23rd Jun2022

‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars 7×06’ Review

by Rhys Payne

Last week’s episode saw the queen write and perform a drag-uation speech that simultaneously entertained and inspired the next generation of drag superstars. This challenge saw Raja claim her first badge after her cult leader infused speech with Jinkx (as a witchy character) also being at the top. As a teacher, I personally thought that Trinity the Tuck’s speech about struggling and having to drop out of school to look after a very ill family member was very powerful. The message of Trinity being forced to leave but still ending up doing a job she is totally passionate about is so important and there are still many people who need to use this story as an inspiration for their own life. Regardless, Raja and Jinkx battled against one another who the two very different performance styles being showcased which eventually ended up with Jinkx winning so that she could decide who would be blocked in this week’s episode. As a continuation of their professional rivalry, she decided to block the lone UK representative on the programme (The Vivienne) which clearly had a drastic effect on her throughout the episode but more on that later! The added drama of the top two queens being given an extra star each to gift to one of their peers really exposed some of the behind the scene strategies of each of the queens. Raja decided to give her extra badge to Eyvie with this being the latters first star this season and I have to admit if I was in Raja’s shoes I would have done exactly the same thing! This choice stops a different queen from becoming a front runner and actually made the decision from Jinkx so much more difficult! Jinkx was then forced to choose someone who already had one badge and decided this would be none other than Jaida, who has been talked about as a ray of sunshine in the werk room and helps whoever she can. This choice of gifting a star to Jaida makes sense in terms of continued support, which is a very clever strategy by Jinkx. As we are officially halfway through the season, every badge increases in value as the top four collectors will battle in the finale for the crown and title of queen of all queens!

This week however the queens had to team up to write, record and perform an original verse to a Y2K girl group-inspired song. The whole challenge was inspired by MTV’s Total Request Live which was a popular TV show that showcased popular songs. As discussed earlier, it is clear that The Vivienne was upset with being blocked in this week’s show as she displayed a really negative attitude throughout the majority of the episode. The queens were told that they would be deciding the teams themselves and The Vivienne was not happy with the group she was initially given and continued to moan about this throughout the episode, despite describing it as a blessing in disguise at various points. However, when the opportunity arrived to change teams, she instead opted to stay with the team she was unhappy with. Also going into this challenge I know that Trinity is not known for being the most talented vocalist ever but was able to do extremely well in Karaoke Club: Drag Edition (which I previously reviewed here) alongside The Vivienne herself. I was excited to see how Trinity would use her confidence during this musical number as her previous verses in Drag Race songs have not been the best! What is particularly interesting about The Vivienne during this challenge is that she is teamed up with Jinkx, who famously blocked for former from winning a badge in this episode. If Viv’s frustrations have stemmed from being blocked then this could prove to be a very tense team! On the end of the spectrum, we have Monet and Jinkx who are both incredibly talented classical singers but will have to adapt from this style to the 2000s genre.

When it was announced that Tove Lo was announced as a guest judge in this week’s episode, I have to admit that I didn’t initially know who she was. However, she has instantly become my newest fashion inspiration. She wore this fabulous dress with a pilot hat with the most flamboyant cake balanced on top of the headpiece. This is the new standard I expect from every guest judge going forward! As previously discussed the challenge this week was inspired by MTV and was hosted by Ross Matthews in an unusual toned down and butch presenting outfit that was an almost complete contrast to what we usually see Ross wearing on the show.

The first team was cleverly called MSTR which is an obvious nod to the fact that this is a team of drag queens but also represents the initials of each of the queens in the team (Monet, Shea, Trinity and Raja) which was made into a narrative for the performance. The story was that the group also originally contained Yvie, making them MSTRY, but she left to join another group. This group was given the breakup song called “Titanic” and worked very well together to deliver a very cohesive performance. Considering that the story behind the group was that one member of the group had recently left, there was very little inclusion of this within the performance itself. I would have wished that there would have been some choreography missing or spacing issues etc to show the recently departed group member. I thought that Shea looked incredible during her performance, where she wore wonderfully sparkly mesh trousers (which I want a pair of) with hair that contained a burgundy streak – such a clever choice that fitted with the theme of the challenge perfectly, all the while showcasing how much of a talented rapper she truly is! At the end of the performance, Shea announced that she would be leaving the group meaning that going forward the group would now simply be known as MTR which I thought was an extra, unnecessary gag at the end of the performance. If it wasn’t clear from last week’s lip-sync against Jinkx, Raja clearly struggles with the live performance side of drag as she seemed the least confident in the performance itself.

The other girls were cleverly called The Other Girls and their concept was that there were all band members who weren’t quite good enough for a popular girl group. Everyone within this group decided to take on a character which I thought was a clever choice considering that both acting juggernauts Jinkx and The Vivienne were both in teams. They performed the song “2 gether 4 Eva” which was opened by The Vivienne doing a stereotypical, common British character who sang about her lover drinking tea and the idea of double-decker busses which was hilarious. Usually, these stereotypical character portrayals can be very damaging but Viv managed to perform it so over the top that it was clearly a parody rather than a mick-take of a whole culture. In her post-performance interview, she talked to Ross about Brexit which was a clear bit of politics that I never thought would be talked on Drag Race. Jaida also went for a much more comedic approach to this performance where she did a hilarious rap about diarrhoea with lyrics that were totally non-sensical, which was exactly what she was going for. I do feel a bit back for Rock M. Sakura who competed in season twelve and was sent home for making fart jokes whereas in this episode Jaida rapped all about the frequent bowel movements but I suppose times change… Eyvie went into the challenge saying that she was going to channel the character of a girl group robot sent from the robot who simply recited stereotypical ideas of classic girl group ideas. While her lyrics came contained references to many iconic concepts for the Yk2 era, I thought that she didn’t quite go far enough with the gag of a robot for me!

The runway theme this week was “A Night of a Thousand Dolly Partons” where the queens had to showcase their best recreation of one of her most iconic looks. This week, my favourite look was from Monet X-Change, who managed to create a rainbow patchwork, trench coat gown reminiscent of Dolly’s coat of many colours. What was extra special about this look was that it was also a homage to Monet X-Change’s assistant’s mother who had hand sewn all the patches together to create this look before she sadly passed away. I really loved the structure of the overshirt that morphed into a dress in the lower half of the outfit and would be perfect for a pride month celebration! The most accurate recreation however I would say would have to be Trinity the Tuck, who looked incredible in a massive blonde wig and yellow fringe dress. Trinity had managed to perfectly recreate Dolly’s make up which, alongside her runway presentation, was so wonderfully Dolly! Shea decided that she was not going to recreate a well know an easily recognisable Dolly look and instead wore a leather ensemble also with blonde hair. While I understand the want to do a look that no one else would choose, this reference point was very niche and not as easily recognisable as the other looks. It was clear that The Vivienne would also be towards the top of the competition this episode as her more iconic Dolly look was so impressive! The sparkly outfit with massive sleeves and over-the-top jewellery alongside her incredible makeup was so fabulously Dolly and clear something that the 9 to 5 singer would actually wear!

It was announced that the top two queens in this week’s episode were Eyvie (who now has two badges) and The Vivienne who is blocked! The two queens battled against one another to the Dolly Parton song “Why you come in here looking like that” which perfectly tied into the runway category of the episode. These two queens are very different performers with the former being known for being one half of one of the most iconic lip-syncs during her run on season eleven to sorry not sorry. While Eyvie showcased her dance abilities, Viv went for a much more classic Dolly approach to the song which I thought was incredible to watch! I can’t remember the last time that we had an impression based lip-sync on drag race and I really think it needs to happen more often! Ru Paul announced at the end of this performance that The Vivienne was the overall winner of the episode (despite being blocked) and so she now gets to choose the queen who would be blocked in the next episode. The drama of Vivienne having this authority after her meltdown earlier in the episode could have led to some shocking scenes but instead, she decided to continue her well-documented rivalry by choosing her own teammate Jinkx which I thought was a very shocking decision!

Overall, while in the performance during the two musical numbers I think the narratives and concepts were not as embedded into the performances as much as was suggested. At this halfway point in the season, we are beginning to see more and more of the queen’s game plans which make for a much more interesting watch on top of the entertainment elements We have come to expect from drag race. The runway category was very fun with many of the queens showcasing exaggerated Dolly Parton looks and mannerisms that were hilarious to watch!

**** 4/5

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