‘Canada’s Drag Race’ Recap: Un Certain Je Ne Sais Jojo Siwa
'Canada's Drag Race' really is Dewey decimating.
While this recap is all for abolishing the police, it should be illegal for fans to tune out of Canada’s Drag Race. This week’s episode was an all-timer. Wow, this is Broadway!
A genuinely funny reading challenge, after several so-so ones in a row; an excellent Snatch Game, where only the bottom three bombed out; a wonderful runway; and that lip-sync? Canada’s Drag Race really is Dewey decimating.
Sure, the judging remains overtly intense and the lighting still needs a little work, but who cares when it’s all just so fun? We all know drag isn’t a contact sport, but it does seem, in its self-seriousness and empire-building, that the US Drag Race forgets how ridiculous and fun drag is.
Canada, shackled free from its own mythos, is much looser (as was UK Drag Race: even Ru was much more light-hearted): even staples like the reading challenge and snatch game feel new, given in recent US seasons most queens seem to over-prepare and underperform.
By my count, there were only three bad snatch game performances this episode, which is pretty unheard of — usually, a couple of standouts make the segment shine, but pretty much everyone but the bottoms had some solid material.
Ilona Clearly Grew Up On Tumblr And I Love That For Her
Before we get to the reading challenge, Ilona snaps back at Priyanka for implying that her tears before last week’s lipsync were a way to play the victim.
She then says “I was feeling my own emotions and they’re mine to have!”. While it’s absolutely true, the sentence drips with so much Tumblr ‘you are valid’ language that it threw me back to 2013.
I really like Ilona, but it’s clear her personality is very internet-based (it takes one to know one), and that it’s beginning to grate on the other queens. In the reading challenge, they all make fun of her incessant, loud use of stan Twitter speak, which is just AAVE. It would be a lot to be around constantly, and that’s that on that period!
Generally, though, the reading challenge is pretty light-hearted, and while there were a few flops and classic gags repeated about queens having two-faces, the material was overall fairly original. Of all the queens, Lemon was the most surprisingly sharp, and she ends up winning.
Let’s all pretend I didn’t discount her completely in the first episode’s recap, as she’s fast becoming one of the front-runners of the competition: will a New York queen finally win Canada’s Drag Race?
After the reading challenge, Jeffrey comes in to talk to the queens about their impressions. He’s a bit warmer this episode, but you can almost see him thinking “what would Ru do?” in each conversation, though at least he never wilfully sabotages a girl like Ru’s wont to do.
He does give Scarlett Bobo, who can’t pick between her staple Liza or new character Fran Drescher, some pretty terrible advice by saying she should ‘take a risk’. Thankfully she ignores him.
We’ve seen Fran twice on the show (Juju and Courtney Act), and there’s just not much to it beyond the voice: Liza, even though Alexis Michelle dominated as her, still has a lot of juice. Sometimes it’s good to be safe, if not a little snooze-worthy.
That’s the problem with snatch game: it’s pretty much always a question of strategic character choice. Plenty of queens this episode aren’t natural comediennes but decide to work smarter, not harder.
Take extremely online Ilona, who picks Cock Destroyer Recbecca More, or Lemon, who goes with the most annoying person in the world, Jojo Siwa. Both are excellent choices, because they’re already so ridiculous — they don’t really have to do much to get laughs.
For eg., Ilona gave a pretty shocking answer off the bat by just saying ‘yes, this is my first game show’, but as Rebecca More, that’s extremely funny, since the character’s such a fish out of water on Snatch Game that she’s shy and subdued, for once.
If you would like me to explain comedy further, please sign up to my masterclass.
As a dedicated Wholigan, I was extremely excited by Lemon playing Jojo Siwa — and she fucking nailed it. If anything, she toned down Jojo’s chaotic energy, which was a great choice: it would have been annoying if she yelled every single answer.
Nods to her traction alopecia worked, but Lemon steered away from going too niche, like referencing that time Justin Bieber said he’d light Jojo’s car, covered with photos of herself and rainbows, on fire. Managing to not bully a 16-year-old who acts like a 7-year-old is hard, but Lemon pulled it off. Perfection.
The other exciting choice was Jimbo’s Joan Rivers — it’s slightly astonishing she hasn’t been done before. While it was excellent, I thought she could’ve done a bit more: the reliance on her ex-husband’s ashes was a bit odd, but it was probably just the editing condensing down her jokes.
Speaking of editing, Canada’s Drag Race is doing an excellent job of letting us sit in a challenge. Comparing it to AS5 or S12’s Snatch Game, we saw so much of each queen’s performance this episode — sure, it’s always selectively edited, but the show’s doing a much better job of quietly producing.
It was only the bottom three that really bombed. Priyanka’s Miss Cleo was a real shame — she missed so many simple psychic jokes, made all the more clearer by Alexis Mateo’s Walter Mercado impression on AS5. You could see her lose confidence and shrink and shrink: it hurt to watch.
As did Kiara’s Mariah Carey, albeit for the disrespect. What’s up with Drag Race queens choosing to make Mariah jokes and knowing next to nothing about her? So, so many missed opportunities: not a single whistle-tone, ‘I don’t know her’ or ‘I’ve suddenly forgotten how to read’ joke? Glitter?? Mariah’s World??? A single reference to the absurd album title Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse???
Even more disappointing was BOA’s oddly timid take on Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who was a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy and murdered her own mother to be free.
It’s the first time we’ve seen one of Canada‘s queens actively express that they were thinking of the TV audience’s reaction, with BOA worried she’ll offend for making light of a murderer and scammer.
She ended up aplogising anyway on her Instagram stories, which is proof she should’ve either gone all in or not done her at all. If you’re going to do something in poor taste (and poor taste is in BOA’s wheelhouse, so I think she could’ve done something funnier with it), go all in. See: Rita Baga!
This is the third time this year we’ve seen a queen play an older woman’s physical decline for laughs, and it’s just a bit of a low-blow.
I think Rita’s Edith Piaf had a lot more love in it than [redacted]’s Katharine Hepburn or Aiden Zhane’s Patricia Quinn, and it was also much funnier, which goes a long way when skirting into risky territory. I don’t think it’s a cancellable offense, and drag should be crass, but for me, the payoff of playing with addiction jokes is almost never really worthwhile.
1000 Célines Drove All Night
And then the runway theme, which is 1000 Nights Of Céline. Clearly trying to avoid another Madonna-kimono situation, the queens steer clear of backwards suits, with many picking more recent looks.
While Lemon’s Jojo was excellent, her runway is a little simple: Jimbo, however, comes out looking completely different and extremely high-fashion, which cements her win this week. We love to see it.
Priyanka, meanwhile, is radiant in her wedding dress and gold look underneath — like Rita, she preps two looks, and it really should’ve saved her.
BOA avoids lip-syncing, which, comparing her look to Priyanka, makes me think the producers didn’t want to risk sending her home against Kiara, who absolutely gave the performance her all.
It’s a shame BOA’s fringe dress overwhelmed her body, as this was almost the ‘glamour’ look the judges asked her from last week. But comparing her look to Céline’s, it’s clear it lacks the structure that made the original such a stand-out at the Met Gala.
It’s for the best, because the lip-sync between Kiara and Priyanka is spell-binding. The two absolutely kill Céline’s ‘I Drove All Night’ (now, incidentally, my favourite song), and while it could be a double-shantée, the judges decide it’s Kiara’s time to go.
She does slightly go a little too hard with stunts towards the end where Priyanka focuses on the song’s emotion — but damn, what a way to go out. The real winner, though, was Stacey, who was having the time of her life while watching.
We also love Mary Walsh, who thanks each queen for their performances and brings her own vibe to guest-hosting. After a bit of a rough start, the rotating host is starting to work pretty well.
Next week the queens film late-night law firm commercials. Sure! In the meantime, do as Cher does and wear a mask.
Please wear Masks.
I wear gloves 2 pic.twitter.com/BJsD01SzT9
— Cher (@cher) August 2, 2020
Canada’s Drag Race streams on Stan, with episodes available each Friday at 12pm AEST.
Jared Richards is Junkee’s Night Editor and Drag Race recapper. He’s on Twitter.