29th Mar2021

‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race 13×12’ Review

by Rhys Payne

Due to the few early episodes where we met the queens in one vs one lip-syncs and the proceeding episodes where no one went home, this season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race seems to be never ending. At this rate, the finale episode (I wonder if they will do a big scale event or not) will be episode 15 and to put that into perspective, season 8 had crowned a winner by episode 10. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the season to end as that means there will be no Drag Race being produced, but it does seem that this season has lost some of the energy it had at the beginning.

Last week Rose and Symone are crowned joint winners of the branding challenge (I am super glad that Rose is starting to get the credit she deserves) but at the bottom was Tina Burner who left the competition. Tina is a drag legend in New York and is known for wonderful theatrical and camp performances but her make-up did let her down in the competition. Apart from that she was very entertaining and all the queens will miss her energy in the werk room. I don’t agree with Tina being in the bottom last week or losing the challenge, I thought that Kandy’s green alien outfit was on par with the infamous paper bag dress from LaLa Ri earlier in the season. I think the bottom two should have been Kandy and Gotmik… but we move on!

The mini challenge this week was pretty much a glorified advertisement for Anastasia Beverly Hills. The queens were paired up and had to produce a YouTube beauty influencer video, where one acted as a beauty mogul and the other was in control of the others arms. This led to some hilarious scenes as the queen in control had to makeover the other without being able to see what they were holding or doing! Kandy and Rose were hilarious in the challenge and were deemed as the best in the show so they received a selection of Anastasia Beverly Hills products but also got to decide the running order of the main challenge this week. The main challenge this week was a “nice girls roast” where the queen had to perform a comedy roast of a previous Miss Congeniality from previous seasons. Heidi N Closet, Valentina and Nina West all returned to be roasted this episode and it was great to see these queens back on the screen. Valentina looked so different and I loved Nina’s pride-inspired outfit that was a remake of the pride outfit she wore when she was eliminated on season 11, after making over Shuga Cane. When Heidi first stepped onto the runway she looked incredible, she turned to reveal a half suit and half lingerie which did lose some of the impact she had created!

Like I said, Kandy and Rose were given the chance to decide the running order but after the whole Ellie Diamond controversy on the UK season I was excited to see what would happen. There was not any drama in the order though, with Kandy and Rose deciding to open and close the show respectively. I was confident that Rose would do well where she is placed in the show as she is known for being a comedy queen in New York, so it should have been her challenge to win. If I was given this opportunity, however, I don’t think I would put myself in the opening or closing slot but as the two queens said, it was about taking a risk to show their talent. Before all the queens fully performed their set they were given a chance to workshop their roasts with Loni Love and Michelle Visage… which was fun. I was really surprised by how mean Utica’s jokes were considering she is supposed to be so nice and sweet in real life. I don’t think people expected Utica to have such a mean side to her, which she carried over to her actual challenge performance. Also similarly to the UK comedy challenge, the roast was performed in front of an empty audience which must have been very difficult for the queens.

For the actual roast, Kandy did quite well and relied on her typical personality (which is usually witty) rather than particularly funny jokes. Gotmik again made a big point of having never done a roast before and, just like a snatch game where she said she had never done an impression before, she did incredibly well. Three queens struggled this week and they were Symone, Utica and Olivia Lux. Symone seemed to find the whole presentation of this performance very intimidating. She is usually the queen with incredible confidence and stage presence, so to see her struggle was very unusual. As discussed earlier, Utica’s ‘comedy’ was very intense and quite harsh. The highlight of her act was provided by Loni Love who heckled back after Utica said Loni’s career is not great. Also at one point, Ru gave Utica a one-finger salute after Utica had asked her to stand up (as it has been noted that once behind the judging panel Ru takes off her heels). To have the highlight of your act being delivered by someone else must have been very upsetting for Utica. Olivia also struggled and seemed to be re-using a lot of old jokes that have already been said in previous seasons. This episode must have been inspired by Shea Coulee during her comedy challenge in Ru Paul’s All-Stars season 5. As there was no runway this week instead the queens were briefly judged on the outfits they wore for the comedy roast.

Kandy Muse was declared the winner of this weeks challenge and while she was good, this should have gone to Gotmik in my opinion. In the bottom, however, was Symone and Utica who lip-synced against each other to the song “No Tears Left to Cry” which was an unusual choice. At the end of the lip-sync it was revealed that Utica goes home, and she will go down in Drag Race her-story for one of the most out-there creative minds to ever grace the stage. That sleeping bag outfit that was made in the werk room will remain as one of the best design challenge outfits ever!

Overall, this was an okay episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, with most of the roasts being a bit lacklustre. Nina West, who returned in the secret celebrity Drag Race and delivered an excellent roast, did not bring over that talent in this season. Plus there was no runway theme which is many people’s favourite section of the episode.

*** 3/5

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