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!
Episode 7 (has it really been that long already?!) starts off with the claws well and truly OUT. Tia’s lipstick message has hardly been wiped off the mirror before the queens get to work discussing who they think will be the next to leave. People choosing Sister Sister as the weak link isn’t shocking; the rest of the group really don’t seem to have warmed to her (I still blame the ‘I’m quite kooky’ moment from episode 1, which I for one haven’t forgiven). But I was a bit surprised at people choosing Ellie: her looks may be a bit predictable, but I actually think she’s really upped her game recently and is coming into her own. Maybe people just feel jealous that she’s so young.
I know it’s all part of the theatrics of Drag Race, but I’m not actually a huge fan of all the meanness (please, can’t we just all be friends??!!) If there’s going to be drama, I want it to be proper ~drama~ not just slightly stilted bitchy comments about stealing looks. But if I was hoping for peace, I wasn’t going to get it, as this episode saw the return of the classic ‘reading’ mini challenge. Now, this ain’t my first time at the Drag Race rodeo, but boy were these some harsh reads. More like demolitions. In fact the whole thing was a bit of a car crash – Ellie Diamond telling Bimini to take herself to the electric chair (how very dare she) and A’Whora doing us all the (dis)favour of providing a mental image of Tayce sitting on her face really was… a lot. But, in true car crash fashion, no matter how horrendous you just can’t help but watch.
I was happy when Ru introduced the main design challenge and I could stop watching with my hands in front of my eyes. Challenges like these, where the queens essentially have to make an outfit out of a pile of crap, are always fun – although I’m still not a massive fan of the Corona references. Producers, this is not my fantasy. Anyway, I’m in luck because the queens certainly take the ‘pandemic super shero’ theme very loosely. None of the final outfits really look anything like superheroes, even less corona related ones, but I’m more than ok with that.
The scenes of everyone scrambling around trying to get the best materials were my absolute favourite. It was the perfect mix of playfulness and competitiveness that’s making this series so watchable. Seeing A’Whora playfighting Lawrence with inflatable pink shells one second, and exclaiming ‘she’s got fucking rhinestones?!’ about Sister Sister the next, just about sums it up.
Now, when I said everyone – Bimini did absolutely zero scrambling (she is vegan I suppose) and just swanned around in classic relaxed Bon Boulash style, ending up with ‘two palm leafs and pillowcase’, which sounds a little like a camp remake of ‘2 pints of larger and a packet of crisps’ but sadly didn’t end up standing her in that good stead. The look was certainly a little disappointing (although her face did look beautiful as always).
In the end though, I think Sister Sister definitely deserved to be in the bottom, and it was probably fair that Tayce joined her, in her rather disappointing sponge/ barbed wire outfit. I didn’t think the lip sync was one of the best we’ve seen (probably partly because Tayce couldn’t really give it her all without risking sending herself to A&E) but I was happy enough for Sister Sister to (go)go.
Thrilled by the promise of a sewing challenge and a good read at the British Library, my great anticipation for the episode was largely rewarded. The reads offered were sharp and funny, showcasing not just British wit, but how dark the shade can be here – so many requests for queens to meet their demise! Not to mention shock factor as displayed by A’Whora, with all queens turning mouths agape to see Mother Ru’s reaction to her naughty legendary children. As for the main challenge, I was excited by the unconventional materials, yet found the theme itself to be a little loose in concept. Asked to tap into their newfound strength and transform into lockdown Super Sheroes, I expected the queens to create looks inspired by their individual experience. Instead, it felt like they used materials for effect as opposed to what they personally related to.
Challenge issues aside, I appreciated each Super Shero and agreed with the winner; the fashion moment A’Whora established the second she popped her ruffled shoulders leaving no other choice. However, I did question some of the judgements. With camp factor that was backed up by perfect construction, Lawrence was right to be safe but not bottom three. Bimini looked fashionable and well-styled, but I just felt the lack of unconventional materials placed her lower, perhaps even bottom two. Sure, Sister Sister looked like if Kew Gardens constructed a Pride float, but at least a lot of whimsy and work went into it! However, I concurred with Tayce in the remaining bottom position. Though I appreciated her frustration with the time and energy the steel wool required, it didn’t mean a safe place was warranted. Half an ensemble (with one shoe losing its scouring pad mid-runway) just wasn’t enough. Plus…it was your choice to just keep unravelling!
A fan of the ‘Baby Doll of Dundee’, my attention this week was mostly on Ellie. Bothered to hear Sister Sister’s coasting comment when Ellie has merely kept a consistent game, I agreed with her feeling patronised in the competition; especially in context with the rising cockiness of the RuPeter Badge collective. I understand it’s not ideal to be without one at this point, but when the one badge you do have is from a group win, take a seat. It’s rightly deserved still, but it’s not an individual standout. Considering her polished and positively adorable look that re-established her makeup skills and trademark aesthetic, Ellie utilised so many unconventional materials and did a fantastic job. At first sight of her sponge/pillow peignoirs, my mind was blown! I just hope she stays a humble dark horse and watches waving that clean lip sync record around.
I couldn’t call the lip sync again this week and half expected a double shantay, but Tayce pushed a little more fiercely. After an episode that seemed to shuffle the cards a little, I’m excited for next week’s comedy challenge and to see just who’ll be laughing their way into Top Four.
I felt like this week’s episode created an especially weird dynamic. I mean, every week creates weird dynamics, but this week’s episode was especially interesting. Now that there are just six queens left in the race, everything feels very much out in the open. Off the bat, if I’m being honest, I probably fall into the camp of people who’s stance on this week’s contenders can be summed up by, to quote Bimini, “Talking of Filler, Ellie, Sister, need help packing?”
Sister Sister, well, it’s no secret that (not to undermine my past self too much—I swear, I really was trying to stay positive) she’s not my fave. Though she did win this week’s mini challenge (essentially a roasting competition) she’s just a little too snarky and defensive for my tastes. She doesn’t have Lawrence Chaney’s charm in the form of using humour to mask how deeply riddled with insecurities she really is. Ah Lawrence, kindred spirits in that regard are you and I.
I definitely admire Ellie Diamond—it’s a remarkable life achievement to make it onto Drag Race at any age… but 21!? She’s set for life as far as my respect for her is concerned. I also love that she has such a well-thought out and consistent style. This week however, that didn’t seem to work so much in her favour. Her superhero outfit did essentially look like a replica of all of her past runway outfits; bright and pastel colours, flouncy skirts and equally pretty makeup. Well made and meticulous, but nothing unexpected.
The werk room was just a chaotic time this week. Bimini took a step back from her role as the queen to beat from last week in favour of just doing her best with the materials she was given. I quite liked the angel leaf wings. Just saying. And then we had Tayce’s Brillo pad torture dress. Or top? Kind of like Bimini, another runway legend who had a bit of a blip this week. Tayce reminded me of those kids who will go out of their way to do anything that the teacher explicitly tells them not to do. Like, Tayce, babes, those scourers are literally slicing into your skin, please look after yourself babes, pretty please.
Sister Sister’s runway outfit on the other hand. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. I think Graham summed it up perfectly: “It looked like you were digging in the garden and found a body”. Extra unfortunate that Sister Sister was adamant that it was “gorgeous”. Girl, just no.
So yeah, Tayce and Sister Sister being the bottom two this week was not much of a surprise. I’m glad that Tayce has made it through to next week. I’m especially curious to see if Ellie Diamond will turn out to be the ultimate underdog. I think she’s right that the other queens have underestimated her, and I know that I certainly have. It’d be awesome to see her prove to everyone that she’s not one to be messed with.
This season, the queens have been very good at throwing shade, at times coming across as rather snide, which has sometimes made me laugh, sometimes surprised me. I suppose because of that, I assumed the reading challenge was going to be one of the best we’ve ever seen throughout all of Drag Race, but I have to admit I was thoroughly disappointed. Perhaps it was the edit, I don’t know. I just didn’t think there was as much wit as there usually is in a reading challenge. Even Lawrence didn’t wow me although I did think her reads were the best out of all of them. I just expected so much more from the British queens, especially since I find British humour to be hilarious. This time, however, the reading challenge didn’t do anything for me.
One thing I find very endearing about the show is the opportunity to properly get to know the queens as the competition unfolds, so much so that my first impressions steadily change. In the first few episodes, I was not fond of A’Whora at all—I thought she was rather rude, and was perhaps only a look queen with not much personality. But the longer she stays in the competition, the more I am able to see a softer side to her. In this episode, it meant I actually found myself rooting for her to win the challenge, especially when she commented on the fact that she didn’t get herself into a silly amount of student debt to not even win a design challenge on such a big show (which, even though not all of us make it onto widely-watched reality shows, is an extremely relatable thing to say). When she came out in that outfit she had constructed, I was amazed. The structure, the colour: stunning! Also, her makeup looked gorgeous. And thank goodness she did win; I thought Ellie looked cute, but I don’t think it was fantastic enough to take first place.
I found myself pretty much wholeheartedly agreeing with the judges this time, which I must say was quite a relief. I agree with who won, I agree with all the other placements (especially Bimini’s—I was getting nervous when she had that pillowcase and two toilet rolls on display as I most certainly do not want my favourite queen to leave after doing so well in the Snatch game, and I think what she came up with in the end was a vast improvement), and I agree with who ended up in the bottom two. Bless Tayce, with her odd ‘metallic pubes’; her ‘pain is beauty’ logic did not go well for her indeed, but I knew she’d win the lip sync. Sister Sister’s demise was kind of predictable from the very beginning, and I’m not disappointed. I had been waiting for her to go for a while, ever since she wasn’t so sisterly with Veronica. I just could not connect with her, or even warm up to her like I have done with A’Whora, so I am rather pleased with the outcome of this week’s episode.
Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK is available now on BBC iPlayer. Catch us next Sunday to see what the reviewers make of episode 8!