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RPDR RANT: Season 8, Episode 6

Aedan Roberts

Hello there everyone! It's (once again delayed) time for me to go off on tangents and otherwise ramble on about my most favorite of TV shows: RuPaul's Drag Race (Season 8)! Hopefully I can keep this one short- but who am I kidding? It will likely rival the seventh Harry Potter in length, so let's get started!

Episode 6- it's coming down to the wire now. This has been such a strong season it's not right to say that they've "weeded out the weakest"- but for all intents and purposes that's what we'll go with. Due to the fact that what little "chaff" existed has been stripped away at this point (except for Miss Barry) every elimination is going to be extra painful from this point forward (again, except Miss Barry). Anyways, the challenges are as follows:

Mini Challenge: Once again we find ourselves in the Draggiest of Bibliotecas, watching our queens don the Shadiest of Shades for the READING CHALLENGE! Probably my favorite mini-challenge of any season.

Maxi Challenge: If my favorite Mini Challenge wasn't enough Ru decided to pull out all the stops in this episode with one of the more fun Makeover Challenges the show has seen. Using the cast of Little Women: LA the girls were tasked with creating outfits inspired by The Wizard of Oz for themselves and their partners, and then (in the fully-expected, non-surprise surprise twist that comes with every one of these makeover challenges) do an interpretive dance on the Main Stage.

Anyways, I'm just going to skip to the fun part: THE BREAKDOWN! In no particular order:

Bob The Drag Queen (Glinda The Good Witch): Bob, fresh off her second(!) win from last week, made it very clear that she knew her success had placed a big ol' flamin' target on her back for the other girls to hurl hexes, curses, and possibly banana peels at (in hopes she slips up both literally and figuratively- need to keep those bases covered). However this did nothing to slow down the Bob Train, at least initially, because Bob took the (deserved) win in the Mini Challenge. She's an intelligent girl and a practiced comedian which gave her a natural leg up over her fellow contestants.

Then we got to the main challenge. And while I personally enjoyed the final products (especially her Little Woman) Bob seemed to falter a bit here. It's hard to tell whether this was an organic slip-up on Bob's part or not, but with all the stress and lack of sleep/food it was most likely just the pressure getting to Bob (even if something about it seemed strikingly calculated). Regardless, if what Miss Bob ended up with was a frantic last-minute effort, and this is Bob at her worst, I'm fairly confident (outside any major producer shenanigans) that Bob can make it through anything. Like Kim Chi before her we have now seen Bob at her lowest, and honestly it wasn't really all that low (she was a low safe this week, after all. Not even Bottom 3). All this is a long way of saying "GO BOB!"

Chi Chi Devayne (Dorothy): Miss Devayne drew the ire of most of her fellow contestants this week (Thorgy and Kim Chi especially), due to the somewhat "flazéda" approach she seemed to have with this challenge. From what I could tell based on interactions with her partner, Chi Chi is a fan of Little Women:LA (and Tonya Banks, her partner, in particular)- a fact that leads me to believe she was less "I don't give a fuck about this challenge" and more "my overwhelming desire is to hang out and talk to this wonderful lady." And while that makes me sympathize with her a lot more, the result is the same: a lackluster presentation that could have benefitted from the extra time she wasted lounging about and talking shit with Miss Banks. 

In the end her runway was a bit of a mess. Not only was it possibly the second-simplest set of outfits (Miss Barry taking the number one position here)- it was also lazily accessorized and poorly presented. Her corset wasn't even cinched! If you are walking down the runway in an un-cinched corset (giving boy-body) anytime after Adore was repeatedly read to filth over it- then you are in trouble. And in trouble she was. I'm honestly kind of surprised (and yet not surprised, more on that later) that she didn't make the Bottom 2 this week. Did I want to see her go home over her time management skills? Not at all. But if all things were based on what was presented on the show Miss Devayne deserved the bottom more than Robbie this week. In my opinion,  of course. Mileage may vary.

Derrick Barry (Tin Man): To put a little bit of positivity into my write-up of Derrick I will start with this: her Library Readings were actually fairly good! If she was able to do that kind of thing on a regular basis- instead of that bitter, defensive, unfunny diatribe she seems to default to- I would be much happier that she's being carried through the competition. Alas her tiny moment of goodness, like the other one or two moments, was quick to fizzle out in the tidal wave of bitterness and delusion that followed. Oh, and her outfit was not only atrocious (in an almost comical way with those bouncing whale dildos on her shoulders)- but it was also nearly identical to 75% of her other garments. A bathing suit with a sheer piece of cloth wrapped around the waist? Really? AGAIN?! It was lazy the first time (Episode 1) and every subsequent romp down the runway has been increasingly infuriating.

I feel like this whole season has been an exercise in finding subtle ways (and sometimes not so subtle ways) to keep Britney Barry on the show regardless of how terrible she's actually doing. And while, for the first time (which should have been the third time in my personal estimation), Derrick found herself in the Bottom 2, every advantage seemed to be in her court. Choice of song? Pop, perfect for BritBrit-isms. Choice of LSFYL partner? Robbie Turner (in a far more restrictive dress and out of her element). It was probably known that Derrick would prevail over Robbie when presented with the song they had selected- whereas it would have been a much harder thing to justify if Chi Chi had wound up in the slot instead (which is what should have happened). And thus Robbie was doomed for the exit door because RuPaul or someone behind the scenes seems to have made a contract with Barry that requires special treatment (which is obviously not true, I'm just being bitter).

My initial impression that Derrick would be the Kennedy Davenport of Season 8 is sadly proving extremely accurate here. Which means while I hope she will be gone in the next episode I'm afraid we may be stuck with her until at least the Top 4- while far more talented and deserving queens are bafflingly sent home first. I'll keep my fingers crossed that Miss Barry's days are numbered (on the show, of course) so that she can go back to doing what she does best (she really is a phenomenal Britney)- but I'm not holding my breath at this point.


Kim Chi (Wicked Witch): Miss Chi was given the very best subject matter: The Wicked Witch of the West. And instead of going all Party City on it with pointy hats and green makeup (which may have been a no-go even if she wanted to for copyright reasons)- Miss Chi did what she does best: hot couture. And it was one of the top looks of the night. I honestly would have been happy with her taking the win this week, but she merely placed really high. There isn't much else to say here for her, though. She did well, was a lot of fun, made a GORGEOUS set of outfits, and looked like she had a blast. Happy she's still here and excited to see what she does next.

Naomi Smalls (Scarecrow): Naomi pulled a Robbie (which I hope isn't COMPLETELY true given this week's results) and went from the lowest of the lows to the highest highs. Her Scarecrow outfit was Raja levels of perfection- it was chic, well constructed, emphasized all the right aspects of both models and was wonderfully cohesive. Everything from the Makeup to the tiny detailing on the Little Woman's ankles was well thought-out. Naomi showed this week that, while her runways have all been somewhat similar up to this point, there is more going on under that gorgeously composed wig and flawless makeup than many people give her credit for. It DOES help that The Scarecrow seemed to have been specifically given to Naomi as a Get Out Of Jail Free Card (no one else's subject matter matched their personality and style nearly as well)- but regardless, bitch did GOOD. And thus I'm satisfied she edged out Kim Chi for the win, even if I was rooting for Miss Chi initially.

HOWEVER: this was a challenge custom-made for a Naomi win (much like a Roller Skate Themed runway challenge was tailor-made for Robbie)- so the fact that she won this week may not be the evidence of a turn-around that it would otherwise be. Next week's episode is more of a creative writing/performance challenge- distinctly NOT inside Miss Small's wheelhouse. I just hope that she doesn't continue shadowing her good friend Miss Turner and go from Lowest to Highest to Lowest once more.

Thorgy Thor (Emerald City Citizen): I actually loved what Thorgy presented on the runway, and was a little put-off and annoyed with the judge's overtly harsh criticism of it. Other than Naomi, Thorgy's costumes were the most cohesive of the entire group. It was also extremely well tailored and VERY eye catching. I love me some Ross Matthews and tend to agree with him, but I was DEFINITELY not with him this week when he said what she showed wasn't memorable. The looks that I remember most vividly (in a positive way) a full week after I've seen these things are Naomi's, Kim Chi's, and Thorgy's. Maybe it looked better on TV? I don't know, but when they came out the entire bar was like "oooooh!" and cheered. Everyone I was with thought she was Top 3, easily. 

In the end: Thorgy really needs a win. I'm hoping the creative writing and performance challenge in next week's Shady Politics episode will give her that opportunity- because I thoroughly believe that Thorgy deserves to outlast at LEAST three of the other girls still here after tonight (and make it to the Top 3)- but the only way she will be able to do that is to snag at least one win. I don't think anyone has ever made it to the Top 3 without winning at LEAST one challenge, so the pressure is ON for my beloved Miss Thorgy.

Robbie Turner (Cowardly Lion): We bid adieu to the wonderful queen from Seattle this episode after nearly an entire run of self-doubt and self-sabotage. If you asked me which queen this season was the most baffling I would definitely have to go with Miss Turner. Because Robbie Turner is TALENTED. She's BRILLIANT. Before Season 8 I had watched a whole host of her performances on youtube and she blew me out of the water. She seemed to possess the charm and intelligence of Jinkx Monsoon and already had the polish that it took Miss Monsoon an entire season to develop. And then she arrives in the Workroom and I was met with NONE of that polish. That personality. That brilliance. I felt like I was defending her to my friends the entire time she was on the show. "She's really much better than this in her own shows, guys, seriously!" "Normally her looks are tight and her hair is flawless. I'm serious!" 

Every single time she was met with a challenge she should have demolished she'd choke. Instead of responding to the judges with witty comments and wry humor (something I KNOW she's more than capable of) she would respond with unfunny excuses while looking exhausted and defeated. This was not the Robbie I had grown to love- and I desperately hope that it was just a hiccup in her timeline, only to be replaced with the real Robbie now that the pressure is off.

When it comes to this episode in particular? While all of the above applies in equal measure here, I also don't necessarily think she deserved to be in the bottom 2. Her look was a trainwreck, but at least it was an interesting mess with an obvious end-game - something Chi Chi's costume definitely lacked. And when it comes down to it I feel like an interesting disaster that had obvious effort put into it deserves more credit over lack of any effort/creativity at all when it comes time to determining the fates of these girls.

In the end Robbie was kind of doomed regardless of whether it had been this week or next week (it just would have been nice to see Derrick go before her). Miss Turner was simply defeated the minute she walked down the runway in that horrible poodle number in Episode 1, and not even a win under her belt seemed able to snap her out of it. All I ask of anyone reading this is to give Robbie a chance. You have to trust me that there is more to this wonderful girl than her time on RPDR suggests.