RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE recap: “Supermodel Snatch Game”

2303
snatch-game-rupauls-drag-race-season-8-episode-5 for web.jpg

These episodes are opening with extended dialogue regarding the previous week’s challenge. In this case, Chi Chi DeVayne apologized to Derrick Barry. You’ll recall, he complained on the catwalk that his team members didn’t support his vision of what to wear during the New Wave Queen’s challenge, the one that resulted in both Chi Chi and Naysha Lopez lip synching for their lives and Naysha going home… again. Derrick did not take the apology in stride: “yeah it was you being a bitch.”

Then Derrick fell into a lengthy argument with Bob the Drag Queen over who can get away with “side shady comments.” He got the last word, via a comment to the camera, with yet another Britney Spears lyric insertions: this time it was “I’m not that innocent.” Are you getting tired of those too?

The single best reason to watch any reality TV show is to try and figure out where the reality ends and the producer tricks begin. RuPaul’s Drag Race is the best at blurring those lines. For a show that has such a relatively small audience, you won’t find more podcasts, YouTube recaps, and a reddit thread that goes on for miles. And they’re filled with little tidbits of information on the show, like how the catwalk scenes — where the judges spit out those witty one-liners as the queens show off their runway looks, and when Ru sends someone home — take something like eight hours to record. Or how, during this Snatch Game episode, RuPaul herself threw a tantrum when the supermodel guest judges proved themselves not smart enough to offer intelligent/funny answers. If the behind the scenes stuff is as entertaining as the show itself, you have a winner.

All of that to say: these episodes are stitched together in a way that suggests we’ll never know what really happened anywhere.

It’s Snatch Game time, the midseason highlight that we all look forward to seeing. The queens were tasked to “impersonate a celebrity and fill in the blanks,” a la Match Game. As RuPaul told Chi Chi, in order to win Snatch Game, “you’ve got stay in character and you’ve got to make me laugh.”

Naomi and Bob both preferred Whoopi Goldberg yet neither of them chose her.

Derrick Barry considered a Laura Bell Bundy “Black girl trapped in a White girl’s body” character that was gently dismissed by RuPaul.

Everyone else seemed to know immediately who they were going to portray for the game. During his visit to the werk room, Ru revealed the runway category this week would be “Night of 100 Madonnas.” From there we launched immediately into Snatch Game, no commercial break, no transition of any sort.

Celebrity contestants (and episode guest judges) were Chanel Iman and Gigi Hadid. And the queens were:

Thorgy Thor… Michael Jackson

Kim Chi… Kimmy Jong Un (the sister of Kim Jong-Un)

Acid Betty… Nancy Grace

Robbie Turner… Diana Vreeland (“legendary Vogue editor”)

Naomi Smalls… Tiffany “New York” Pollard

Chi Chi DeVayne… Eartha Kitt

Derrick Barry… Britney Spears

Bob the Drag Queen… Uzo Aduba

 

Stars of the show included Thorgy Thor’s Michael Jackson and Chi Chi’s Eartha Kitt. Derrick Barry played Britney well, and Bob blew the game up by changing out partway as Carol Channing. Kim Chi didn’t disappoint as Kimmy Jong Un, though it was an entirely invented character.

The remaining three were completely disappointing. Robbie Turner’s Diana Vreeland didn’t work because, compared to Thorgy’s Michael Jackson, viewers didn’t have a ready-made concept of Vreeland that Robbie could capitalize on. Robbie had to both introduce us to the personality of Vreeland and spoof that impression. Impossible.

Though we all know who HLN’s Nancy Grace is, Acid Betty did nothing to capitalize on our preconceived ideas of her personality. And Naomi Smalls’ New York was, hands down, the worst. For those who may not even recall, Tiffany “New York” Pollard was the breakout star from “Flavor of Love,” the VH-1 reality show that attempted to find a new love interest for Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav. I always found her hilarious but she never had a catchphrase or anything Naomi could use, nothing where we could say, “oh that’s spot ON!”

On the runway, the “Night of 100 Madonnas” turned into “Night of 100 kimonos."

Thorgy Thor… Nothing Really Matters

Kim Chi… Nothing Really Matters

Derrick Barry… Nothing Really Matters

Naomi Smalls… Nothing Really Matters

Each one of them chose “kimono Madonna.” What a waste.

Acid Betty… Bedtime Story, from the video where Madonna’s giving birth to doves

Robbie Turner… A League of Their Own

Chi Chi DeVayne… Blonde Ambition Tour, with the cone bra

Bob the Drag Queen… from the 2013 GLAAD Media Awards, the Boy Scout uniform

 

The judges immediately named Chi Chi and Kim Chi safe, which was deserved.

With six remaining, it seemed clear who was in the bottom three (Betty, Naomi, Robbie). Robbie especially disappointed by claiming he’d lost his voice throughout the performance. RuPaul, of course, reminded him there was no issue hearing him. As a viewer we’re tempted to agree but, of course, if that scene took eight hours to prepare, there’s a likelihood Robbie did lose his voice and also: why would he make that claim if he wasn’t sure there’d be some evidence of it?

Don’t forget: sleuthing out these hidden behind the scenes moments is half the fun!

For the second time this season, Bob the Drag Queen was named winner of the challenge. The camera quickly panned to Thorgy Thor, the obvious runner up, who smiled graciously. It’s been suggested elsewhere online that producers are preparing the narrative at this point for each competitor and it seems Bob is being set up as the preferred favorite. Thorgy Thor has played bridesmaid for so many challenges already, it seems she’s being groomed for a second place finish.

Derrick Barry was deemed safe, as well.

RuPaul quickly identified Acid Betty and Naomi Smalls as the two who would lip synch. The song: “Causing a Commotion.” Acid Betty didn’t stand a chance, waddling around the stage with a massive contraption hanging from her waist. Naomi stripped off (this week’s) shear wrap to reveal the two-piece swimsuit she’s worn every week so far and writhed around, the way every queen who lips synchs and stays does. No back flips or front flips this week.

And it was Acid Betty’s turn to go home. She underperformed the entire episode, yes, yet it was a surprise that she’d have to sashay away because her drag identity seemed so clear. I assumed she’d ride it to at least the top three.

“I’m so happy to be part of royalty now,” she said. A revealing quote because as far as the career of these drag queens go, becoming The Next Drag Superstar isn’t everything.

 

 

See also:

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE recap: "New Wave Queens" (season 8 episode 4)

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE recap: "Supermodel Snatch Game" (season 8 episode 5)

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE recap: "Wizards of Drag" (season 8 episode 6)