22nd Feb2021

‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race 13×08’ Review

by Rhys Payne

We never managed to get that drag mother versus daughter lip-sync that I believed was obvious from the moment the cast was announced. The family members Tamisha Imann and Lala Ri have now both been eliminated, with Lala going home last week and Tamisha the week before. Despite being “obvious” I would have secretly liked to have seen the two battle it out and this would have created a ridiculous amount of drama and could have either reestablished Tamisha as the head of the dynasty or shown Lala raising in the family. The queens loved Lala as they noticed a clear change in the werk room as soon as she was eliminated and the fans will always remember her for that infamous gift bag dress. Unfortunately, the Lala Ri experience is now over but we did see the emergence of Eliott as an insanely talented performer/dancer. Last weeks episode allowed us to see a more honest and real side to Eliott as well, which helped her to become more likeable to both the viewers and the other queens in the werk room with a very important discussion around mental health.

When it was revealed that this week would be a Ru-sical (see what they did there’s with combining musical with Ru Paul) I was very excited as these are the challenges I enjoy. Each queen had to record and perform verses on different social media websites, despite not being able to name the sites for legal reasons, which seemed to instantly favour Rose. I need to start that I think I have fallen in love with Rosè over the past few weeks, especially after discovering her YouTube series “Wine Crush Wednesday,” where she just records herself chatting to friends and drinks wine – which in all honesty is a dream career for me! Rose is a professional singer and performer, which this challenge is essentially testing, and… she didn’t say the cursed line “this is what I do!” which always means that queen will go home. I do think there was a lot of pressure on Rose in this challenge, as she is the drag sister of Jan – who famously did incredibly in the Madonna themes musical challenge in season 12 (and provided us with that iconic face crack moment) and so she had that standard to live up to and *spoiler alert* she did that and more!

The distribution of roles this week did cause a lot of drama, which I for one was living for! If you remember last week, Utica allowed Olivia Lux to take the role that she wanted (which led to Olivia’s eventual win) and Utica did not this week. This week she wanted to focus on herself and allow herself to shine… as she should. Utica had a moment on the show where she shut down another queen who tried to steal her role from her but instead of just handing it over she stood her ground which was great to see. We also had the queens audition in front of their peers to get the lead role which was unique. Rose and Denali both wanted the lead role, so the other queens decided they should sing a sample of the song to see who was the best performer – which was eventually won by Rose. The queens were then given a surprise video call with Anne Hathaway who is famous for roles in iconic films such The Devil Wears Prada, The Princess Diaries and, most importantly for this challenge, Les Miserables. She offered the queens an opportunity to ask any questions they may have about this challenge, which made sense as she had performed in so many iconic musical theatre performances throughout her career. What was also fantastic was that Michelle Visage helped the queens with recording their verses as she is also an avid fan of musical theatre; with experience in recording through her band Seduction.

I believe that Tina Burner is most famous in the New York drag scene through her Broadway performance, which she brought mostly to this challenge. Her outfit for the challenge was influenced by classic Broadway/Chicago/Liza Minnelli and it was great to see so many musical influences in a musical challenge. I enjoyed Utica’s performance in this challenge as she used her usual campy and fun demeanour, with a wild rapping as lady tweets (which is a homage to Twitter.) The musical influences continued in the challenge as most of the social media sites were introduced through a motif very similar to the cell block tango, which I enjoyed. The show itself was very modern and relevant as they referred to Facebook collecting data, Rickrolling, blue/gold dress or the fact that Facebook started in a university campus – which shows that the creative minds behind this performance had though carefully and cleverly about the songs/narrative which made for a very enjoyable show.

The runway theme this week was “Yellow Gorgeous” which was a reference to Barbra Streisand, who was ironically played by Manila Luzon during the snatch game, which I thought was great – as she is not only a performer but also “Don’t Rain On My Parade” (which was famously performed by Barbra) was paraded within this social media musical. Both Tina Burner and Eliott showcased looks inspired by New York taxi cabs, I preferred Elliott’s vinyl look but Tina’s was a lot more camp than the former. Rose walked the runway with a yellow suit that was a reference to the Jim Carrey film The Mask – which marks the second look by Rose that was a reference to an iconic film, which shows that she thinks carefully and cleverly about her fashion choices. I loved Gotmiks look this week as she wore a yellow and black vinyl crash test dummy look that was both fashion-forward as well as having a lot of whimsy and campiness.

The winner this week was Rose which was rightfully deserved. I would love to have seen her drag sister Jan’s face when she found out that Rose won, as I believe this would be another face-crack heard around the world. On the bottom this week was Kandy Muse and Symone which means that another one of the winner’s circle queens will end up leaving the competition. I think that Kandy did well in this lip-sync considering her dress (which was a homage to Beyoncé) had so much fabric that became it difficult to manoeuvre across the stage. Symone was then told to stay which would usually suggest that Kandy would be going home… BUT… Ru surprised everyone as she revealed that Kandy would also be staying for a little longer. This was a musical episode that had a varying standard of performance with elements that tie the episode together including the runway theme and guest masters class.

**** 4/5

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