Somehow including more cooch-flashing in one episode than Carmen Carrera managed in a whole season.
There was a lot going on in a comparatively short space of time in this episode, so I think rather than attempt a straightforward review I’m going to rank all of the queens based on first impressions and discuss them all in turn, and then cover anything that’s left over at the end.
14. Sasha Belle: Everything about Sasha in the episode absolutely screamed ‘first boot’, to the point where I was absolutely floored when Ru declared her safe (albeit the lower tier of being safe). She seems to be suffering from classic superfan delusion, believing that the fact that she loves the show as a viewer somehow qualifies her to win it – and it would seem very much as though Ru’s “this year we’re changing everything you know about Drag Race” speech in the opening was aimed at her. Her “nude” look for the runway was pathetic, and her claim that she “misunderstood the assignment” was not particularly convincing. Girl, you had time to talk it through with Ru if you were unsure. Or you could have just looked around the workroom and got a clue from what everyone else was doing. God.
13. Tempest DuJour: I feel bad for Tempest because she seems like a nice person, and her story (losing a bunch of weight, having kids, learning to love herself because that’s the greatest love of all) was all very inspiring, but…oh god, she was such a mess on the runway. What was all that mascara goop in her eyelashes meant to be? So while I think Sasha should definitely have been a player in this week’s lip-sync, I don’t particularly disagree with Ru’s ultimate decision to send Tempest home.
12. Kandy Ho: Even Willam is like “wtf is up with that beard”. I quite enjoyed her brand of ageist stank, because it’s always nice to see the ones who really aren’t interested in making nice at any point, but she needs serious help with her contouring, and fast. And to be honest now that Tempest has gone home and taken Kandy’s biggest feud with her, I’m not really sure what else she has to offer.
11. Kennedy Davenport: Imagine, if you will, a significant gap between this entry and the previous one, because I think Kennedy is far, far better than Kandy, she’s just at the bottom of the group of queens who are on the top, if that makes sense. She has an excellent regal quality on the runway and I loved her lateral thinking of taking a Bob Mackie approach to nudity, but I don’t feel like I really have enough of a grasp on who she is yet to make a full assessment. Consider this a TBC placing.
10. Miss Fame: Again, it was fun to see her throwing shade in the workroom as soon as she arrived, and it’s good to see that she’s got some of the skill to back up that ego. And, on an entirely arbitrarily level, I love that from certain angles she looks a bit like Sophie Ellis-Bextor. I think I’d just like to see a side of her beyond “brittle” and “cutting” – because that’s fun for a few episodes but not for a whole season.
9. Violet Chachki: I find myself completely torn with Violet, because that inside-out tartan reverse thing she pulled during the Spring/Fall look challenge was a genuine jawdropper, and if that’s a taste of the sort of unpredictability we can expect from her, then I’m thrilled. So she’s talented, and she’s got attitude to spare, which is all good…but I really don’t like that smug grin she wears in her confessionals. It’s totally my hang-up and I appreciate that, but right now I’m finding it a little hard to get past it. Maybe I’ll come to find it endearing, who knows?
8. Jasmine Masters: Jasmine’s attempt to explain her runway concept to Ru by just saying “butterfly” and “cocoon” over and over again was hilarious, and then to see the end result basically being two hula hoops with a load of fabric glued onto them and a fringe outfit underneath that didn’t *quite* suit the assignment was both disappointing and…still hilarious, somehow. I’m completely sold on her personality already because I love how absolutely thrilled she is just to be there, but the point where I’m conflicted is that I know she needs to sharpen up to stand a chance, and yet I’m worried that if she does that she’ll lose everything that makes her special. Basically it’s the difference between being season two Shangela and season three Shangela.
7. Max: I was all set to hate Max because she seemed similar in concept to Milk and Milk was awful, but so far I’m actually kind of digging Max. I don’t always entirely understand the thought process behind her schtick, but at least I believe that Max understands it, and that’s good enough for me. (Compare and contrast: Milk being all “I’M PREGNANT BECAUSE THAT IS A ZANY THING TO DO!”) Also I’m a sucker for an affected British accent.
6. Mrs Kasha Davies: Mrs K feels like a breath of fresh air, just because I don’t feel like we’ve had her specific brand of character on the show before. The broad housewife schtick has potential, particularly if she ends up becoming a den mother figure, and I like how wholeheartedly she commits to it. It remains to be seen how much mileage there is in this specific gimmick, but frankly seven seasons in I’m happy to latch on to anything that’s new and temporarily exciting.
5. Trixie Mattel: That face is really something, isn’t it? I can’t actually bring myself to look away. I think Trixie has given herself a tough job because hers is a very specific kind of physical comedy that some people are just going to be immediately turned off by – and it remains to be seen how easily she’ll be able to blend into the requirements of the weekly challenges without watering down her aesthetic. I’m not sure she’s got much chance of winning this thing, but I think she has a lot of potential as a queen in general. Plus: she’s the cutest one out of drag, which still carries a lot of weight with me. I’m shallow, sue me.
4. Jaidynn Diore Fierce: I wasn’t sure about her at first, but on the basis of episode one she has such a winning personality. Her facial expressions are a constant delight, and I like that she seems to feel that she’s already won just by getting on the show in the first place – but at the same time she’s not about to get complacent and is absolutely determined to go all the way and take the grand prize. Also it amuses me that she seems to be more overdressed as a boy in her confessionals than she is as a drag queen in the rest of the competition.
3. Pearl: About two-thirds of the way into the episode I turned to my boyfriend and expressed my concern that Pearl might actually murder all of the other contestants before we even reach the finale. Weirdly, I actually enjoy how thoroughly miserable she is – every time there’s a cutaway to her grimacing in a confessional, it makes me smile. I suspect that the gradual thawing of Pearl’s heart might be on of the journeys that we’ll go on this season, but I hope she still retains a bit of that grumpiness, because every season needs its resident Oscar the Grouch. (Also: second-cutest as a boy. Might actually be in first place if not for the nose ring.)
2. Ginger Minj: How can you not love a queen called Ginger Minj? So far her entire approach to the competition – the desire to be the most beautiful even if she can’t be the prettiest – totally works for me, and she’s already had some amusing cutaways, which bodes well, I think. Basically I went into the episode with very high hopes for Ginger Minj and I was not disappointed, so fingers crossed she continues to deliver.
1. Katya: Both pre-season and in the first episode, Katya has been my favourite by a long stretch. I love her aesthetic, I love her sense of humour, I love that she is a fully-formed character, and most of all I love that I don’t think we’ve even seen a fraction of what Katya is capable of just yet. She seemed to get the lion’s share of the confessionals for the first episode as well, which I’m taking as a good sign – if they’re setting her up as one of the narrating voices for the season then it should follow she’s going to be around for a while, right? Right? God, I hope so.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
– Jesus Christ, how hot is that new Pit Crew guy? If he and Lucian are ever in the same shot together I think I might actually die of a heart attack.
– I had my reservations about the new additions to the judging panel, but so far Carson and Ross seem fine. Ross wasn’t in this episode much anyway, while Carson was present for longer but wasn’t the attention-hog I feared he might be. I do sort of miss Santino, though. Is this what Stockholm Syndrome feels like?
– Alaska Wintour ❤ ❤ ❤
– I rather like the new-look Untucked. It feels very made-on-a-shoestring, but that's quite charming. And I really enjoyed that we actually got a proper sense of being behind-the-scenes, like the moments where the queens got their five-minute call to touch up their makeup before returning to the runway, and seeing Tempest and Sasha practising for the lip sync. It feels less contrived than the Untucked of seasons past, and that might prove to be a very wise move in the long run.
– God, I've missed this show.