RuPaul’s Drag Race: RuPaul-a-Palooza!
We were Billy B.-less for the second episode in a row and that made us sad, but Auntie Ru made sure to throw a couple boys into the mix to keep us invested. Let’s run down our impressions of the various judges and drag helpers:
Ru is REALLY putting the girls through their paces this year. Not with the musical chairs challenge (although Carmen did seem to find it mentally taxing), but with yet another performance challenge. And not just any performance, but a recording and then live lip-synch to it in front of an audience. We suspect Ru felt the sting of criticisms that the show paid too much attention to beauty and realness and not enough to talent, especially after the utterly talent-free Tyra won out over more entertaining queens like Pandora and Jujubee last season.
At first we thought this challenge was a little harsh, since none of them really sing in their careers. There was some talk about Shangela’s supposed talent in that regard, but we failed to detect it in any large amounts. Still, we thought at first that the comedy challenge was perhaps asking a bit much of them and that turned out to be one of the best challenges of the series, and the most illuminating in terms of what each girl can bring to the table. Similarly, this challenge did the same. And besides, the entire competition is based around Ru’s career, so performing has always been a part of the competition. We felt bad for the queens, like we would for any non-singer forced to sing in public, but the show must go on, right bitches?
We were happy to see the Raja we were originally rooting for make a return with this challenge. We felt like the last few challenges she’d been “resting on cool” the way Carmen rests on pretty; not putting the effort in on her performances and being a bit too cerebral about it all. We think that must work very well in her drag career, where persona and look can be an enormous part of the whole package, but she’s not a performer in the sense that Ru likes; that old-school showbiz triple-threat kinda talent that Ru herself embodies. She can be; we just don’t think it’s her first impulse.
And as for her look:
It’s perhaps a testament to the show’s lingering reverence toward the pretty girls that Carmen even lasted this long. Outside of makeup and tucking skills, she has no discernible talent. And while some drag queens get by on looks and personality alone, she was as deficient in the latter as she was at … well… anything that required more of her than standing and walking. We don’t blame her for thinking that was enough in light of Tyra’s win, but even Tyra was able to bring something to the game when it was called for. Bottom line is this: Who wants to see a drag queen who can barely be bothered to form sentences?
But before the music even started, we knew Shangela was shantaying back to the competition, bad as her outfit was. For this season at least, the girl with the shitty look who puts her all into a performance tends to get Ru’s blessing over the girl who limps and poses her way through it.
She’s got personal style to rival Raja’s (with the accompanying ability to execute it), but if she’s not going to cultivate any performing skills, she needs to work on a personality and persona beyond pretty.
[Photo Credit: logotv.com - Screencaps: tomandlorenzo.com]