Episode 3 was interesting, because it felt like the queens shifted from, “Oh my god, I’m on RuPaul’s Drag Race!” to, “Oh shit, I’m in a competition. On national television. Fuck.” Last episode’s totally unexpected ousting of Art Simone clearly shook up the girls — as I suspect was the point by producers — but I still didn’t feel like most of the remaining queens excelled here. Some did well, to be sure, but I’m still waiting for a truly “WOW!” moment from this franchise (aside from shocking, barely justifiable eliminations).
The mini challenge saw the dolls get into quick drag to do a slow-motion “Baywatch” beach rescue. Question, do any Millennials or Xennials even know what “Baywatch” is? That show hasn’t been relevant in 30 years. Even the Rock/Zefron movie reboot bombed a few years back. This was silly and fun, and most important gave us an opportunity to openly lust over Pit Crew Daddy and introduce us to hunky new Pit Crew member. So in that way we won, my thirsty sisters.
The main challenge was the girl group/rumix challenge that has become de rigeur since All Stars 2. This should be a great opportunity for the queens to really nail their brands and introduce themselves to a global audience. And unfortunately I think only a few of them really did that. Part of the issue is that the song at the base — “Queens Down Under” — was easily the laziest track they’ve given us on any of these franchises. The chorus was catchy, sure, but the rest of it felt like it was thrown together during a lunch break. That fast-and-cheap aesthetic has been hovering over this series since the start, and it’s a real bummer. I said it before: I am grateful we have this series, I love the queens on it, and I’m absolutely going to continue supporting it. But it’s a bummer that it feels so thrown together. Everyone involved deserves better.
Scarlet Adams and Elektra Shock won the minichallenge, and were allowed to pick their teams. Scarlet got Etcetera Etcetera, Anita Wigl’it, and Coco Jumbo to create the Outback Fake Hoes, while Elektra got Karen From Finance, Kita Mean, and Maxie Shield to create Three and a Half Men (I assume that’s in reference to Maxi being so short, but it was not clear to me, nor was it particularly funny). I think it’s safe to say that neither of these versions will be smash streaming sensations akin Drag Race UK’s “Break-Up Bye Bye” or “UK Hun?” They were both…fine. One interesting disparity between the groups was how they approached the choreography. Scarlet and Etcetera were determined to create a goddamned show and accepted no excuses from their team mates, while Elektra rolled with the limitations of her teammates and created a generic routine for her sisters, while she did flips and tricks in front.
We’ll get to how that worked out for her in a second. But first, let’s talk about the queens’ verses. None of them really blew me away. I always like to take a moment and think, “Do I appreciate certain verses more on subsequent listens? Or did I think they were great from the jump? Is there an element of nostalgia that makes me live for certain ‘classic’ verses, like basically all the AS2/S9 finale verses? And does it make me less inclined to like new verses?” And I don’t think that’s true. The United Kingdolls verses in “UK Hun?” — which was literally from three months ago — were literally all instantly iconic. Every one of them. Same with half the verses from S13’s “Lucky.” And yes, they got better with each listen, but even watching that episode for the first time I was astounded by them then and there. None of these verses did that for me. Some were solid, including Anita, Kita, and Scarlet — who won the maxi challenge, although I will say I found her verse VERY similar in cadence to music I’ve heard from Peppermint. Some were clearly bad, like Coco and Maxi. But the ones that really surprised me were Karen and Etcetera, both of whom I think are sharp, witty queens, and neither of whom showed up in this challenge. Karen in particular is really worrying me. Between this episode and Snatch Game, her star power is dimming quickly. I am sure producers are concerned about this as well.
At judging, Elektra was grilled by the judges for acting like Beyonce in what was supposed to be a group challenge, and Michelle read her Bogan Prom look for again being too basic. This is bullshit. Elektra was one of the best in what was an overall middling runway challenge, and I’m hard pressed to remember another group challenge in which one queen who blew the others out of the park was criticized, rather than rewarded for it. She was up for elimination along with Coco Jumbo, whose verse was bad, her singing was worse, and she clearly did not know the words to the song overall.
The good news is, the two of them gave us a solid lipsynch to “Shake Your Groove Thing” by Peaches & Herb. Both of them are strong performers, but Elektra really proved that she’s a true lipsynch assassin with some high-energy moves. Coco, to her credit, gave me disco diva living her best life, and I appreciated it. But it was her time to go, and Coco was eliminated. I think it’s ultimately a good thing, as the edit was not at all kind to Coco this episode. Between her gloating over beating Art Simone in a lipsynch (highly dubious decision) to numerous shady interactions with other queens to what looked to me as a general lack of professionalism, this was a bad episode for Coco. I won’t even get into that bizarre bit in which someone allegedly left a note that said, “WATCH OUT!” on her dressing table. Was it someone’s attempt at stirring up drama? I have no idea. I do hope we get some answers. The bad news, from a macro level, is that the only two queens of color in a 10-queen cast have both been eliminated by Episode 3. That’s…really not great.
Next up: a design challenge! Surprises from a box! Shangela, girl, now is your TIME!
Here is this week’s G’Day Runway, featuring myself and co-host Curtis Creekmore:
And how are you doing in our little pool? Check out the scoreboard, but give Michael Schwarz a little bit of grace when it comes to updating this week. He’s moving! Send him positive vibes and pizza!
And don’t forget, you can still join our Drag Race Espana pool, but your picks are due SOON!