What happens when you take a bunch of drag queens and make them put together a kids’ show? You get this week’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race! This week, the queens have to get in touch with their inner legendary child by raising a drag daughter and putting together a subversive children’s show. Let’s take a look at the shit that worked and the shit that peewee’d.
As the queens return from the elimination of Serena Chihuahua, the collective opinion in the room seems to be a resounding “meh.” Turns out, no one really cared for her and no one seems upset that she’s gone. Hell, most of them are downright chipper about the situation. So instead of talking about Serena, Vivienne Pinay decides to stir the shit by asking Coco Montrese and Alyssa Edwards what their beef was. Yeah, remember how they were fighting? Well, they’re still fighting, and by the time it’s over, their feud will be the one major flaw in an otherwise stellar season.
The next morning, the queens return to the work room to receive another Ooo, girl, they got Shemail! RuPaul drops a bunch of hints about connecting with their inner children, and before you can say “JonBenet Ramsey,” boy Ru walks out with the Pit Crew behind her, lugging a bunch of blank, child mannequins. It’s the single most unintentionally terrifying thing on the show, not counting Alyssa’s creepy vulture smile. The queens are told to pair up and give birth to a pageant daughter. For the most part, they’re all hopelessly forgettable, save for Alaska and Lineysha Sparx’s daughter, Lil’ Pound Cake. Lineysha styles their daughter into a snide, bratty little child, while Alaska writes a pitch-perfect story of a precocious young dick-pig who loves riding dirty and regularly screams “YOU’RE NOT MY FATHER AND YOU NEVER WILL BE!"
Obviously, they win and get to pick the teams for the main challenge: the queens must team up to create a hipster kids’ show, replete with thinly veiled allusions to sex and PG-13 imagery. Alaska recruits Roxxxy Andrews, Detox, Monica Beverly Hillz, Alyssa and Vivienne, while Lineysha pulls in Jinkx Monsoon, Jade Jolie, Ivy Winters, Honey Mahogany and Coco. While each team writes completely original material, each group’s show is split into three categories: a secret word, a snack and an educational message for the kids. Naturally, these will be replete with dick, ass and pussy jokes, as they should be.
First up is Team Alaska, and right out of the gate, a prominent red flag is waved in the form of Alaska in boy drag. Neither Ru nor Michelle Visage are happy with it, but at the risk of being contrarian, Alaska’s performance as a Pee-wee Herman-esque character is spot-on. Their first segment, featuring Detox as Clucky the Cock and his secret word, “box,” takes full advantage of the multitude of pussy jokes up Detox’s (wizard) sleeve. Roxxxy and Vivienne are up next, teaching kids how to literally toss a salad. Vivienne’s character amounts to nothing more than a lukewarm, which leaves plenty of room for Roxxxy to bulldoze her with a hilariously profane, lisping mother-hen by the name of Tasha Salad. This is why I love this show.
But the back end of Team Alaska is where things go wrong; Monica and Alyssa (the latter as a trashy, shady, crossdressing uncle — what a stretch) are here to teach the kids about how it’s wrong to throw shade. Alyssa does a serviceable job, but Monica just blows it. Her character is flat, and not only does she not know her lines, but she’s literally holding them in her hands the entire time. Hell, she’s even wearing sunglasses dark enough that, if she was reading her lines straight off the page, no one would even know. I love her, especially after her confession last week, but she’s not serving it here.
Team Lineysha is up next, and, unlike Team Alaska, is working with a lot of dead weight. Out of the six queens, only one has real comedic chops, while the rest of them are mostly resting on pretty. Thankfully, not only does Lineysha have immunity, but she also makes the wise decision to appoint Jinkx as the host. Not only is she no stranger to crafting a killer comedic script — look up some of her stuff on Funny or Die, because she knows how to take classic wit and translate it to the page — but Jinkx serves as the sole saving grace for her entire team. The de facto runner-up in an otherwise barren set is Jade Jolie, who tries valiantly to make her secret word, “blow,” land the dismount, but it stumbles when it hits the ground.
It’s a good thing Lineysha has immunity this week, because her bit with Ivy, wherein the two of them make a banana split, is all set-up and zero punch-line. Okay, maybe the fact that Lineysha translated cherries as “strawberries” was kinda funny, but not for the right reasons. Thankfully, though, they have Coco and Honey bringing up the rear, doing a faux-ventriloquist act that’s already shot, thanks to a weak script, but hampered further by the fact that Coco failed to bring a character or memorized lines to the set.
Before the queens hit the mainstage for a tickled-pink-themed runway show, Coco and Alyssa take the time to talk about their past grievances. Turns out, Alyssa was dethroned as Miss Gay America back in 2010, and Coco was contractually obligated to take her place. Alyssa’s pissed because she feels Coco threw her under the bus, while Coco is pissed because she feels Alyssa resents her and OHMYGOD CAN THIS BE OVER ALREADY? The short version of this story is two friends went for the same title, and it tore them apart. Neither one is right or wrong here; they’re both just bickering, and their respective games are being thrown off because they’re spending so much time at each other’s throats. Ugh.
Well, whatever. On to the mainstage, where Ru, Michelle and Santino are joined by Paulina Porizkova and Coco, the woman who married Ice-T and . . . that’s it. She married Ice-T and now she’s famous. Good for her. Anyway, right off the bat, Lineysha (in a pink mullet-dress), Ivy (in a feathery showgirl ensemble), Alyssa (looking like The Real Housewives of Toddlers & Tiaras), Jade (in a sparkly pink cocktail dress) and Honey (who was apparently so enraged by the pink bed sheet she was wearing that she stomped onto the runway and back in the space of five seconds) are declared safe, proving you can be boring as long as you’re not outright awful.
Top honours go to Detox, Roxxxy and Jinkx, who all turned out defined, funny characters. The judges adore Detox’s chicken realness, as well as her box jokes, but the judges seem to be split on her runway look: Ice-T’s wife likes the boobs, but Paulina thinks the dress looks like a fish net. Roxxxy gets high praise for going ugly (meaning she drew freckles on herself) and for her dirty jokes, and the judges are eating up her pink, J Lo-esque dress. Jinkx also receives high praise for being the glue that held her team together and for being a flawless comedic actor, and her Marie Antoinette realness leaves the judges gagging on both her eleganza and her aquanet. But ultimately, Detox’s editorial look and boxes clinch her victory.
Alaska, receiving neither high praise or high shade, is given kudos for coming out as a bloody, gun-toting bride, but the judges decide to fire a warning shot at her over her boy drag in the challenge. I have to single this out here, because I think the criticism is kinda bullshit. Alaska used wardrobe, makeup and styling to create a well-defined character that served the narrative well. Picking her apart for not portraying a woman seems like splitting hairs, especially when you consider that Detox portrayed a male rooster and won. I love Ru, but I’m calling shenanigans on this one.
Vivienne, Coco and Monica are lumped together in the bottom three, and it isn’t much of a surprise, since they were by far the worst of the lot. As adorable as Vivienne is in her tutu, the judges call her out for a DOA performance. Sure, she ends up barely escaping the night’s lip-sync, but personally, I’d have put her in the bottom two, if only because she’s been consistently mediocre from week to week. But the bottom two ends up consisting of Monica — who looks very pretty in a sleek pink dress with flowery shoulders — and Coco, who took the inner-child thing just a little too literally with a baby-doll dress (complete with a teddy bear!) and an onstage meltdown in which she tries to throw Alyssa under the bus.
When Coco’s fit doesn’t get her out of the bottom two, she ends up lip-synching against Monica to The Pussycat Dolls’ “When I Grow Up.” Coco tears off her baby-doll dress to reveal a little girls’ softball uniform underneath, which perfectly complements the song, although I can’t take my eyes off her GIGANTIC BOY TRAPEZIUS MUSCLES HOLY HELL. Massive shoulder muscles aside, Coco bowls over Monica, sending her home. I adore Monica, especially after she came out as Drag Race’s first openly trans contestant, but simply put, it was her time to go.