“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Recap Realness: In Glam We Trust

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Like your skeezy ex’s repeated hints about a threesome with your best friend, Akashia’s elimination is entirely ignored this morning. Instead, the ladies are terror-ridden at the absence of mirrors in the room. Like, a reduction in self-focus strikes them as deeply problematic. It’s funny that Ru begins the episode with a therapy session, because this moment illustrates just how deeply all of them need it. A ten-minute conversation isn’t going to cut it. First prize should include a year of analysis at minimum.

Anyhow, after the most obscure SheMail yet, the queens are asked to critique each other. The whole exercise remains consistently supportive in tone, though it’s clear from the backstage interviews that people took not-so-secret pleasure in discussing their opponents’ insecurities. That’s the beauty of reading, after all: pointing out the precise location of someone’s weak spot carries the implicit threat that you could exploit it later.

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Since the campfire chat ended up stirring almost no shit, Ru ups the stakes by pairing off the remaining six girls (how are we already down to six?!) to do each other’s make up. Jade and Nina unfortunately continue to interact harmoniously. I’m sure the people in the editing room searched desperately for catty, inhuman snippets to include but came up empty-handed. Luckily, while Shannel does a predictably stupendous job on Ongina’s face, she’s less comfortable with the paint job she receives in return. Bebe and Rebecca are similarly displeased. Both of them think about hiding their disdain but quickly decide against it. Listen, you can’t blame them for their mediocre performance: it’s hard to see what you’re doing under all that shade.

Jade ultimately takes the win, which sends Shannel into her usual refrain of how she deserved the honor. However, like a broken clock, she ends up being accidentally right, in my opinion. She may not be particularly kind or humble or self-aware, but god dammit she can beat a face. Then again, the show is still blurrier than a Summer’s Eve commercial on Instagram, so I’m probably better off trusting someone else’s eyes on this one.

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Ru then cruelly brings out the guest judge, forcing the contestants to meet a ranking MAC executive while wearing a face hastily painted by one of their enemies. Their task for the week will be to screen test for the role of Viva Glam spokesmodel, creating ten minutes of footage from which some hapless Logo intern will craft a 30-second clip. I wish I had Tyra Banks’ aptitude for making up bullshit words, because this challenge craves one. Dragumentary? Lipskit? Something like that.

As it turns out, none of these gals is quite ready for prime time, though some fall with a little more cushion than others. Justifiably worried about the language difference, Nina delivers a killer look but struggles to connect verbally with the camera. The extra five minutes afforded to Jade by her earlier victory only give her more room in which to showcase her joyless line delivery. She’d have been better off facing away from the camera and shaking those googly eyes the whole time. Anyone who didn’t immediately foresee Shannel’s endlessly yammering road to ruin should probably start looking into remedial schooling options. But the realest fail goes to Rebecca. Her friend is dying and that legit sucks, so even though she looked and acted a mess, I’ll refrain from making a joke. (It’s not a joke, however, to say that I strongly dislike her.)

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The two contestants with the closest ties to HIV end up having the best videos. Bebe lays down some truth with her costume and story, speaking frankly about how AIDS has affected her homeland. (Look, though: I know America’s school system isn’t phenomenal, but there’s no need to talk about Africa like it’s a fantasy land. We have all heard of Africa.) In a choice that retroactively seems triumphant rather than shallow, Ongina bounces around with balloons and bubbles about celebrating life.

The mood in the workroom the next day is a little intense; no one quite knows how they did, and several girls seem sure they are going home. Pulling out all the stops (and both buttocks), Shannel does a nearly-nude juggling act that drops the judges’ jaws and scoots her into the safe zone. While Bebe serves sublime style, the win goes to Ongina, who pairs her plucky persona with a runway look and walk that elicits a not-unimpressive comparison to Naomi Campbell. (If Tyra learns that I mentioned her and Naomi in the same recap, she’ll be furious.)

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Again, joke hiatus: Ong reveals between sobs that she’s been living with HIV for two years, adding a feeling of triumph to her prize and garnering instant compassion from her on-stage sisters. Maybe less so from Rebecca, who seems to have to stop herself from physically recoiling at the honest display of emotion happening next to her.

Speaking of Rebecca: that star on her eye? She should have just written “bottom two” across her forehead. She’s joined there by Jade, who the judges say is flat everywhere except between her legs.

I’ll tell you what, though: Jade can perform. She whips her hair, works her arms, and executes the first split in Drag Race herstory. I’m comfortable saying that Ru gets it wrong for a second time this week when she keeps Rebecca and sashays Miss Sotomayor. Rebecca always looks like she got into drag by accident, as if maybe the window in her bedroom was open and a breeze covered her in haphazard make-up and a ratty wig. Plus she can’t walk in heels and her attitude is a turd. If I could turn back time, I’d totally disappoint all the people who died in historical wars and instead use the unimaginable power simply to change the outcome of this lip sync. And I don’t even think Jade would have lasted to the top three anyway! This is why I’ve never been given any sort of responsibility.

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