[My heterosexual brother, who has never seen an episode of Drag Race in his life, will be reviewing this weeks episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. Charlie is an English graduate and is a lot smarter than me, so this should be interesting.]
Hello, ladies. This week’s DYCAL review of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK Season 2 is going to be a little different. Rather than having our font of all drag knowledge giving you highlights of this week’s drama, we will be watching the episode through the eyes of someone who has never watched the show for more than ten minutes, and knows as much about drag as Ru Paul knows about shampoo. So fasten your seatbelts, kids, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
We’re into week 4 now, so it looks like there’s already some established tension and alliances between the queens. We seem to pick up most of this from passive-aggressive sniping in the dressing room, and downright rudeness in the diary room. It’s a shame that the queens aren’t as brave in person with their ‘truths’, but maybe this will pick up later.
For now, the first queen I meet is Tia Kofi, and if this is the baseline for drama in the show, I’m most definitely going to need another drink for this. We also meet our judges, who include the “Beyonce of daytime TV”, Lorraine Kelly (what an accolade), and Alan Carr. Whilst I imagine he’ll be perfect for the show, I think he might be disappointed when he realises how thoroughly out-camped he’s going to be.
After a brief farewell to last week’s ejection, we get down to business. The first challenge, a mini-challenge, is the ‘Great British Fake-Off’, and requires the queens to advertise various baked goods whilst simultaneously titillating the audience. We see Ru Paul for the first time, entering with a hearty “‘Ello Guvnor!”, and one can only marvel at the perfectly formed egg that is her head. Is it waxed, or polished? So many questions. Anywho, two terrified looking men in bemusingly patriotic underwear bring in the goods, and we’re off.
Each queen has about a minute, and some definitely make better use of their time than others. Tia Kofi predictably swims halfway across the dressing room, there’s a Viennese Finger shoved up someone’s arse, and overall the humour is cheap and a little obvious (or is it basic? I’ll get the hang of this at some point).
The two standouts were Bimini Bon-Boulash, who offers a witty and topical commentary on the advantages of Brexit, though I’m not sure the three gents down the pub are going to hear or even understand your shade, and Lawrence Chaney, who I love from the off. Incredibly authentic, and regularly has me belly laughing throughout the episode. Bimini ends up taking the challenge, giving her a slight advantage heading into the next round.
The maxi-challenge™ is up next, and at this point we’re getting into the meat and potatoes of the show. This week the challenge is to host a live (?!) morning TV show under the watchful eye of guru Lorraine. They are paired up based on their roles, which serve as segments of the show, with two hosts running it from the centre. Each segment will consist of a scripted introduction and conclusion with an improv section in the middle.
All in all, the challenge seems very difficult, as there are no retakes for fluffed lines or wardrobe malfunctions, and I think if I ever found myself in this situation I would spontaneously combust. Hopefully the queens fare a little better. After selecting roles and seeing priceless reactions from the queens when Ellie Diamond dares to question God in the dressing room, it’s time for the show. What could go wrong?
We start with the hosts, played by Bimini and Tayce, and their task is to play a pair of Gen-Z party animals whilst keeping the show going. They play off each other well, and provide some great acrobatics with their patented slut shots. Whilst they do well, I would say this is probably the safest role, from what I’ve seen in the last 30 minutes are they even acting? The only thing that’s fake here is the alcohol (I would hope?).
Up next is Veronica Green and Sister Sister as Gothic party planners, and all I can say is wow. Awkward attempts at deadpan comedy and a total lack of prior planning and synchronisation blend together to form a total disaster. My only wish is that it could have been shorter.
The Scottish duo of Ellie and Lawrence are the ‘Dragony Nieces’ next, and my god does Lawrence crush this. Her middle-aged and definitely not wholesome Scottish lady has me in stitches, and secures her status as the most prolific actor. Ellie is good too, but it’s hard to shine like a diamond when you’re next to the Koh-i-Noor of drag acting, girl.
The most interesting pair are up next, and whilst Tia Kofi and A’Whora definitely had some bad blood between them in previous episodes, they end up being a fantastic combination. Playing money-saving experts from Essex, their gravel vajazzle routine has me on the floor, and the ever-encroaching tit from A’Whora’s poorly fitted jacket sends Lorraine completely over the edge. A’Whora definitely shines more, but Tia contributes well and the chemistry between the two is undeniable.
The show closes with the hardest role, where Ginny Lemon must run a solo act as a hippy weather reporter. Whilst this is undeniably the most difficult of the roles, it is also arguably the most powerful, given that there is no opportunity to be brought down by a hamstrung team-mate (hey Sister). Alas, Ginny’s performance, much like her entire episode, leaves a sour taste in the mouth, and the less said of it the better really.
After the show, the queens regroup to discuss the performances briefly, before heading out to the runway. Again I love Lawrence here, as she is the only one to note that, actually, Sister was just as poor as her teammate. Why is she getting away with blaming Veronica? Hopefully the judges see through this.
For the runway, then, the theme is Monster Mashup. The real winner here, honestly, is the makeup and costume team backstage, because all the outfits are incredible. Attention to detail is paramount, and almost without exception does the team rise to this challenge, bravo. We also see Alan Carr at last, thought he’d fallen down the well for a while there. We finally see God in all her glory and, I’ve gotta say, that’s one hell of a do, Ru.
Favourites from the runway include Veronica’s beautifully disgusting Medusa x Babe the Pig, Lawrence’s ambitious 4-way serial killer mashup and A’Whora’s astonishingly detailed brain, shining for all to see. The judges riff off of each other well, though does anyone else see the dripping irony in Alan Carr calling people out for yelling “I’m special”? Just me? And, again, the less said about Ginny’s extraordinarily bright offering, the better.
Onto the results, then, and here we get down to brass tacks. Tayce, Ellie and Tia are declared safe immediately, although this is less of a congratulations and more of a pat on the back. Nevertheless, that leaves six queens to face the music. They definitely draw this out a bit, with almost twenty minutes of the show dedicated to feedback, criticism, and shade, but eventually we get a winner. Lawrence had an excellent challenge performance, receiving the highest praise from Lorraine, and her ambitious costume concept pays off, though I’m not sure I’d agree that a second face attached to the arm could ever be sexy. She receives her winner’s badge, and now the bombs start to drop.
In a surprising twist for me, Veronica’s excellent costume is enough to save her from the final two, leaving Sister Sister and Ginny Lemon to square off in a lip-sync of Kim Wilde’s You Keep Me Hangin On. As the music rolls though, so does Ginny, and she doesn’t stop until she reaches the dressing room. I’m flabbergasted. I never liked her, but never imagined she would be this much of a coward.
Apparently this is the first time this has ever happened, in any episode of any series of the show, so it can’t be just me. Freddie must be comatose right now. It’s a shame, really, because Sister absolutely destroys the lip-sync: let’s hope she has another one in the bag next time she’s up for elimination. Ginny leaves her lipstick farewell, and departs. Sadly, Ginny, not sure I do fancy a slice. Byeeeee.
“Well, that was something. I have to say, I was thoroughly entertained. When I saw a 70-minute run-time I was a little apprehensive, but it was highly engaging and the time flew by. Some of the queens were extremely talented, but even those that didn’t shine had moments to appreciate. The format was decent, though as I mentioned I think they dragged the results out a wee bit too long, could probably get the show down to a round hour. Nevertheless, as an innocent bystander, my curiosity was piqued and the show was certainly never boring.
The show is really educational and indicative of the performance aspect of drag. That is, to say, it’s all a performance. The whole world is truly a stage for these queens, and the emotional bravery required to live like this is truly admirable. You really saw this vulnerability come out in the show, and whilst it does seem a little OTT and contrived at times (hey again Sister), A’Whora and Tia actually had a really poignant moment in the post-‘Morning Glory’ dressing room, and I really was happy for them when they mended their fences.
I will definitely be keeping up with the show from this point, and hope you at home do as well with a return to your regularly-scheduled reviewing next week. After all, it’s not like there’s anything else to do here at the moment, is there?