‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK’ S1E4 Recap: Spice Up Your Life, Girl!
Sum Ting's 'Snatch Game' introduced millions of David Attenborough stans to 'Drag Race', but it also converted them into homophobes. Honestly, we get it.
Now we’re cooking with fire: with Sum Ting gone, we’re down to a super strong top six. How time flies when you don’t bloat the cast up to 14 queens — unlike Drag Race US, Snatch Game has arrived nice and early this season, serving as an early signpost for the season’s strongest competitors.
Not that there were really any surprises: both The Vivienne and Baga, this week’s dual winners, have been frontrunners from the jump. It’s clear one of them has to win the show — according to the show, they both exemplify ‘British drag’, though in different ways.
The Vivienne has been configured by the show as ‘Drag Excellence’ à la Brooke Lynn Heights — everything is perfect and poised, though admittedly Viv has a fair bit more ‘personality’.
Of course, it only takes one or two bad weeks to fuck it up, but we’re thinking Baga might have the advantage just for her overt lewd-Britishness: it feels so distinct from the US show that she’d make sense to be the first UK winner.
The show keeps stating British drag is all about ‘performance’, and as the first improv/self-scripted challenge, Snatch Game proved it.
Personally, I think Snatch Game is a bit overrated — the joke format’s a little too formulaic by now, and a lot of the later seasons only have one-two solid performances.
But this broke the mould: I’d argue only Sum Ting’s performance was bad, with Crystal and Divina landing a few solid jokes that in most seasons would see them safe. Then again, according to Geri Halliwell, billions of people tuned in for the first time to watch drag Attenborough: that’s history, baby.
Clearly this week’s #dragraceuk highlight was Geri insisting Sum Ting Wong’s Attenborough impression will finally bring the show exposure in the scientific community
— Nick Bond (@bondnickbond) October 25, 2019
Margaret Thatcher Was An Evil Woman And Deserves To Rot In Hell :)
Let’s start with the despotic ruler in the room: Vivienne’s Trump. The show’s tackled him before with S11’s Trump: The Musical, which was both politically pointless and unfunny (the two are usually linked).
Laughing at Trump’s ridiculousness feels good (and he absolutely hates it too), but it waves-off him as purely idiotic. Which he is, but he’s also incredibly popular and powerful: being assured that he won’t win 2020 rings out like a bell we’ve heard before. More damning than that, it’s just lazy humour. But The Vivienne’s impression was stunning.
Like Michelle Visage says during judging, it might be one of the most spot-on impersonations of 45 we’ve seen: the mannerisms, cadence and physicality were so astounding that it elevated the not-incredibly clever jokes into something else.
She deserved the win. As did Baga, who went as professional scum Margaret Thatcher.
Surprises included Blu’s Mary Berry of The Great British Bake-Off, and Cheryl’s Gemma Collins: both were smart picks for queens who might not necessarily have thrived in the challenge. So much of Snatch Game is being smart and strategic above being ‘funny’ — Gemma works well with Cheryl’s Essex-schtick, and Mary was essentially Catherine Tate’s grandma character.
Crystal and Divina both overthought it, though. The latter probably freaked out over conceding her original character, Thatcher, to Baga, and the former admits she came in with pre-prepared lines. This makes sense, as Crystal gave off the exact same frantic energy as ‘I memorised essays for all my HSC exams and the questions didn’t line up and now I’m not getting into Law at Sydney Uni’.
And then there was Sum Ting, who continued to exude nervous energy and failed to get her lines out. It was really hard to watch.
Bring It To The Hodge-Podge
This week’s runway was an excellent theme: Annihilation.
No one went as the silver blob that dances with Natalie Portman, which felt like a missed opportunity — I would have also accepted an Oscar Issac illusion, just for horny points. The things I’d do to that open chest wound!
The Vivienne did come as Tessa Thompson transmuted into a plant, which is nice. Divina got a little confused and went for more of a Mr. Tumnus look, but, in a way, Narnia’s Christian overtones directly interrelate with Annihilation‘s exploration of man’s hubris in the quest to colonise all space and Earthly powers, and in this essay I will-
Cheryl hadn’t seen the film, and just wore a costume she already had and hoped for the best, while Crystal, in protest to Netflix distributing films and ruining cinema experiences, instead came as a tribute to Tina Turner in Mad Max.
Sum Ting got really confused, and came dressed in homage to both Britney’s red catsuit in the ‘Oops!’ music video and Lady Cassandra O’Brien.Δ17, aka the woman in Dr. Who who is just a sheet of skin.
And Blu went as Sauron, ready to be red for filth.
Crystal and Sum Ting end up in the bottom, and lip-sync to the Spice Girls. It’s wonderful, and I remain utterly obsessed with Crystal.Sum Ting goes, the competition continues. Next week’s challenge is Suspiria-themed, where the six remaining girls will have to dance their way through ecstasy and pain in Cold War Berlin, admit that Chloe Grace Moretz is actually quite a good actress and do their best Dakota Johnson-impersonation on the runway by putting things in-between their teeth.
We can’t wait!
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK is available on Stan, with new episodes streaming at 7am Fridays AEDT.
Jared Richards is a staff writer at Junkee, and cohost of Sleepless In Sydney on FBi Radio. He’s on Twitter.