RuPaul’s Drag Race – Season 7 Episode 7: “Snatch Game”

You only get one chance to make a first impression.

One Of The Lesser Kennedys: Apparently nobody was really that fussed about mourning Kandy Who, mostly because they’d already mentally written her off about three challenges ago, but also because there was the far, far meatier topic of what-the-heckity-fuck-did-Kennedy-wear-out-on-that-runway. And I think that’s fair, because it seemed awfully convenient that the judges decided to declare an entire group safe when Kennedy’s outfit alone should have automatically qualified her for the lip-sync. Everybody wanted to know exactly what Kennedy was thinking when she wore that dead chicken hooker ensemble, and to be honest I’m not sure that any of them were any the wiser by the end of the conversation. But at least it gave us the wonder and delight of Violet saying that she looked like Tony the Tiger on crack. And we know that Violet only says things from a place of love, truth and outright hilarity.

Snatcher In The Rye: Of course, Kennedy’s sartorial faux-pas was soon consigned to history when Ru appeared in the workroom and announced that it was time for Snatch Game At Goddamned Last, as I believe it’s generally being referred to this season. Because there’s been a lot of murmuring that this season is fundamentally underwhelming, and also a fair bit of correlation-is-too-causation-ing that the reason it’s been disappointing is because it’s taken too long to get to Snatch Game and that would have sorted the wheat from the chaff and sent all those loser queens home far earlier.

    List Of Queens Who Sucked At Snatch Game And Yet Survived:
    Tyra Sanchez
    Carmen Carrera
    Shangela
    Jiggly Caliente
    Phi Phi O’Hara
    Milan (I mean I thought she was hilarious but objectively she was pretty awful)
    Alyssa Edwards
    Coco Montrese
    Ivy Winters
    Courtney Act
    Milk
    Laganja Estranja
    Trinity K Bonet

I’m really not trying to be a dick here, because I love Snatch Game too and I agree that having to wait seven episodes for it has been very trying (especially considering that some of the challenges in the interim were rather uninspired), but I think maybe we’ve been putting a little bit too much hope in Snatch Game as our personal saviour, because I think the problem with this season is mostly in the casting and I doubt any amount of Snatch Games could resolve that at this stage. (Also, the revelation that Trixie Mattel planned to be Anne Frank for Snatch Game totally convinced me that I was fine with her going home when she did. Not because I believe that her impersonation would have been in bad taste, but because I believe her impersonation would have been in bad taste and unfunny.)

Celebrity Paradox: There was an instant problem when the queens started getting ready for Snatch Game, as it turned out that both Miss Fame and Violet had turned up with the intention of portraying Donatella Versace. At first I thought this seemed suspicious, but my boyfriend pointed out that it’s not as unlikely as it appears because she’s probably the most accessible comic personality within the wheelhouse of a fashion queen. The rules of Snatch Game are vague and mysterious but I’m pretty sure they don’t allow two people to appear as the same character in the same season, so Fame and Violet had to duke it out to decide which of them would get to play her. Violet argued that she really hadn’t come with a back-up plan, so Fame grudgingly agreed to let Violet have it, and started making plans to be Theresa Caputo, the Long Island medium. (I thought that was a drink.) That is until Ru entered to stir the pot, and encouraged Miss Fame to really fight for Donatella if that’s the role she wants to play, because this is Snatch Game, not Snatch Friends, or something. Equally, Ru stirred up shit with Violet who admitted that she’d considered doing Alyssa Edwards as a back-up, and her on-the-spot demonstration for Ru indicated that Violet has a good grasp of Alyssa’s mannerisms, so Ru encouraged her to go with that one. Kennedy, meanwhile, was torn between Little Richard (her first choice, but a man) and Sweet Brown (a woman, but one whose entire public persona is based around one line, thereby not exactly giving acres of material for the game). I assumed playing a man in Snatch Game was verboten, but Ru seemed open to the idea and encouraged Kennedy to make the decision that suited her best. Further alarm bells rang when Max decided to play the “Disneyfied” Sharon Needles, and Jaidynn decided to be Raven-Symoné (and omg those joyous nanoseconds when I thought Jaidynn was going to somehow attempt to portray Raven from season two) because she thought they could be BFFS in real life. Elsewhere, Ru asked another of the questions that has been plaguing viewers (and by “viewers”, I mean me) – why hasn’t Katya been doing the Russian character that she promised? Fear of failure is why, apparently. I mean I don’t really get that but I think that’s all the answer we’re getting, so *shrugs*.

Talking A Good Game: So let’s review our Snatch Game panellists for this year:

    Ginger Minj as Adele
    Jaidynn Diore Fierce as Raven-Symoné
    Katya as Suze Orman
    Kennedy Davenport as Little Richard
    Max as PG-Rated Sharon Needles
    Miss Fame as Donatella Versace
    Pearl as Big Ang from Mob Wives (no, me neither)
    Violet Chachki as Alyssa Edwards

And our guest panellists (and guest judges for later) were Ugly Betty star Michael Urie and former Snatch Game impersonee Tamar Braxton.

So let’s deal with the lower-tier first. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Max, because her concept was the sort of thing that really could go either way depending on the performer – and things seemed promising at first, because her outfit and make-up for the challenge were absolutely perfect. That’s as far as it went, sadly, because none of her answers or jokes suggested “Disney Sharon Needles” so much as “genial maiden aunt”. Similarly, Jaidynn looked positively lovely as Raven but just had the one joke wherein she would receive the answer in one of her visions (although I must admit I laughed at the second variation where the vision came back blank). As for Miss Fame: well, considering how much she fought to be Donatella Versace, I’m inclined to say it wasn’t worth the effort. The voice was bizarre (but at least we’ve discovered what happened to Katya’s missing Russian accent) and Miss Fame’s bungling of slam-dunk set-ups continued when she failed to do anything with Ru’s “Versayce” comment. Naturally, Violet was pretty cheesed that she’d let Donatella go only for Miss Fame to do absolutely nothing with it.

And speaking of Violet, she was all alone in the middle-tier being neither brilliant nor awful. As we’d already seen, she had the Alyssa voice and mannerisms down, but relied on the bulging eyes and the lip-popping a little too much, so the whole thing got a bit schticky and repetitive. And I know that Snatch Game is often schticky by its very nature, but the key is to try and do as many different things with your schtick as possible.

In the upper-tier, Katya’s Suze Orman was a good take on the character, doling out both financial advice and unbridled lesbian lust in a way that we haven’t seen since Alexis Mateo as Alicia Keys back in season three. (Just the latter, obviously. I don’t think Alexis-as-Alicia tried to help anyone with their 401(k)s). Pearl as Big Ang is all set to join Joslyn Fox’s Teresa Giaduce, Jade Jolie’s Taylor Swift and Detox’s Ke$ha in my pantheon of people whose Snatch Game performances were criminally underappreciated. From the huge lips to the huge tits to the permanently dazed expression on her face to the chain-smoking trucker voice, everything about her performance was thoroughly captivating – doubly so since I actually had no idea who “Big Ang” is, but I got everything I needed to know from Pearl’s performance. On top of that, she had some great answers – I particularly liked it when Michael Urie called her on not knowing the details of the Batmanverse and Pearl replied that she didn’t know about Batman and fuckin’ Robin because she “had a tough childhood”. Kennedy’s Little Richard turned out to be uncanny, and the mannerisms were superb, but I still couldn’t quite get past the fact that she was playing a man, and the basic set-up of most of her gags seemed to be “say something crude and sexual and then go ‘WHOOOO!'” MVP of the entire challenge was Ginger as Adele. I’ve seen a lot of people giving her stick for the “fat person eating all the time” crutch (I agree, because I think it was necessary) and also for playing Adele as dumb (I disagree, because I don’t think that’s how Ginger was playing her, I think Ginger was playing her as just not giving a shit about the game, which was far funnier), but I think all of those criticisms can be disregarded because it was hands-down the funniest performance of the episode. Maybe it was just an Easter Egg for UK viewers, because it read like Adele as played by Matt Lucas, and that was the icing on the cake for me.

Your Designated Moment Of Relatability For This Episode: came from Katya, who took Miss Fame to one side and admitted that she was a recovering addict and was finding it really hard to cope away from her support system. With Fame as the only other sober queen this season, Katya needed to talk to somebody, and Fame seemed happy to help – and to be honest, I imagine that Untucked in particular must be one of the worst places to be for a recovering addict. Like with Jaidynn’s moment of discussing her unaccepting family last week, this was a welcome opportunity to get to know a little bit more about the queens in real life. Sure, it feels kind of on-the-nose, but the way things have been going with this cast I’ll take any fleshing-out that’s on offer.

Cher And Cher Alike: The theme for this week’s runway was “leather and lace” and there were some strong looks: Ginger served her best runway look to date that was all kinds of Reba McEntire (at least in my head – I don’t actually know what Reba McEntire looks like, but that’s how I’ve always pictured her), while Max finally gave Michelle a wig colour other than grey (black, in this case), and Violet went more for the pleather end of the market with a full bondage outfit. Some of the lesser efforts included a rare misfire from Miss Fame in a lace catsuit with a poorly-fitting corset over the top, and Jaidynn just looking a mess in a flesh-coloured bodysuit with bits of theme-appropriate material chucked on top. However, the true star of judging was Tamar Braxton, who was delightfully incoherent, and proved beyond all doubt that Roxxxy Andrews’ impersonation of her two seasons ago didn’t go anywhere near far enough. Tamar Braxton did a better Snatch Game of herself than Roxxxy could ever have dreamed of.

Maxed Out: During judging, Max was criticised for her poor Sharon Needles impression and then immediately started “feeling faint” from her tight-corset and had to loosen it. Ru asked for her to have some help, and then Max burst into song because she seemed to think that was appropriate for the moment. I think that may have been where she went wrong. Ultimately Pearl and Violet were declared safe, as was Katya, while Ginger and Kennedy took home the first joint win in Snatch Game history, which I’m sure will make them both even more insufferable from now on. Miss Fame just scraped her way to safety, leaving Max to lip-sync against Jaidynn to Michel’le’s ‘No More Lies’ and Jaidynn’s on-point lip-sync bested Max’s more mannered performance to keep her around for another week.

Return To Sender: So someone’s coming back next week, and it’s either going to be Trixie or Max, but probably Trixie. Woo.

And In Untucked: I may have complained about Pearl not being included in the top group, but it was totally worth it for the sheer joy of Pearl and Violet alone backstage, clearly feeling very relaxed in each other’s company, reading the others for filth, laughing at the (previously unseen) moment where Pearl nearly wiped out while walking off the runway and almost knocked the other queens down like ninepins, and yukking it up at the very idea that Sasha Belle might come back. Other points of interest include Max going off in a huff quite early to listen to the lipsync song on her iPod (and later commenting loudly on how Jaidynn looked like garbage), Violet talking to Ginger the way that Ginger talks to literally everyone else and Ginger having an attack of the fucking vapours over how shady it was, and Katya and Ginger outside on the smoking ramp re-enacting the video for ‘Me Against The Music’. That was pretty awesome.

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