09th Feb2023

‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race 15×06’ Review

by Rhys Payne

After what was quite possibly the worst snatch game to ever appear on any Drag Race franchise, it seemed like the queens had managed to get season fifteen back on track despite the criminally short episodes. Last week’s episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race saw the remaining queens split into three groups to design and create a collection of looks based on one of the iconic judges. I thought that the idea of staging the materials in a sort of inspired showroom was not only a very unique twist but also made for very entertaining viewing especially the part when Spice decided to cut up a pillowcase rather than simply using the zipper! The top placement last week was a very close battle between Lux Noir London (who had crafted a beautiful purple and gold ensemble) and Sasha Colby (who had recreated that iconic J-Lo swimsuit) and if it was up to me I would have given the win to the latter but I totally understand why Lux was in the top! In the bottom last week however was Selina Estities and, for the third time this season, Amethyst. I think Selina really surprised everyone as she delivered an extremely sensual performance leading to her adversary being told to sashay away.

This week’s maxi challenge however saw the queens yet again being split into three groups to write, record and perform an original track in old-person drag. It is a common complaint online that after fifteen seasons the show’s challenges have become very predictable which makes some episodes fairly hard to watch and so I personally think it is fantastic that the show is trying to explore ways to spice up the challenges, even just slightly! Interestingly however, the queens were told to group themselves and also to decide amongst themselves which group would get which category of music, which led to a very intense moment where two groups both wanted the heavy metal song. This confrontation brought a total stop to the episode but I have to admit I absolutely loved the drama! What I didn’t enjoy however was the way in which this argument was resolved. Instead of deciding amongst themselves, the queens decided to simply pick names out of a hat which involved no skill, talent or persuasion. Before the queens could get to the runway to rehearse their routines however they were greeted by none other than Tik Tok sensations ‘The Old Gays’ who were dressed up as a special version of the pit crew. For those who don’t know this group of four older gentlemen reached social media fame for their long-standing friendship where they discuss their queer lives. It is so important that we see representation for the older generation within the queer community as there has become somewhat of an ageism issue with the queer community and it is in fact this generation that helped paved the way!

Going into the challenge, the producers of this episode made a point to highlight how the team of Loosey LaDuca, Antrea, Robin Fierce and Jax should be the front runners as they are all professional performers in the outside world but based on that talent show performance earlier in the season, can we really cast Loosey as a singer? Also within that team, Robin made a scene of wanting to practise her verse during recording time which wasted a lot of time when in front of Leland. Wasting time seemed to be a big issue for this group as later in the episode they spent the majority of their rehearsal time on the runway deciding whether they would individually be using a walking stick or a walking frame which was totally not what they should have been talking through! The producer of this episode also made sure that Marsha Marsha Marsha was given ample time to share her extensive Broadway experiences, only for her actual performance to be somewhat forgettable. After the queens had rehearsed and recorded their performances, the audience was treated to a very powerful discussion led by Sasha Colby about the history of being trans in Hawaii. She highlighted how during the 60s/70s (around fifty years ago which was the same time frame Ru pitched going forward for inspiration of the older characters) where performers were forced to wear buttons that told the military boys what gender someone actually was and often these shows ended with trans performers being thrown into jail only to be released the next day. I thought it was really powerful to see such an iconic queen look back fifty years before transforming herself fifty years into the future as this provided a wonderful point of comparison for the audience!

What I really enjoyed with this maxi challenge was the fact that every group was provided with matching outfits (apart from one queen) to give each performance a cohesive feel. I do have to say, however, generally speaking, the verses were extremely short which very little space between to truly appreciate what each queen had just done. First up was team country who were dubbed as the Banjo Bitches and wore fabulous red and yellow fringe outfits which looked absolutely amazing on every one of them. I thoroughly enjoyed Lux’s performance this week with her country voice really fitting the track while also sounding great. Selina Estities continued her trend of always having be to over the top when put into group challenges. She was constantly high energy with her exaggerated dance moves really overshadowing the other queens in her group, which is never a good thing! The next group to grace the stage were the rocking old g-ies who had the coveted heavy metal-inspired song. They all performed in wonderful (mostly) matching black and gold outfits but also the majority talked about wetting themselves which did become somewhat tiresome after a while. I thought that Sasha was by far the highlight of this week’s challenge as she opened her group’s performance in such a ridiculous, over-the-top, decrepit character. My favourite part of the verse would have to be when she gave a nod to her advert challenge from a few weeks ago with the lyrics “snapping this neck, thank god for Medicare” which was so clever and witty! I have to admit I don’t quite understand why Malaysia Fox Babydoll did not have an outfit that matched everyone else in her group as she wore, what seemed like, a peacock-infused cape as everyone else was in black and gold! The final group was the ol’ dirty bitches who were given the hip-hop-inspired song. After being built up as the supergroup of musical challenges, I have to admit I was very disappointed by their performance collectively. They graced the stage in wonderful matching Valor tracksuits with amazing light-up shoes but to be honest that is where the production value ended. If you throw your mind all the way back to the talent show Antrea delivered one of the most iconic acts we have seen in a long time as she hollered for us to “walk that fucking duck.” However, in this challenge, she really struggled! Her lip-sync was off for the majority of the number which is particularly disappointing when you consider she wrote the lyrics herself. Robin decided to throw in a sequin of incredible tricks which were very impressive but in my opinion, didn’t really fit with the song!

This week’s runway theme was “tie-dye to die for” which at first I was very excited about because tie-dye was something we did in primary school and so I looked forward to seeing how the queens would scale up this idea to create magnificent outfits. However, I was yet again left very disappointed! Due to the aforementioned timing issues the queens did not get the extended time on the runway they’re used to and in fact, we didn’t even get the hilarious voiceovers from the queens themselves. I have to admit I didn’t quite understand Jax’s look this week as she wore bright orange undergarments with fabulous green hair which in all honesty made me think of a carrot more than tie-dye! As expected, Mistress Isabella Brooks wowed during the runway as she would an incredible purple mesh jumpsuit with a fabulous tie-dyed cape. Not only did she look amazing but also fitted the theme perfectly unlike Marsha Marsha Marsha! She decided to wear a white suit with fabric blood coming from her nose which marks the second time this season she has showcased some sort of a nose gimmick to the audience. I don’t quite understand how this look fitted the category of tie-dye! My favourite look this week would have to be, without a doubt, Sasha Colby who wore an incredible rainbow drip latex outfit. The typical ring pattern that this associated with tie dye was present throughout the whole of the outfit with wonderful make-up which made her look absolutely stunning! With all this in mind, I was really confused when it was announced that Aura is the winner of this week’s episode as I was sure it would be a second win for Sasha! At the bottom, however, was Jax and Robin with the former pulling out a range of tricks during the lip-sync leading to the latter being told to sashay away!

Overall, I really enjoyed that this episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race had a coherent and cohesive theme that tied the special guest, werk room conversations and performance all together! However, there were very few particularly memorable performances and a criminally short runway where only a few queens could shine! It was clear that the short episode length had an effect on this episode and as there were three large groups of queens they had to make sure every queen was seen so they cut the time of the runway but for me, the runway is the highlight of the episode!

***½  3.5/5


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