I’ve always wondered how anyone can come to RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Snatch Game—the signature challenge of the series that tests queens to impersonate celebrities—with the same character as someone else. When you think about it, there are thousands of figures in pop culture from across decades and even centuries worth impersonating. We’ve seen queens succeed with Marlene Dietrich, Melania Trump, Little Richard, Jenifer Lewis, Britney Spears, Michelle Visage herself, and many, many more. There are so many options!
Yet for the third time in just the last four years—the priors being Season 7’s Donatella Versace battle and All Stars 4’s struggle for Caitlyn Jenner—two queens are determined to perform the same character: Margaret Thatcher. Of any of the characters to fight over, Thatcher is the one, I understand, that is the envy of most of the queens. The former prime minister is a larger-than-life broad, with lots of quirks and mannerisms to mock, and she’s the kind of hard-right political figure that Ru is happy to see made fun of. Moreover, for the first-ever UK Snatch Game, she feels like something of a necessity. We definitely don’t need two, though. Or do we?
Baga Chipz and Divina de Campo, our last two challenge winners, are the queens at a loggerhead about this, although judging from the edit, Baga doesn’t even realize it at first. It’s a pretty strange segment, with nearly two minutes spent on Divina just awkwardly shuffling around with Cheryl Hole and Blu Hydrangea, nervous to confront Baga. It seems even sillier when, upon telling Baga, the comic queen immediately says she’s fine with both girls doing Thatcher.
This scene reeks of producer intervention, and it’s the first on Drag Race UK that does. Suddenly, Baga’s changed her mind on not wanting both to do Thatcher, which is a shame. I appreciated her confidence, effectively saying she’s sure enough in her own skills that she’ll happily let the judges decide whose is better. Plus, she says she’s brought no backup, so who else would she do? But it seems as though someone just off-screen informed the girls that there can be no repeat characters, and Divina thus relents. She switches to another Meryl Streep character: Julia Child, once infamously done poorly by Milk in Season 6.
It’s a disastrous move for Divina, who seems to spend the rest of the episode regretting her choice. (She also mulls over doing Posh Spice, a.k.a. Victoria Beckham, but Ru and judge Alan Carr’s lack of reaction in the workroom makes that feel like a miss.) She never breaks out in Snatch Game, letting the other girls trample on her lines too much. Eventually, after critiques place her firmly in the bottom three, Divina realizes this isn’t an acting job, and it’s not her competitors’ duty to give her room to work—nor should she give them the room, either. It feels like Divina’s got a new fire under her ass by episode’s end, and if this is what it took to get her there, then I’m all for it.
Meanwhile, Baga positively soars in Snatch Game. She’s hilarious throughout, nailing every punchline and bringing just the right amount of villainous energy to Thatcher. She also gets a massive assist from Divina when the acting queen gives Baga her outfit for Margaret Thatcher, replacing Baga’s tragic dress. It’s a nice gesture, but I hope the newly competitive Divina will realize that she can’t help her competitors that much. She needs to exploit Baga’s poor sense of style—which Baga promptly shows off on the main stage in some scuba gear that is both unflattering and fails to achieve the “Weird Science” runway prompt.
That said, I’d have been mad if Baga didn’t take home the win this week. She’s not my favourite, as I’ve espoused in other recaps, but she is easily the best in the Snatch Game. She’d belong on any best-of-Snatch Game list, she’s that effective.
However, Baga is not the only winner this episode. Copying Season 7 of the American series, Drag Race UK’s Snatch Game gives out two wins: The first to Baga, and the second to The Vivienne for her Donald Trump impersonation. If that fragment depressed you just to read, welcome to the club! While I admire Vivi’s Trump voice, all of the jokes are incredibly expected—you’ve heard them all if you’ve watched any of Alec Baldwin’s Trump sketches on Saturday Night Live. Sadly, as we saw with Season 11’s “Trump: The Rusical,” broad jokes about Trump are an easy way to Ru’s heart.
Combined with her smart dominance of the conversation throughout the game, and I get why she takes the co-win. I just wouldn’t personally have given it to her. I also absolutely wouldn’t have called her the best Snatch Game performance ever, which Michelle says in what I can only assume is a fit of amnesia. Better impersonations off the top of my head: Alaska’s Mae West, Jinkx Monsoon’s Little Edie, Chad Michaels’ Cher, BenDeLaCreme’s Paul Lynde, Pandora Boxx’s Carol Channing, and Adore Delano’s Anna Nicole Smith. That’s six, plus the six I mentioned in the intro. A dozen better performances! Baga’s is even better in this episode! What a thing to say.
Cheryl and Blu are both quickly declared safe, though not before Ru gives Blu special commendation for her Mary Berry. Her impression of the former Great British Bake-Off judge reminds me of one of my favourite weird Snatch Game performances: Alexis Mateo’s Alicia Keys in Season 3. Like with that impression, in which Alexis recast Alicia as a pregnant lesbian infatuated with guest judge Amber Rose, Blu’s Mary has very little to do with the real Mary. This Mary is full-blown horny, making every possible baking sex pun you could imagine. It’s pretty clever work on Blu’s part: She knows she’s not going to nail the impersonation, so she instead goes for the biggest, wildest comedy she can.
This is a good episode for Blu across the board, which makes it all the stranger that she doesn’t at least get a top three placement. (Seemingly because of the tie, Ru only declares a top two.) She opens up to the other girls, many of whom are either married or engaged, about the fact that being from Northern Ireland, she actually can’t get married. Strangely, the other girls seem to not know this, even though it’s been a major news story for years. (Did they play dumb for the edit?) Anyway, we see an adorable picture of Blu with her partner, and we’re left hoping the 23-year-old won’t have to wait too much longer to get married.
Blu excels at the kind of sweet, gentle ribbing that works on Drag Race. When she throws shade at Divina, it’s clearly coming from a place of love. Contrast that to The Vivienne, who begins this episode harping on Sum Ting Wong for not taking her advice previously—even after Sum Ting says Vivi was right, and that she’s been in her own head. There’s a nastiness to The Vivienne in her shade, a self-centredness that makes it hard to root for her. I can say her drag is flawless, and that she’s far out-performed Blu so far. But as for who I’m excited to see every week? It’s not the person with the better track record, it’s the queen who can be fun and shady without being mean-spirited.
Speaking of Sum Ting, she’s unfortunately the big loser of the week. Her decision to do David Attenborough in Snatch Game—over Nigella Lawson, which would’ve been funnier but she was handicapped by Ru not knowing Nigella well—is a disastrous one from the get-go. She doesn’t have the comedic chops to sell such an odd character, and despite Ru lobbying softballs, she fails to knock even one joke out of the park. Combined with an odd and ill-fitting runway, and there’s no question Sum Ting will be lip syncing for her second week in a row.
Divina is a contender for the other bottom two slot, but she beats out Crystal and skates to safety. Crystal’s Rue McClanahan is boring, but a bravado performance on the runway that is actually dangerous, using a metal grinder that creates sparks on the runway on her arms and even in her crotch. As Michelle says, “Her pussy is literally on fire!” It’s enough to put clear distance between her and Sum Ting before the lip sync even begins.
After yet another disappointing lip sync—you know, Charlie Hides is looking more and more correct by the day—it’s time to say goodbye to Sum Ting. I honestly don’t think the lip sync even matters in this case; I’d argue she outperforms Crystal, but not by any meaningful margin. She’s just obviously the next to go. That’s been true all season: Each week, the person who has deserved to go has gone. It’s refreshing, although a bit predictable. We need a shock to the system, a “Cheryl out-lip syncs” a frontrunner kind of moment.
I don’t want to complain about a good and fair elimination order too much, but a clean competition doesn’t always make for the most entertaining TV. Luckily, so far, everything else about Drag Race UK has been a thrill. It’s just this one area that could be fine-tuned—then we’d be looking at an all-time great season.
💋 No mini-challenge this week, which is actually the norm when it comes to Snatch Game episodes. I honestly think there’s time, though. The pacing of the episode as a whole is a little sluggish.
💋 Geri Horner (née Haliwell, née Ginger Spice) is a genuinely terrible guest judge. First off, we were warned about this, when Alan Carr told the press she clutched her pearls the whole time she was on the show. And clutch she does! She hates the most experimental and assertive drag, like Crystal’s runway, and fawns over Sum Ting’s terrible David Attenborough just because he’ll draw in grandmothers to watch Drag Race. (There are plenty of other, better reasons for people to watch Drag Race, Geri.) That said, the moment backstage with Sum Ting upon her elimination is nice.
💋 Conversely, both Lorainne Kelly and Stacey Dooley are excellent Snatch Game guests, Dooley especially. Her quiet “great answer” after Ru calls one of her responses merely a “good answer” had me cackling.
💋 The lack of respect for Joslyn Fox, when Ru did not credit her for the “wah wah” boob jiggle! The only way to make it up to her is to immediately invite the Season 6 queen to All Stars 6.
💋 Ru’s runway outfit this week is nothing short of jaw-dropping, and an absolute shoot. Best she’s looked on the show in years.
💋 Between Vinegar Strokes working with Michelle on Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and Divina and Geri knowing each other from a job, how many judge-to-queen relationships are we gonna see this season?
💋 Cheryl spy-diving into the workroom on elimination day is genuinely so cute. Cheryl’s fun! I like Cheryl.
💋 Ru: “Did you enjoy Snatch Game?”
Divina: “I think that might be a strong word. It happened. I was there.”
💋 I strongly agree with Alan Carr that claiming something is “out of my comfort zone” is lame at this point. Trinity the Tuck (back when she was Taylor) spent most of Season 9 doing anything but her typical pageant drag, and didn’t expect extra credit from the judges just because it was different for her. She knew she needed to try other things, and do them well. Baga’s “comfort zone” admission feels like a defense for a shitty outfit.
💋 I do not believe RuPaul knew who Mary Berry was before this episode.
💋 Mini-Untucked is quite revealing this week, with Divina taking a stand about being talked-over by bigger personalities—saying that’s why she struggled in Snatch Game—and The Vivienne taking a pretty nasty shot at her “bragging” in her confessional. To be frank, I expected Divina to do nothing but brag when she first listed off all her credits, but she’s done much the opposite of that. Unless we’re not seeing something, I think this is a strange criticism from Vivi.
💋 Hey, did y’all know that shantay means stay?