“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Recap Realness: Absolut-ly Not

s1e6 09

Rebecca opens the episode by announcing that the other girls don’t like her. We know, hon: we don’t like you either. You know why? Because when you lose a vogue-off mini-challenge to a classy diva supreme like Nina Flowers, you turn it into a catty dig about her age. First off: respect your elders. Ru is old, and you’re barely worthy to stand in the same room as her. Second: Nina turned it out, and it wouldn’t kill you to say so. (And if it did kill you, fine.)

s1e6 01

I’m going to try not to make this whole write-up into an anti-Rebecca screed, but let’s face it: she’s worn her welcome thinner than the soles of her Payless shoes.

Which is not to say that she’s the only problem here. Shannel’s frustrations at losing over and over again are absolutely warranted. We’d all be pissed to get Glasscocked out of another game if put in her position. But her repeated assurances that she should have won are truly a waste of time and breath. We all know that the only thing she sees when she closes her eyes is herself, wearing the winner’s crown, seated atop a throne fashioned from the remains of the queens who sashayed before her.

But this week isn’t about killing: it’s about selling. Jeffrey Moran is here to enlist the queens in his army of advertisers. Each of them will embody a signature offering from the Absolut line. The pairing is apt, since just like flavored vodka, the contestants are slathered in chemical artifice to fool the senses. Nina’s win earns her the privilege of assigning each fruit to its cross-dressing mascot to serve as the inspiration for three looks in the Absolut Ball on the runway.

s1e6 03

The selections probably weren’t meant to be shady, but they also probably weren’t intended to dole out advantage the way they did. Nina’s “mango” turns out to be the sickly green of a jello mold rather than the rich gold of the fruit’s insides, and the aggressive hue of Bebe’s raspberries suggest that they were picked somewhere near Chernobyl. Rebecca, on the other hand, loves her luscious lemon, while Shannel’s limited sewing skills would leave her floundering no matter what color she was assigned.

The process of constructing the swimsuit, executive realness, and evening gown creations offers another key illustration of the ladies’ personalities. Without naming names, I’ll say that someone, whose ego is as transparent and fragile as her dick, is unwilling to offer guidance to her sisters in need. Even without the added stress of an inexperienced, overconfident, surgically enhanced Gollum hogging the sewing machine, the task of creating a trio of stunning presentations would be enough to send everyone into meltdown mode.

s1e6 04

Luckily, Ru has an eerie sixth sense about these things. It’s almost as if she were catching every last moment on film! Her solution? The undeniable appeal of Charo, whose company is equivalent to a couple hits of Ecstasy. This is a woman who teaches people to walk like they’re “the biggest beach in the world.” A few lascivious shimmies and heavily-accented puns and the atmosphere easily shifts from “future crime scene” to “sleepover at Lexi’s place while her parents are out of town.”

Not that there isn’t a catch; Ru considers giving all the instructions at once to be a sign of weakness. The final piece of the puzzle is that each of the evening looks must have actual fruit on it somewhere. It’s a condition that only exacerbates existing feelings: Bebe dives further into her pit of frustration because raspberries are such a messy material to work with, while Rebecca grins over how easy it will be to hot glue a lemon to her ugly little frock.

On the runway, the regular panel is complemented by Mr. Moran, which makes sense, and Maria Conchita Alonso, which is completely unexplained. Like, were we just not supposed to notice that that’s not Charo?

s1e6 07

The ball begins with executive realness, which elicited fearful reactions when it was announced because drag queens are so rarely asked to be understated. Everyone ends up doing fine except my favorite lemony nemesis, who apparently thinks that the boardroom is an appropriate setting for squid tentacles. Next is up is an uneventful swimwear walk-off. Even when asked why they should win, the ladies give exactly the answers you’d expect. (Bebe? “Dignity.” Shannel? “I love myself.”) For the final walk, the gowns make such a uniformly polished impact that I have to wonder if the ladies weren’t given a helping hand to make sure that the sewing got done (and done well).

And that’s when the drama bomb drops. Asked who should go home, Rebecca says Shannel and everyone else says Rebecca. Duh. No, wait, not duh. Shannel says… Shannel?!?! That’s right: angry to be performing at the top of her game and still get compared to a scrappy turd like Glasscock, she asks to be sent home. I’m not going to correct her; I think I’m a better drag queen than Rebecca, too.

s1e6 10

Apparently Ru disagrees. After a lip sync that admittedly makes both performers look pretty stellar, she grants Shannel’s wish and sashays her away. It’s a choice that overshadows the triumph of Bebe’s win this week and makes me a little more furious every time I think about it, honestly. I’m trying to remember that there are people rebuilding Haiti and mega-corporations destroying the global economy, and a reality show about men in dresses is probably not a good outlet for my existential dread.