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RPDR RANT: All Stars 3, Episode 2

Aedan Roberts

Oh boy.

I guess let's begin? Episode summary: girls walk back in, Ben has a sad, the Maxi Challenge is revealed, the girls rehearse, they perform Divas Live, the top 2 LSFYLegacy, and the wrong bitch gets sent home (DISCLAIMER: opinions may vary).

Now on to the Breakdown. In no particular order this time:

AJA: After her somewhat meteoric rise in Episode 1 Aja kind of faded back into the masses this episode. Don't get me wrong: she did well enough- it's just her Amy Winehouse was a mixed bag. The performance was decent but her look was dollar-store Winehouse: her hair was the Winehouse Beehive but WAAAAAAAY too clean and smooth and her outfit was fairly generic. Amy was a bit of an intentional mess- her stockings were always ripped, her clothing kind of a modern Hipster take on the 1950's, her makeup severe and the cat-eye overly emphasized. It's almost as if they gave Amy Winehouse to Season 9 Aja, not the far-more-polished AS3 Aja. Because Aja's messier Season 9 makeup would have been more up the Winehouse alley and her sloppier costuming and wigs would have benefitted the impersonation nicely.

Her re-interpretation of Princess Disastah, however? Gorgeous. It definitely upped her scorecard this episode in my book. It was refined, lovely, and she looked like a Flame Princess The House Down Boots.

Her performance/runway all added up to safe for me, so I was pleased with her placement.

BEBE ZAHARA BENET: Miss Bebe continues to gracefully float her way to the top. I don't necessarily think she deserved Top 3 (I would have placed Trixie or ChiChi there myself) but I understand the reasoning behind it. She had a really tall hurdle to jump here: Diana Ross is Ru's all-time favorite Diva. You mess that up and you are GONE. Luckily, while she wasn't given much to do, Bebe knew every single Diana-ism and really transformed herself into the ethereal legend. Everything from the hair bounce to the gesturing to the way she would constantly brush her hair back in a majestic way was pure Miss Ross and you could tell Ru was there for it.

I think what ultimately put her in that Top Spot was the combination of her Diva performance and the fact that her runway look was pure, flawless Executive Realness. She nailed both of the episode's challenges.

BEN DE LA CREME: Ben has been exceeding even MY lofty expectations for her this season. Instead of pulling a Roxxxy/Tati from AS2 she's apparently decided that her time would be better spent as a permanent fixture in the Top 2- and I am HERE FOR IT. I was worried that she would begin to show signs of self-sabotage (which has been a rumor floating around since the cast was announced) but so far there isn't even a hint of it. I just hope that trend continues, because I have to say Miss Creme makes for FANTASTIC television. Her Julie Andrews was transcendently hysterical. I do agree that the material she was given was head-over-heels more inherently funny than most of the other girls- but without Ben's ability to really embody that odd combination of prim/proper and bawdy hip-hop the fantastic track would have fallen flat. I mean she NAILED IT. She was EVERYTHING.

And her runway? Gorgeous. She really was "dripping with jewels" (even if they were most likely made of plastic) and the effect was a shimmering masterpiece.

I even thought her lip-synch was brilliant. I loved her lazy mimicry of Shangela. We were all howling with unexpected glee at her out-of-breath-milf-take on 'Jump' and if it were up to me Ben would have won it. I will openly admit Shangela's lipsynch was ALSO fantastic- so I don't disagree with the outcome- but I personally place a higher emphasis on memorability, and Ben's silliness was simply more memorable than Shangela's supremely competent rendition. In the end, however, I see Shangela's win as a blessing in disguise for Ben (and probably the outcome Ben was hoping for). If Ben had walked away with two outright wins in a row she would have placed the biggest target on her back EVER. And it also would have meant eliminating ANOTHER queen- something she clearly wasn't a fan of doing.

CHICHI DEVAYNE: here is where my opinions start to diverge WILDLY from the judging. I thought ChiChi deserved a spot in the Top 3 for her stellar performance as Patti Labelle. It was high-energy, funny and even someone like me (who only has tertiary knowledge of Miss Labelle) could see that ChiChi had her mannerisms DOWN. She was right up there with Shangela and Ben for Funniest Performance and I'm baffled why she didn't at LEAST place safe. Her runway looks was a bit basic (GIRL: a skin-tight, simple spandex cocktail dress?!) but her makeup was GORGEOUS and I don't think it was bad enough to have her wind up in the bottom for the week. Regardless of this, however, I was thrilled with her performance and hope she really steps up her runway game next week so she can place high like we all know she deserves (and if the NEXT TIME segment is any indication she sure does).

KENNEDY DAVENPORT: girl should have gone home. Sorry not sorry. The rumors going into this season were that Miss Davenport was going to be this season's Roxxxy Andrews and I'm horrified to see the beginnings of that trend in this episode. People may argue that MILK is getting preferable treatment from the producers of the show- and while that seems to be true it is also different. Kennedy's safety this week came down to the thinly veiled threat she made to Shangela: "I don't think 100k is worth losing a friendship over." That read loud and clear to me: "Save me. Not because I deserve it but because I'm your friend. And we wouldn't want that changing now would we?" Am I totally biased in my interpretation due to my dislike of miss Davenport? Oh yes, totally. But my take is based on her personality and how she seems to handle things and hold grudges.

Miss Davenport really shit the bed this week and gave further proof of something I've been arguing since Season 7: the girl can't lipsynch and dance at the same time. Her stellar routine in episode 1 was dancing only- and she killed it. But every time in the past she has been forced to lipsynch while dancing she has turned into a muppet with zero timing. She tends to just throw out all the tricks in her book regardless of whether it works with the song and her mouth movements have zero alignment with the lyrics. Today's Diva's Live performance was no different. She constantly messed up the choreography, her Janet Jackson look was a hot mess that didn't look anything like Janet Jackson, and her lipsynch was Katya in Glamazonian Airways levels of terrible.

And her runway? Sure it was an improvement over her last attempt at this concept- but I still had a slew of problems with it. It had a great reveal- but it went from a tacky, ugly look to a fairly decent (and intensely sparkly) one. I mean, girl? Two episodes in a row with a bedazzled face? I get it, but come on. All those gems glued on there didn't hide the poor makeup job underneath (or may have caused the bad makeup job) and it REALLY made her look like the left side of her face was Picasso-ing it's way down a step or two below the right. If you have a wonky eye it's best to avoid techniques that emphasize it. Kennedy has the capacity to look downright lovely- but her penchant for sticking crap on her face actively works against her.

Between her and Thorgy the answer was explicitly clear: Kennedy had the weaker week. The decision to keep her is frustrating because of what it portends- hopefully the rumors will be wrong, but at this point I'm not holding my breath.

MILK: Oh dear. Miss MILK. Stop making me want to root against you! I really do love me some MILK. I love her general aesthetic, her desire to push the boundaries of drag and really blur the line between Club Kid, Drag and Fashion. I also think she is probably a really sweet queen. But so far in AS3? Girl is coming off as a snotty, entitled little brat and it is extremely off-putting. She also seems to be a little delusional. She was CONVINCED that she had nailed Celine Dion and that she was destined to be in the top this week. So convinced that instead of being relieved at her baffling safety she was brought to tears over it- in the most eye-rolling temper tantrum I've witness on RPDR since Shangela's famous "sugar-daddy" rant of Season 3. We were all Trixie's exhausted expression in that moment.

To put it simply: MILK was not Celine Dion. While I do think she did a decent job performing- and there IS the valid point that she was used the most as a backup dancer - her impersonation was a complete fail. NO ONE would EVER think of Celine Dion with black hair. NO ONE. I don't give a shit if she showed up on some red carpet once with jet-black hair: Celine Dion is iconically BLONDE. MILK just looked like MILK up there and in the context of this challenge that was a failure. We were all baffled why she had made the stylistic choices she did- it was so distracting we barely noticed whether she had done well or not.

And her Runway? It was pretty. It was well done. But it wasn't anything outrageous or captivating. If I'm going to clock Kennedy for her look I have to clock MILK here too: it was glamorous, but in a generic, almost bland way. I don't want MILK there to be bland. I want her to WOW me- because I know she can. She should have shown up with a massive gown that was both avant-garde and chic. A glamorous that only MILK could create. And she gave us boring.

MILK should have been in the Bottom this week. Do I think she deserved to go home? Absolutely not (even if it had been MILK there instead of Thorgy my opinion would remain the same: it was Kennedy's time to go). But her safety was incorrect, and not even my inherent love of MILK can save her from that opinion.

SHANGELA: I was wondering how long it would take for Season 3 Shangela to claw her way to the surface. The answer is: one and a half episodes. I have likened Shangela to Phi Phi O'Hara before- and for good reason. Both are extremely talented, sweet, wonderful queens who turn into conniving bitch MONSTERS in a competition setting (like I tend to do myself). I was hoping that Shangela's successes and improved drag would have given her the confidence not to fall into her old habits but lo and behold: here comes the manipulative mess to fuck shit up all over again.

That being said? Girl ROCKED this episode. Her obnoxious "method acting" aside she was absolutely hilarious as Mariah Carey (and who, like Ben, was aided by one of the more inherently funny tracks in the challenge). The look alone was a riot: the makeup was on-point and those spread-wide fake tits barely covered by the deep-v-neck was perfection. Even her obviously-borrowed-from-Laganja butterfly hat was flawlessly Miss Carey. When Shangela moves beyond her dumb catchphrases and shtick she shines- and I was thrilled to see it.

Her runway was also fantastic. I didn't necessarily think the giant plastic globe was necessary (though it was very "drag" in it's over-the-topness) but the outfit itself was lovely and well made. A VAST improvement over her original attempt at a Holiday Themed outfit (though it probably helped a lot that she didn't have to make it herself from found objects in less than a day).

As for her lipsynch? It was great. Very typically Shangela- but when it comes to lip-synching that's not a bad thing. Her time with Haus of Edwards has certainly benefitted her.

My only problems with Shangie came during the girls' backstage time and increasingly annoying confessionals. Like I said earlier it just reeked of S3 Shangela which had me on edge. I'm just hoping she doesn't continue being the one to save Kennedy from elimination and stops the competitive beast from fully taking over- but my hopes aren't high. At any rate: good on Shangela for a fantastic second episode! Much deserved win.

TRIXIE MATTEL: I think Trixie may be suffering from Too High Expectations. For many people, myself included, Miss Mattel was the one to beat coming into this competition. I was expecting a girl bolstered by her wild, deserved success off the show. But so far? She's been kind of . . . just there. Don't get me wrong: her confessionals are giving me LIFE and her performances have been great. But they also haven't been stellar- and that's where the curse of High Expectations may be coloring my perception of Trixie.

Her Dolly Parton was supremely competent. She looked AMAZING, did a great job with the choreography and her runway look was brilliantly hideous (though I really want to see her in something less dowdy next week. Every single one of her looks so far have covered her from head to toe and it's feeling a little . . . stifling).

I don't even think her safety this week was her fault: as with any of these group performance episodes a girl will live and die by the quality of the part they are given. Sure they can elevate a crappy role to something amazing- but every role's capacity for greatness has a cap- and some caps are far higher than others. A great example is Ben's part: she was given a leg up to begin with by having a high-energy, high-octane and intensely funny rendition of RuPaul's MOTHER. Sure she rocked it to hell and back- but even a mildly competent rendition of it would have been fun. Trixie's part, though? The song, the energy of that song, and the choreography given to her didn't exactly give her much to work with. She did the best with what she had- it just so happens that the "best" in this case was middle of the road.

What this means for Trixie is simple, though. While not really her fault she REALLY needs to come out swinging next episode. The pressure is on to prove why she is just as worthy as Ben or Shangela to take the crown. I'll love her either way- but I'm rooting for her to do it. Because I know she can.

THORGY THOR: Well that didn't take long. I was hoping she wouldn't self-destruct for at least a LITTLE while- but I guess the producers really wanted to hurry things along. That's the only explanation I can think of for why they did her so dirty this week. Sure it didn't help that Thorgy seemed determined to find sabotage under every wig and makeup kit- but even stopped clocks are right twice a day and in this case I definitely think she was on to something.

Stevie Nicks could have easily been played up and done hilariously- and Thorgy Thor's admiration for the Diva is likely what held her back from truly embracing the lampoon that needed to occur (a curse many queens have fallen prey to). Aja was on the right track: who cares if Stevie isn't ACTUALLY a witch (although I'm pretty sure she is)? When you get up there you dress as Stevie, but wear a pointed hat and carry a magic wand or something and go full-on hippy clown witch. But even beyond Thorgy's inability to see beyond the subdued nature of her subject- she really was given jack shit to work with. The routine was basic and the track was boring. Considering all that she at least nailed the choreography, lipsynch and look (the makeup could have been less Thorgy, as the judges said, but everything else was perfect)- which is FAR more than I can say about Kennedy.

And I actually loved her Neon Runway Look! I thought it was Tron Meets Steven Universe Meets Nefertiti and it was giving me acid-green EVERYTHING. In that sense alone I disagreed heavily with the judges. It was at least a fun concept- which is more than I can say about ChiChi's take on Neon or MILK's boring glam look. 

No, Thorgy didn't deserve to be in the bottom 3 this week, let alone Bottom 2. And it feels VERY contrived that she wound up there at all- let alone get sent home over Kennedy.

My opinion on the show's treatment of Thorgy in this episode can be summed up in her own final words: "Ugh, GROSS."

Anyways that's it for this week! I actually really enjoyed this episode regardless of the baffling judging. The right girl won, the wrong girl was eliminated, and fun was had by all.

My current Top 3: Ben Dela, Trixie, Bebe (Shangela should probably be there and likely will be, but I still think my first Top 3 will be who I hope for).

RPDR Rant: All Stars 3, Episode 1

Aedan Roberts

Hey all! Well isn't this embarrassing. Here I was, moving along at a decent clip with my episode rants and then suddenly: SILENCE. My explainer: after episode 7 of AS2 Jon and I took a trip to Japan. By the time I got back I was behind by two episodes and still had a full-time job. This meant that I was never really able to catch back up and quickly lost the rhythm of doing these things. Fast-forward to Season 9 and I simply wanted to take in the season and not burden myself with these lengthy write-ups.

HOWEVER: I always enjoyed getting my thoughts on RPDR down to share with anyone willing to listen because GODDAMN I love this show. So now that I have a bit of free time I want to try again. So without further ado...


So All Stars 3, episode 1.

Lets get right into it by writing a quick synopsis: the girls arrive, they are surprised by the 10th queen, they have a half-successful Reading Mini Challenge, they do a "Variety Show" and the Top 2 Queens perform to decide who sends one of the Bottom 2 home. So . . . AS2 redux. If it ain't broke don't fix it- and it definitely ain't broke.

NOW ON TO THE BREAKDOWN. In order of who arrives:

TRIXIE MATTEL: here is a girl who flopped on her original season but whose success post-show has been stratospheric. I've been a big fan of Trixie and Katya's youtube-turned-Viceland hit Uhhnn since it debuted and have had the pleasure of watching Trixie go from Season 7 Roadkill to the fabulous, self-confident marketing powerhouse she is today. I would argue that Trixie, at this current time, is one of the most success Drag Race Girls of all time- and it's well deserved. She's smart, she's funny, she's got a unique style, and she knows how to use those three elements to their max potential.

Her performance in the first Episode continues that success. Her walk-in (or roll-in) Roller-Blade Look was pure Trixie and flawlessly executed. Her talking heads were some of the best in the episode, her reads were fun (if not the best), and her lovely country music performance was delightful (did I forget to mention she also came out with one of the most genuinely good Country albums of 2017? No? Well, if you even mildly enjoy country you should take a listen). While she didn't get a top spot in the Maxi-Challenge she still came out of this first episode one of the front-runners in the competition. My pre-show prediction had Trixie as Top 3 (and a VERY high likelihood of taking the crown) and that hasn't changed.

MILK: another queen I was thrilled to see return. I have always enjoyed MILK. However I never realized how polarizing she was until after this episode aired and I perused the RPDR Reddit. Girls were GOING IN on her - often in ways I highly disagreed with. Regardless, here is my personal assessment of MILK's performance:

  • Her walk-in look was amazing.
  • Her reads were some of the funniest.
  • Her talking-heads were sometimes a bit too bitchy but I still enjoyed most of them. 
  • Her Maxi Challenge performance was cute.

Her Maxi Challenge was where people on Reddit had the biggest problem with her. Many thought she deserved to be Bottom 2 for it instead of Morgan. I highly disagree with that assessment. MILK's performance was quirky, weird, and a little repetitive - but it was well executed, often funny, had the judges laughing and her hair/mug were flawless. She was giving me 1950's Lydia from Beetlejuice and I was there for it. So to each their own.

The biggest thing I can say about MILK is this: she has really upped her drag skill game and I'm excited to see more of her.

CHI CHI DEVAYNE: I love Chichi. LOVE HER. She's delightful and genuine. Sadly, however, she doesn't seem to be entirely in the competition (ALA Adore in AS2). Her entrance look was cute (I never would have guessed it was trash bags). Her reads were . . . . okay. But her Maxi Challenge? Oh dear. Chichi really fell flat(s) here and it's kind of baffling because I actually think she's a fucking BRILLIANT performer. I hope she is able to pull herself out of it, but if her appearances on the AS3 Press Tour are anything to base things on I'm worried Chichi's time on the show will be too short. (every single press-event and hype-video featuring the girls seems to have Chichi not saying a single word and looking miserable. The one video I saw where she talked it was because Thorgy directed people to her and she explained that she was having a hard time with terrible people on Social Media. The poor, wonderful girl seems Over It and that has me very worried.)

THORGY THOR: a quick note to the otherwise delightful(ly A.D.D.) Miss Thor: STOP TALKING ABOUT BOB. Bob won. She deserved it. Get over it. YOU are here. Bob is not. Concentrate on YOU.

That being said she had a strong first episode here. Her entrance look was fun and Clown Chic. Her reads were TERRIBLE (seriously, stop talking about Bob) but her Maxi performance was fantastic (if sometimes a little off-key). As long as she doesn't self-sabotage she will go . . . . oh who am I kidding. Girl will totally self-destruct. But I still love her and look forward to her getting as far as she will go. Do I see her as Top 3 material? Not in this season, sadly. But as long as she embraces her amazingness she will continue to have a fan in me.


MORGAN MCMICHAELS: I was actually looking forward to Morgan's return. Yes, she's cunty- but she's also super sweet to her Drag Sisters and willing to do anything for them. She's also really stepped up her Female Illusion since her time on Season 2. Sadly, however, she didn't seem to study Tatianna's strategy in AS2 and decided to forge her own far-less successful path. Tati walked in bubbling with gratitude and happiness to even be there. It was infectious and was quickly backed up with a VASTLY improved . . . everything. Morgan, on the other hand, seemed to have an insecure chip on her shoulder that caused her to quickly rush for the only role she thought needed filling: the villain. In the end it was her (admittedly refreshing) honesty about her elimination strategy that sent her home. Her entrance look was a bit busy but I liked it. Her reads were middle-of-the-road but not bad. Her Maxi Performance was . . . bad. REALLY bad. But she looked FUCKING FABULOUS as she self-destructed on stage.

I'm actually sad that Morgan won't have more time to shine (save the mid-season twist). Like Tatianna in AS2 Morgan needed the airtime more than possibly any other girl (bar one). But thems the brakes and I ultimately agreed with the decision to send her packing.

AJA: I was initially kind of perplexed with Aja's inclusion here. She is fresh off the heels of her time on Season 9 and out of all the potential girls from that season to return she was NOT high on my list. Like most other people I would have expected Trinity Taylor, Shea Coulee or Valentina to return over Aja.

However she has proven in this episode why she absolutely deserves to be here. The current reigning Queen of Memes has managed to step up her game in ways that imply there were YEARS between the filming of Season 9 and AS3 instead of mere months. Her looks are head-over-heels better, her mug is VASTLY improved, and her performance in the Maxi Challenge was jaw-droppingly amazing. She out-danced the two queens whose biggest talent is dancing, for fucks sake! Even her reads were some of the better ones (especially that More gone one).

I look forward to Aja continuing to surprise me. Hopefully she will!

BEN DE LA CREME: I love Ben. I am one of those die-hard fans who, to this day, firmly believe she was robbed of her deserved spot in the Top 3 of Season 6 (though, lets be honest, she still would have lost to Bianca because: obviously). Her return to RPDR only furthers my case. The girl is brilliant, clear-headed, fair and FUCKING TALENTED AS FUCK. And BOY is she hysterical. Outside of Raja in Season 3 I'm pretty sure Ben is the only girl to win every single possible challenge in the first episode. She NAILED the Reading Mini Challenge (her reads were miles ahead of the other girls- even Trixie). Her incredible, original Maxi Performance had me crying from laughter and pressing the rewind button over and over. Even her Lipsynch was brilliant (proving to all those who haven't looked her up on Youtube just how good she actually is at lipsynching). She was the full package this episode. I even thought her re-purposed Miss Congeniality entrance look was clever and cute.

Ben was in my personal Top 3 with Trixie before the show started. She is definitely still there now and I am firmly in the Ben Camp.

KENNEDY DAVENPORT: I have to be honest here: I don't like Kennedy Davenport. I think her style is horrendous, her personality is grating, her attitude is dour and bitter, and she seems really full of herself. She also comes off genuinely unintelligent. And to be honest she didn't change my opinion all that much this first episode.

She walked in having apparently just been glitter-bombed by a bag of sticky disco-ball pieces, and while I admire her desire to come in guns blazing it just . . . didn't work for me. There were good elements there but it was all just . . . . waaaaaay too much. Like I said elsewhere: this outfit made Alyssa Edwards look like a spokesperson for Chanel. I didn't know where to look and it was all kind of sloppily done (except the dress itself, which was very well tailored and fit her like a glove). And for a girl whose lazy eye has often been clocked by her fellow queens she didn't do herself any favors topping the outfit off with some yellow cat-eye contacts that weren't aligned properly in her eyes.

Her looks didn't improve at all for her performance either. It was just REALLY tacky and boring- a neon pink cheetah pattern version of her Hello Kitty monstrosity. Simply put: her taste level hasn't improved at all and, judging from the workroom interactions, neither has her personality.

I will give her this, though: Miss Davenport shut me ALLLLLLLL the way up when it comes to my criticism of her performance capabilities. She ROCKED the Maxi Challenge, coming in second only to Aja (whose looks were vastly superior and put her over the top). Her moves were flawless, fun and her finale cartwheeling ONTO the platform Aja jumped off of was a perfect bookend to the dancing performances.

Am I happy she's there? Not really. Does she deserve to be there? After that performance I admit she definitely does. Do I want her to make it far? Not really, no. If anyone reading this knows her personally: do I want them to know I bear her no ill will and realize she's probably incredibly sweet off camera? Absolutely. And thus ends the question answer portion.

SHANGELA: another girl I was NOT looking forward to seeing again. While I've really loved her cameos on television and think she's a talented queen- her time on Season 3 was absolutely goddamned horrible. She was just . . . . horrible. She was obnoxious, loud, tried to make everything about her and was constantly playing the victim while attacking anyone and everyone. It was NOT CUTE. She was Phi Phi O'Hara before Phi Phi was Phi Phi O'Hara.

Unlike Miss Davenport, though? She really seems to have changed (so far). She was actually fun and, outside the need for her to burn "halleloo" to the ground along with the box meme, I really enjoyed her this episode. She also stepped her pussy up something FIERCE. It's amazing what six or seven years of experience will do to a girl's look and mug. I'm actually, shockingly, looking forward to seeing more of her. As long as she doesn't fall into her old Season 3 habits I could see her going all the way to the Top 3.

In summation: her entrance look was cute (sans box), her reads were okay, and her performance was well-done (it didn't help that I already saw this particular one when she performed a version of it with her fellow Haus of Edwards sisters in a pre-finale warm-up for one of the earlier seasons).

BEBE ZAHARA BENET: I was SOOOOOOOO relieved when the final queen was revealed to be the ever-majestic Bebe (the rumor I was told is that it was Darienne Lake and I was NOT there for that- sorry to any Lake fans). Bebe, Season 1 winner, really deserves this. Her brilliance had been all but forgotten to the VAST majority of the current Drag Race viewing audience and that definitely needed to be corrected. On top of that Season 1 - the Forgotten Season - was more of a long pilot episode filmed in Ru's parent's basement. The budget was non-existent, the cameras were cheap and smeared with vaseline, and the prize was a measly 20k. Alaska won more money from challenges alone in AS2. Ben won nearly as much in this very first episode! So if anyone questions why a previous winner could be allowed to return? That's fucking why.

And Bebe did an AMAZING job here. Her entrance look was FLAWLESS, her reads were great, her demeanor and poise was second to none in the workroom, and her Maxi Performance was absolutely wonderful. She showed in this single episode why she won Season 1 - and also why the girls should be worried.

I am so excited for the rest of this season!

My current Top 3: Ben, Trixie, Bebe (with a close 4th Shangela).

See you next week! (hopefully I can keep this going the whole time!)


RPDR Rant: All Stars 2, Episode 6

Aedan Roberts

So this season has been quite the roller-coaster. Highs, lows - all over the fucking place. This episode is no exception- it comes off as the Yang to Episode 4's Yin in nearly every way. Last week the challenge was not all that great but the drama, twists, LSFYL, and results made it orgasmic. This week the challenge and runways really stood out, but it all culminated in probably my least favorite episode of the season due to a lot of (IMO) terrible decisions- made by both Ru and Rolaskatox (the Queen formerly known as Alaska). I'm honestly so incensed by the results of this episode I'm having a hard time figuring out what to say. But don't worry- that's never stopped me from rambling on and on about something!

So yeah, the Maxi Challenge: the girls are tasked with coming up with their own products and creating infomercials for them. The products have to be clever/funny and the videos even moreso. As for the Runway? PANTS. PANTS ON THE RUNWAY. And BOY did nearly everyone deliver!

So yes, instead of griping about stuff here I'll get straight to the Rundown. In no particular order:

Rolaskatox (Alaska): I'll likely go back to referring to Rolaskatox by her real Drag Name next week, but for now I'm a little too annoyed to not be petty. Look, did she deserve to be Top 2? Sure. Her video was AMAZING, quintessential Rolaskatox: it was funny, irreverent, intelligent and the timings were impeccable. Her Runway was my least favorite of the night- but that was more due to the awful-ness of her fried poodle wig than anything else. Rolaskatox has been doing quite well the entire time (though I argue her track record has been kept artificially high due to her - at this point- painfully obvious Winner's Edit) and tonight was no exception.

But this is where it starts to break down for me. First of all I don't think she deserved to win that lipsynch. The editors may have been doing their wizardly best to make it SEEM like Alaska was out-performing Katya (by devoting nearly 2/3rds of that lipsynch to close-up shots of Alaska alone), but the parts we actually got to see of Katya would paint a different picture. Katya embodied the song FAR better, her moves were both funny and appropriately sensual, her outfit matched the song better, and she didn't rely on the nearly identical routine that has so far been Rolaskatox's MO:

Someone in the subreddit put the above image together and it frustrated me to look at it. While I love these moments does Rolaskatox really need to do the same thing EVERY GODDAMNED TIME? And be rewarded for it? I get it: every queen has their thing. Alyssa is going to do a split and a high kick if she's lipsynching. Katya is going to feel up her boobs in a sensuous way. But at least they attempt to mold it to the song instead of doing the nearly exact same thing every time. Regardless it was clear by the halfway mark, due to WoW's severe lack of subtle editing, that Alaska had taken the lipsynch (deserved or not). Which then opened up the competition for Mistake Number 2: Rolaskatox Edition. TATIANNA? Are you SERIOUS? That was the most lead-footed, ill-thought-out decision she has made so far.

Up until this point Rolaskatox has been deftly avoiding the drama. She's stayed out of the conflicts as best she can, concentrated on herself, and tried to be as diplomatic as possible. Couple this strategy with a Winner's Edit and she's been nearly flawless in her decision-making. Tonight ruins that track record in a somewhat spectacular way. There is literally no way you can see Rolaskatox's decision that isn't centered entirely around friend-loyalty. Some have argued that it was strategic- that somehow Tatianna posed a threat to her and Roxxxy (with her FOUR WEEKS IN THE BOTTOM) has pretty much disqualified herself from winning at this point. That only holds water if Tatianna was any more likely to win than Roxxxy at this point- but sadly she wasn't. Tatianna missed two episodes and has been in the bottom twice. Sure she won two challenges, but that's two bottom and two top. Compare that to Rolaskatox's FOUR WINS and ZERO BOTTOMS and it is painfully obvious that Tatianna was as unlikely to pose a threat to Rolaskatox than Roxxxy was. Some other people thought that she went based on this week's critiques- but that also doesn't hold water: Tatianna's video, while not perfect, was slightly better (and better received) than Roxxxy's (and even Detox's- more on that later) and her runway was possibly the best one of the night. I mean come on- that T-Boz Realness was BREATHTAKING. So even if we go on what the judges had to say Roxxxy was the obvious choice. What it came down to, when everything has been considered, is Rolaskatox went with friendship over sportsmanship. And it is NOT a good look on her.

With her flawless and seemingly unstoppable record Rolaskatox seems guaranteed the crown at this point. However my perception of this inevitability has changed from "she may not be who I personally want to win but GOOD FOR HER!" to "I am officially rooting against her." That may change again by the end- because so far this season has been an amazing example of how quickly public opinion can shift- but as of right now Rolaskatox has lost me.

Alyssa Edwards: After two solidly Phi2/Alyssa Drama Mama Extravaganzas it was actually nice to see Alyssa ease back into her place and get to work tackling the challenge. And she did so in the wonderful way that only Alyssa Edwards could. Her video was silly, funny, energetic and quintessential Alyssa- absurd and working to her strength as a Meme Machine. I look forward to the inevitable Ten Thousand Frantically Running Around Alyssa's GIFs. As for her Runway? It was fun. Not my favorite, but polished and lovely nevertheless. In the end I was happy with her performance and safety, even if I honestly believe she would have made a MUCH better decision if she had been Top 2 over Rolaskatox.

Detox: Detox did alright as well. Her video was funny and her runway was really excellent. One of the Top 3 looks, in my opinion. But ultimately I do not feel her placement was correct in this episode. Her critiques, as they were shown to us, were worse than Tati's and her look (while lovely) wasn't nearly as AMAZING as Tati's. Simply put: this should have been a Detox and Roxxxy Bottom 2. It actually makes so much more sense- both in terms of performance and story- that it boggles my mind why it didn't happen. TWO members of The Triad in the bottom? Can you imagine how much more juicy it would have been to force Rolaskatox to send home one of her best friends? It's called a Sophie's Choice and it is some of the BEST drama you can find. And yet they kept Detox safe. Am I happy Detox is still here? Absolutely. She's done great and has really grown on me. But even if she HAD ended up Bottom 2 there was NO WAY either Katya or Rolaskatox would have chosen her- it just would have been a rougher decision for Rolaskatox.

Katya: Katya ROCKED this episode. Rocked it HARD. So hard that it furthers my argument that this season isn't just "All Stars 2: Alaska's Inevitable Winner's Edit," it's also "All Stars 2: Doing Katya Dirty." All season Katya has been given the shaft about as often as Rolaskatox has been given every conceivable advantage. I mean look: her video was THE BEST. Hands down. It was the funniest, most well-written and acted essence of insanity. And her runway? Breathtaking. It was the only other one I thought held top marks with Tati's. It was odd, but beautifully tailored and she SOLD the FUCK out of it.

As for the lipsynch? Like I wrote in Rolaskatox's section: I honestly feel like Katya really won it. The dress/hair she changed into fit the song FAR better, and instead of relying on pulling a random American Flag out of her wig Katya went full-on rocker chick. She dropped into a split, crawled around like a sex panther, played air guitar on her vagina . . . . it was brilliant. And yet when the lights came back on and Ru made her choice? Katya: shafted yet again.

I will say this, however: Katya truly has grown so much since her first time on the show. Before, in Season 7, all this sabotage would have turned her into a nervous mess. When that little sad man ripped her idea to shreds in the work room Old Katya would have panicked and let her anxiety get the best of her, scrambling to create a new idea that ultimately ruined her. Instead we got New Katya: willing to trust in her own comedic sensibilities and intelligence and moving ahead with what turned out to be the funniest idea of the night. Thank GOD for New Katya. Along with Alyssa she is another of the True Winners of All Stars 2.

Roxxxy Andrews: Roxxxy gave the worst video of the night, and while her runway was polished/lovely it also wasn't all that interesting. In the end she should have gone home. No ifs, butts or glitter plugs. This was her FOURTH time (deservedly) in the bottom. That alone should have guaranteed her departure. The fact that she really WAS the worst? Doubly so. Don't get me wrong: Roxxxy herself has accomplished what she set out to do. I actually like her now. She's shown a far sweeter side this season and hasn't let the competition get to her in the same painful way she did in Season 5: in other words she's already redeemed herself. But it was her time to go. She even said as much during deliberation. There was a resigned sense of acceptance to her, with only the smallest hope glimmering in her eye as she talked to Rolaskatox. Compare that to the fire burning in Tati's eyes? Yeah. Ugh. Just ugh. Roxxxy is still there, Tati's gone and I'm mad a Rolaskatox. What a shitty way to end an otherwise great episode.

Tatianna: Tati did everything right in this episode and was the sad victim, yet again, of Rolaskatox's touch of death. Her video, while not the funniest, was still better (to me) than Roxxxy or Detox and her look blew theirs out of the water. And yet there she was, stuck in the Bottom 2 in the EXACT SAME SCENARIO from episode 2. However this time should have been different. This time she should have been saved. And yet? Nope. So now we once again bid adieu to Tatianna- one of the most beautiful queens to ever grace the stage of RPDR. Axed before her time because friendships outweigh talent and performance. I wish we could have seen more from this talented as fuck queen, but at least she gave us T-Boz Realness and one of the best LSFYL's ever in the herstory of RPDR.

Alrighty! See you all next week!

RPDR Rant: All Stars 2, Episode 5

Aedan Roberts

Okay my lovely readers! This episode is likely my favorite of all RPDR's (technically) 10 seasons- and that's with what could be best described as a "meh" maxi-challenge!

Ru was really on to something in season 7. Instead of bringing a previously eliminated queen back only to watch her flail horribly and get sent home the very next episode *cough - Carmen, Kenya- cough* Ru decided to flip the script a bit. Allowing the previously eliminated girls to team up with the remaining queens in order to give them the chance to EARN their returning spots was refreshing and made for phenomenal TV. It was honestly the best episode (IMO) of an otherwise messy, least-liked season. Taking that fantastic model and applying it to All Stars was a stroke of genius- especially when she added in the extra element of the returning girl sending home one of the bottom 2 queens. It was such a juicy idea and it came together FLAWLESSLY.

Anyways, lets get on to the least important part: The Maxi Challenge. This week the eliminated girls were asked to team up with a remaining queen to do a stand-up comedy show as pairs. It's an odd format that didn't really reap the BEST results (though I still enjoyed myself thoroughly and thought most of the girls did quite well). In the end, though, it was the exact level of serviceable challenge that gave the episode the ability to really explore the juicy twist of Ruvenge.

NOW! On to the breakdown. In no particular order:

Alaska: Alaska and Alyssa served up the second-best routine of the night, and they did it because Alaska knew EXACTLY how to use Alyssa's wonderful weirdness. The back-and-forth between the girls was effortless and their own personal brands of humor gelled wonderfully. On top of that I honestly don't think Alaska has ever looked lovelier. The red gown was typical Alaska, but it fit like a glove and her hair/makeup was glamorous and stunning. In the end I am happy she got a chance to make up for eliminating Alyssa the week before.

Alyssa: For all intents and purposes this was Alyssa's episode (again). The Drama centered around her and PhiPhi O'Hara (which ultimately made Alyssa look like an intelligent, sweet saint and Phi2 like a bitter monster), her performance once again showed how much she has come to understand her own brand of hilarity, and her lipsynch with Tati will go down in Herstory as one of the greatest the show has ever produced. I have already re-watched it about 30 times so far and I keep getting a rush of exhilaration every time I see those two girls go head to head.

I was distraught after last week's episode. Alyssa had quickly gone from a queen I loved but never really thought about outside her fantastic lipsynchs to one of my all-time favorite RPDR girls. So it was with a heavy heart that I had to say goodbye, annoyed that she was axed while Roxxxy once again escaped elimination due to her and Alaska's friendship. However- without that elimination we would never have been given the "Mirror Face Crack Heard Round The World", followed up with the "Confrontation Heard Round The World" (where Alyssa came out smelling like roses), and finally got "The Schadenfreude Elimination Heard Round The World" that was made even more delightful because it was a double-whammy elimination. Every note hit perfectly this episode and it had a lot to do with Miss Edwards. AND NOW SHE'S BACK! I said in last week's Rant that I initially hoped Tati would get a chance to return but Alyssa's elimination made me switch my allegiances. Even in my wildest dreams I couldn't have hoped for BOTH to come back- but Mama Ru has given us that amazing gift. Hopefully it won't be squandered.

Detox: Detox did really well. It's getting a bit frustrating to not have much to say about her beyond "girl done did good" each week, but Miss Icunt hasn't really been a big part of the Drama (tm) and her overall great performances haven't really left me with a lot to talk about. I can say this, though: she's been a fantastic partner to whoever she is coupled with. Detox works really well with others. She has that special something that allows her partner to shine without fading into the background- enhancing herself and her teammate in equal measure. The result this week was, to me, the best performance of the week. She and Tati really were hilarious (and I had absolutely no trouble understanding her, judges) their outfits were flawlessly matched (almost suspiciously so) and the basis of their skit was the most well thought-out. Another great week for Detox!

Tatianna: WELCOME BACK GIRL! I'm just so thrilled Tati is back. Out of all the queens I can easily give Tati the "Most Improved Award" (alongside, perhaps, Alyssa) and it is really exciting to be able to once again see that flawless, unclockable mug for at least a couple more episodes this season. Tati was a polarizing figure during her first run. She was lovely (and surprisingly funny at times) but definitely felt middle-of-the-road by the end of her time on the show. Now, however? Her makeup skills give Raven a run for her money, her confidence has exploded, and like Alyssa she's learned to harness the fun, marketable aspects of her personality and really take advantage of them. And her lipsynch skills? Well fuck. I NEVER would have guessed that she could hold her own against the Lipsynch Queen herself (Alyssa)- but that is EXACTLY what she did. She matched Miss Edwards move-for-move in almost synchronized beauty and elegance. It was, quite simply, a jaw-dropping performance and has me incredibly excited to have her back. CONGRATS TATI!

Katya: I honestly feel like Katya's performance was under-rated here. While I must begrudgingly admit that Alaska and Detox's teams fared slightly better Miss Minj and Miss UnpronouncableRussianLastName they both put out a charming, funny routine. And Katya's 80's Prom Meets 80's Power Executive Realness Look was everything. I would be more sad about her being only safe in this episode, but if she had done any better we wouldn't have been given the glorious gift of Alyssa and Tati both returning, so I must begrudgingly accept her middle-of-the-road status just this week.

Ginger Minj: Poor Ginger. Seriously, I'm not joking here. So far she has been eliminated during a week where she gave a PHENOMENAL performance (her Catherine The Great was HYSTERICAL) and she lost out on returning even though she put in a very good effort. The girl is a star and I really do feel for her being given the (relative) shaft in All Stars 2. HOWEVER: I really do think Katya deserved to stay over her in the Bad Bitches of Herstory challenge and Alaska and Detox's teams did ever-so-slightly better than Minj's. In a room full of rock-stars, with each contestant bursting with talent, you really need the personality to take you that eensie step further- and that is where Miss Minj seems to fall ever-so-slightly shorter than her fellow contestants. Regardless she has proven herself more than worthy of being part of this fantastic season and has done a damn good job of rudeeming herself from the Bitch she radiated in Season 7.

Coco Montrese: I would say that Coco was brought down the very second she was paired with the often painfully-unfunny PhiPhi O'Hara, but who are we kidding? Coco is talented- but she never (IMO) felt quite up to par with the rest of the cast. And her status in the bottom cannot be entirely pinned on poor Miss O'Hara's villainous shoulders. Overall I'll end with this: when you're best line of the night is yet another rehashing of the Dorito joke you've done to death (in the span of two episodes, no less) it is just as much your fault the routine fell flat.

PhiPhi O'Hara: Miss O'Hara came into this competition desperate for Rudemption and unfortunately came out re-affirming her position as one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) RPDR villains of all time. She was heinous these past couple episodes, and this is coming from someone who was really rooting for her to show us a softer side to PhiPhi. I'm not really going to go all that far into it (because the rest of the internet has done more than enough of that) but suffice it to say that Miss O'Hara is simply not cut out for Reality TV competitions . . . . or is she?

Allow me to explain: this season will go down in herstory as one of the best ever (even with Alaska's obvious Winner's Edit) and a LOT of that will be thanks to the drama and villainy Miss PhiPhi brought to the competition. Simply put: while she may not ever intend to be, PhiPhi makes for BRILLIANT television- just not in the way she desires or intends. I cannot stress enough how great a good villain can be- as long as it's natural and not OVERTLY fabricated by producers (I'm sure there was plenty of producer manipulation here, but it was all taken from stuff PhiPhi actually said). Does a season of RPDR need a villain to succeed? Not at all- Season 8 didn't really have an overt villain (Thorgy was too happy regardless of her somewhat bitter final moments and Derrick was too stupid to be a villain) and it is still one of my favorite seasons of all time. However when it's done right? It really spices shit up- something no one does better than Miss O'Hara. And I respect her for that. I kind of even love her for it. Am I glad she's off the show? Yes. She really did need to leave when she did- for her sanity and ours. But while she was on she really did a great job of creating the ingredients that make for some of the best moments RPDR can produce. I just hope she is able to move on from this and continue to be a fierce, talented queen. And if she doesn't want to embrace the Villain role she so perfectly and accidentally falls into then she should simply stick to Instagram and live performances where she thrives.