‘RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars’ Recap: Rigga Bore-Us
Who is writing these challenges and how do we get them to stop?
We were rooting for you All Stars 5! We were all rooting for you! For the third week in a row, Drag Race‘s maxi challenge has let its cast down.
This week’s SheMZ challenge didn’t necessarily have to be bad: the heavily prescriptive ‘improv’ challenges are more often misses than not, but they can, on occasion, still be pretty entertaining. To quote Lady Gaga, it could’ve been gossip, if only they let the queens babble on.
Instead, the queens were assigned roles and teams by producers and seemingly given the beats for their sketches. It felt like certain queens were set to fail — and, worse yet, didn’t, but the producers kept to their script anyway.
Back-stage after judging, the queens all, by other words, agreed that the panel’s critiques made very little sense. India and Mayhem were this week’s bottom two, in a blindside for both them and several other queens who thought they might be the tops. The critiques were confusing, especially given none of the three groups — Blair, Juju and Cracker; Alexis and Shea; Mayhem and India — were great.
It was all perfectly fine. But for anything they criticised Mayhem and India for, they could’ve gone in just as hard with Alexis and Shea, who just yelled over each other, or Blair, who faded into the background.
Personally, I thought the bottom should’ve been Alexis, for not listening to her scene partner, and Blair, for sitting back: Mayhem and India’s was confusing, but it was much more entertaining.
Worse than just frustrating producing, this episode was boring, centred around a bad challenge which didn’t let any of these queens really shine.
And they are shining, but week-by-week it’s in everything but the challenges. All Stars 5‘s best moments are the ones that just let them be themselves, whether werkroom drama, runways or confessionals. With two acting challenges back-to-back, hopefully we’ve seen the end of them this season.
Act The Fool, Script Writers
For the third week in a row, we’re straight into the maxi-challenge this episode, and the queens each have pained, stilted smiles as Ru explains their roles for this week’s TMZ-sketch challenge.
Then again, maybe that’s projecting: when they sit down to work on their scene, India tells Mayhem, “and SheMZ? How clever!”. We also learn that India used to mop her drag when she was starting out — no wonder she wanted everyone watching S3 to know she paid for that $600 breastplate. Meanwhile, Derrick Barry is having a lovely time on Twitter.
A lying thief? Not surprised.
— Derrick Barry (@DerrickBarry) June 27, 2020
In the lead-up to the sketches, we also have a weird moment where Miz Cracker confronts her teammate Blair over something Alexis said last week, insinuating she is scheming to get Cracker out. There’s not a lot of villainous Cracker this episode, largely because Blair tries to sate her fears without ridiculing them, even though her initial reaction says it all.
Shea and Alexis have a little rivalry going on, given that Alexis voted to kick Shea out last week. They work through the tension, but it sits there: it’ll come back later, I’m sure.
We don’t get any filming scenes this episode, but instead just get the final cut of the challenge. The queens also have to put on their finest bro drag for the SheMZ office chat scenes, something you might not be familiar with if you didn’t skip school as a kid and channel surf all day long. They nail the parody, in that it’s as dull as the actual show — the weird green screen’d background captured my attention more than anything they talked about.
The sketches are pretty rough, but it’s clearly the writing’s fault, as no one really has much to work with. The two stand-outs, Jujubee and Cracker, make their scene their own by adding in lots of little moments and one-liners.
The scenario is based around the Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin college admissions scandal but doesn’t really reference it and so falls a bit flat. Maybe that’s because Loughlin drew the court case out forever, so the show couldn’t really risk a more overt parody?
Either way, it doesn’t really make sense — Juju and Blair just show up from the bushes, and the clinic part doesn’t really go anywhere. None of the scenes follow much logic; Alexis and Shea are dining together for some unknown reason, and Mayhem was apparently on The Bachelor and is a ‘licker’, which seems to be some kink?
It’s just all so underdeveloped. These set-ups have a lot of plot that isn’t really explained, which clogs up each scene — and the episode.
Before we move to the runway, the queens discuss tabloids, prompting Blair to chat a bit more about her DUI and Mayhem to reveal she has two as well and was humiliated by police in the process. It’s upsetting, but not surprising. We also learn that Mayhem contours her earlobes, which makes sense (especially if they’re connected to a face, as hers are), but is something I hadn’t noticed before.
Hide My Sins And Camouflage My Flaws, Bitch!
This week’s runway is camouflage, and guest judge Sarah Hyland celebrates by dressing as Vanessa ‘I’m So Into Vogueing Right Now’ Hudgens.
Once again, Blair goes outside the box for the runway and stands out from the pack — her Groot-esque tree camo is truly stunning, especially when you clock the multi-textures in close ups. Alexis goes her own way too with a snow camo gown she made herself, and it’s possible it saved her from the bottom.
The other queens go for more straight-forward looks, but it’s hard to clock a flaw.
With Mayhem and India in the bottom, all the queens — including Mayhem — vote for the life of the party to head home. It’s a little sad, but she’s not exactly defeated: I believe her when she says in Untucked that she just didn’t think India should go. I’m excited we get to see more of India, too, as I think she really levelled up this week, despite what the judges said.
Rounding things out was a Rihanna lipsync from Cracker and assassin Morgan McMichaels — a wonderful surprise, and a perfect example of an amazing queen who didn’t necessarily shine on the show. Morgan wipes the floor with Cracker, frankly — it’s over when she skips over Cracker breakdancing, and Morgan spinning, very beautiful — but it’s determined to be a tie.
Next week, we’re back at the Snatch Game of Love, which was an interesting take on the classic last All Stars. With only six queens competing, it’ll be tough to hide. Alexis won All Stars 1‘s version of Snatch Game (and her butch Alicia Keys on S3 is legendary), but none of the other queens were particularly memorable last time — and neither Blair and India have done the challenge before, which could go either way.
And Canada’s Drag Race starts next week, too! Given how UK was a breath of fresh air last year, it could even overshadow All Stars — we’ll see next weekend, with Canada arriving on Friday and All Stars Saturday, both episodes, coincidentally, featuring Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman. I’m not complaining.
RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars streams on Stan, with new episodes each Saturday 2pm AEST. Canada’s Drag Race begins July 3, with episodes dropping each Friday 1pm AEST.
Jared Richards is Junkee’s Night Editor. He’s on Twitter.