Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 5, Episode 3: Drag is for the children!

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 8:35 AM

Sorry this blog is going up a day late. I was crazy sick, y'all.

This week's episode of "Drag Race" delivered several things fans have been waiting for: Alaska finally stepped up her game, the Alyssa/Coco rivalry came to a head, and RuPaul finally confirmed that Michelle Visage is an extremely believable ventriloquist doll (with a gigantic rack, of course). It was another solid episode, but by the end I realized that there's still a sea of queens left - more than half of them truly boring - and I can see the proceedings getting tedious as they're picked off one by one.

The theme of the week was kids, or more to the point, kids' entertainment. The mini-challenge saw the queens paired up and given kid-sized mannequin dolls that had to be turned into young drag-pageant entrants. Some of them were funny (Detox and Roxxxy gave us the droning, fashion-obsessed daughter of Rachel Zoe) while others were disappointingly one-note (Alyssa's is - get this - a pageant girl who wants world peace for all; her name was Savannah Lee. Savannah Lee!).

The clear winner was Alaska/Lineysha's Li'l Poundcake, slathered in Divine make-up, middle finger sticking up, with the catchphrase, "You're not my real dad and you never will be." Alaska really came to life in this mini-challenge, including her delivery of the line, "Li'l Poundcake enjoys riding dirty, and being a straight-up motherfucking [censored] pig." Ru was howling, and so was I.

As winners, Alaska and Lineysha were made team captains for the main challenge: each team had to make a children's entertainment program that appealed to the young and young at heart. Meaning, make it colorful and weird, but loaded with double entendre and hipster innuendo. Like a gay "Yo Gabba Gabba." Actually, that's redundant.

The teams were: Alaska, Detox, Roxxxy, Vivienne, Monica, Alyssa (Alyssa was picked last, possibly because the other queens fear that she will suck all of the oxygen out of the room with that gaping fish mouth of hers); and Lineysha, Honey, Coco, Jinkx, Ivy, and Jade.

The two teams picked different themes. Alaska's crew went with a "Barnyard Buddies" motif while Lineysha's group, which ended up being led by Jinkx, presumably due to Lineysha's fairly substantial language barrier, went for a more generic glamorous fairy thing. I guess. It wasn't terribly well defined. Each "show" had similar segments, including a secret word of the day, a lesson for kids, and a how-to bit.

Alaska's team came out on set and immediately got clocked by directors RuPaul and Michelle Visage for Alaska being dressed as a boy. Given that this is a drag competition, you can understand their point. But overall the team fared well. Despite the gender non-transformation Alaska was actually really good as a cornpone version of Pee-Wee Herman, Detox killed it in a chicken role (which was, admittedly, awfully reminiscent of Raven's chicken from S2), Roxxxy Andrews was great as a salad-tossing vegetable woman (it made sense on the show, I swear), and even Alyssa was pretty funny as weird cross-dressing uncle Dick. But several of the weaker queens dragged the team down, including Monica Beverly Hillz, who could not remember her lines despite the fact that they were in a book RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER FACE (!), and poor, pretty Vivienne Pinay, who is as dull as...I can't even come up with a metaphor for how boring this child is. She's not worth the effort. I mean that.

The other team, however, fared even worse. Jinkx was one of the sole bright spots, and even her performance bordered on manic. (But given the task, it kind of worked.) Ivy Winters and Lineysha worked together on a banana-split demo that should have been comedy gold, but Ivy's personality deficiency came up again and Lineysha just translated - badly - what Ivy was saying into Spanish. At least they looked great. Jade Jolie went straight for the gutter for her segment and looked frankly terrifying. But worst by a wide mile were Honey Mahogany and Coco Montrese as a little girl and her ventriloquist dummy, respectively. Coco immediately bristled at being the sidekick, but given her performance I'm amazed they gave her that much to do. Terrible. Awkward, appalling timing, she didn't know her lines, and the whole thing read sad and depressing. Every part of it was bad, and Honey did nothing to help matters. Mind-bogglingly awful. Even Ru and Michelle couldn't be bothered to help that mess.

In the workroom before the big runway - this time devoted to pink, and producing few noteworthy looks - Coco and Alyssa finally hashed out their big secret drama. And let me say for everyone: get over it, queens. It is really the stupidest stunt casting in the show's history, because there is a whole lot of nothing there, and it's actually making me dislike Coco (who, up until tonight's episode, I rather enjoyed). The "scandal" is that the two of them competed in a national drag pageant a few years ago, with Alyssa taking first and Coco second. Eventually, due to "obligations not being fulfilled," Alyssa was stripped of her title, and Coco took her place. This has ruined their friendship. During their discussion Coco repeatedly tried to play the victim card, saying that it's unfair to her because the situation was so stressful she nearly lost her relationship, and that people were mean to her because she didn't truly "win" the title. I am no fan of Alyssa Edwards, but it was hard to disagree with her reaction to all of this: you have got to kidding, lady. Like Alyssa, I suspect Coco uses this situation, and others, to generate drama/sympathy for herself, and it's not amusing in the least. Mostly because Coco doesn't need this petty bullshit. Coco is clearly very talented, and should rely on that instead of cheap theatrics.

None of this helped Coco in judging, when she was roundly drummed for her failings by the panel, which included guest judges Coco (of Ice-T and gigantic ass fame) and Paulina Porizkova (of supermodel, Cars, and "Top Model" fame; I've always liked her and respected her as a judge). Coco went right to the drama well and blamed her poor performance on her issues with Alyssa. Eyerolls all around. I cannot believe she thought that shit would fly with this crowd of jaded biz types. Also raked across the coals were Monica Beverly Hillz for retracting right back into her shell after coming out of it in the lipsynch last week; Alaska for not even bothering to dress like a woman for the challenge; and Vivienne for being so goddamned boring. Interestingly, Ru warned Lineysha that she would have been in the bottom had she not had immunity from winning the previous week. I thought Lineysha was useless in the challenge, but I found Honey's sins much more grievous. Did you see that runway stomp? Bitch looked like a Terminator goose-stepping in an azalea-colored muumuu!

In the top were Roxxxy, Detox, and Jinkx. Detox won, which you can't fault, but personally I would have given the nod to Jinkx. Interestingly both queens referenced previous queens in parts of the episode, with Raven's S2 chicken costume and Raja's Marie Antoinette look. I'm not saying it was intentional, but I am saying that these later-season queens need to know that it's incumbent upon them to keep things fresh, because we bitchy viewers remember this stuff and will read them for copying off another queen's homework.

The lipsynch ended up between Monica and Coco after Vivienne narrowly escaped with a stern warning from Ru. She'll go in the next two weeks anyway. The two of them performed to "When I Grow Up" by the Pussycat Dolls, and while Coco turned it out in a stage-dominating performance, Monica again looked sad and low-energy on the stage. My heart goes out to her. Monica seems like a lovely person, but she needs to take a key part of Ru's advice to heart: "If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?" Can I get an Amen up in here, Monica? I hope so, because I really do like her. She was of course eliminated, and I feel like if they ever do a "Second Chance" season I'd like to see her back. Once she gets her personal life sorted out and really fights to be in the competition I think she could go places. There's something charismatic about her that you don't see with other obvious filler queens (see: Honey, Vivienne, Ivy).

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