22nd Jan2021

‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK 2×02’ Review

by Rhys Payne

Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK deserves a massive round of applause for one of the most conducive episodes I have ever seen. If we ignore the mini-challenge in this episode; the runway, main challenge and judging panned were used perfectly in tandem to give a very well structure and thematic episode. The episode revolves around the idea of musicals, with the main challenge being to perform like in ‘Rats the Rusical’ which was an obvious parody of Cats (but more on that later) and the guest judge this week was Sheridan Smith who many will know as Smithy’s sister in Gavin and Stacey but it’s also a musical theatre icon who has played iconic roles such as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, Elle in Legally Blonde or as Cilla Black in the TV musical movie Cilla. The runway was titled “Surprise, Surprise” which was also a reference to the great Cilla Black and it is clear that the creative minds behind this episode worked very hard to make everything in the episode make sense and tie together which made for a very enjoyable watch.

In last weeks episode, we said goodbye to the international cabaret sensation Joe Black and I am still upset that he left so early in the completion but anyway onto this episode… Which begins with the girls having a go at Astina because she won last weeks episode by wearing an ASOS jacket! In my opinion, it’s not about the cost or where they got their outfits from it’s how good they look in them which was a similar debate that occurred in All-Stars 5 when Mayhem wore an Amazon dress as her entrance look. The whole incident seems to exaggerate the importance of the Ru Peter badges, especially the one Astina won last week, later in the episode which did feel quite forced from my perspective. I know I don’t want one (I would rather the exposure the completion brings) and I can only image the queens can’t want it as much as they made out in this scene.

The mini-challenge I decided to ignore earlier in the review had the queens vote for who fitted into “categories” which were essentially “the biggest gossip” and “trade of the season” as well as “most basic queen”. The last category was the only vote that made any difference – with the winner being able to assign the roles for the challenge later in the episode; and so I thought this was not the best choice of challenge. Also, it did not fit the theme of the episode which made it stand out as unusual. Additionally, it felt like it was only there to stir drama within the queens – again feeling very forced. As I previously mentioned, the main challenge was a live performance of ‘Rats the Rusical’ which seemed to perfectly fit into Veronica Green’s wheelhouse. She made a big deal of how she had trained for years, as well as dropping numerous accomplishments, only to be shut down by Cherry. She decided to demonstrate her vocal talent with a very substandard rift that we learnt later was not her best performance. It is clear that Lawerence Chaney is a fan favourite and clearly a future “Ms Congeniality” (if they do that on this season), as even when struggling to pick up choreography or sing aloud, the rest of the queens gathered round her to encourage her. I think Cherry Valentine is one of my favourite queens in this season, as not only did she work as a nurse through the pandemic but in this episode she discussed how she came from a gypsy traveller background and how this has affected her. She talked about how they are an insufferable amount of toxic masculinity within the traveller community and this has resulted in her being scared to be as out there as the rest of the queens. It’s fantastic to have representation for this community (which I don’t think has happened on this show before) as the greater number of groups represented on shows such as this one, the more people can feel accepted to be who they are.

What I loved about this performance of ‘Rats the Rusical’ was that it contained many fun references that the audience would enjoy. There was a lyric within the opening song which says “CGI is a mess, we have human hands” and “What is going on here, no one understands” which were a clear reference to the poorly-received Cats movie starring a celebrity cast that included Rebel Wilson and James Corden. I personally really enjoyed the line “Bring it to the Subway” which was a clear reference to the iconic “Category is” song from Drag Race Season 9 which is one of my all-time favourite songs from the show! We also had the character called Evita sing “Don’t Cry For Me” while raising her hands and a minor reference to the song Memory from cats which I think could have been exaggerated more to make the audience at a home chuckle. Ginny Lemon is a massive character who revels in the absurd as her rendition on Lady Judy Stench (another reference to the film for you there) was such a ridiculous caricature that I could not take my eyes off her.

Like I already said the runway in this episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK was titled “Surprise, Surprise” which I knew instantly that every queen was going to do some sort of reveal costume which I think actually ruins the impact of this stunt but there you go. Both A’whoea and Lawrence Chaney has issues tearing away there reveals and did make it a bit uncomfortable to watch. I am still confused as to how Ginny Lemons outfit was a surprise because that’s exactly what I would expect from her. Maybe her surprise was that there was no surprise? I have been following Cherry Valentine for a long time on Instagram and most of her looks are spooky and scary, so it was nice to see here for a more light-hearted outfit in this episode. Her costume revolves around a gender-reveal complete with a pretend bump, which was very whimsical and camp which I enjoy. When Tia Kofi walked onto the stage with a leather daddy inspired look with a painted on the hairy chest I was in hysterics. I thought that would have been a great surprise but when she revealed it was a reveal I was left very disappointed. It was a simple flamenco dress which the judges said looked like you could get at any cheap joke shop! Now everyone seemed to love Ellie Diamonds three shocking reveals, that were all based on The Wizard of Oz. While I loved that they fit all theme (with scarecrow turning it the tin man turning it the lion) it did find the costumes somewhat basic. The issue is that we have seen these outfits be done flawlessly by other queens in the US version and so naturally you would compare each outfit to those which were not to the same standard. This episode was truly Veronica Green’s to win! From slaying the vocals and performance in the musical to an incredible outfit that transformed from a domestic house whife to a robot android from the future, it was the episode in which she established herself as a forerunner!

Now I think I need to stop letting the internet know who my favourite queens are, as I think I may be a victim of some sort of magical curse. I love Joe Black and he went home and I announce Tayce and Cherry are two of my favourite and they end up in the bottom two (**spoiler alert**) I don’t think these two deserved to be in the bottom two but wow did they perform the lip-sync perfectly. Instead of high flips and kicks, we had an insanely powerful rendition of “Memory” from Cats (which ties the episode together again.) Both queens stood their ground and performed a powerful performance of this song which had the judges in tears and could have constituted a double save but alas. Cherry was deemed as the loser of the battle and had to leave, which I am not happy with! My top three were Cherry, Lawrence and taste with those three ending up in the bottom three this week … Ludicrous!

Anyway, this was a well thought out episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK, with logical connection and a constant theme throughout which was insanely clever. The musical was very fun and contained hilarious reference for drag and musical-theatre fans alike which established Veronica Green as a queen with a lot of talent!

**** 4/5

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