My feelings on this episode, and really this entire season so far, can best be summarized by Mariah Balenciaga’s iconic Season 3 elimination speech:
“I’m feeling entertained. The judgment was interesting. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had done anything differently. You play the game, and then go.”
Producers rigging things is hardly new on this show. Going back to the Jade vs. Rebecca lipsynch in Season 1, there have been a lot of questionable choices made solely to advance storylines. Like, a lot. It’s just part of the proceedings, and at the end of the day, this is an entertainment product. And even as I find myself yelling at my television, “This is bullshit,” I recognize that a TV show about men wearing dresses has me feeling some type of way so significantly that I’m yelling at a TV. So I guess that’s a metric of success?
But man, the producers and editors aren’t even attempting to hide their favoritism this season. Week after week the tops/bottom/safe decisions are highly suspect, and the wins have been even moreso. I don’t think it’s going to impact the show as a whole — again, we should all be used to these shenanigans at this point — but I do think it is going to impact several of these queens in a very real way, and the fandom is already turning. And I don’t think the producers were expecting that at all.
First, let’s go over the challenges. The mini challenge was a silly fashion design via wallpaper lark, and it was cute. LaLa and Symone’s look was tragic, but I am fully on board for pizza tits. Let’s all make pizza tits THE look for Summer 2021, OK friends?
I loved the concept behind the main challenge: Disco-mentary, a look back at the disco movement through dance. While the actual results left something to be desired (more on that in a second), I am all for this show using challenges to expose the younger generation to gay culture and history. I was floored at how few of these queens knew anything about disco. I was chagrined, quite frankly. I was glad LaLa at least knew Sylvester, but there are SO MANY incredibly important disco artists and songs that influenced gay culture, or that gay culture inspired. And beyond that, disco music is the fucking shit, kids. You need to get INTO it. I also recognize it’s not the younger generation’s fault — LGBT history is a bit of an outlier, because gay people generally don’t grow up surrounded by other gay people who nurture them with this kind of background, the way your family often clues you into your own personal heritage. So gay people have to actively seek out their own history.
Disco is still somewhat dismissed — and as Ru correctly pointed out, that dismissal was created entirely by grooveless crackers who were afraid of the threat disco posed to Mayonnaise Americans — but disco really was a critical moment in the gay liberation movement, and it has never really gone away. I am hoping this challenge will lead to more young gays going back and exploring disco music. I wish they had actually included more ACTUAL disco songs here to further entice them, but…what can you do.
BY THE WAY: I’m dead serious about us needing to teach the next generations about elements of gay culture they should know about. Not in a punitive or overbearing way, more in a, “Everything the light touches is our kingdom” kind of way. Gays of the 21st Century are inheriting an incredible cultural and historical legacy, crafted by countless torchbearers who should remain important figures in our community. I’ve given serious thought to starting a separate project on walking the children through nature (but not called that, because ™ Tammie Brown). Would people be interested in this, or am I totally off the mark here?
Anyway. In my opinion, most of the actual dance performances did not live up to the potential of the challenge. We saw precious little of the actual dancing, which I do not understand. Certainly these couldn’t have been more than a few minutes each? We couldn’t see the numbers unedited? Were they trying to hide how awful everyone was, a la the Drag Race Holland voguing challenge? Based on Untucked, the queens all thought they did great as a group. But to me, the clear standouts were Rose and Denali — by FAR the best team — Olivia Lux, and Tina Burner. And on the weaker end, you had Kandy Muse, GottMik, and Tamisha Iman, who really got fucked (with Elliott) by having to work a hula hoop into her routine. That hardly seems fair.
So, again, explain to me how Rose and Denali were completely passed over, with Denali once again consigned to the Safe crew despite killing both the performance and the Little Black Dress runway challenge? (You could kind of make an argument for Rose getting benched for ONCE AGAIN coming out with another ugly outfit spewing tulle fringe — that is the real villain of Season 13, people, tulle fabric. Sister looked like a goth Swiffer, I swear to god.) But Olivia, who was spectacular in the challenge, WON wearing what I consider to be among the most boring of the looks of the runway. I am confused, truly.
But the bigger confusion comes from the bottom. GottMik’s approach to the runway challenge was genuinely interesting — the littlest black dress imaginable, covering just her between me down theres. But she was also noticeably bad in the dancing challenge, and she was only caught in the background. I guarantee you that was deliberate. Just as she got a win last week that I don’t believe she deserved (#justiceforutica), this week she sure seemed to have production armor saving her from the Bottom 3. And people are noticing. You go on Reddit and there’s a LOT of sentiment that she’s being favored by Production at other queens’ expense. That’s not great for her.
She is doing herself absolutely no favors by willingly allying herself with Tina and Kandy, who — unbelievably to me — this week actually proudly referred to themselves as the Mean Girl Clique. I don’t know how, eight years after RoLaskaTox got absolutely brutalized by the fandom for being relentless assholes to Jinkx and the other S5 girls, another group of queens decided to pick up that same playbook and think, “Yeah, this is going to work great for us.” It is astonishingly stupid, and as I’ve said before: GottMik is going to regret this in a big way. Her in particular, because she’s being propped up by the producers in a way Tina and Kandy aren’t.
Because Tina is actually doing fairly well in this competition, while Kandy is being allowed to fail — to a point. Kandy has been in five episodes of this season, and this marks her second time in the bottom. Her track record is High, Low, High, Safe, Bottom 2. And she would have you believe she is a contender here. So my Schadenfreude-loving ass was absolutely living watching her tossed into the Bottom 2 this week. I also think Kandy was wrong — she was not put there because of her challenge look. She was put there because she looked lost and uncomfortable during the elements they bothered to show us. Kandy believes she is a superstar performer, but she has yet to show us that on this show. She delivers an acceptable level of drag. That’s the furthest I am willing to go.
And I thought she borderline flopped in that lipsynch against Tamisha Iman. This is the second time we’ve seen Kandy lipsynch, and this was worse than the first — which was no great shakes. This time, she was giving me unhinged heartbreak during a song that is about the power of fucking over your cheating man (“Hit ‘Em Up Style” by Blu Cantrell). The moments where she laid on the floor and then did…whatever she was doing in the doorway…had me actually cringing. Meanwhile, Tamisha was up there giving us an old-school lipsynch that was very much in the spirit of the song. And so, of course, Tamisha was eliminated and Kandy was spared, because Kandy = drama and we have plenty of season to get through still.
I’m not surprised about this, and at this point, you shouldn’t be either. But I’m not overly sad for Tamisha, because Tamisha Iman walked out of this episode a winner. I don’t think producers had any idea how much viewers would love Tamisha, and her attitude about the whole thing just further endeared her to the fandom. Her grace, her loveliness, her candor, her maturity, her professionalism — we don’t get queens like Tamisha on this show very often, and that’s why I think people are treasuring her so much. I am sure they’ll bring Tamisha back for All Stars, and if she can roll in there in full health, with that spirit, with some tweaks to her wardrobe, she will be unstoppable. Now THAT’s a storyline I would like you to force, Producers. Do THAT challenge.
SO! How are you doing in our little pool? HERE IS A LINK TO THE CURRENT SCOREBOARD!
And here’s this week’s edition of Photo Finish, with my special guest Eric Ranelletti! Two Eric Rs for the price of none. What could be better than that? Thanks again to Eric and JP for their patience as we figured out our new video set-up, and to Curtis Creekmore for his help producing these suckers.
And here’s the poll for Episode 7! Make sure to get in those picks for some easy points.