On this week’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the queens showed off their musical chops in “Social Media – The Unverified Rusical.” Who proved to be a triple threat and who made the stage go dark? Let’s raise the curtain and take a closer look at episode 8.
As the queens come into the werk room after LaLa Ri’s elimination, it is acknowledged that the first “winner’s circle” competitor has been sent home, which broke the “Porkchop curse.” Utica points out that all of the queens he has helped out during the challenges have fared better that she has and vows to pit herself first moving forward. Denali is feeling vert overlooked in the competition and doesn’t think she’s “forgettable” (as Kandy said in her read last week.)
Ru enters the werk room and announces that it’s time for the annual “Rusical”. Instead of focusing on a star like Madonna, the queens are all playing social media platforms personified. Tina is chosen to be the “Em-she”, a la Cabaret. Olivia is cast as “Markie Tuckenberg”, the creator of
Fistbook Facelook, Symone is “Instaglam”, Kandy is “Linked All the Way In”, Utica is “Lady Tweets”, Elliott is “TokTik”. When it came to the showy role of Foxy with the big, show-stopping song, both Rosé and Denali wanted the part and were forced to audition before the others to see who would play it best. Rosé won, leaving Denali to join Gottmik as Russian bots Natasha and Nikita.
After a pep talk/virtual coaching session with Anne Hathaway, the queens worked on their songs with Michelle Visage and their choreography with guest judge Jamal Sims. In the singing department, Tina delivered an “old person” vibrato, Olivia brought the runs and Symone struggled with the word “ogle”, pronouncing it “oogle” every time. Kandy also pointed out that her song has a lot of “s”-es for someone with a lisp, Elliott delivered a verse that prompted Olivia to state, “as a singer, she can dance” and Utica was having trouble wrapping her mouth around the staccato Gilbert & Sullivan-esque song she was to sing as Lady Tweets. As far as the chroeo, most of the queens floundered, especially Symone and Utica, while Rosé killed it, as Denali grudgingly admitted.
As the dolls got ready for their performance, they chatted about how their lives had been affected by social media. Tina recalled unflattering photos of she and her then-boyfriend, Drag Race UK judge Graham Norton splashed across the internet, Kandy talked about dealing with being called “Fat Aja” and her “Alone in the VIP” meme. They all admitted how important social media is to them (so, if you aren’t a hater, show the queens some love on Twitter, IG and TikTok!)
The Rusical was a fun watch, with musical influences from Cabaret, Chicago and Funny Girl. As with every performance, there were the queens you couldn’t keep your eyes off (Denali, Gottmik and Rosé) and the ones who you watched with a wince (like Jamal was caught doing quite a few times) – most notably Kandy and Symone.
The theme of this week’s runway was “Yellow, Gorgeous” and the queens brought some standout looks. Tina and Elliott both gave us taxicab couture, Olivia was Dreamgirls excellence, Symone rocked suspenders, a big yellow coat, and thigh-high boots. Utica went Medieval, Kandy paid tribute to Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” look, Rosé was inspired by The Mask, Denali played Britney Spears’ “Slave 4 U” python and Gottmik served us “BDSM crash test dummy.”
The tops this week were Gottmik, Denali and Rosé, and with a perfect Rusical performance, Rosé earned her first win and $5,000 tip. Kandy and Symone found themselves in the lip sync for your life to Fifth Harmony’s “BO$$.” The pair totally turned it out, and while I watched, I was glad I didn’t have to pick one of them to be eliminated. Ru must have felt the same way, as we got our first double shantay of the season.
This week’s MVP: Rosé
As an established singer (with Stephanie’s Child) and dancer, Rosé has arrived as a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the season. Her performance in “Social Media” as the sexy (and aptly named) Foxy was the glue that held the show together and she deserved every one of the kudos she received from the judges, especially when she unleashed her inner Barbra Streisand and nailed the show’s 11 o’clock number, “Don’t Troll on My Crusade.”
On the runway, she again served a pop culture-inspired look that stood out from the others, painting her face green and glamming up Jim Carrey’s character from The Mask. I loved her Bette Midler from Big Business look from the Bag Ball and I love this one just as much (and no, Michelle, it wasn’t orange, it was yellow – and I am glad Rosé gave her defense.) And, I just have to add that Rosé is a gorgeous man, so there’s that.
Honorable Mention: Denali
She started the episode stating that she was far from forgettable and, with her performance as a punk rock Russian bot in “Social Media”, Denali showed why she shouldn’t be overlooked. She took Anne Hathaway’s advice to steal the show and did just that – you could never tell that she didn’t want that part – it appeared made just for her. And, on the runway, her gorgeous Medusa-esque headpiece and python skin fantasy was her second knockout runway look in a row (her chandelier look from last week did not get the praise it deserved.)
Had to Mention: Anne Hathaway
Drag Race superfan Anne Hathaway (remember when she met Ru on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert?) was all of us when she chatted virtually with the queens, apologizing for her visible hives that broke out on her neck as soon as she saw the dolls. She offered some sage advice, some of which they took (telling Denali to steal the show even if it wasn’t the role she wanted) and some they didn’t (when Tina asked how to die in a musical, Anne quipped “don’t sneeze” and added that she should “make as much noise as you can before you go.”) She also shared that she was the ninth choice for her role in The Devil Wears Prada and told the queens to ”hang in there, never give up.” I always liked her, but now I am making it my mission to hang out and discuss all things drag with Anne Hathaway.
And so, we ring down the curtain on another week of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent and next week, it’s time for the eagerly anticipated Snatch Game. Until next week, remember that if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an “amen?”