And we’re back.
The episode started with something new, by having the queens enter the work room to see Penny’s message immediately after the elimination. And already the shade is being thrown at Serena. Mind you I think she deserved every ounce of the queen’s contempt throughout the episode but at the same time I felt a tiny bit bad for her. But I’ll come back to that in a moment.
Ripping on Serena aside, this was a really fun episode with slightly brilliant challenges with nods to both the importance of a good lip sync, and “celebrity” impersonation.
The first challenge was one of the most brazen things I’ve seen the show do in all of its seasons; standing behind cut outs of RuPaul with the mouths cut out and them lip syncing to one of Ru’s hit songs (available on iTunes, of course).
And of course, hilarity ensued.
The winners (Serena, Ivy and Detox) were then made team captains for the main challenge; each team had to recreate famous moments from Untucked while lip-syncing to the actual dialogue and recreating the looks, which Ru rightly described as an homage to Lypsinka. For those who have never heard of her, Lypsinka is a very famous drag queen who came up in the late ’80s and early ’90s and is known for performing her lip syncs made up of various lines of dialogue from famous films. Check out this clip with her and Sandra Bernhard for an idea of the artist known as La Lyp. (And on a side note: Why the hell hasn’t Sandra Bernhard been a guest judge yet? She would be perfect!)
Team Ivy (with Vivienne, Lineysha and Honey) handily won with their recreations from Season 2. As Morgan McMichaels and Mystique, Ivy and Honey were hilarious, in particular with Honey nailing Mystique’s facial grimacing. The best pairing though was Vivienne and Lineysha’s faithful (and in Lineysha’s case, eerie) recreation of the famous Tatiana and Tyra Sanchez wedding dress fight. Though she horsed around during the filming, Lineysha was on point when the cameras were rolling, and easily deserved the win and the immunity for next week. (And on a side note: loved Ivy walking in on stilts during the runway, but it did look a little like “Lucille Ball IS Poison Ivy in Batman” for my tastes.)
Team Detox (with Alaska, Coco and Monica) had them playing Season 4′s epic round between Sharon Needles, Phi Phi O’Hara, Lashawn Beyond and Jiggly Caliente. (When asked why she wasn’t portraying her boyfriend, Alaska rightfully replied “I do her [Sharon] every night!”). While Detox looked a little off as Miss Needles (the face is a little longer than dear Sharon’s), Alaska nailed the physicality (and the wonky eye) of Phi Phi (with the two of them kissing as the icing on the cake). Coco was on point in her interpretation of Lashawn, from the face to the lip sync (to the point where Michelle Visage said in the critique that she feared for all of the other queens who had to lip synch against her). Monica didn’t have her head in the game and was rather tame, which is not the right approach when playing the far from tame Jiggly. Of course Monica had good reason to have things on her mind; on the runway she revealed that she is transgendered and in the process of transitioning. While it took a lot of courage to reveal that (and good on all of the queens rallying around her) it does raise a few questions. While there have been queens on the show before who have later come out as transgendered (Sonique from Season 2 and Carmen Carera from Season 3 being two examples), this is the first time a transgendered competitor is vying for the crown and does set a precedent for future seasons. But will there be some blowback by future contestants? After all it could be seen as an advantage if competitors are on the way to full womanhood. It will be interesting to see how the show treats this sticky situation going forward, but in the here and now, Monica’s tepid performance earned her a spot in the bottom two.
Team Serena (with Jade, Roxxxy, Alyssa and Jinx) weren’t that bad, all things considered. In creating scenes from Season 3, the first half was well done. Roxxxy got Mariah’s look and mannerisms down, Jinx’s outfit was a riff on Mimi Imfurst with dead on makeup and mannerisms, and Alyssa was an eerily on-point Shangela. Jade was forced into the impossible role of Delta Work, but managed to pull together a pretty decent look. Serena, on the other hand, was a mess. In trying to recreate Raja’s Louis XIV-goes-punk look, Serena looked (and acted) like a drugged out Miss Havisham, earning the ire of guest judge Kristen Johnson. In fact, Ms. Johnson was probably the harshest critic the show has ever had — openly disagreeing with Michelle and Santino, and harping on the girls that one minute detail can ruin an entire look, as she did with Serena’s poor riff on a Miss Universe costume. Not surprisingly, Serena was also in the bottom two. (Incidentally, Juliette Lewis was a fun, if inconsequential judge).
Over on Untucked, all the queens ganged up on Serena. Her commentary about everyone “talking ghetto,” her constant talk about going to art school and having an education, and her general obnoxiousness was wearing on everyone’s nerves and they all had had it and read her as a group to filth. Unfortunately, she couldn’t overcome that during the lip sync and she sashayed away.
Originally published as part of “The Idiot Box,” my column for l’etoile magazine on 5 February 2013.