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Ranking the House Down: Our Squirrel Friends of Rupaul’s Drag Race, Season Six (Recap #6)

By Gregory Rosebrugh | /Bent April 11, 2014 at 3:17PM

Logo TV are fitting Rupaul’s Drag Race into a new timeslot next week, so for the sake of easing audiences into the new program schedule the network ran two back-to-back episodes last night. Two episodes of Drag Race and two episodes of Untucked in one week feels like an extreme fast forward, especially given how radically the competition was shaken up between “Glamazon by Colourevolution” and “Drag Queens of Comedy”. Let us return to the predictions made last week and see where the cards lay at this point... (We will discuss the matter of Laganja Estranja in a separate article, coming soon.)
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Logo TV are fitting Rupaul’s Drag Race into a new timeslot next week, so for the sake of easing audiences into the new program schedule the network ran two back-to-back episodes last night. Two episodes of Drag Race and two episodes of Untucked in one week feels like an extreme fast forward, especially given how radically the competition was shaken up between “Glamazon by Colourevolution” and “Drag Queens of Comedy”. Let us return to the predictions made last week and see where the cards lay at this point... (We will discuss the matter of Laganja Estranja in a separate article, coming soon.)

Trinity K. Bonet:

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Last week our money was on Trinity K. Bonet and Laganja Estranja going home, in that order. The rationale was that Trinity’s lack of confidence seemed to consume her every time she had to step up to an acting challenge, while Laganja’s generally safe performance across the season was starting to show lack of growth. Neither queen had won any main challenges, nor had either of them hit any high notes in many weeks (Trinity not since the Scream Queens challenge, and Laganja since the butterfly fascinator). Joslyn Fox on the other hand, for all her unpolished wardrobe choices, demonstrated significant improvement across “Snatch Game” and “Oh No She Better Don’t”. She appeared safer going into this week’s two episodes. 

This week flew in the face of everything we thought of Trinity. All that power she has brought to her lip-syncs in the past was finally applied in the main challenges this week. With helpful guidance from Bianca Del Rio and Ru, Trinity got up some gumption and took risks we have wanted to see from her all this time. Her hooker act in the Glamazon commercial was well-timed and played up for an edgy contrast to Bianca’s boss bitch character. (On a related note, while the hooker humour on Drag Race has been questionable in the past, I at least appreciate the show’s stance in this season that sex work is real work.) Trinity looked like she was enjoying herself in her working hoe character, and as a result she let the brighter sides of her personality come through in her performance. We may never find out what helpful tips Bianca gave to Trinity to render such a performance, but I can imagine Trinity was advised to relax, forget about the competition, and just have fun with her character. And it really paid off.

After her solid performance in the Glamazon commercial Trinity hit homerun in the “Drag Queens of Comedy.” It is peculiar how this episode unfolded. We all figured Bianca and Darienne Lake had this challenge in the bag, but beyond that nothing panned out the way we had imagined it. We certainly had not imagined Trinity performing well as a comedienne. In fact, I said last week that Trinity “does not have a funny nerve in her body.” I am now eating my foot. Beyond the surprise, it was a real pleasure to see Trinity energize a room of seniors, as well as throw out some brilliant jokes. That gag about her sister dying of an ear infection was so poignant, as it treaded that line where comedy and parody meet social reality. It takes a skilled and usually seasoned comedienne to use humour in such a way that it works through life experiences and issues of the day. Trinity pulled this off like she had been doing this gig for years. It made me wish Wanda Sykes was on the judges’ panel.
 
It is worth noting that Trinity’s runway choices this week were consistent with past weeks. For the youngest competitor in the competition she is no amateur in the style department. That domino dress was high drag, plain and simple. The Indochine-chic cocktail dress she wore in the “Drag Queens of Comedy” was well suited to her sophisticated humour. It was fun and easy-going, but serious-minded as well. If Trinity applies herself in the talk show challenge next week like she did in both of this week’s main challenges, she will have a chance at replacing Ben de la Creme in the top three. 

Darienne Lake:

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Last week Darienne ranked low. Since her main challenge win Darienne’s performances in the have ranged from safe to low, and while her runway presentations have to date been impeccable she has nonetheless worried us that she might have peaked early. Next to Trinity and Laganja she has not been the worst, but there have meanwhile been five other queens continuing to performing on a much higher level.

The Glamazon challenge was another flop for Darienne. It sucks to see a concept like cosmetic surgery fall flat in execution, because if pulled off right that could have been the funniest commercial of the bunch. As it turned out it was just one joke stretched out for thirty seconds, and not a funny joke at that. The really shitty thing about Darienne in this challenge was that she kept inadvertently waxing Ben’s car. By playing the meaner of the two, and not playing cooperative in front of Ru in the workroom, Darienne is just making Ben look like a saint. She needs to bring her game face to every challenge, regardless of what it is or who she is paired with.

Darienne turned it around in the “Drag Queens of Comedy”, thank goddess. We would have been extremely disappointed had she not performed well in that venue (much the same as how upset we are with Adore, but more about that later). This event was a reminder of what we like about Darienne: she knows how to play to her audience, her timing is great, and she knows how to use her physical person (Laganja, take notes). As usual, Darienne’s hair and makeup were on point for both episodes. Her style choices across these eight weeks have consistently presented a brassy and flirtatious persona, which is really refreshing given how little sexuality the rest of this cohort exudes (regardless of how little clothing they wear). What’s working against Darienne at this point is her track record: even with her strong performance in the “Drag Queens of Comedy”, Darienne’s low points are too many now for her to gain momentum for the rest of this competition. She has the worst performance average of all the queens at this moment in season six, so the only way she will better her chances of making it to the top three is by winning another challenge or two and hitting high for every week until. This does not seem probable.  

Joslyn Fox & Courtney Act:

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Last week Courtney and Joslyn ranked as safe. While Joslyn had been gaining force in the competition for her strong acting skills, Courtney had been blending in with the scenery for the weeks succeeding her main challenge win. This week saw a drastic decline for Joslyn, as her and Courtney were weak in the Glamazon challenge (on record, there were a couple funny moments in that commercial), a low point that was then followed by Joslyn falling flat in the comedy challenge and having to lip-sync against Laganja (to a Pink song no less—talk about a low blow). Furthermore, Joslyn took smack from the judges for the second week in a row for wearing basically the same semi-nude sex kitten getup. This was disheartening to watch, as we have for the past weeks watched Joslyn rise in the competition with a ditsy-comedic edge that we have not before seen from a queen. Her tacky runway choices have an almost punk vibe, for how unfinished they are and how straight-faced and earnest Joslyn presents in them. Adore Delano calls herself polish remover—Joslyn might be liquid bleach. It’s cool, but she ought to find more crafty ways to flip the bird to her fellow competitors if she wants to still be standing alongside them in a few weeks. Joslyn deserves to be where she is at this stage in season six. She has worked for this, and it has paid off, but the fruits of Joslyn’s labour will not last for long if she does not switch gear. Now is the time for her to get eleganza extravaganza, and in a big way. No more low-rent Courtney Act, especially since Courtney Classic is becoming a tad outdated.

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After receiving her harshest critique of this season for the Glamazon commercial, Courtney made little improvement in the “Drag Queens of Comedy” challenge. That Broadway number was embarrassing. Like, Glee embarrassing. Bruce Vilanch considered it smart that Courtney stuck to her strengths by going for a musical theatre approach. I, however, side with the late Pauline Kael when she argued that a performer repeating herself is not a sign of self-cultivation or the mastering of a craft—it’s the sign of a hack. By virtue of having not once yet lip-synced in this race Courtney still has more of an edge than Darienne or Joslyn, but her powers of persuasion are to starting to wane. She better watch herself, because Trinity is fast on her coat-tails. We need to see more Klaus Nomi realness and less underwear-and-blanket nonsense.

Adore Delano & Ben de la Crème:

This week Adore Delano won another challenge with her Glamazon commercial, and then followed her winning streak by flubbing her stand-up act. I cannot decide what aspect of Adore’s performance in “Drag Queens of Comedy” was more of a disappointment, the fact that she managed to bomb a challenge that lent itself so easily to her strengths, or that she fucked it up while dressed like a total amateur. Seriously, there was no shape to that ensemble, and the hair was flat and boring. This was a devastating episode for Adore’s adorers, myself among them. She will still last to the end of this competition, no doubt. However, I am scratching my head as to how she will survive the style-centred challenges that are up ahead.

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With Laganja gone we are left with seven distinctive queens who have a wide breadth of talent between them. There really is not a queen in the competition that I am not a fan of, at this point. Ben, however, grates on me more than the other girls. It is a peculiar thing, given how much Drag Race viewers live and die for Ben. In fact, many people hate Darienne on the grounds that she is mean to Ben—the Ben love is that strong. I personally understand Darienne’s view of Ben: there’s just something about her that annoys me once she drags up. The whole darling shtick is too much. The most I have loved Ben since the Snatch Game has been in the Untucked lounge when she screamed at Darienne, “I’M NOT GOING HOME!” In that moment she conveyed the vulnerability and naked emotion that we crave from these queens, and that we do not get enough of from Ben. Also, her proclivity towards high school semi-formal dresses is disconcerting.

The judges this week pulled Ben through the ringer on account of her underdeveloped persona. They called her out for being costumey and put on. This is a hard criticism to make of a drag queen, but in the cases of Ben and Laganja it makes sense. Their drag personas do not seem to extend from their personalities, but seem like stock characters in bad comedies. Ben is a smart squirrel, and unlike Laganja she will probably meet the judges’ expectations of her in weeks to come. Sharon Needles, Alaska Thunderfuck and Jinkx Monsoon were similarly taken to task when the judges thought they were becoming too shticky, and look where they are now. I predict that this week’s episodes will be the low-point of Ben’s story arc, and that Ben will rise from it stronger and better prepared. The show is really building a narrative around Ben’s obstacles, and like with Trinity we get the sense that it promises endurance for this competitor. If Ben stays afloat the next couple weeks she will likely slay in the drag-up challenge and the drag ball. Overall, Ben’s odds in the competition are about the same, and this two-week low is probably meant to build suspense for her fans.

Bianca del Rio:

“Hurricane Bianca is in town. No one is safe.” Bianca’s performance in this whole competition thus far has been almost flawless. She has only once not ranked as one of the best squirrels of the week—just once! Few queens have held such momentum throughout a season. In addition to Bianca’s performances in the main challenges she is stunning on the runway. I feel weird being so awestruck of a clown, but she is a really beautiful and elegant clown!
Overall, Bianca’s control of her craft and her general discipline in this season, even when she is talking shop and throwing shade, are the skills all six of her remaining competitors lack. This is her race to lose.

This is how season six looks from here on out:

7th place: Joslyn Fox. We want the world for her, but our expectations have plummeted.

6th place: Darienne Lake. She is a classy dame, but she fucks up too much to last this season.

5th place: Courtney Act. Klaus Nomi was a major hit, but in the challenges Courtney has been underwhelming the judges.

4th place: Trinity K. Bonet. Squirrel is gaining speed!

2nd Runner-Up: Adore Delano & Ben de la Crème. Despite their pitfalls they are still Bianca’s biggest competition (though by a long shot).

WINNER: Bianca Del Rio. Who else?

But how would we like to see queens go home? The following is how we rank the house down...

7th place: Courtney Act. She’s becoming a tad boring.

6th place: Ben de la Crème. She isn’t accessible. It’s hard to like someone who we barely know.

5th place: Trinity K. Bonet. After the last two episodes we love Trinity again. It would be a scream to see her compete in a design challenge. 

4th place: Darienne Lake. The Darienne haters are too many and for no good reason. She’s hilarious and gorgeous. She’s the whole package. It’s too bad she’s a weak competitor.

2nd Runner-Up: Adore Delano & Joslyn Fox. For all their flaws we cannot but love these squirrels. They are our best friends of season six. They are the Jujubee of this competition.

WINNER: Bianca Del Rio. The patron saint of shade.