RuPaul’s Drag Race was practically designed to parody the festival of garish, over-the-top personalities you find on a reality dating show like The Bachelor. The bachelorettes’ lack of self-awareness or shame about doing whatever it takes to win a ridiculous prize has been practically begging for drag queens to make fun of it — making it the perfect inspiration for this week’s All Stars improv maxi challenge.
Drag Race has done a good job this season of producing to the contestants’ strengths and weaknesses to create a more interesting competition. BenDeLacCeme, who was called out in Season 6 for playing too many old ladies, was able to once again soar this week because she was assigned the “Cougar” of the group. Trixie Mattel’s “Fake B***h” was hardly a stretch if you’ve seen her summon this character repeatedly on “Unhhhh,” her web series turned TV show with Katya. Kennedy Davenport’s “Party Girl” is good cousins with the character she won playing in the Season 7 “Spoof There It Is” challenge.
You could argue that these are smart, funny queens who could have made any number of these characters work, but after last week’s uneven lip sync challenge, it’s hard not to see the scales tipping. Chi Chi DeVayne, who has been circling the drain since the first episode, felt set up for failure with a vague character assignment and a scene partner (Shangela) guaranteed to overshadow her. Meanwhile, Milk’s “Crazy Stalker” failed largely due to delivery, but also because that character works best with more time to reveal the depths of her obsession.
Love at First Sight
The queens were given lots of room to play in their first scene with guest judge Jeffrey Bowyer Chapman (of Lifetime’s Unreal), as each of them exited the limo and introduced themselves. It’s a moment equally as grotesque, bizarre and entertaining on each new season of The Bachelor as it is here. However, the struggle to stand out really started once they go on their two-on-one dates with Jeffrey.
Bebe’s virginal African princess was a funny concept, but she seemed to run out of ideas big enough to overshadow Ben deep-throating a banana and asking Jeffrey if he’d ever changed a catheter. Trixie had a lot of great lines ready to go, but Milk’s decision to steamroll through the scene gave Trixie few opportunities to land them, although her decision to use her cellphone as a scene partner shows she was thinking.
Steamrolling is sometimes necessary — as in the cases of both Kennedy Davenport and Shangela. When it seemed like Aja had lost her grasp on her character entirely (devolving into a series of whines and pouts), Kennedy saved the scene by pulling out all the stops — plus a bottle of vodka from between her legs. By the end of the scene, her wig was off and she was on the floor (so were those of us watching). Meanwhile, Shangela’s takeover felt like a mercy kill for Chi Chi, who seemed like she was trying but just couldn’t find the jokes.
What’s Under that Wig?
The runway theme this week was “Wigs on Wigs”, made infamous by Roxxxy Andrews in Season 5. The biggest appeal of a wig reveal is, of course, that you don’t expect it. While knowing it’s coming does take some of the wind out of the sails, the surprise factor of Ben’s ombre hair dress, Shangela’s complete corn fantasy and Aja’s layered ode to anime were still exciting standouts.
However, special credit goes to Kennedy Davenport, one of the deserved Top 2 of the week, who gave us three wigs on the runway (and a breathtaking gown), and another two hair looks (in another gorgeous gown) in the lipsync. She also killed that lipsync. Her performance of Lorde’s “Green Light” felt like the polar opposite of Ben’s. Ben seemed to be trying out ideas as the song went on (including a lot of strange choices with her hair) while Kennedy was deliberate and prepared with well-timed reveals and plenty of nuance. There are few cases where standing mostly in one spot will win you the lipsync; this was one of them.
In retrospect, there was no question Kennedy would send Milk home. This felt like a personal decision more than anything else: Milk had already made it clear that she would have sent home Kennedy the week before if given the chance. However, this was also Milk’s time. A lack of self-awareness in the competition can be mildly entertaining until it turns sour. On the flipside, self-doubt will put an immediate target on your forehead, and unless Chi Chi is going to pull a Roxxxy Andrews this season and get dragged against her will to the finale, she’s really going to need to step it up in “Snatch Game” next week.
Will Bebe continue to skate through the competition? Will Trixie finally stand out? Will Ben keep winning playing old women until it is revealed that she has been an old woman disguised as a 30-something drag queen all along? Anything can happen on All Stars…
Want to queen out each week on All Stars 3 with us? Alright Mary is a weekly recap podcast and deep dive into all things RuPaul’s Drag Race. We go in on the queens, behind the scenes, the larger social themes explored on the show and as much reddit T as we can get our mitts on. Subscribe on iTunes!
Last modified: February 12, 2018