13th Jul2020

‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars 5×06’ Review

by Rhys Payne

This weeks episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars was more subdued regarding drama this week, due to the intense drama initiated by India who left the competition after Shea Coulee won the lip-sync. This episode dealt with the tension and gossip that was created in the last episode (whether you think they are true or not) which is a very clever way to leave a mark for India. As Jujubee pointed out, the queens are still talking about her elimination, which means the viewers are constantly being reminded of her; which as they say in the business: “any publicity is good publicity.” I have to admit, I wasn’t particularly familiar with India but after causing two of the biggest arguments in this season she is not someone I will forget in a long time, which was probably her intention from the start.

This weeks episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars was all about the Charles family ‘Backyard Ball’ which is a lot to take in if you are not familiar with Ru Paul (Charles) mannerisms, iconic catchphrases and history but I assume that many people who follow All-Stars are fairly familiar with the self-confessed queen of drag! This ball theme tasked the queens with preparing two outfits – with the first one having a focus on a comedy character that somehow relates to Ru Paul. The other outfit the queens had to prepare had to be crafted from garden objects, which totally made sense with the family, outdoor bbq theme running through the episode. I really enjoy the consistency and how the challenges fit into the theme of each episode as it makes it a lot easier to watch for the audience.

A highlight of episode 6, for me, was Jujubee with her clear dislike of the challenges of the ball. In fact, she openly told both the judge and the audience that she “hated this challenge” due to not being too confident with a sewing machine. Additionally, Juju continued to be the queen of commentary and confessionals, as she constantly had the audience laughing with comical and enjoyable discussions. India’s drama re-entered the conversations between the queens constantly and was only exaggerated by the discovery that India had left certain contestants notes and gifts but most surprisingly she left Alexis (who she famously had an intense argument with in the last episode) stating that she still loved her. While this was somewhat sweet it also allowed the conversation to still be about her and her actions. Apart from the discussion of last weeks drama, there weren’t any dramatic moments this time round, which did hinder the excitement for each episode that the Drag Race franchise had just started building once again. Rather than sharp action, there was a lot of emotional moments during runway walk especially when Ru talked to Shea and Jujubee about losing loved ones and addiction, respectively, which was very raw and moving.

Uniquely in this episode, there were crowds of people on either side of the runway (including Ru Paul’s sisters) which is something I had never seen before and made it very interesting/unique. With the first category in the ball involving the queens coming up with a comedy character that was in some way related to Ru Paul; Jujubee played upon her Asian heritage with a fantastic, ridiculously oversized floppy hat that is me laughing throughout. The other standout performance in this category was Shea, who wore a hilarious airbrushed outfit that paid homage to Grandea Zuckerberg who was a character she played in her original series during a 90210 parody acting challenge. I have to say I was very disappointed with Alexis simplistic outfit for this category and while her story of being the stereotypical Latina housekeeper showed great promise, the outfit she crafted was bland and not even the wig reveal could save this look. For the secondary category, the girls had to make outfits from outdoor objects and some queens clearly thrived in this environment, while some struggled. My favourite for this runway was Mrs Cracker who created a stunning outfit that was made from picnic blankets which were incredible and viewers would struggle to tell if it was professionally made or not. Shea decided to interpret the theme somewhat differently as she crafted a wedding dress out of bbq napkins which was very unique and unlike anything else that was shown on this episode. It was clear that this weeks challenge played into Shea’s wheelhouse as she managed to help some of the other queens throughout the episode and received thanks for that during the judge’s cirques.

However, despite Shea helping the other queens she did not win this weeks challenge, it was actually Mrs Cracker who was crowned the winner of the Backyard Ball. I believe that Shea should have won this episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars as she actually helped Cracker a lot in the werk room; but that’s just my opinion. Cracker changed into another blue outfit that again reminded me of some sort of ice theme and this is the second time this season that this had happened, so I believe that Mrs Cracker is secretly promoting an ice-themed runway challenge for future episodes (probably not but I can’t explain it any other way.) We are at a point in the competition where if you are not the winner then you are up for elimination and so these lip syncs are very tense for all contestants involved. This week’s lip-sync assassin was none other than Mrs big and juicy… Roxxie Andrews! Roxxie served a beautiful lip-sync in her classic sultry style, with a three-layered reveal that ended with her in a sequin, almost bikini, outfit that had “big and juicy” plastered across her bum. It was clear that Roxxie bested Cracker in this lip-sync and because of this it was revealed that Alexis Mateo would be leaving the completion due to being the Queen with the most number of elimination votes.

Overall, this was a more steady episode of All-Stars that dealt with the fallout from the episode before with deeply moving chats during the walkthroughs. The episode showcases some interesting hand-made looks and a few comical moments but was yet another roadblock in the show’s momentum. As we are now down to the final four, I would have expected the fever pitch for this episode to be at an all time high but it was not.

***½  3.5/5

Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars releases weekly on Netflix UK.

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