‘Canada’s Drag Race’ Recap: “Your Hair Looks Like You Dunked It In The Toilet”
Jimbo's blood is boiling, and so is ours, to be honest.
By this point we’ve heard ‘for the first time in Drag Race herstory’ about every tiny shift or gimmick, but this episode really did feel ‘herstoric’: how have we never had a (full-fledged) pageant-themed maxi challenge?
Canada’s Drag Race has had excellent challenge after excellent challenge — it’s a nice change from AS5, where the queens made the best of situations that didn’t let them shine.
Even with assigned archetypes for the challenge, the ‘Miss Loose Jaw’ pageant — more of an improv comedy challenge than the real, regal deal — offered a lot of scope for the queens.
Not all of them ran with it, to be sure, though the judges seemed to have a very different idea of who flatlined and who was pageant preened.
The ultra-harsh, often contradictory critiques remain the show’s low light, but watching this week, something clicked: it’s very clear that the judges have storylines in mind with their critiques, which is nothing new, but the show’s edit isn’t quite catching up, which is.
Drag Race‘s editing is rarely subtle — drink every time you heard the shade button in S12, and you might die — but on Canada, they’ve thrown out a lot of the now-cliché editing tropes, which is exciting! It’s also a little confusing.
There’s been plenty of drama and bickering, but no clear villains (beyond Jeffrey); there have been redemption arcs, but they tend to be a little confusing (“Welcome to the competition, Jimbo!”) and change from week-to-week. It’s unpredictable, but this relatively low-rent fresh-air is also Canada‘s downfall.
Jeffrey, and, to a lesser extent, Brooke, absolutely need to rein in the criticism (next season, hopefully), but they’re not being helped by the less-than-cohesive edit. Where even Michelle’s harshest finger wags have a lead-in via some dramatic music intro and cutaway shots, we’re being given almost no context for their comments.
At this point, it’s hard to imagine ever agreeing with Jeffrey, but if things were just a little different, at least his comments would make narrative sense. Right now, the judging is more than just too mean: it doesn’t make work within the show’s structure, as those 15 minutes contains their own storylines.
It’s a testament to how good these queens are that it doesn’t really matter too much. This week, we skipped the mini to head straight to the pageant, where the queens were each assigned roles — uppity spice, sullen spice, angry spice — to play with.
‘All You Need Is A Light Jacket’
With Rita winning last week, she assigns the roles. Lemon steals the show as bratty mime-performer Miss Fits and Jimbo lucks out with the hypersexual Miss Behaving — Scarlett also wanted her, but ends up as Miss Informed, the know-it-all.
It’s a hard role, and she goes for a prissy, better-than-thou persona. I didn’t really get behind it the way the judges do. If I was on the judging panel with a glittery interpretation of pink eye, I’d probably put her in the bottom even with her bongo-playing, a shining light within a so-so performance.
She’s also far from the worst as, despite picking her own character, Rita makes a mistake with Miss Match’d. She just keeps referencing what was in the character description, and we’re not left with many jokes. The language barrier hasn’t hurt her so far, but something here was lost-in-translation.
Jumping the gun a little, Ilona and Priyanka end up in the bottom for their performances as Miss Erable and Miss Demeanor. I’d probably swap out Ilona for Rita, though the show clearly thought it was Ilona’s time to go.
Her performance was maybe a little more whiny than necessary, but she does go all-in — there’s a clear character here with a few killer reaction shots and one-liners. Same with Priyanka, who was fine if not a little repetitive.
Before the runway, we get a bit of werkroom time — where the lack of an overwrought edit hurts the latter half of each episode, it really lets these scenes breathe. Canada‘s ‘Serious Conversations’ while painting probably aren’t much less produced than any other iteration, but they certainly flow much better — and are given time and nuance.
I know this recap is regrettably a Lemon stan blog by this point, but I continue to be super impressed by her maturity and awareness of her own privilege. The queens chat about body image, and Lemon admits that while she is ‘the ideal’ within so much of the gay community, it’s a very different thing in the dance world, where she’s told she’s not muscly enough to have a meaningful career.
As someone who has watched Centre Stage many times, I can safely say this is a common problem: dancers get beaten down by the establishment, and are treated like workhorses first, artists second.
She says it’s weird to be revered by the gay community (though there are problems there too, even for her, she says) and nit-picked by her professional world: two sides of objectification, really. The conversation doesn’t necessarily resolve, but it doesn’t need too. It’s just one of those complicated things.
Ilona, who has very different body issue struggles, listens and engages, which reveals a maturity the show likes to deny her. It’d be easy and tempting for Ilona to discount Lemon’s experiences as she does profit off the privileges she lacks, but she is seemingly aware that these dynamics aren’t about any one person.
Duality is drag, though, as lona also has possibly the show’s dumbest argument ever with Scarlett, who continues to be mighty pressed. While cooking, the two snipe over feeling ‘negative energy’ and can’t let it go, with the other queens laughing at how ridiculous it is.
It’s stunning stuff, truly, but also is part of a trend with Scarlett to attack her friends. First it was BOA, and then she shifted to Ilona.
It’s no secret where it comes from. Scarlett is pissed she’s been within the top week-after-week without a win, and have said as much. The queens can handle it, but it’s a bit of a piss-poor attitude (even if understandable).
Drag Race is a high-pressure competition so it’s always best to give a queen the benefit of the doubt as to their behaviour, but I think it’s these snippy kicking-downs that prevent me from loving Scarlett as much as the judges clearly do.
Stream Allie X
This week’s guest host is Allie X, who this episode inspired me to finally properly listen to despite my ex loving her — sorry!
She’s incredibly endearing this episode, though that reference joke about “harsher parole terms for ex-felons” probably got you offside if, like me, you didn’t immediately clock it as a Miss Congeniality line. In this economy?
The queens come out in their best pageant looks, and it’s overall pretty stunning if not inherently a little dull.
The three exceptions are Lemon, who tappa tappa tappas her way into my heart with a Lil Vicky x Little Miss Sunshine x JonBenét Ramsey; Jimbo, whose mid-meltdown look foreshadows her Untucked moment; and Priyanka, whose homage to Bollywood beauties might lean towards ‘simple-but-stunning’ if it wasn’t laden with meaning.
The judges completely disagree with me though, as they hated Jimbo’s look and loved Scarlett and Rita’s, which were both pretty but not terribly interesting.
Pageants are camp and dumb and a little disturbing: why not play with that, even while serving glamour?
Backstage, Jimbo is boiling and has some more things to say about Jeffrey’s judging, offering the immediate hall-of-famer line, “You question my taste level, I question your knowledge of the English language.”
Rita then de-Jeffryfies the critiques into something much more muted but still critical, so Jimbo, who asked for feedback, tells her it looks like she dunked her Golden Girls hair in the toilet. It’s ridiculous and simply nothing can be written here that surpasses the video itself.
And there it is! "You question my taste level, I question your knowledge of the English language." pic.twitter.com/RpooIU46DQ
— Ξvan Ross Katz (@evanrosskatz) August 14, 2020
I’ve seen the Jimbo clip circulating but I feel like the context makes it even more hilarious because Rita asked if she could give feedback and it was literally so mild and Jimbo just flipped like a switch slfkskdkdkdkakskdkdk pic.twitter.com/JCTzrhFW5b
— Ryan Khosravi (@ryepastrami) August 14, 2020
Jimbo, like Scarlett, is pressed by the judges’ critiques and feels slept on. It’s pretty clear by this point that the show’s favourites are Rita and Lemon — Jimbo easily should’ve won last week, and certainly didn’t deserve to be in the bottom this week after being the stand-out in the challenge.
There’s real anger building up week-by-week. As much as it hurts to say, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jimbo leaves in the next two weeks after a blow-up.
But Ilona and Priyanka are up for elimination, and lipsync to Allie X’s ‘Hello’. Ilona is the pop-star’s biggest fan and once again really connects to the song, but can’t survive her third time in the bottom. I feel like the show really undervalued her, and I hope the fans don’t discount her as just a look queen.
Next week, the final five face a makeover challenge, which is really anyone’s game. Meanwhile, Jeffrey’s eye condition only worsens.
Canada’s Drag Race streams on Stan, with episodes available each Friday at 12pm AEST.
Jared Richards is a staff writer at Junkee and Drag Race recapper. He’s on Twitter.