the calculated risk of “losing her wig” to show the judges just how “vulnerable” she is. Since Shannel is actually a drag robot and not an actual person, we think it’s pretty obvious which scenario we think it is.

But hey—it works and Shannel wins! Like all bitches, Akashia totally collapses after losing, saying through tears, “I have not cried in four years!” See, robots everywhere! Goodbye forever Akashia! Good news is that you stayed long enough that we actually got a sense of who you are. The bad news is that we hated you and are glad to see you go. The other good news, though, is that we probably hate Shannel more than you, so now you can read us say awful things about her in the recaps instead of you. And you win a new car!

Just kidding. This isn’t Oprah, after all.

You can watch full episodes online here.