This week the 80's invaded "RuPaul's Drag Race," and that can only be a good thing. Between a "We Are the World"-style group-sing challenge, day-glo couture, and fabulous Me Decade guest judges The Pointer Sisters and La Toya Jackson, I was getting all hot and bothered over Cold War chic. Rather than do a point-by-point analysis, I'm going to go through each one of the queens left in the competition and evaluate their performance this week, and how they're doing overall. The interesting thing about this season is that, unlike the several prior editions, there is no obvious front-runner at this point. I can easily see any of four or five queens taking the crown this time.
Ivy Winters: Ivy won this week's challenge, but personally I don't see her lasting much longer in the competition. Please understand - I like Ivy. She seems nice enough (although perhaps a bit dim). She is a capable performer, and she has some outstanding outfits. Loved the dress she wore this week, made out of pictures of herself. The problem is, Ivy has a real charisma issue. She's got uniqueness (she breathes fire!) and talent in spades, but there's no star power there. No personality. It's a pity, because she was a pre-show favorite. I just don't see her lasting more than a few more weeks.
Jinkx Monsoon:Jinkx was runner-up this episode, but it's good news for the long haul: she's getting the underdog edit hardcore. After being invisible for the first half of the season, Jinkx stepped into the frame with last week's "Snatch Game." She was all over this episode, too, despite being barely mentioned at judging. The editors want us to love her. That's easy - Jinkx is lovable. She's also talented (I thought she did better with the singing than Ivy). But right now she's lacking nerve. Getting grumbly that the other queens aren't fawning over your win because you're not part of the (increasingly tired) Rolaskatox clique is not cute, dear. And thank god for Michelle Visage finally telling Jinkx that she needs to back off the contouring. Jinkx herself mentioned that she was losing faith in her painting skills, and rightly so. She looked worse this week than she has ever looked. There's a huge difference between stage make-up and TV make-up. But I hope Jinkx can pull the look together, and her confidence, because she has the skills to go all the way.
Roxxxy Andrews:Roxxxy also finished toward the top, although I suspect that had more to do with her breast-in-show runway than the singing challenge. I realized this episode that Roxxxy is essentially getting by on her larger-than-life personality and eye-popping clothing choices, because her challenge performances tend to fall into one category: loud attention whore. That's fine - she's a drag queen, after all. But we've seen very little versatility from Roxxxy, and it's weird that several other members of the cast are getting grilled about that, while she's skating by. Also, as mentioned above: Rolaskatox stopped being amusing three episodes back. Lot of talk from that group, and not a lot of show.
Detox: And I actually blame most of that underwhelming feeling on Detox. What a disappointment she has turned out to be the past few weeks. She started so strong, and came in with so much promise - she runs with Willam. The talent and the wit HAS to be there. But Detox isn't really giving us anything besides the quavery jaw and the plastic-surgery wonderland body. Her ass-revealing dress was a stunning moment, but I'm amazed that nobody commented on how jacked-up the breast cups looked. Also, I didn't appreciate her denying using strategy when assigning the singing teams/order. It was obvious what she was doing with Alyssa and Coco. It's a competition - why not own it? That felt very weak to me for someone who seemed content to play the bitch early on. (Also, I'm going to say it: Detox's make-up looked better when she applied it in the dark than it does normally.)
Alaska: Poor Alaska. After an inauspicious start early in the season, she has been steadily moving to the front of the pack, based in large part on her comedic skills in the mini-challenges. (I howled at her Two-Face make-up job this week.) But she is struggling to make an impression in the main challenges, and her runway has become extremely one-note - it's all discount prom wear with a bit of schtick thrown in for interest. I thought the judges came at her awfully hard this week for not showing "vulnerability" - a bullshit critique when they used it on Chad Michaels, and a bullshit critique here - and Alaska's breakdown in "Untucked" was difficult to watch. But I hope she gets it together. She's a sweetheart, and has emerged as the most likable member of Rolaskatox. At this point I find the comparisons to Sharon Needles totally unfounded - Alaska's drag is really nothing like Sharon's. I think she is just a bit more of an introvert and takes a while to really open up. Unfortunately that doesn't play well in a reality-TV competition.
Alyssa Edwards: Alyssa got a redemption episode after a fairly brutal edit last week. Alyssa has become, to me, the most interesting contestant of the season, and the poster child for reality-TV editing follies. I disliked her intensely at first, but then came to find her charming in a kind of nutty-aunt way. My sense of Alyssa is that she means no harm, but if she's doing poorly, she tries to take down someone, anyone else. This week I felt for her on numerous fronts. She's an admittedly terrible singer, but at least she tried in the challenge (ahem, COCO). She has become the de facto group piñata, with even the supposedly sweet girls laughing at her for being "fat" on "Untucked." And lastly, she had an extremely emotional moment when her estranged father sent in a surprise video in support of Alyssa and her drag. We've seen several of those over the years, but I found that one so moving for some reason. Anyway, I like Alyssa and I hope she sticks around. But this is the second week in a row where she has demonstrated that she's not well-rounded in the talent department.
Coco Montrese: And then there's Coco. Such a frustrating spectacle to behold, and I don't mean those grotesque contact lenses. There are times when I like Coco. She throws some pretty good shade, and I like that in a drag queen. But by the time this week's challenge was over, I was totally done with her. Done.With.Her. Her attitude during the main challenge was deplorable, and this isn't the first time she has shut down because she's not happy with the way things are going (see: the kid-show episode). Coco was unhappy she was paired with Alyssa, and unhappy she had to go first. Deal with it, toots. You were fine working with her when you were team captain. Then more passive-aggressive bullshit in the workroom, a ghastly look on the runway (another one, and last week she had the nerve to come after Jinkx for her ensembles), and once again attacking Alyssa on "Untucked" - she is exhausting. Just a bitter, unpleasant person to watch on television. The only good parts of Coco this episode were the hilarious clip in which she stood there, sour faced, while saying nothing at the mic during "Can I Get an Amen," and her very sweet words to Alyssa about her father. Which again underscores how fake that stupid feud is.
Jade Jolie: And it was sashay away for Miss Fish 2013, Jade Jolie. A week ago I would have been delighted to see Jade eliminated. She never stood out in any of the challenges, and more than once I found her stealth bitchery toxic. But this week I felt sorry for her. First, she went home with multi-colored extensions dangling from all over her body. Nobody deserves that. (I did love the blue wig and make-up, though.) Second, she was kind of sweet during this episode. Third, she really tried in that lipsynch to "I'm So Excited." I didn't expect her to fight so hard, but she did the song proud -- Coco just did it better. My guess is that if they bring back an eliminated queen, it'll be Jade. She didn't really do anything wrong. She just never did anything particularly right. And god knows that panel loves a fishy queen, and Jade is catch of the season.
Next week: The RuPaul Roast! That odious Absolut dude! The inevitable crumbling of Rolaskatox!