RuPaul’s Drag Race S8 E5: Snatch Game

Bryony Bates

Last season it seemed like Snatch Game took forever to come around – with fewer contestants this year, it’s landed on us all of a sudden.

Given the character we’ve seen on show so far this season, I thought this would be a riot but it’s a strangely muted affair. Not one for the herstory books.

There’s a teeny tiny bit of character clash as Naomi Smalls and Bob the Drag Queen both appear to be going for Whoopi Goldberg – Naomi graciously gives way, unwilling to be steamrollered by Bob. It’s a mistake, as Bob doesn’t even use Whoopi in the end, and Naomi gives a rather lacklustre performance as Tiffany Pollard aka New York.

I am writing this using shitty library Wifi that can’t quite handle Google, so I’m unsure who that is, and Naomi’s impression left me none the wiser. There’s just… nothing there. It’s not embarrassing so much as absent.

Bob is torn between Uzo Aduba and Carol Channing. Truly a testament to the breadth of her talents.

You’d think Derrick Barry wouldn’t have a lot to think about this episode, which is good because thinking is certainly not her strong suit, but in an effort to prove she can do something other than Britney, she considers giving us the performance no one has been clamouring for as comic character Shocantelle Brown – basically Rachel Dolezal before Rachel Dolezal was cool.

While the whole ‘black woman trapped in a white woman’s body’ thing shouldn’t be, well, a thing at all, the last person who should be doing it is Derrick Barry.

The big dramatic moment from the trailer happens at the top of this episode, with Derrick saying to Bob, ‘If I want to do ratchet drag next week, I’ll come to you,’ and Bob firing back, ‘If you want to do memorable drag next week…’

As has been previously noted, we have seen no sign of Bob doing ‘ratchet drag’ at all, so why on earth would Michelle Visage and Derrick apply it to Bob? Oh yeah, because she’s black. Used by Derrick here as an insult, it leaves a particularly nasty taste in the mouth.

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I’m not going to dwell on this – but I’ll point you towards Bobby Hankinson at Towleroad who has a pretty good handle on what’s going on here. After an appropriately frosty reaction for the Shocantelle impression from Ru in the Work Room, Derrick goes for Britney.

Kim Chi considers doing Pearl – and my God can we please ban queens impersonating other queens in the Snatch Game – but instead goes for a feminine take on Kim Jong-Un, Kimmy Jong-Un. It’s original, you have to give her that.

Elsewhere we have Thorgy Thor as Michael Jackson – please note this was filmed before the controversy about Joseph Fiennes being cast as Jackson in what will no doubt be a fantastic upcoming biopic – Chi Chi DeVayne as Eartha Kitt, Robbie Turner as Diana Vreeland – the fact she doesn’t know that it’s pronounced Dee-anna and not Die-anna give you an idea of how well that’s going to go – and Acid Betty as right wing news anchor, Nancy Grace.

On with the show, judged this week by Zaha Hadid and Chanel Iman. We’ve got some great looks, but surprisingly few jokes.

Thorgy’s Michael Jackson is spot on, and it’s no surprise when she ends up in the top three, but there’s not a huge amount to joke about with Michael Jackson. In the end, his life was desperately sad, and not particularly suited to the broad humour necessary for the Snatch Game.

Chi Chi DeVayne’s Eartha Kitt would be better if she left out the cat jokes (because Eartha Kitt played Catwoman and Chi Chi has two cats, see? No?) but like everything Chi Chi does, what it lacks in finesse, she more than makes up for with charisma.

Robbie Turner lets her Seattle sisters down with a completely flat Diana (that’s Dee-anna) Vreeland. The thing about Robbie is she thinks she’s a funny queen, but she’s not actually that quick. When Ru sets her up with ‘What’s in fashion at the moment, Diana?’ she says ‘How should I know?’ IDK, because your character is the first editor-in-chief of Vogue, maybe?

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When criticised later, Ms Excuses suddenly claims a sore throat stopped her from speaking up, which is really something when you’re playing a woman never knowingly photographed without a cigarette.

Kim Chi’s Korean dictator schtick is fine, but Acid Betty’s Nancy Grace is terrible. There’s no impression there whatsoever, it’s just Betty repeating ‘Think of the children’ in response to everything. And the wig’s bad.

Bob solves her Aduba/Channing conundrum by doing both, starting off as Crazy Eyes and switching to Carol Channing halfway through. It’s a bold move that pays off, but I have to say Pandora Boxx’s fantastic Carol Channing way back in Season 2 renders all other attempts on the Snatch Game pointless.

Derrick is actually kind of funny as Britney. And you know, looks the part.

See, I can’t actually remember any… jokes? Derrick Barry said something about diarrhoea, and Eartha Kitt wasn’t wearing any panties but that’s all I’ve got.

No major tearful revelations pre-runway tonight, just sad Acid Betty lamenting the fact she always works alone, and she doesn’t know why other queens don’t reach out to her and – enormous amounts of side-eye from Thorgy at this point, who if you recall solved the mystery of why no one works with Acid Betty a few weeks ago – ‘he’s an asshole.’

For the runway, we have Night of a Thousand Madonnas, which is such a fabulous theme, with so much scope. Such a shame that four – yes, FOUR – of the queens decide to do the red kimono from ‘Nothing Really Matters’. OK, Kim chi is actually doing a different video, but the overall effect is ‘Night of a Thousand Red Kimonos’.

Between that and Acid Betty’s pregnant dove belly look from ‘Bedtime Story’, it seems that the queens were all too cool for the obvious Madonna looks, and the runway suffers for it. That is, except Chi Chi DeVayne, who straight up goes for the Blonde Ambition pointy bra in an outfit she knocked up in a few hours backstage, and I love her for it.

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I can’t complete this recap without including what may be one of the best anecdotes in the world ever from RuPaul. When discussing runway walks, he tells us, ‘I once asked Iman what is on her mind on the runway, and she looked at me dead in the eyes and said, “Africa”.’ I mean – yes.

Bob wins the challenge wearing a take on Madonna’s Boy Scout outfit from the 2013 GLAAD Awards and NOT a red kimono – and gets $7,000 worth of purses. Rounding out the top three are Thorgy and Derrick; Kim Chi and Chi Chi are safe; and Acid Betty, Naomi Smalls and Robbie Turner are in the bottom three.

Acid Betty gets dragged by Carson Kressley when she claims it’s hard to find something funny about Nancy Grace: he goes ahead and does her completely off the cuff. I’d never heard of the woman before watching this episode and it made me laugh.

As a talking head, Betty pouts and says Snatch Game is stupid anyway, just like that time when you were eight and didn’t want to play your brother’s stupid video games anyway.

Acid Betty and Naomi Smalls are lip syncing for their lives, and if you were hoping for ‘Vogue’ or ‘Material Girl’, you’d be disappointed: we get an album track instead. Apparently there are limits to how much Madonna will let you encroach on her turf.

Naomi gives a solid performance, while Acid Betty is all over the place. It’s an inglorious end for someone who looked to be a frontrunner this season – hell, I said she was going to win it hands down – though she takes it gracefully, unlike most of the bitter Bettys (haha!) who go home.

OK, so at this point, I would like to take the opportunity to adjust my predictions for the top three. Right now, I think it’s got to be:

  • Bob the Drag Queen to win
  • Thorgy Thor
  • Kim Chi

With Chi Chi DeVayne as Miss Congeniality. I’m calling it now. Unless one of them goes out, in which case I’ll change my mind.

About Bryony Bates

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