I think a lot of us — including myself — owe this cast a bit of an apology. When the promo and Meet the Queen videos came out, many people were…I don’t want to say underwhelmed, but certainly not super excited by this group. Let’s say they were “whelmed.” One of the recurring criticisms was that there was a lack of personality and wit from most of them, and that we feared what would happen once we go to the inevitable acting/comedy/improv challenges.
Well, Episode 4 gave us an amalgamation of those skills, and honestly I thought the group did great. Sure, there were some weaker performers. But on the whole I think the Season 14 cast ate this challenge up. And what a great idea for a challenge! We discussed this on our Saturday Twitter Spaces discussion (which you should really be joining, they’re a lovely little kiki about the episode and all things Drag Race), but Drag Race actually works best when it is being highly self referential. So asking the queens to come up with fake, over-the-top sketches to create fake super teases for the season? Brilliant. BTW, some of the footage from these DID end up in the actual S14 super tease (Willow’s ribbon dance, for instance), so it served two purposes: challenge fodder, and also footage to throw off the infamous Nancy Drews of Reddit. But you know Shangela still cracked that code…
I thought both groups of queens did well, but it was Team Willow Pill (Willow, Kornbread, Bosco, Kerri, Lady Camden, Jorgeous, Jasmine Kennedie) that was the stronger of the two. Jorgeous and Camden faded into the background, and Jasmine and Kerri didn’t live up to potential, but Willow was amazing, Bosco was hilarious (and keeps getting slept on by the judges), and Kornbread WAS funny (I thought her B3 placement was undeserving). Team Maddy Morphosis (Maddy, Angeria Paris VanMichaels, DeJa Skye, Alyssa Hunter, Daya Betty, Orion Story) had very strong players in Angeria, DeJa, and Daya, but I didn’t think their overall product was strong as Willow’s. But both made me laugh out loud more than most Drag Race challenges, so well done to all involved.
The runway theme was Night of 1,000 Jennifer Lopezes. Here’s my issue with that: JLo IS a fashion icon, no doubt. And she has some iconic looks. But they mostly fall into the category of fierce fashion. She doesn’t do a lot of extreme outfits. It’s mostly just very, very pretty garments. And that’s what we got on this runway. Most of the queens looked great, and almost all of them did Xerox copies of JLo lewks (Hell, Kerri wore the ACTUAL DRESS Jennifer wore, and I would love to hear more about that story). But it wasn’t a terribly exciting runway for me. I don’t think any of those looks will be remembered even two weeks from now. Beautiful gowns! But to quote Ra’jah O’Hara: I was not gagging.
In the end, Willow, Angeria, and DeJa ended up in the top. I disagreed with DeJa’s placement. She did well in the challenge but arguably had the weakest runway, and there were others who did very well in the challenge and gave us better looks. That felt like they were throwing her a bone after two rough weeks for her. I think it was a toss up between Angeria and Willow for the win. They’re both killing it and are on course to be top-tier Ru Girls by the time this season wraps. Ultimately it went to Angie, getting her second win in four weeks.
In the bottom it was Alyssa Hunter, Kerri Colby, and Kornbread. Many people felt Jorgeous should have been there, given her almost total lack of presence in the challenge. But I think they wanted to scare both Kerri and Kornbread. Guest judge Loni Love gave Kornbread the very good advice to avoid the “I’m fat so let’s go straight to jokes about me being a pig” thing. Kornbread seemed to take it in stride, and I hope she internalizes that message because it will only make her stronger. She was spared the lipsynch, and Kerri and Alyssa threw down a rather lackluster attempt at JLo’s “Play.” Kerri was freaking out about ruining a dress that is literally a fashion icon, while Alyssa gave us a lot more passion and moves. But she also had a prop malfunction and didn’t seem to fully know the words. Ultimately I don’t think it mattered, they were never going to send home Kerri, even with that lukewarm lipsynch. Alyssa was a goner, and her chocolate turned out to be…just chocolate. (Sidebar: I love the chocolate thing, it’s so stupid. I laugh every time that horn plays.)
I felt really bad for Alyssa this episode. She wanted this so bad and was trying SO hard. But I do think the criticisms that she was all over the place were valid, and this week in particular I really got how much she was struggling with the language barrier. It also seemed like there was a cultural disconnect in humor at play in the challenge, and that had to be SO frustrating for her. She’s a gorgeous queen and I’m glad she got a chance to show us what she can do.
Up next: the queens create charities to support previous first-out icons! Another fun challenge.