23rd Nov2022

‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK 4×09’ Review

by Rhys Payne

I have to admit that I was thoroughly disappointed with the ‘squirrel games’ acting channel on last week’s episode and to be honest it was not down to the queen’s performances themselves. While the queens did seem to struggle during the rehearsal process, their individual performances were mostly entertaining but the biggest problem I had with the challenges was the script itself. I don’t know who writes these challenges but the entire sketch was crammed full of random pop culture moments that did not really make sense in the overall narrative. We saw characters inspired by Bear Grylls, Kim Woodburn and Ashley and Pudsey from Britain’s Got Talent in a Big Brother-style competition run by a killer squirrel that hosted murderous Squid Games-style challenges. On top of this, there was also dialogue that paid homage to viral videos, Drag Race references and many other pop culture phenomena. However, after a fairly exciting runway category, it was announced that Cheddar Gorgeous would be given her fourth badge/win of the season which clearly puts a target on their back as a front-runner of the season. On the other end of the competition, we saw Black Peppa and Jonbers deliver one of the best lip-syncs of this season so far with both of them being told by Ru to ‘Shantay you stay!’

This week’s maxi-challenge however saw the queens have to write and perform a roast of their fellow queens in a sort of political campaign-style format. I am not an avid follower of British politics but I am aware that currently it is a time of unprecedented uncertainty with the prime minister recently resigning and so this challenge had to the potential of being extremely controversial. I thought it was a fantastic idea that Aisling Bea (who appeared in the Netflix original series Living With Yourself a few years ago) was brought into the show to be a comedy coach for the queens. Aisling proved extremely helpful and constructive advice to every performer even helping to live structure jokes that needed improvement which shows how much comedic talent she truly possesses. I don’t think viewers fully realise how difficult comedy can be, so to see a professional provide genuine support is not only beneficial to the queens themselves but makes the audience more aware of the struggles they have to overcome. Aisling was not the only famous face to be invited onto the show as the insanely talented Olly Alexander was invited as a guest judge this week with his banter with Ru when introduced being a particular highlight. Olly stated that he had been waiting “years and years” to be in the show and “it’s a sin” how great Ru look which was a nod to two of the things Olly rose to fame for doing. On top of these two famous faces, we all saw all the eliminated queens return to the main stage to act as an audience for the political roasts. It is very clear that the majority of the queens have had a glow-up since their appearances earlier in the season and in my opinion, it is fantastic to see how they have all grown and developed since then!

There was no doubt that this was going to be a challenge that Danny would really excel in due to his quick wit and over-the-top confidence. Danny opened the entire performance and shine every single second they were on the stage. Some of my favourite jokes for their set would have to be “Scarlet fashion 50% of the mark but sadly for you, personality was the other half”, the anecdote “you can’t polish a turd but you can roll it in rhinestones” also to Scarlet, her read to Jonbers starting that it is clear for Jonber’s appearance “The troubles in Ireland have clearly just begun” and finding the strength to insult Pixie as “Roasting is what you do with a pig.” Jonber’s decided that this comedy roast challenge would be the perfect opportunity to bust out a drunk character that got off to an incredible start! I personally loved the joke “they don’t call it Downing Street for no reason” it was a hilarious play on words! I also really appreciate that she made reference to her dog character from last week by saying she had played a dog that she still doesn’t know the name of. While at first this drunk character seemed like a genius idea and a clever way to hide any hesitations, it quickly became clear that this inclusion was used as a plot to cover the fact that she had a series of notes instead of memorising any of their speech. Black Peppa seemed to really struggle with this comedy challenge, so much so that at one point she essentially begged the audience to “just laugh.” The one notable joke she managed to crack was along the lines of “it’s nice to see Dakota Schifer wearing make-up” and that was more so because the camera immediately panned to Michelle Visage. The entire episode consisted of the queens being fearful of Pixie Polite due to her supposed comedy mastery but she also seemed to really struggle. At one point she stumbled over her lines and audibly said “I have already said that joke.” During her workshop with Aisling earlier in the episode, the comedian had shared a structure for a joke comparing Alan Car’s teeth with stone henge which Pixie totally messed up during the challenge. I do have to say that she was the only one to seem to really dive into the political elements of the show by talking about education etc. but the jokes she shared did not seem to land. Cheddar got off to an incredible start with her alien gimmick but the structure of her speech did seem to quickly move into a lecture rather than the comedy roast that was intended.

The runway category this week was “pretty in punk” which saw the queens showcase their best rebellious outfits. Jonbers decided to wear a massive paper clip that appeared to be piercing her and the red fringe acted as dripping blood in the look. The look that Black Peppa decided to showcase this week was one of my favourite outfits I have seen her in this entire season! The wonderfully intimidating Mohawk made total sense as a part of the outfit alongside a series of carefully placed piercings. The outfit itself was an unusual hybrid of an armour-style design with exaggerated shoulders plastered in piercing spikes! I thought that she looked incredible in the look and managed to fit the category in an incredible m way! Cheddar decided to wear a totally leather with a brilliant green spiked wig with amazing stones/piercings scattered around her face. The words “the future is queer” was emblazened across the outfit which kept this in Cheddar’s passion for multiple means in every outfit.

It was very clear that Danny Beard was the winner of this week’s episode and so claims her fourth badge this season. As well as getting a badge, Danny has secured a place in next week’s finale which I have to admit I saw from the moment she entered the werk room! At the bottom this week were Black Peppa (again) and Pixie Polite who had to lip-sync to the iconic Another One Bites the Dust. Black Peppa used this song to yet again pull out her regular tricks including the splits. To combat this stunt, Pixie decided to perform a hilarious attempt at a death drop that was brilliant to watch! However, my heart stopped when Pixie tripped and took a tumble on stage despite playing it off as part of her routine. While I think that Black Peppa was very clearly the better performer in this battle, this marks the fourth time she has ended up in the battle so if I was Ru Paul I would have chosen to send her home based purely on that fact!

Overall, Danny beard was the only queen who really shone during the roast challenge with the idea of a political campaign becoming somewhat of an afterthought. The majority of the episode was spent hyping up Pixie’s comedy skills only for her to flop during the actual performance. This was the final episode before the finale and I totally expected Danny Beard, Cheddar Gorgeous and Black Peppa (despite her ropey track record) would be there but Jonbers is a very nice addition to the lineup!

**** 4/5


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