‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Recap: Well, Season 12 Is Officially Cursed

Sentiment online is labelling this one of Drag Race's worst episodes in history, which is both absolute erasure of S4's wrestling challenge and way harsh, Tai.

RuPaul's Drag Race s12e3 recap

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My heart goes out to Drag Race‘s S12 queens. Between the sexual assault allegations against Sherry Pie (and Brita, though she vehemently denies them) and COVID-19 cancelling all these girls’ gigs, with some of the earlier outs losing their time to capitalise off the show, it’s a rough time.

As was, to a lesser degree, this episode. Sentiment online is labelling this one of Drag Race‘s worst episodes in history, which is both absolute erasure of S4’s wrestling challenge and way harsh, Tai.

While we’ve gotten yet another lackluster Ariana Grande lip-sync (clearly, she’s cursed too), a fair few odd edits and an extremely odd winner, this main challenge was exactly what I’ve wanted for ages: more improv-based acting challenges, rather than see queens stuck with shitty scripts.

And for those saying this week’s American Idol spoof was actually scripted, take it from me, a recovering drama teen: improv usually has a structure.

These queens all went in with a plan and an idea, but had to think on their feet in terms of reacting to what Ross and Charo threw at them, which is where the weaker links fell apart.

Acting is reacting. It’s also yelling,  just ask acting coach Tammy Brown!

“Ha! Ha! I’m acting!”

Then again, the reaction online seems much harsher than I expected. Maybe staying in an apartment for four days straight will make you lower your expectations to just love watching drag queens do dumb shit.

Rumour has it Australia was handed a different edit of the episode — according to Reddit, all of Sherry Pie’s confessionals were cut from the US version, suggesting we got, accidentally or not, the original cut.

Even still, Sherry’s win made little sense this episode: Jan, Heidi or even Gigi could’ve taken home the $5k bonus, but it’s evident the show wanted to push Sherry to the top.

Heidi is an international treasure, and RuPaul needs to shut up about her name! It’s really not any worse than ‘Madame LaQueer’, ‘Silky Nutmeg Ganache’ or ‘Laganja Estranga’.

Once again, the puppeteering of storylines is super obvious across the show, with the episode at times seemingly going against what it was showing us. Maybe that’s why the reaction online seems so negative: still, I’ll save my frustration for when the wrong queens go home.

That certainly didn’t happen this week. This week, Dahlia Sin came off brattish, immature and reminiscent of every hot gay I’ve ever met who thinks talking endlessly about themselves and being bitchy is a personality trait.

“Cut the camera, dead ass”: sorry Nina Bo’Nina Brown, but Dahlia Sin should’ve been Blac China.

In her defence, her talk of ‘sending bitches home’ reeked of defensive bravado. Drag Race must be such an overwhelming, stressful experience. Best to give some queens the benefit of the doubt (especially with Gigi Goode singing Dahlia’s praises in Untucked).

Still, with all this said, these queens are all so talented. This is a really excellent season, weighed down by so many things out of its control.

Not Related To Drag Race, But Really Feeling For All The Cancelled Grindr Hookups. Remember, Your Bussy’s Social Distancing Will Protect The World

No one has ever sounded less interested in anything than Vivacious reading the quips written for Ornacia. We simply have to stan.

This episode began with the S12 girls finally all meeting. Despite a little bit of sizing up, it’s a far call from Gia Gunn and Laganja’s welcomes to the rest of the S6 queens post their split premieres: no one quite coughed like a man.

Six years later, scientists are still nowhere closer to discovering what “COME ON NATCH!” means.

The congenial vibe continued all episode, for the most part. We’ll see how long it goes on for, but for now, the show doesn’t really need too much drama to be entertaining. The show tried it though, getting winners Widow and Jaida to rank their competition from top to bottom.

Of the two groups, Aiden and Heidi were deemed the least competition, something which Aiden repeatedly said he was not bothered by at all. Not one bit, even if he looked like he wanted to cry for most of the episode.

‘Actually extremely not upset at all, completely forgot about Jaida putting me as the worst, have no idea what you’ve referring to.’

This week’s maxi-challenge is a group improv audition of World’s Worst, an American Idol x America’s Got Talent spoof which looks for those without any skills. The groups are led by Aiden, Heidi, Jaida and Widow, and are each given a loose, incredibly dumb scenario to work within.

Heidi and Jaida’s groups — the aging girl group and LGBTIQ+ fruit frauds, respectively — were easily the best in the challenge. I was particularly impressed by Heidi, Gigi and Jackie, as the girls gave each other room to breathe and shine. Even with Heidi’s natural charisma coming through, no one overshadowed another, and it gave us these beautiful images.

Me: “omg send me that photo from last night, we looked so good” The photo from 4am:

‘oh yeah our friend’s fine she’s just tired not drunk! thank you for your concern though nah don’t worry she’s go-oh shit is that the bouncer’

MMMmmm, that’s good improv.

Unlike, say, Aiden’s group, where both Brita and Sherry steamroll him before, during and after the challenge. While Aiden isn’t as experienced as either of these theatre queens, their treatment of him as a dead weight and shutting down of all his suggestions is pretty awful to watch — particularly because neither of them was markedly better than him.

It’s not a good look for Brita.

Despite his worrying, Rock M. is a star in the fruit challenge: while orange might not rhyme with anything, it’s both a lovely source of vitamin C and a stellar role. While Dahlia’s sexy broccoli was flaccid and under-flavoured (maybe that’s why she was so steamed later on), the rest of the group were excellent.

The fruit group was funny, but I don’t get why Jan dressed as piles???

I literally forgot the girl scout group happened. While Crystal and Nicky struggled, Widow really didn’t share the stage too much or try and lift up her competitors. Improv is not a competition, even if it’s, uh, on a competition show.

Inner Sabot-eur? I Hardly Even Know Myself!

“Have you seen Pagliacci, the clown? He’ll cheer you up” “But doctor, I am… that bitch…”

There were a lot of inner saboteurs this episode. By the time of the judges’ critiques, Nicky, Rock and Crystal have each had moments of self-doubt, each of a distinct form.

It’s interesting to see how the show handles Nicky’s language-barrier: previously with Puerto Rican queens, it’s barely been mentioned or pushed aside as a laugh. That frustration of not being herself is really getting to Nicky, and she’s, ironically, articulating it a lot more, giving it enough meat to become a storyline of itself.

It’s a shame she didn’t push through in the lip-sync to have a break-through moment, instead of scraping by.

RuPaul's Drag Race S12E3 recap

RuPaul, watching someone struggle with their self-esteem/drown in the Hudson River.

Rock M. has a lot of baggage, and has already unpacked a fair bit of it in front of the cameras. As much as I love her, it’s a little uncomfortable to watch someone so raw compete: at the moment, you kind of have to wonder whether she’s in the right headspace to be there.

Me, after having eaten all my self-isolation snacks 1 day in.

That workroom discussion with Ru was difficult. She clearly can’t quite articulate what’s going on in her head, or doesn’t want to do so on the show — understandably, of course. Hope she works through it and continues to shine, and the show doesn’t push her the way they tried to with Pearl, back in S7.

Crystal’s meltdown on the main-stage was the classic crisis-of-confidence we’ve seen many times on the show. It’s a hard rut to get out of, and while she’s got a natural aura (like Ru said, she’s ‘fucking fascinating’), we probably won’t see her break free of it, if it’s hitting this early into the competition.

Really hope to be proven wrong — maybe hearing from Olivia ‘eating too much Japanese potatoes changed my entire face shape’ Munn‘s inspirational speech will light a fire.

Run-(a)-way With Me

This week’s runway was ‘infection eleganza’, where the dolls were asked to wrap themselves up in isolation bows and apply festering virus-buttons to their looks.

Aiden, always unconventional, came dressed as the macaroni artwork millions of children will be making while home-schooled.

Deleting this look from my memory, love Jackie too much to recognise it as canon.

When your mask falls off in public.

Dahlia misunderstood and dressed as a bunny rabbit from Annihilation.

COVID-19 is pumping down the runway, honey girl! Slay!

Nicky paying tribute to the dead laboratory rat they tested the COVID-19 vaccine on. Always remember those who came before you.

Sherry wins for some reason while Jan and Heidi are standing right there, and Nicky and Dahlia lip-sync to ‘Problem’, which was… fine. Dahlia went home, and Olivia Munn is still, to this day, behind the judges’ panel, discussing her career.

Here’s video proof:

RuPaul’s Drag Race streams on Stan, with new episodes arriving 2pm AEDT each Saturday. Revisit his S12 recaps.

Jared Richards is Junkee’s Night Editor, and freelances from Berlin. Find him on Twitter.