Ranking RuPaul: Been There, Snatched That!

If you’re a fan of this show, last week was the most wonderful day of the season. Rupaul’s Drag Race‘s even tawdrier spin on the 1970’s pun-happy celebrity panel game show The Match Game has become its high point, almost as exciting as the finale–arguably more exciting. This year’s one was… well, not the best… and not the worst, but possibly the strangest. Let’s get right down to business with the queen who had to write her goodbyes on the mirror.

Sashay’d Away: Elliott With 2 T’s (LW:8)

Poor Elliott of the House of 2 T’s. She had been hanging on tenaciously for weeks after her unanimous thumbs down in Week 1 from the Pork Chop Brigade. However, her die was likely cast in the workroom this week. You could almost see Ru’s heart sink when Elliott revealed her SG choice was not Ru’s first guess of Ann Bancroft, but Blanche Devereaux herself, Rue McClanahan. Kandy Muse called it, when in a rare moment of compassionate lucidity, the brash New Yorker declared “Golden Girls is hard” and missing the mark would be a “gay no-no.”

RuPaul was kinder, warning her it was a “tall order” reminding Ms. TT that as a GG superfan, any mis-step would be extra glaring (while punctuating her hint with an expression that could only be described as “fingernails-on-glass”). It’s never a good sign when a queen ignores Professor Charles’ advice. But, alas Elliott stood firm in her dum-dum stance and her bland Blanche had her firmly in the bottom 2. If there were no lip sync element, she might have been saved by possibly the Snatch Game’s biggest train wreck in history, but she sleepwalked through the motions of the 1980s freestyle classic “Fascinated” by Company B and was no match for the lunacy that was…

8. Utica Queen [30:1] (LW:7)

Wow! The one good thing to be said about Utica Queen’s Bizarro Bob Ross is that she took a chance. Boy howdy, did she ever take a chance. And we’re not against chances (or switching suddenly into universal “we”s). Her performance as the iconic late painter was about as tortured as her own logic for not wearing an afro. And thus RuPaul would be forced to utter the immortal words: “Bob Ross doesn’t have squirrels on his head, does he?”

Tina Burner’s perplexed-meets-bored stare said it all. Utica even proffered she wanted to make her impression as “accurate as possible.” Remember that time Bob Ross ate paint? Neither do we. Was Utica Queen confusing Bob Ross with GG Allin? Or Iggy Pop in his Stooges days? Seriously, wtf?! It makes one wonder what sort of a performance art local Minnesotans are dreaming up in the cold winters. We’re still not sure what that was, but as the sweat flopped all around the flailing queen… whatever it was was not good. To her credit, she used every inch of her length, sinew, and sass to easily send a lethargic E2T home, but we just can’t see her pulling up out of this nosedive (especially when she had no idea she’d even bombed).

7. Tina Burner [13:1] (LW:6)

For a legendary queen, Tina Burner has been the queen of playing it safe all season and what’s a safer choice than the Tasmanian Devil of exercise, Richard Simmons. Unlike Utica, she picked up on the hint Ru dropped and stayed away from her audition choice of Jennifer Coolidge–which is a pity since as a Christopher Guest stan, that would have been much more fun for me, and isn’t that what it’s all about, me?

Anyway, unlike UQ, Tina Burner still has some embers flickering and in truth I should probably give her a better shot than what I’m giving her here. Also, I’m not entirely convinced it’s not all just a stratagem. It’s what I like to call the Silverado Rule. In the 1980s Western Silverado, Kevin Costner’s character was reported to have been killed by falling off his horse. Because his friends knew hid prowess on horses, they knew he had faked his death (sorry for a spoiler on a 35-year-old movie). Tina Burner is a legend. She may simply be playing possum. Even if that’s the case, will she be able to turn it on when she has to?

6. Kandy Muse [10:1] (LW:9)

I had her in the bottom last week, waiting to see how she’d react to her brush with elimination, and how well she did in the Snatch Game. As she’s a comedy queen with a tendency to get in her own head (even if she attributed that to another queen this week), it was going to go one of two ways: spectacular triumph or misguided flop. So, of course, it went in neither of those directions.

Her Patrick Starrr (an internet make-up guru apparently) look was on point, and it started off well for her, but when you’re eating a rival’s banana skin and all, it’s not going well. There’s a joke there, but I’ll leave it for someone who could better deliver it. Kind of like Kandy Muse did in the Snatch Game. That said, she reacted to her almost dismissal with the proper air of defiance and while her SG was far from memorable, she did enter into it with renewed life. So while she has a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go, the NYC diva is still alive and beloved in this contest.

5. Denali [8:1] (LW:5)

The only bad thing I can say about Denali’s performance as Queer Eye‘s skin-and-hair expert–and part-time Game of Thrones recapper–Jonathan Van Ness is that it reminded me slightly more of Annie Murphy’s Alexis Rose from Schitt’s Creek and boy would it have been fun to see a queen do her for Snatch Game. Maybe next year.

Denali’s runway, with the checkered waitress outfit and mid-pour coffeepot fascinator, was lovely–and the theme was fascinators, btw, which I’ll admit I did not know what they were before Friday. And it was fun to see her as god meant her to be: on skates. That she does not move up does not mean that my thoughts for her prospects did not go up. At this point, it almost has to be her and Rosé battling for that last spot (barring a surprise loss from one of the top three on this list).

4. Rosé [6:1] (LW:4)

One of the four{!} remaining NYC queens, Rosé did nothing to hurt herself this week after her starmaking performance in the Rusical one week earlier. While I did not find the Mary, Queen of Scots as amazing as the judges, her accent was tight and although I mostly had no idea what she was on about, I’ll admit to chuckling through most of it. And what a costume. I’d have to say it was her ornate Snatch Game outfit that put her in the top as much as any joke.

On the other hand, I bought into her runway outfit more than anyone else out there, as she especially bewitched when she did a little head bow that revealed the many roses combined into just one rose. Rosé has proven to be above average in everything she has done so far and after losing her opening day lip sync, she has quietly been in the top all but two weeks, and has yet to be in the bottom. That no-bottoms club has shrunk from three to two this week, because…

3. Olivia Lux [4:1] (LW:1)

Oh, Olivia–deep down we knew you were not going to pitch a perfect game, but it was still jarring to see her fail. This drop has less to do with any feeling that she’s blown it (far from it). That she hurried off the stage with determination to hop to the next episode tells us all we need to know about the versatile Ms. Lux.

That said, the more one examines it, the clearer it was that Olivia’s Snatch Game was a big ol’ flop. Essentially, she stumbled in the first answer and that seemed to screw itself deep into her head. Watching her paint herself into a corner with a self-own when she didn’t know what ASMR stood for was just painful (and she knew it wasn’t landing when she gently slammed her prop apple into her clutch). And when I was shown the real Tabitha Brown, it became clear that it wasn’t just that she chose an obscure target, but that her impression was also miles off the mark. I’d be surprised if she didn’t rebound, although the affable Olivia is a cinch for Miss Congeniality if she does go out blazing.

2. Gottmik [4:1] (LW:4)

As this season’s great observer Tina Burner put it, “two words to describe who’s killing it: that’s hot!” With Raven on the panel (who notoriously was in the bottom two with her take on Paris Hilton in the first ever SG), it was all the more gutsy. Raven’s advice to Gottmik was “don’t play it safe.” It was good advice, but in truth, Gottmik did not take that many chances. She was simply funny. She set the tone with her vocal switch from secret operator to the “who me?” Paris we all know, and it was all over but the laughing from there.

People who know much more than me about this show have said the key is to “make RuPaul laugh” and that’s what Gottmik did. I’ve never been as impressed with Gottmik as most, but the judges clearly love her and she’s ultra-consistent. It’s hard to see three of the final four not being set with Gottmik’s ticket to the finale punched, but even though she was officially this week’s winner, in my mind the true winner went backstage sans critique…

1. Symone [2:1] (LW:2)

Oo-ooh, child, things just got not a little but a lot easier for Symone. Has a non-top three finish on an episode ever been so remarkable? Whether her omission from the final judgment was due to producers’ cold feet about discussing BLM is up for debate. Honestly, I was screaming at the screen that she was robbed. Her runway look was simple but on-point from the front, and could have won even without its deft reveal; it even answered the judge’s critique of the skin-revealing similarity of her outfits. Then the stark statement hits with the bullet holes and “Say Their Names” on the fascinator. So powerful and strangely subtle in its lack of subtlety.

And that’s how you take a chance in a Snatch Game. Symone, in her genius, created a one-woman play with her dangerous choice of Harriet Tubman. Of course it helped that the leader of the Underground Railroad pre-dated video so Symone could create her own world. She was prepared, and if that sort of performance is not the Snatch Game, it should be. It was one of the most dominant performances of both maxi and the runway, yet it didn’t crack the top three and wound up bundled with Tina Burner’s meh Richard Simmons. Hmmmm….

In any case, she reminded us (and me) what she had seemed to be established in the first two contests. Olivia may be ultra-talented and Gottmik is certainly a star, but there is one queen to beat in season 13.

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