DRAG STRIP

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Recap Realness: This Space Intentionally Left BLANK

rpdr s7e07 01As the show opens, I immediately wonder if the other contestants were as ready for Kandy’s exit as the audience was. No one even says goodbye to her, so I have to assume that she was already gone in their minds. Instead, all eyes are on the future. Max plans to honor Michelle’s request precisely once before going back to her signature gray, which I think is fair given that neither Kennedy nor Pearl has been similarly challenged for wearing the same hair color on the runway every week. It’s rich that Violet immediately jumps in to defend Vicious Visage. How does her scrawny neck not snap from the speed of that whiplash?

The following day, it’s a new day. I’m stunned that the producers actually prompted a queen to say that every week, and further shocked that they actually included the footage in the finished episode. Like, they’re all walking through the door together wearing different outfits. It’s evident. I promise that no one at home is wondering why they all went into the hall and changed clothes.

rpdr s7e07 02There’s almost no banter before Ru leaps in with her video message, assisted so briefly by Bianca Del Rio that one wonders why they bothered including her in the first place. Though the segment drops many clear hits about throwing shade, no reading mini-challenge materializes. Was it filmed and then jettisoned because of the uniformly low quality? Did the ladies take a united stand and refuse to insult each other for someone else’s amusement? Did someone have a Jasmine Masters-esque allergic reaction to the sassy sunglasses touching her face? Or did I misread those cues and they’re just saving it for a different week? (Cut to Katya emphatically saying “it’s definitely the last one” for all the morons in the audience.) Anyway, they jump right to the announcement of this week’s main event, the eagerly anticipated Snatch Game!

It’s a new paragraph! Celebrity selection always involves a few rough moments, and this season is no exception. Fame and Violet immediately struggle because they have both chosen to play Maya Rudolph. Admit it, no one was doing a Donatella Versace impersonation before that SNL skit. It ends up not being that big a deal when Fame graciously agrees to play the Long Island Medium instead, but Ru doesn’t enjoy watching people resolve issues calmly like adults, so she swoops in to encourage both contestants to second-guess themselves. Oddly, Violet struggles with the idea of following the advice of a judge, even after instructing Max to do so only one day ago. It’s almost like she’s a headstrong primadonna who believes that others are inherently inferior yet finds herself above reproach. Almost.

rpdr s7e07 05Ginger and Katya try to steer Kennedy away from her choice to embody Little Richard, but for someone who was willing to undo two already-made decisions just moments ago, Ru is amazingly agnostic on this one. Her lack of concrete input comes across as shady, since asking one of the queens to figure it out on her own is usually about as helpful as lighting her on fire.

Everyone gets it together by the time the panel has been assembled, though. It’s Season 7, they know the drill. Rumor has it that Max was dissuaded from her original selection, Miranda Sings, but she manages a solid Sharon Needles. Jaidynn is visually acceptable as a pre-diet Raven-Symoné, but her one-note caricature is way off key. Despite her usual comedic prowess, Katya’s Suze Orman is bargain basement Wiig in a bargain basement wig. Violet and Pearl are inoffensive as Alyssa Edwards and Big Ang respectively. Maybe Fame should have gone back to Long Island, because the quality of her Donatella is well below medium. Closing out the panel are Kennedy, whose Little Richard is both creepier and campier than a cabin in the woods, and Ginger, who serves up an audacious, addled Adele.

rpdr s7e07 06It’s a good thing the guest judges this week are a hoot, because the runway theme of leather and lace elicits a surprising amount of uniformity from the ladies. Like, why it gotta be black? Thankfully, Tamar Braxton can make absolutely anything entertaining. She’s a human GIF. (Pronounced like the peanut butter, right, Ru?) And Michael Urie doesn’t have a lot to say, but he looks surprisingly cute while saying it, so I’m down. Call me, Michael.

In a Drag Race first, two queens tie for first place: Ginger and Kennedy, who march away hand-in-hand dressed as a set of drag-themed salt and pepper shakers that I hope to have on my dining room table one day. Jaidynn, on the other hand, pairs her messy impersonation from yesterday with a messy outfit today, and thus takes her second trip down Lip Sync Lane. Were I a judge, I’d have thrown Fame next to her; Max might not have perfectly embodied Season 4’s scream queen, but she clearly knows what a good performance looks like and gave it the 110%  percent that only a theater weirdo can give. But it’s not my call, and Ru ushers the clucking mannequin to safety. I’d say that Max’s corset-popping breakdown had something to do with the choice, but in truth that whole interlude was so ham-fistedly edited that there’s no way of knowing what happened or when.

rpdr s7e07 07As soon as the music starts, it’s clear that Max’s kooky, character-based style won’t mesh with the song as well as Jaidynn’s high-energy diva strut. I’m staunchly #TeamMax, but my team loses and the Gray Lady gets sent packing. It’s frustrating that she was bullied into changing her appearance and then immediately punished for looking too plain, but that’s reality TV for you. Ru ends the episode by announcing that any of the eliminated girls could be brought back, so I guess there’s still a sliver of hope for the youngest old woman ever, but it doesn’t take Raven-Symoné’s visionary powers to know that Trixie is almost certainly the returning champion. Though if Kandy gets exhumed, we need to take to the streets, Boston Tea Party style: I’ll throw liquid liner into the ocean until the waters run black.

 

Chris J. Kelly performs under the drag name Ariel Italic; in addition to this recap, he hosts weekly Drag Race viewings at the 9th Avenue Saloon in New York City.