RuPaul’s Drag Race UK is back for its second season (or series…), with a new episode being released every week on BBC iPlayer. To celebrate, we’ve lined up four rrramble writers (including a Drag Race virgin!) to watch each week and spill all the tea, with a new review coming to you every Sunday. Yas queens!
Before I get onto the main focus of this week, I must address the consistent level of emotional content this season of Drag Race continues to deliver. Through the freely flowing tears of a drag queen, viewers are constantly reminded that beyond the fierce makeup and quick draw commentary, each competitor brings their own individual backstories and obstacles to overcome. Listening to Ellie’s difficult upbringing with her Dad’s lack of acceptance, it was sad to hear yet far from unfamiliar; family, both biological and chosen, often being a topic at the heart of queer experiences. At a point of being cast out for merely being their authentic self, it was wonderful to hear her Mum’s refusal to choose her husband over her son. Even greater was Ellie’s eventual progressive conversation with her Dad, that for many LGBTQ+ individuals just never happens.
Now, Snatch Game…I have some thoughts. Though there were a couple of good choices in there, the majority were questionable. I completely disagreed with Alan Carr this week, when he suggested that anyone could do Mel B; his obvious references to visual signifiers only proving the limited scope for impersonation. Lawrence was disappointing this week, but not surprisingly so considering production had us all predicting a fall. The effect of Miriam Margoyles comes from her outrageous commentary delivered in unprompted fashion, which just doesn’t fit Snatch Game when risqué responses are anticipated. As for the other queens, they felt on relatively level pegging. Familiar with their choices, they each gave some good answers and did show characterisation, but even Tayce’s performance only seemed at the higher end by default due to the overall calibre. That is…except for Bimini.
With strong characterisation, hilarious improvisations and an ability to mock without relying on cheap shots, Bimini’s Katie Price was brilliant! Their editorial runway was also a clear win both visually and in the genius of its concept. I enjoyed A’Whora’s bone corset and Tayce’s character-driven interpretation, but otherwise felt the theme was a bit limited – ‘Bones and animal print? For prehistoric? Ground-breaking.’
I came into this week with a handful of assumptions and predictions. Thinking Ellie might bow out this episode, I was surprised and pleased to see her hold her own in the Snatch Game. Assuming Lawrence would do well, I kind of liked seeing otherwise; it just makes it hard to root for someone when they always win, even if they are personable and funny! As much as I love Tia and did think she might rise out of nowhere this week, I wasn’t entirely shocked to see her flap those tired pterodactyl wings away. However, I loved seeing her deliver her sharp wit and charm right up to the end – “Are you sure? I’ve got no plans.”
Overall, was it the most memorable Snatch Game? Not quite. However, that does not detract from Bimini’s stellar performance, as they continue to cement themself as the new frontrunner in a time where top four predictions are already being cast.
This was a really good episode, I thought! Mainly because Bimini, who is undoubtedly my favourite, finally won a Ru Peter badge that they don’t have to share with others. And it was a very well-deserved win at that! Their performance in the Snatch Game as Katie Price was hilarious from the moment she started speaking: “is it cold in here or is it just my nipples?” You know how, often, when you watch something that is funny, you still don’t tend to laugh out loud? Well, contrary to that, Bimini’s performance had me cracking up so much with audible laughter. That’s how funny I thought they were! They had the accent and the demeanour down, as well as wit, charm and a certain coolness that not all queens have been able to achieve in bygone Snatch Games.
The runway look, too, was genius, such a brilliant and unique interpretation of the theme as opposed to the various cave women that walked across the main stage. It was, however, a bit of a shame to see the judges not immediately get it; to me, it seemed as if they didn’t appreciate the sheer intelligence behind the look and the nod to a single-celled organism that kickstarted 3.5 billion years of life on Earth. I know Drag Race is all about glamorous drag queens and such, but when someone teams glamour with intelligence, that deserves so much more praise. At least they appreciated how gorgeous Bimini looked, I guess.
Another reason I thought this was a good episode is thanks to learning more about Ellie Diamond’s backstory. Actually, it was quite emotional being invited into witnessing a more vulnerable side to Ellie, listening to her talking about her father not accepting her for being queer. My eyes welled up that moment she said in her confessional: “you don’t fucking do that to your kids.” No, you don’t! But it’s moments like this that make me feel our generation will be better parents, more accepting of people no matter who they are or what they become.
Finally, we come to Tia, who at the beginning of the episode, frustrates me slightly because, yet again, she promises she’ll step up the fashion. It just seems a little repetitive as multiple times she’s said this, and multiple times her outfits have been disappointing. That being said, I actually quite liked her pterodactyl outfit—she looked cute! Sure, it could have fitted better, it could have been crazier and also much more glamorous, but at least it wasn’t an unoriginal cave woman outfit. Of course, with her disappointing Snatch Game performance as Mel B where she overused jokes about Eddie Murphy, coupled with her runway look, she couldn’t make it past the third lip sync, but I continue to absolutely love her and will miss her self-deprecating jokes that all us Brits can relate to. I still believe there’s hope in terms of her style—one day she’ll wow us, I know it.
I can’t lie to you, this week’s review is 90% just me being a mess over Bimini. You’ve been warned.
There was no real sense of loss after Joe’s departure. It really just felt like we were picking up where we left off, just with this unnecessary hump to get over, in dealing with the loss of a queen who we literally already lost in week one. Ah well, it just wasn’t meant to be (third time’s the charm, maybe).
I’m going to make a conscious effort to be extra positive after last week (so I will NOT talk about how much of a hypocrite Sister Sister is continuing to be UGH…this show is definitely changing my chemical makeup—I feel like I’m becoming snarkier. Ru, it’s all your fault.)
This week’s main challenge was the Snatch Game. Oh, boy. This was just objectively weird.
Bimini is just like a big gulp of fresh air, with her amazing fashion sense, humour and PMA (positive mental attitude, for the unenlightened). I never had an opinion on Katy Price before watching this week’s episode, and now I agree with Jessie Ware; please can I marry Katy Price-bon Boulash because damn, does she has some confusing but undeniable charisma.
Honestly, no one else compared, and I’d be lying if I was paying much attention to any of the other queens, although, once again, Tayce did an amazing job of committing to her impersonation, this time of Jane Turner.
After that strange fever dream we had everyone’s take on a ‘pre-historic’ look. Once again, Bimini slayed this challenge, hands down. Her outfit was inspired by bacteria. Bacteria. The other queens could never.
Tayce and A’whora’s outfits were also great—out of everyone they always seem to be the two whose outfits are consistently a level above everyone else’s—A’whora even used a 3-D printer for her bone dress! What!? If we needed a sign that the stakes were getting higher, a 3-D printer is probably the one.
This was also Tia Kofi’s chance to prove that she how understood how to make an outfit that actually worked for her body….did she have major success? Well…not really. Hey, the girl just really loves an asymmetrical hem line.
It has felt like Tia’s time to go for the last couple of weeks, and so whilst I felt bad that this was now her third lip-sync of the series, I was not-so-secretly hoping that she wouldn’t turn out to be a ‘lip-sync assassin’, and Lawrence Chaney would continue to fight another day.
And that was indeed the way it went. Now we just need Tia to go work on her seamstressing abilities—for real, this time—and then she can come back and take everyone by storm.
At this point in the show, I think I’m starting to get a clearer view of who stands a solid chance of winning, and who might be in for a sombre order of ‘sashay away’ in the weeks to come. But still—anything could happen!
So far when I’ve been writing these reviews, I’ve been trying to keep things light and silly, but to start this week, I’d like to just lay it out there: this third lockdown has been pretty shite, and Drag Race has genuinely become a shining light in all the pandemic sludge, including the writing of these reviews. In an age of binge watching and streaming services, these days television more often than not feels like a solo activity. I’m most certainly not adverse to a series binge, but there’s been something really nice about knowing we’re all watching the weekly Drag Race episodes at the same time. Collectively experiencing Bimini’s ‘Pwicey’ telling Ru he has beautiful nipples? Brings a tear to your eye.
Going into snatch game, I think we all had ideas of who would do well and who may struggle. But those producers do love to set you up for a surprise, don’t they. Drag Race is the epitome of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, and this week was no exception, with the show strictly following the well versed formula of this challenge. Step 1: We follow Ru around the workroom to find out who’s doing who (not like that… we already know the answer is Tayce and AW’hora). I love this year’s batch of queens, but they don’t strike me as the most funny bunch, so I was interested to see who out of the more looks-oriented queens would up their (snatch) game.
Step 2: contestants get emotional. Check. This week was Ellie Diamond’s turn to break down in her chat with Ru. Although I don’t usually love this part of the show as it can feel a little bit performative, the story of Ellie’s family’s eventual acceptance of them and their drag was actually incredibly touching, so I didn’t actually mind too much. Plus big shout out to Bryce.
In the game, it didn’t feel like there were a load of standout moments, with most of who I’d call the ‘meh’ queens (Sister Sister, A’Whora, Tia) not doing much to change my mind. Lawrence’s performance, which had been so built up, was surprisingly (but also predictably) disappointing, and combined with her runway I thought it was fair enough that she was in the bottom. But really all this meant was that the limelight was saved entirely for Bimini, which was more than ok with me. Bimini is fast becoming a national treasure (as everyone who’s had Bing Bang Bong in their head for the past TEN MILLION HOURS will know) and the bacteria runway look was inspired. Bimini, my heart is yours.
As a footnote, another fave theme of this episode was the UK slang education. Hearing Gemma Collins patiently explaining to a puzzled Ru what ‘toss off’ and ‘bellend’ mean was truly a thing of beauty. And props to Michelle, who has most definitely proved herself as an honorary local, with her detailed knowledge of spotted dick. Anyone in doubt of her credentials, head to her Instagram to watch her struggling to choose between B&M and Home Bargains – the sign of a true British queen.
Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK is available now on BBC iPlayer. Catch us next Sunday to see what the reviewers make of episode 7!