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RPDR RANT: Season 8, Episode 5

Aedan Roberts

Welcome, all you wonderful people, to Aedan's RPDR RANT (Season 8, Episode 5)! I'm so excited to talk about this one because: SNATCH GAME HAS ARRIVED! Like a tornado composed of fake accents, old-person makeup, questionable choices and stand-out performances Snatch Game is the episode many hail as the Queen Maker for every season. It separates the Top Girls from the Bottom, and this Season is no exception. It even ended up giving some fairly surprising (and slightly unsurprising) results, so let get to the breakdown.

Quick note: the (oddly disappointing) Runway subject this week was Night of 1000 Madonna's (or, to be more accurate: Night of 1000 Kimonos and 4 Madonnas)

Quicker Note: For this week I will start each contestant breakdown with their chosen celebrity impersonation.

Without further ado, in no particular order:

Bob The Drag Queen (Uzo Aduba AND Carol Channing (!!) ): Bob not only managed to kick ass with one celebrity impersonation (doing so well that she even got a shout-out from Aduba herself) but for the first time in RPDR Herstory she whipped out a completely different impersonation halfway through the segment. Instead of a simple Wig Change (ala Chad Michaels, and less successfully with Trinity K. Bonet) she swapped Aduba with Channing- and would you look at that: she ROCKED both! I thought each had their laugh-out-loud moments and the decision to play two people won her more screen time than any of the other queens- which turned out to be a massive advantage that was impossible to beat. It was also a massive risk to take. Dropping a character who is proving successful to jump into another could have had nasty consequences. What if the second impersonation was terrible? What if, in preparing so many different roles, Bob had tripped herself up? I honestly don't see many queens attempting this in the future simply because it was practically a miracle that it worked at all.

Miss Bob has been steadily gaining momentum over the course of the competition, culminating this episode in the very first (very much deserved) Second Win of the Season. Even her Runway Look was one of the strongest (and most importantly not a kimono) of the night. I disagree with Raja who, on her Toot It or Boot It youtube show, complained that it was simply too obscure to be a proper Madonna Look. The obscurity, and how well done the outfit and padding was, worked for Bob. It also was a really safe bet. In the Grand Strategy of Drag Race, when you are told to bring a look worn by a celebrity as iconic as Madonna it can sometimes be a good thing to look for something so obscure. The chances of Bob having a Repeat Costume if she had shown up in 80's Glamdonna? Fairly high (even if, in retrospect, it would have been a slam dunk). Boyscout Red Carpet Realness? Not so much.

I am getting worried for my Number 1 of Season 8, however. No one on this show does this consistently well without a somewhat nasty fall in their near future (except, of course, for Bianca Del Rio, whose worst moments merely placed here as "safe"). The previews for next week aren't helping with my fears, either. They are definitely hinting at some Bob-related Drama coming down the line, but I hope that means that she will only struggle enough to be safe.

Chi Chi Devayne (Eartha Kitt): Chi Chi was a surprise to me this episode. Her Eartha Kitt wasn't really a spot-on Mrs. Kitt, but it's not like Bob's Aduba was actually capturing the real Aduba. It's not really about how accurately a person captures the celebrity they are lampooning- it's more about whether they can make them funny or enjoyable to watch. And Chi Chi delivered here. Her Catwoman (literally) was adorable and made me chuckle more than once. It was also a well composed costume.

As for her runway? Meh. I mean she gets props for A: not wearing a kimono, B: for drawing inspiration from one of Madonna's most famous looks, and C: that she apparently bedazzled that thing together in six hours- but it wasn't really all that good either. The cones' circumference was WAY too big, they didn't protrude enough, and they rested wrong on her chest (they ended up emphasizing that we were looking at pectoral muscles instead of boobs). The leggings were also a bit too simple. However Chi Chi's biggest talent so far in this competition has been her ability to sell anything on the runway. She could strut down the catwalk in vomit freshly splattered on her naked body and make it look good. It's just how Chi Chi moves, how she paints her face (ALWAYS fantastic), and how she embraces whatever she's wearing. Chi Chi is fast becoming one of my favorites this season and her surprisingly good showing in Snatch Game is a good sign going further into Season 8.

Derrick Barry (Britney Spears): Britney Barry may have tried to throw people off by attempting to convince Ru and the viewers that she would set aside her most famous impersonation and go for Shocantelle (a choice so obviously disastrous that even a blind, mentally handicapped armadillo could see it as a sloppy misdirect), but in the end she went ahead and embraced her Moneymaker. And you know what? Her Britney was okay. She looked good and really seemed to be having a fun time fully embodying her idol. However: it may have been her lack of desire to poke fun at or insult Britney, but her portrayal lacked the bite, wit, or laugh-out-loud moments that Tatianna's Dumb Spears snatched the crown with. That, coupled with being part of Kimonogate, and it all merely resulted in high safety this week.

Here's the thing, though: Derrick Barry is a celebrity impersonator. That is her biggest strength, and her biggest claim to fame. Outside of Britney she really hasn't proven herself- both on and off the show. And yet in a challenge that SHOULD have given her the biggest advantage she merely found herself safe. This just doesn't bode well for her chances. And her defensive attitude and somewhat nasty edit (at times) isn't doing her any favors. I've been saying I'm a bit over Britney Barry for a long time now. Hopefully now that her biggest reason for existing has come and gone (Snatch Game) she can gracefully exit the show post-haste.

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Kim Chi (Kimmy Jong Un): much like Chi Chi, Kim Chi pleasantly surprised me this episode. From what was shown I'm actually surprised that she was merely safe. Her Kimmy Jong Un was hilarious, irreverent, unexpected, and overall brilliantly done. And her Runway look was one of the stronger Kimonos. I would blame the Kimono for her surprisingly low ranking this week, but Britney Barry and Thorgy ALSO wore kimonos and that didn't stop them from placing high. So I don't know. If it were up to me the Top 3 would have been Bob, Thorgy and Kim Chi (Kim's performance was more stand-out to me than Britney Barry's). However Derrick continued her trend of placing higher than I think she deserved and Miss Chi was relegated to the safety slot.

Next week is a costume design challenge (it looks like it's going to be EPIC!) and that is where Kim Chi tends to shine. So her time in Safe Purgatory may soon be at an end.

Naomi Smalls (New York): Poor miss Smalls. Scared off from her initial intention of playing Whoopi (which looked like it had potential to be funny and show a different side of Naomi) by Bob's immaculate Nun Whoopi, Naomi instead chose to portray New York, a celebrity I know almost nothing about. And judging from Naomi's portrayal I still have no desire to learn about whoever New York really is. Because Miss Small's performance was a bit of a trainwreck- and not even in a Jessica Wilde Does Manic RuPaul kind of way (which is hilarious in it's wrongness). It was just boring. And sad. And the less spoken of it the better.

Couple that with her fourth Lingerie Runway of the season (80% lingerie, people) PLUS the fact that it was part of Kimonogate and Naomi was destined for the bottom this week. In the end she busted out some sexy, slutty, alien legs goodness and shantayed to safety, but it was definitely not Naomi's week. Hopefully she will take the advice she received from every other girl (and many of the judges) and expand her visual repertoire for the remainder of her time on the show. Which, depending on how successfully she does this, could be a very short or long time.

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Robbie Turner (Diana Vreeland): Oof. Ouch. I'm starting to see a pattern here with Miss Turner: she seems to get in her head on challenges she expects to ace. Snatch Game has been the home turf of nearly every Seattle Queen who has managed to make it there since Jinkx Monsoon destroyed the competition with her Little Edie. As such there has been quite a legacy weighing on poor Miss Turner's shoulders from the second she stepped into that workroom. And instead of rising to the challenge she buckled under that weight. Her Diana Vreeland was absolutely dreadful and she knew it. She looked entirely defeated on the runway, though not enough to remember that blurting out dumb excuses won't do you any favors. And while her outfit was adorable and clever (I love A League of Their Own) it was ill-fitted and looked a little cheap. I was actually somewhat stunned that she escaped the Bottom Two this week to be perfectly honest. 

We'll have to see how she does in the following week(s), but to me her fate was sealed this episode. I really do love me some Robbie, but this performance was such a blow to her chances I don't think anything can save her at this point.

Thorgy Thor (Michael Jackson): Miss Thorgy was another stand-out this Snatch Game. Choosing, for the second time in RPDR Herstory, to tackle a male celebrity (Michael Jackson) she turned out a wacky, creepy, extremely competent performance that had me laughing at various bits throughout the segment. Was her lampooning particularly ground-breaking? Nope. And honestly I wasn't as blown out of the water as I was expecting to be (it may have been the editing but she seemed to rely a bit too heavily on that giggle behind her hands thing)- however in the end it was one of the stronger Snatch Characters of the season (and, I would argue, the series itself). It was also a risk, but for different reasons than Kennedy's Little Richard from yesteryear. Michael Jackson- beyond being a male celebrity- is a hard person to lampoon without getting either overtly harsh or EXTREMELY distateful (in an unfunny way). It comes from a life so mired in scandals, trauma and mental health issues that it can be hard to bring people out of that headspace without simply copying South Park's Michael Jackson joke for joke. However Thorgy's constantly radiating Joy aided her here, and the result was as good a Michael as RPDR will likely ever see.

Her runway was also wonderful. The a-symmetrical cut, the peekaboo shoulders, the fun makeup and wonderful knot-belt had her standing out in the crowd of Kimonos. She also had the advantage of being the first one to walk the Runway, so the diminishing returns didn't really affect her. In the end it wasn't enough to overtake Bob's double-standout performance or non-kimono look, but she really did deserve her spot in the Top 3.

Here's the deal, though: I'm getting a little worried when it comes to Miss Thor. She's doing so well the entire season but never seems to be able to really pull to the front of the pack. She's definitely suffering from Always The Bridesmaid Never The Bride Syndrome and I'm starting to notice it affect Thorgy's attitude quite a bit. And I don't want that wonderful happiness dimming from view. It's one of the many reasons this Season has been Stand Out so far. So I really, REALLY hope that Thorgy is able to snag a win sometime soon. Because she deserves it and really needs the boost.

Acid Betty (Nancy Grace): Acid Betty's implosion felt less like a catastrophic disaster and more of a whimper. Over the course of the season Miss Betty has been ranked so high (though, much like Thorgy, had never actually won anything) that her first time in the Bottom, let alone Bottom 2, felt a little wrong to be the occasion to send her home. Especially in what was, in my opinion, the best look of the week (her Bedtime Stories inspired outfit was brilliant). Sure her Nancy Grace was a trainwreck of Max-Impersonating-Sharon-Needles Proportions- but it really wasn't much worse than Robbie's Vreeland and the look was WORLDS better than Miss Turner's. The average of those two should have been higher, but in the end she lip-synched all the same. And instead of the shit-show that was rumored to happen (Acid refusing to lip-synch, Acid going off on Michelle Visage) she gracefully and endearingly said her fond farewell and floated away.

I think Acid's initial edit in the season was the one she was expecting to get. The edit she received in the last two episodes defied those initial impressions, however. Acid Betty has proven to be one of the strongest contestants of this season with more heart than I think people give her credit for, and in the end I'm going to miss the Wow Factor she brought to nearly every runway. 

Farewell, Miss Acid Betty. I look forward to seeing more of you on the Youtubes and possibly in real life!

. . . unless you are singing live.

 

PS: SO SO SORRY for the late posting. This past week (and this upcoming week) was/will be hectic, so bear with me. HEARTS AND CUDDLES!