RuPaul’s Drag Race – Season 7 Episode 10: “Prancing Queens”

I’m starting to think they might be running out of challenge ideas that make any sense at all.

Missive Fame: Miss Fame is probably not the sort of queen that you would expect to be mourned extensively in the wake of her departure, especially considering how much the others were bitching about her in last week’s Untucked, but she managed to get a very respectable send-off at the start of this week’s episode: first Violet spoke of her dear, departed friend by saying that she was a sweetheart who was really nice to everyone (I’m not sure that’s entirely true, but she was probably one of the more amiable queens of the season), and worked harder than a lot of people who are still there, NAMING NO NAMES. And to compound that, it turned out that before she left for good, Fame left everyone a personal note in their bags/lockers/whatever these people actually use to store their stuff, basically telling them all that she loves them and they’re brilliant. I’m pleased to see that someone this year is honouring the grand tradition of Joslyn Fox by realising they were never going to win the show outright and campaigning furiously for Miss Congeniality instead.

Face Face Face: For this week’s mini-challenge, the queens were tasked with giving themselves a sticky-tape facelife and filming a stilted-looking opening sequence for The Fake Housewives Of Drag Race. (I mean if I were picking the puns I would have gone for The Ru-al Housewives, but whatevs.) As with several of the mini-challenges from this year, everyone was decently competent at it and nobody fucked up noticeably, although my personal stamp of approval goes to Katya for constructing an entire second face out of tape. I bet that hurt to remove. Ru declared Violet the winner, which meant that Violet got to pick the teams for the maxi-challenge, where the queens will be paired up and forced to perform terrifying dance hybrids. (At which point Ginger gave a confessional to the effect of “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? THAT BITCH GETS TO PICK OUR TEAMS?”, having conveniently forgotten that Ginger got to pick her own team as a result of winning the mini-challenge on two separate occasions prior to this. So Ginger can cram it, basically.) Violet’s decision is a simple one: she picks Katya as her own partner, and leaves everyone else with the people they were already standing next to, which means Ginger is partnered with Trixie and Pearl with Kennedy.

Let’s Face The Music And, Well, You Know: Everyone went to work on the preparations for their assigned “genres”: for Pearl and Kennedy, it’s the Charleston Twerk. (Wasn’t that the name of Katherine Heigl’s character in that political drama she just made for NBC?) Ginger and Trixie got the Hoedown Robot (and I’m pretty sure that was the name of a 1970s CBS sitcom), while Violet and Katya were given the Tango Vogue. There were some initial concerns: Katya was worried about being partnered with Violet in case it turns out she’s still petty, immature and unprofessional, Pearl attempted to blag her dancing skills for Ru and fooled nobody, Ginger was nervous because she apparently isn’t a dancer (but presumably is also not not a dancer), and Trixie was worried because she got overshadowed by Ginger last week when they were paired up together, and didn’t want that to happen for two weeks in a row. (She also bitched privately in a confessional that Ginger can’t dance or sew, whereas Trixie can do both, so she was pretty sure she was going to be the work horse for the two of them.)

Carson was this week’s supervising judge, presumably on the totally legitimate basis of him finishing eighth on season 13 of Dancing With The Stars, and losing to a Rob Kardashian (whatever one of those is), and just in case his counsel turned out not to be quite expert enough, pro dancer Kym Johnson was also brought in to teach the couples their choreography. (Although apparently nobody told Kym that the sticky-tape-face mini-challenge was over by this point, which must have been super-awks for all involved.) As the standout dancer of the group, Kennedy had few problems picking up the routine, but Pearl’s gangliness and general inelegance was a significant stumbling block for the pair. Trixie did her best, but struggled with the parts of the routine where she had to lift Ginger and as a result their practice session occasionally ended up looking more like a wrestling match than a dance sequence, and Ginger just struggled in general with the choreography. Finally, Violet and Katya had an unexpected reversal of fortune where Violet picked it up quite easily, while Katya struggled. On the bright side, they bonded when Katya realised that Violet is a reformed human being now. (*cough cough redemption arc cough*)

All T, All Shade: Seriously though, what the fuck was this challenge? I know that not every challenge on the show necessarily has to directly be related to the arts of drag, and that some are just there for the lulz, but as a viewer I at least want to be clued into what I should be looking for from the performances. When the time came for us to watch the queens performing together, I was still entirely in the dark: was it a straight-up dance contest? Was it about who was the funniest or most charismatic? Was it about whose attire was the best while they were doing it? I didn’t have a damn clue, and ended up basically shrugging after watching all of the performances; I’d enjoyed Violet and Katya the most, but had no idea whether they’d done what was expected of them or not. So from that perspective, at least, I found this episode rather frustrating.

Man! I Look Like Both A Man And A Woman: On the bright side, however, this episode also included one of the more inventive runway challenges that we’ve seen in a while, where the contestants had to dress as a man on one side of their body and a woman on the other. Both Pearl and Katya made themselves look intentionally douchey as men, and I regret to inform you that I found it distractingly hot in both cases. Feel free to judge and analyse me all you want, I regret nothing. Elsewhere, Kennedy looked good from both sides and highlighted an impressive badonkadonk, while Ginger butched up her masculine side to flirt with Michelle (though her female side was basically basic Ginger). Violet was flawless on both sides, obviously, with a delightful moustache, while the most alarming transformation came from Trixie, who had apparently dressed as Clay Aiken on one side and Carly Rae Jepsen on the other.

Our guest judges for the episode were comedian Rachael Harris (whom I mainly know from that time she was Jess’s boss on New Girl), and a heavily pregnant Alyssa Milano, who looked like she was about to drop at any second and promised to name her baby RuPaula. (Update: she in fact named her child Elizabella, which is only fractionally less drag-queeny, to the extent that I’m not even sure it counts as a broken promise.) I’m sad that Alyssa Edwards wasn’t here to meet the woman who inspired her drag name, but then we should probably take it as read that I’m always sad when Alyssa Edwards isn’t around.

The Judges Have Their Scores: Everyone was totally hot for Pearl as both a man and a woman, and while her dancing was technically not great, it was generally agreed that her enthusiasm sold the routine. Pearl summed up her approach to the challenge as “flah-say-dah”, and everyone had a good giggle trying to figure out what on earth she thought that meant. Kennedy got good reviews as well, and was singled out as the most naturally-talented dancer of them all. Rachel found Trixie to be too campy (and not in the Santino vs Pandora Boxx way: she understood that camp was what Trixie was going for but felt that it still didn’t work), while Michelle liked Ginger as a man but not as a woman. Ginger had a meltdown about not feeling comfortable dancing in public because of her size (though it’s odd that she had no such meltdown about the significant amount of dancing generally involved in a lip sync for one’s life), while Violet’s look and dancing were praised, and Rachael assured Katya that it was very much of a compliment that she looked like a totally hot douche. Ru expressed concern that everyone had been really good this week, and it was going to be hard to judge them.

It Breaks Two: And then, much to the obvious alarm of Trixie, Ru decided to judge the contestants in their pairs this week. LOL. As the strongest overall pair, Katya and Violet were given the win, while Kennedy’s strength pulled Pearl to safety, and Ginger and Trixie were left to lip sync against each other to Robin S’s ‘Show Me Love’. Ginger pulled out another solid performance, while Trixie was weirdly elasticated and also seemed to resort to a lot of the same tricks that she used last time, so the entirely expected outcome of this battle was that Ginger stayed and Trixie went. Again.

This Week On Untucked: Everyone is really fucking randy, like spending an entire task pressed up against each other has really made Kennedy want to fuck Pearl. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought this week’s challenge was a tough one to call the outcome of, as everyone thought they were going to be lip-syncing this week. Well, everyone apart from Trixie, who assured them all as a previous eliminee that when it’s your time to lip-sync, you know it. (*laughs behind own hand*) Katya and Ginger had a moment on the smoking ramp once again where they told each other that they loved each other, in case this turned out to be their final week together on the show. While she was packing, Trixie blamed Ginger for her ouster, because of course she did. Meanwhile, Violet raised an objection to Ginger having a breakdown about the challenge being outside of her skillset considering the sheer volume of acting and performance challenges there have been this year that were outside of Violet’s, which she just got on with. While I don’t think that was the whole point of Ginger’s meltdown on the runway, I do think there’s the kernel of a good point in there, because the challenges have gone Ginger’s way this year more often than not. Also, Violet has the sense to couch the whole thing in terms of “Ginger should stop having these meltdowns because she’s generally so good at things”, so it didn’t explode in quite the way you might have expected.

Next week: the Drag Ball, and Hello Kitty. Together at last!

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