RuPaul in Ruview: Episode One of Drag Race
RuPaul’s Drag Race is back and the ninth season of this iconic series wastes no time jumping into the fray. Hot on the heels of two phenomenal seasons last year, season nine faces the dual pressures of having to live up to the excellence of those prior seasons whilst also creating something new and engaging. How exactly does it purport to achieve that?
An entire episode dedicated to Lady Gaga is a start.
The songstress and gay icon is the guest judge for this episode and RuPaul intends to milk her appearance on the show for every goddamn penny. Gaga’s appearance on the show is well overdue. To make up for it, Ru makes sure that for every frame since she appears on screen, we know that Lady Gaga is in this episode. Accordingly, the main challenge for this episode is a pageant where contestants must don their best Gaga outfits.
The entire concept is so deliciously extra. What’s even wilder is that it works. I’m so perfectly content to listen for 40 minutes to Gaga, in that trademark soothing New York register, talk to me about Donatella, McQueen and the 2009 VMAs.
The queens this season are an incredibly diverse bunch. There’s pageant queens, art queens, comedy queens and a drama queen, Sasha Velour, whose workroom entrance consists of her screaming for a good eight seconds.
Right off the bat, it’s obvious that many of these queens are trying to build a brand for themselves. Drag Race has been on the air for 8 years now and in those years, it’s done a great deal of work in bringing drag to an audience who would otherwise have little exposure to it. These queens are fully aware of what kind of impact the show can have on their careers. Trying to take advantage of that isn’t wrong, but playing it up for the camera can do more damage than good in a lot of cases.
Eureka, who possesses the unique ability to use her name as a cool Australian catchphrase, is one queen who might run into a bit of trouble this season. For whatever reasons, she decides to hand out zingers to every queen who enters the door, much like that dog in your neighbourhood that barks at you from behind its fence every time you’re minding you dare to walk by, minding your own business. Her drag is evidently very polished – she finished in the top three – however she risks heading down a Ginger Minj villain path if she doesn’t cool it with the zingers and stops demanding negative screen time.
The early favourite for the season is Nina Bo’nina (Banana Fofana Osama Bin Laden) Brown, whose almost cosplayish style of drag is so incredibly clean. For the main challenge, where contestants present an outfit based on their hometown, Nina turns the building upside down with an incredible Georgia peach look. Made with paper.
How y’all doing? Me? I’m peachy
For her Gaga look she does the 2009 VMAs and she slays it.
She wins the episode and establishes herself as a formidable contender for the crown early on.
The other queens aren’t able to give as strong an impression in this first episode. The premiere is a mere forty minutes long which doesn’t give us too much time to flesh out every queen.
Valentina leaves a strong impression though, having only done drag for ten months, with a super polished image. She’s also completely a mime out of drag.
*Speaks in mime*
Charlie Hides, at fifty-two years old, is the oldest contestant in drag race history. While her hometown look was weak, her celebrity mimicry expertise means we’re in for one hell of a snatch game. Jaymes Manfield is a mess. She’s either going to be the first queen to head home, or judging by Gaga’s “she’s hiding something” comment, we’re going to see a growth arc.
I haven’t touched on even half the queens, but that’s not because they’re filler. The cherry on top of this episode is that no one is going home. We have a whole extra week to explore the strange Vegas messes that are Farrah Moan and the world’s only professional Gia Gunn impersonator, Kimora Blac.
However, having no lip sync for this episode was a big, big mistake. Lady Gaga is in this episode??? Gaga on the judging panel could’ve inspired an insane quality of lip sync. All of us must suffer and mourn the incredible Judas lip sync that never was.
The end of the episode promises a massive twist – a former contestant is returning to the show. It’s not a completely new twist; we all saw Shangela return from the dead six times already. But it’s bound to shake things up and hopefully means we’ll get a double elimination some time down the track.
· Shea Couleé delivers Mystique Summers realness with a “BITCH! I’M FROM CHICAGO”
· “It looks like she’s got a touch of the Zika.”
· One of the queens shouts “I love the Muppets” during Shee Couleé’s entrance and I passed out
· “Champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget.”