RuPaul’s Drag Race – Season 7 Episode 4: “Spoof!”

In which a plucky theatre queen goes home ahead of her time and the internet loses its shit. Again.

Fame At Last: Last week I complained that some of the middle-of-the-road queens weren’t doing much to distinguish themselves, so I’m pleased that at least one of them decided to step up this week: Miss Fame decided that sitting around in the background waspishly commenting that she didn’t want to spend her whole life working the clubs just wasn’t going to cut it, and instead she put herself forward as an outspoken annoyance. Coincidentally, this week was the week that I decided I actually rather like Miss Fame. I know, who saw that coming, right? It all began with Jasmine’s post-elimination wake, as the remainder of her coven (Ginger and Kennedy) spoke solemnly about how they’ll miss her energy, and Fame spat that she wouldn’t miss Jasmine at all because she was always spouting shit like “pop the corns and feed the children” and that is DISGUSTING and who would do that? I don’t know if she was generally outraged or just being wilfully obtuse, but either way: funny. Hooray! (There are still some queens who are practically invisible though: Kandy Ho might as well be Kandy Who? at this point, because despite that glorious entrance where she struck down Tempest for being older than the hills, she’s been quieter than Tyra Sanchez trying to hide her new teeth ever since.)

A Portrait Of The Artist As A Drag Queen: There was no mini-challenge this week, so we got straight into the meat of the episode: Ru wanted the queens to demonstrate their ability to keep themselves in the headlines after the show by channeling their inner Willam and making a song parody video to go on the internets. They were allocated three songs, all of which were originally performed by RuPaul (both a way to save on music licensing and a convenient method of self-promotion! Girl knows what she’s doing), and tasked with making them hilarious and caustic in some way. Rather than having a straightforward schoolyard pick, they were simply instructed to form themselves into teams: Trixie, Katya, Miss Fame and Pearl (we’ll call them the Theatre Queens, just for a convenient albeit not wholly accurate shorthand) quickly gravitated towards each other, as did Ginger, Mrs Kasha Davis, Kennedy and Kandy (who will be The Old Queens, for the same reasons as before). That left Max, Jaidynn and Violet as the misfit team (odd, considering that Max was a good team leader and the challenge winner last week – is she not liked, or is it just that she hasn’t formed clear alliances like everyone else seems to have done? That’ll be a thing to watch for in future episodes), and Max, to her credit, immediately wrapped her arms around the other two and was like “okay, that means we’re team three, we’ll be great”. I heart Max.

Group Therapy: The Theatre Queens were given ‘Dance With U’ as their song, the Olds were given ‘Let The Music Play’ and the Misfits got ‘Sissy That Walk’, which I thought gave the Misfits an obvious immediate advantage, since theirs was the only song I’d be able to hum without prompting, or indeed at all. However, there was immediate dissent because Max didn’t want to do anything gross-out or overly-sexualised because she thought that was cheap and obvious, while Violet didn’t see what the problem with being cheap and obvious was. (Violet ♥) Weirdly, this was built up as though it was going to be the source of a huge fissure within the group, and it…kind of wasn’t in the end? Max ended up getting her way, but it was basically forgotten about by the time they came back from the commercial break. Over on the Theatre Queen team, Trixie wanted to do ‘Tan With U’ as their concept, but Miss Fame thought that was super-lame and thought they could come up with something better. Unfortunately, they didn’t, so Pearl unilaterally decided they should just do the fucking tanning song already so that they had something to report to Ru. Finally, the Olds decided to take the piss out of Ru for her shameless commercialism, which again isn’t the most original concept in the world, but it is at least a very deep well to mine.

No Piane No Gain: Since this week was a music challenge, it meant the return of My TV Boyfriend Lucien, which automatically made this an A-grade episode for me. As ever, some of the queens had singing skill, and some did not – Katya admitted that she’d had one experience of recording and that it was a disaster, Miss Fame thought she was the best singer in the entire group but still had trouble reaching some of the high notes, Mrs Kasha Davis’s butch baritone rumble was hilarious and terrifying in equal measure, and Violet came in at the wrong moment and blamed Lucien for cueing her incorrectly. SOMEBODY HOLD MY EARRINGS, IMMA TAKE HER DOWN! I thought Lucien was a little more patient with the queens than he has been in previous seasons: his attitude is still very much “whether you can sing or not, we still need to get through this and you’re just going to have to try”, but he at least seemed more understanding with the genuinely hopeless queens. Then again my eye basically turn into giant anime hearts every time Lucien is on the screen so I’m possibly not the most reliable witness. (It’s probably just as well that Hot Ginger Pit Crew guy was absent this week because I’m not sure I could have coped with both of them at once, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.)

Video Nasty: Once the tracks were laid down, the teams went in for their green screen sessions with Ru and Michelle. Ideally by this point they were supposed to have their concept, but Team Theatre was still a hot mess, coming up with ideas on the fly that they didn’t really know how to implement – most of them coming from Miss Fame, who was at least trying to improve the product, but possibly not going about it in the most constructive manner – trying to get everyone to roll around like they’re on a rotisserie without actually rehearsing it first is never going to look pretty. Trixie, meanwhile, was all over the place in a very literal sense – she kept wandering off-camera in the middle of the shoot thinking that she’d done her bit when she hadn’t. Team Old had come up with the concept of Ru shilling her products on a home shopping network, and it all seemed to be going well until they got to the part of the song where Ginger suggests that Drag U “really was a rough spot” in Ru’s career. Ru took exception to this, saying that it was one of her favourite jobs and it “changed a lot of lives” (GIRL PLEASE), which caused Ginger to panic because it was too late to change the lyrics, even though Ru does this sort of shit all the time to spook people, and can generally take a joke against herself very well. Finally, Team Misfit went for the obvious route of recreating the video with last year’s Top Three, with Jaidynn as Bianca, Violet as Adore, and Max as Courtney. Jaidynn and Violet were both uncanny mimics, while Ru and Michelle questioned Max’s performance as not being as reminiscent of Courtney as they wanted it to be. (Thus began a thousand drive-by shady comments about Courtney being a hard queen to imitate because she’s 100 per cent image and has absolutely zero personality.)

Green Goddesses: This week’s runway theme was the total Michelle Visage-baiting theme of green. The interpretations were mostly traditional, though there were some interesting variations: Pearl as a snake (well, the top half of one, anyway), Max with two tiny green triangles over her nipples and the rest of her outfit basically being an apple blossom Les Liaisons Dangereuses thing, and Mrs Kasha Davis going for the lateral interpretation of “green” as “money” and wearing a dress covered in dollar signs. The execution was a bit basic, but I at least enjoyed her looking at the task sideways. The guest judges for the week were Jessica Alba (who immediately lapsed into self-parody when Ru introduced her by complimenting her on the fragrances of her skincare range and she trilled “I picked them myself!”. Seriously, someone should do Jessica Alba for Snatch Game next season because half the work has already been done for you) and Lucien, and for the first time this season Ross was there instead of Carson. When the videos were played back, they all looked impressively coherent despite the backstage problems: Team Old’s was probably the most polished, while Team Misfits was easily the funniest since all three impressions were on point. (I don’t care what Michelle said, Max’s exaggerated half-Aussie half-Dick Van Dyke accent as Courtney had me on the floor, and I thought she captured the superficially-polite-but-deadly-competitive aspect of Courtney perfectly.) Team Theatre’s was the most rough around the edges, but was saved by strong performances from Katya (as an overtanned Real Housewives-type) and Miss Fame.

Winning smiles: When the time came to reveal the results, Katya, Jaidynn and Kennedy were called forward as the strongest individual members of their groups, and the overall win went to Kennedy. This, for me, was a misfire, because Kennedy’s contribution to her video seemed mostly to be squinting, and while it was a definite step-up from last week, it was no way the best effort of the week. Both Katya and Jaidynn deserved the win more than she did (Jaidynn especially, whose Bianca was uncanny), and I’d even go as far as to say that everyone on Team Misfit grabbed my attention more than Kennedy did. But there you go. Ginger and Miss Fame were also called safe, and then everyone else was left to face the judges. Pearl was called out for her stoner attitude and general air of ennui, which drove Pearl to comment that several other queens haven’t fully established themselves yet and she felt unfairly picked on. It’s interesting, because I think both sides had valid points there – Pearl still hasn’t got the energy on stage that she really needs, but there are others who are sailing by without comment. Violet’s difficult nature at the recording with Lucien was brought up, but Lucien was impressed by how accurate her Adore impression was. Max’s performance was considered the weakest of her group, and Michelle wanted more green in her outfit (WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MICHELLE VISAGE) and challenged her to bring a look next week that didn’t involve a grey wig. To her credit, Max accepted both of these criticisms graciously. Kandy was complimented on her ad libs in the video but warned that she blends into the background – as was Trixie, who was cautioned for not standing out or properly establishing herself yet. Mrs Kasha’s peculiar vocal was also questioned, but she got out of it with a gag by saying that she felt Bea Arthur inside herself and just went with it. Eventually, Kasha, Max, Violet and Kandy were declared safe, leaving Trixie and Pearl to square off in the bottom two. I’m in two minds about this: both Pearl and Trixie underperformed this week and were both in need of a kick up the hiney, but neither one of them deserves to go home before Kandy who is essentially wallpaper at this point, so I felt like this was a false competition before it even began.

Blondie Ambition: The song was Blondie’s ‘Dreaming’, and once again both queens attempted it very differently: Trixie was characteristically cute and broad, miming out actions in a strange sort of ‘Agadoo’ way, while Pearl channeled a mixture of Debbie Harry and Hazel O’Connor, just stomping around the stage and raising her arms in a way that was both awkward and yet incredibly intense. Trixie’s was probably the more interesting performance to watch, but Pearl’s just felt so right for the song, and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Ru clearly agreed, as Trixie was sent home, and Pearl got a stay of execution – albeit a bittersweet one, because she seemed to have a lot of affection for Trixie and didn’t want to be the reason why she wasn’t here any more. Then the internet lost its shit (and Darienne threw a chair in rage, which adds more fuel to my fire that Darienne is ten times the queen Ben Delacreme will ever be and totally deserved to win both of those lip syncs COME AT ME HATERS) practically declared the whole season a lost cause, and started rumours that Trixie will be brought back at some point, presumably in the hope that wishing for something hard enough can make it happen. Personally, I was sad because I liked Trixie, and as I said above I think at least one of the spots in this week’s lip sync should have been Kandy’s, but judging on the evidence that we were given in that particular face-off, I can’t argue with Ru picking Pearl. She won, fair and square.

And on Untucked: I’m starting to go off Ginger Minj, you guys. She’s becoming one of those Phi Phi O’Hara-type malcontents who constantly slams other contestants for not being as awesome as she is. This week she even complained about other queens always getting the credit for her work and sighed about how she’s always so self-sacrificing that she just lets it happen. More like Ginger WHINGE, amirite? Meanwhile, the other queens came for Max’s outfit, Pearl was upset, and Trixie became the first queen to actually justify that lengthy goodbye sequence by cracking jokes and being entertaining throughout, and possibly also because this was the first time this season that we’ve lost a queen who I felt had more to give.

Next week: awards!

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