RuPaul’s Drag Race S8 E2: Bitch Perfect

Bryony Bates

Well. WELL. You know I want to skip straight to the end of this episode, but that’s not how TV recaps work so we’ll begin, I suppose, at the beginning.

Naysha’s gone home, making Cynthia and her cucu very sad, but she soon cheers up as tonight’s mini challenge is a cha-cha competition. This is Cynthia’s to win, which she does, along with Chi Chi DeVayne. Kim Chi doesn’t fare so well: she makes John Sergeant on Strictly look like Rudolf Nureyev, and gains the dubious title of ‘The Worst Dancer on RuPaul’s Drag Race Ever Without a Doubt’.

The main challenge is a dragapella lip sync extravaganza, Bitch Perfect. I can forgive the slightly dated reference for such a quality pun. Cynthia will be leading the nice-girl Lady Bitches, while Chi Chi heads the nasty-girl Shady Bitches, and boy does Chi Chi have to deal with some shady bitches here.

You can’t trust the impression you get of someone from a reality TV show, but Betty comes across as deeply unpleasant during this episode. She constantly undermines Chi Chi, and then complains that Chi Chi’s leadership skills aren’t up to scratch; she seems to be doing her best to sabotage the team.

Thorgy Thor drops some serious T in the talking head segment: apparently no one in New York will work with Betty because she’s so awful. Thorgy seems barely able to contain her anger when she says that Betty ‘gets away with being an asshole because she’s artistic’, and it’s no surprise that she pushes for the inclusion of a (fake) punch to the face for Betty in the dance sequence.

Acid Betty vs. Thorgy Thor is shaping up to be one of the great Drag Race rivalries, and I am firmly #TeamThorgy, despite her questionable choice of hairstyle. The dreads are better than Betty’s topknot, at least, which looks like an actual turd in this episode, saving everyone the effort of working out what a shithead she really is.

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The Lady Bitches are playing to their assigned type by all getting along. Kim Chi’s inability to follow even the most basic steps may be causing frustration, but everyone is supportive nonetheless. Perhaps this is just because being mean to Kim Chi would be like kicking a puppy, and Laila McQueen is almost as bad in any case.

Now, the classic response of any queen trying and failing to learn choreography is to say ‘I don’t have a dance background’, as if that gets you a free pass. Dax ExclamationPoint provides a master class in this strategy, and it produces the usual result: No. One. Cares. Compare Kim Chi, who, when asked if she’d rather try the steps without heels, smiles and says ‘No I’m OK.’ Who do you think is going to come off best in the final performance?

Despite their bickering, the Shady Bitches shine in the main stage show, with Chi Chi’s upside down twerking a particular highlight. It’s a testament to the quality of talent this season that there are no major disasters: even Kim Chi manages to pull off the moves, and hide some of her incompetence by taking on an adorkable awkward nerd character. Not much of a stretch, but it works.

Oh man, I almost forgot our pre-main stage heartfelt reveal moment! This belongs to Kim Chi, as it did last week, as we find out she used to be fat and is also still a virgin! Several of the queens could sympathise with having been a fat kid, but surprisingly enough, they were all shocked and appalled by the fact she’s never done the deed. I don’t think this is necessarily as big a deal as they were making out, but it was lovely that Kim was disabused of the notion that no one ever comes onto her by Acid Betty, who confirmed that when they met a while ago ‘I was coming onto you. Hard.’ ‘Oh,’ replies Kim ‘I just thought you were being nice.’

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Oh girl. We’ve all been there.

Also Chi Chi used to have a gun and has seen people murdered, so consider that next time you come for her, Betty.

Back on the main stage, the runway theme is movie premiere couture. Robbie Turner’s red Vera Wang wedding dress is lovely, though the Marilyn Monroe look to go with it is a bit basic, and Thorgy astutely decides to be different with a fabulous sequinned jumpsuit. Betty boasts that her gown is a one of a kind creation ‘and no one else has one’ – but who would want one? There comes a point where experimental becomes just plain ugly, and that point is a sheer section over a person’s shins giving way to a heavy, opaque bottom that looks like a lampshade.

Shit, I hate Acid Betty but I can’t stop talking about her. That’s exactly what she wants, isn’t it?

Laila McQueen and Dax ExclamationPoint both look notably worse than the other queens: Laila’s turquoise wig clashes horribly with a green dress, and Dax’s gown looks like it hasn’t been hemmed properly. This presentation (or lack thereof) secures their places in the bottom two.

I am also disappointed in Naomi Smalls. I thought her style was going to be interesting, based on her Meet the Queens video, but she pulls out another basic look this week. The definition of resting on pretty.

And now it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: Dax and Laila are lip syncing, and the song is ‘I Will Survive’. You couldn’t ask for anything easier, but both performances are distinctly lacklustre. Laila takes her dress off, for no reason whatsoever, and I can’t even remember anything about Dax, which sums up her time on the show very well. As they turn to face an unimpressed RuPaul, both of them must be thinking ‘Well at least I did better than her.’

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No you didn’t! In a shock twist, Ru sends them both home. They don’t even get a ‘Sashay away’ – they’re just told to leave the stage, which they do in a hurry. Harsh maybe, but neither of them was going to last, and that lip sync… There are times when we’re all tempted to think ‘I could do better!’ when we see someone fuck up on TV, and mostly we’re wrong. In this instance, I’m sure that anyone sitting at home thinking ‘I could do better!’ could indeed have done better than these two.

In another shock twist (the real shock twist), Ru gets on the phone after they’ve gone, asking for someone to fill the empty place. WHO COULD IT BE?

The most obvious answer is that it’s a previous contestant being invited back, and the one everyone wants to see is Katya. This is a possibility: my own personal theory about last season is that when Ru said ‘And the winner is… Katya’ during the finale as a joke, that reflected her own feelings about who should have won. So Katya is the queen the fans and Ru would most like to see.

Would it work? Unfortunately, no. Katya got too far last time to have her back, and it would be unfair on this season’s queens to introduce her. We’ll have to wait for another All Stars for Katya to grace us with her presence once more (or you can just follow her on Instagram, where she is reliably fantastic).

A stronger possibility is that it’s someone who was almost-but-not-quite selected for this season. As Dax pointed out in a recent interview: ‘A lot of girls disappeared [from the drag circuit] at the same time [the season 8 contestants] did’, so my money’s on that.

Or it’s Shangela. It’s always Shangela.

Next week, the RuPaul’s Drag Race Wikia informs me, the queens will ‘Perform in two Empire-inspired acting scenes’. An acting challenge. Be still my beating heart. See you then!

About Bryony Bates

Bryony likes reading, writing, glamour and anger. @Bryony_Bates