Let’s Kiki About RuPaul’s Drag Race! Season 11, episode 4 – ‘Trump, The Rusical’

Christine Fitzgerald 21 Min Read
21 Min Read
Trump: The Rusical

After last week’s historic RuPaul’s Drag Race “6-way gang bang” lip sync (h/t Vanjie), Ru and the queen-testants are going to need to step it up – and what better way to do that than with a musical challenge?

Last season, the queens saluted Cher, this season, they deliciously roast the (alleged) leader of our country via the women that surround him. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

The gals return to the work room after Honey’s elimination and the queens are still shook about the fact that half of them had to lip sync for their lives. Scarlet must have read my mind when I thought that two queens were going home.

Shuga got really emotional about the events that just transpired and all of the queens had the “fear of goddess” put into them. They know they need to step it up in a big way or face the wrath of Ru.

Silky tells the bottom six to step their pussies up and admits she’s not scared, trotting out another potential catchphrase, “Ho, you must go.” Since “attitude check” didn’t stick, I’m thinking this will meet the same fate. On to this week’s challenges!

It’s a new day and Ru enters – without one of her “she done already done had herses” video intros – which I miss – and introduces the mini challenge. The queens will have to deliver a breaking news report in the look and style of Ru’s favorite TV anchor, Rachel Maddow, in a challenge dubbed “Why you Maddow Tho?” The Pit Crew (sigh) enters with matching wigs and glasses to help the queens achieve their look. Before the challenge begins, the queens get a pre-recorded pep talk from Rachel herself. If you have ever wanted to hear Rachel Maddow say “Okurr?”(I hope I won’t get sued by Cardi B for writing that), then this is the episode for you.

The queens do a little quick drag and don Rachel’s trademark glasses, blazer and brunette pixie ‘do and go to the set. And now, a fun fact. Mercedes doesn’t know anything about Rachel Maddow, but, in the most non-sequitur moment that ever non-sequitured, she tells us she had a goat. Huh? Guess we needed to fill some time.

Since this is a “breaking news challenge”, the queens don’t get to see the script ahead of the time and are forced to read off the TelePrompTer. And the results…woof. If these queens should have learned anything from Ru it’s that “reading is fundamental” and boy, this batch of queens must have missed that lesson. I have worked in news and it’s rare that anchors don’t get to see scripts in advance, but these girls were definitely out of their element here. Many a queen was tripped up by the words ginormous, nonsensical and sophisticated and how could so many of them not be able to wrap their mouths around Latrice’s iconic “Good God, get a grip, girl”? Poor Mercedes was really having a hard time. And for someone I suspect is not a stranger to a two piece and a biscuit, how Silky didn’t know how to pronounce Colonel Sanders is beyond me. Side note: was Brooke Lynn giving anyone else Taran Killam from Saturday Night Live, or was that just me? Hearing the queens stumble through their scripts reminded me of the news reading portion of the Oprah Winfrey challenge the queens undertook way back in season one.

While it looked like Brooke Lynn, Plastique and Scarlet turned in the most competent performances, Ru declared Scarlet the winner of the challenge. And now, time for the maxi challenge. Ru compared our current political climate to high school, with all of its bickering and gossip, and wants the queens to put a political twist on her favorite high school musical, Grease, in the lip-sync extravaganza, “Trump: The Rusical.” The queens will play women who are a part of the President’s inner circle.

Since she won the mini challenge, Scarlet was responsible for casting the musical. After joking that the amount of “paper” in the binder would overwhelm Betsy DeVos, she cast herself in the role of our inadequate Secretary of Education. Mercedes, who has had small parts in previous acting challenges (for a reason), was pushing to be the lead character, Shandee, but after a suggestion from Brooke Lynn, Scarlet decided to cast Ariel in the role. She then went on to cast the others, which went as follows:

Omarosa – Ra’jah
Kellyanne Conaway – Yvie
Ivanka – Mercedes
Stormy Daniels – A’keria
Ivana – Brooke Lynn
Hillary Clinton – Shuga
Rosie O’Donnell – Vanjie
Sarah Sanders – Nina

When it came to casting a queen to play Oprah, could it have been anyone other than Silky? Of course, Silky was chuffed that she had the smallest part in the production.

After the casting is complete, the queens start developing their roles. Nina wants to channel her inner Meryl Streep (or Sally Field) to play the Press Secretary and Brooke Lynn wants to inject her Ivana with a little Pasty Stone from AbFab (smart choice). Ru comes in to check on the gals and asks them about their dance ability. Brooke Lunn was a professional ballet dancer, so no issues there. Plastique also has a dance background. Ariel was a musical theater kid but admitted that picking up choreography was not her strong suit. Scarlet says she can’t dance but has “a cocktail in my hand the entire time”. Scarlet is my spirit animal. Ru asks Dr. Silky if she is registered to vote and she shockingly admits she’s registered Republican. (Shade rattle.) She says it’s because of “gentrification” (Sure, Jan. I mean Dr. Jan) and vehemently states that she did not vote for Trump.

Nina also grew up Republican, attending the Republican National Convention at the age of 12. He met Barbara Bush and Connie Chung there. He also said he was president of his school’s Young Republican’s Club…but now, thankfully, he’s “super liberal and super progressive.” Good on you, Nina. Ru doesn’t have much confidence in Mercedes’ ability to imitate Ivanka on stage. Things aren’t looking good for our little goat aficionado. Ra’jah tells Ru that she is a “technically trained dancer,” which might come back and bite her in the ass.

The queens head off to learn their dance moves from “sassy” choreographer Yanis Marshall, who is envisioning a “Beyonce meets Grease” vibe. He asks the queens about their dance experience. Scarlet says she has none but has been with many dancers. Ra’jah again boasts about her dance ability and French trained ballet dancer Brooke Lynn shows off her moves. She is a beautiful dancer.

Yanis demonstrates the moves to the first group of queens and it’s very technical, not, like Vanije hoped, “a one-two”.  Yvie executes the moves perfectly the first time and Ra’jah…does not. Upon seeing this, Yanis shadily asked “Where did that dance experience go?” He IS sassy. Brooke Lynn, not surprisingly, does fantastic. Scarlet, on the other hand, looks like a “stickbug in a hurricane” (thanks, Yvie). Silky needs a one count. She isn’t getting one. As the group works on a bit where they all slowly fall to the ground, Yvie says she’s concerned because she has a connective tissue disorder where her knees often pop out of place. (Yep, it’s the “Excuse of the week™”!) Yvie being Yvie, however, isn’t going to let this hold her back. All I know is that I would have loved to have seen a Ra’jah vs. Yanis cat fight, because the stage was definitely set for one. Ariel is concerned that she was hoping for a fin time mot the “Beyonce half-time show” and fears she’s going to bomb the challenge.

On Elimination Day, the queens get ready to hit the stage (and we get a cute moment of affection between Brooke Lynn and Vanjie). Ariel is still in her head, but is feeling better fater practicing her ass off the night before. Mercedes has no brows, so Silky volunteers one of her Sharpies. SHE DRAWS HER BROWS ON WITH A SHARPIE, Y’ALL. As Brooke Lynn said, ‘She gets her cosmetics from Office Depot.” Ha!

Nina gets nostalgic for the days of Obama (don’t we all) and shares a terrifying story of her college days, when she was openly gay and had some fellow students in an underground hate group to harass her and threaten her life – in the Matthew Shepard era. Nina is now involved in gay rights issues, so that no other gay kids will have to go through what she went through. I (heart) Nina so much.

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After hearing Nina’s story, Mercedes decides to openly talk about her religion with the other queens. She says she doesn’t want to talk about it because of the terrorist accusations and social media hate directed towards Muslims. I also (heart) Mercedes and I’m glad she opened up – hopefully shedding some light on what it means to be Muslim in America.

Ru looks gorgeous on the runway in a pastel gown and big, feathered blonde hair (kudos again to Raven and Delta.) She welcomes Michelle, Ross and guest judges Joel McHale and Tiffany Pollard. Having them on the show made me realize how much I missed The Soup and I Love New York. (Can we get a new show for Tiffany? Let’s make this happen, VH1!)              

Curtain up, it’s time to start the show! (Cameo alert: Ginger Minj as Trump!) Set in the ‘Trump School for Girls” the whole thing is a pretty good parody of Grease. Scarlet gets chuckles as Betsy DeVos. Yvie is a delightfully disturbing (and disturbingly accurate Kellyanne). Brooke Lynn’s Ivana is also pretty damn good. Shuga was giving me “Suze Orman on Red Bull” more than Hillary, but she overshadowed Vanjie’s Rosie and A’keria’s Stormy in their “Cheese Frightening” number. Mercedes, bless her heart, tries, but just can’t keep up with the others. Ra’jah also didn’t give nearly enough Omarosa bitchiness (come on, we all saw her contant fighting with Janice Dickinson on The Surreal Life, right?) And then, stealing her 40 seconds (as she put it) is Silky as the angelic Oprah. Yes, Silky is extra, but she really nails her performance. Her makeup is on point too…maybe I should invest in some Sharpies. The “girl power” finale was also quite entertaining, and Ru and the judges seemed to like it.

On the runway, the category this week is “Orange Alert” – how appropriate. Yvie looks like she’s paying tribute to Nina Bo’Nina Brown, serving “citrus circus realness.” How creative. The rest of the queens have a tough act to follow.

Plastique wears a gorgeous corset and flame-inspired skirt with wings. Fun fact: Cardi B. wore the corset in a video (not sure which one, but a video.) She’s divine.

Ra’jah is in a “bad-ass catsuit with chaps to match.” Tiffany says she looks like a young Diana Ross. It’s a fun look.

Nina is giving us Hello Dolly realness, paying tribute to her liberal activism idol, Barbra Streisand. It looks a little “costume store” to me, but I love Nina and what she’s going for here, so I will allow it.

Scarlet made her own cocktail-length print dress with an extreme hoop. The bodice doesn’t look like it fits correctly, but her hair, makeup and cool talons make up for it.

A’keria wears a sparkly nude illusion bodysuit that she probably could have gotten away with for last week’s fringe challenge with a long Lady Godiva-inspired orange wig.

Silky wears a full-length beaded pageant gown, which she gives the judges a lot of time to admire as she walks sloooowly down the runway. It’s her first true polished look this season and she’s giving me a hint of Latrice here (although not nearly as fabulous…you can’t mess with perfection.)

Ariel also carries the fringe theme over from last week with an orange bodysuit and (another) huge wig. She describes her look as “Big Bird’s orange cousin from New Jersey” and I can’t disagree.

Mercedes dons a feathered showgirl headpiece and a somewhat bland leotard.

Vanjie pulls off the showgirl look much better with a gorgeous elaborate headpiece, bejeweled boobs, a corset and “over the top shenanigans.”

Brooke Lynn is giving us “Fifth Element meets Tron meets The Matrix” with a strappy look topped off with a thin plasticine trench. I love this look.

Shuga goes “full Trump” with orange skin, a wig that replicates whatever dead animal sits on his head and a sparkly blue sequined suit. It’s vaguely disturbing, but a super creative take on the theme.

Side note: Joel was enthusiastically yelling and Woo-ing at every queen on the runway, which fake annoyed Michelle (she’s a singer/personality, not an actress, I get it…but it would have been funnier if she really looked like his antics were pissing her off. Ru has been on The Soup so many times that I’m sure he took it all in stride – if she hadn’t told Joel to do that in the first place. But, watch for yourself.)

Ru deems Scarlet, Nina, Ariel, Plastique, Shuga and A’keria safe. Ru also compliments Scarlet on her casting decisions. During the judges’ critiques, Yvie gets high marks for her unique runway and her standout performance in the show. Ra’jah got complements for her “on-fire Liza Minnelli” look (h/t Joel) but Ross said her Omarosa (from personal experience) wasn’t villainous enough and that she was lost. Silky was “serving it all the way” on the runway and was a supremely convincing Oprah. Mercedes got clocked by Michelle for her “ordinary” leotard (which I knew was going to happen) and Ross said she “disappeared” in her Ivanka role. Tiffany called Vanjie’s runway look “exquisite” and Michelle said she needed to change up her corset/panties/chest glitter game. Ross called her “Rosie No Donnell” in her musical performance. Ross loved Brooke Lynn’s chic, futuristic look and Joel gave her kudos for her Ivana.

Here are some highlights from the judges’ deliberation:
Yvie: “the most distinct in the group”, “big bold flavor”, “when it works, it works”, “refreshing”
Ra’jah: “Dreamgirls, Supremes”, “Diana Ross, Lola Falana” but “no Omarosa”
Silky: “star-making turn”, “great impression”, “star quality”
Mercedes: “completely lost”, “should have played Donald, as she has no character” (ouch)
Vanjie: Ross compared it to him having sex, “she tried really hard and everybody laughed but she missed the mark”, “watchable”
Brooke Lynn: “A huge, beautiful piece of fruit leather”, “a big threat in this competition”

Ru brings back the girls and announces that this week, Silky owns everything and is the winner of the challenge. Yvie and Brooke Lynn are safe. It’s down to Vanjie, Ra’jah and Mercedes. Since we know Vanjie isn’t going home for a while, its left for Mercedes and Ra’jah to lip sync for their lives.

This week’s lip sync is to the James Brown classic “Living in America”. I don’t know about you, but it’s been pretty obvious who is going home before Ru tells them to sashay away. Honey is working it, and despite losing her wig (unintentionally), she gave it 150%. Mercedes has been fighting the good fight since the season began, and she finally got to tell her story, so it’s really not a surprise when she is sent packing. I will miss her OPALENCE.

Untucked in a nutshell: it looks like Brooke Lynn and Vanjie might actually be having a “showmance.” I know it might be too early to give them a couple name, but may I suggest “Branjie”? Also, Tiffany Pollard, the first guest judge not to get molested by Silky, shares a whole lotta information about her downstairs situation. As the show’s intro reminds us, if you’re not watching, you’re not getting the whole story. Next week, the queens are having a “Monster Ball” and one of my favorite judges ever, Elvira, returns (I will admit I squealed with delight when I saw her in the teaser.) Until then, everybody say LOVE!

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