RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8 Episode 7: Shady Politics

Bryony Bates

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

A presidential challenge this week, to which my first reaction was ‘Pfft, it’s been done before’, and it has, in Season 4, which was when the last US election was taking place so – fair enough.

But first, before we get into the serious business of politics, a little light fun with some underwear models! The girls hear a fact about each member of the extended Pit Crew and then guess – top or bottom? Bunk, of course – it’s all about bunk bed preferences. Wait a minute while I add ‘Bunk bed full of snuggling underwear models’ to the list of things I didn’t know I wanted.

The queens are then paired up to film campaign ads where they have to smear their rival. Bob and Derrick are together, with Derrick immediately saying she’ll call Bob ratchet – not stereotyping at all, as Michelle Visage comments when they do their ads. Thorgy is put with Chi Chi after saying last week that it’s time for Miss DeVayne to go, and Kim Chi and Naomi Smalls go off and play in magical drag sunshine land together.

Aw, those two! A friend of mine once said, on being confronted with a small, delicate, impossibly pretty boy: ‘Tiny pretty man! I want to put him on a shelf!’ And despite the fact neither of them are tiny, this is what I think of when I see Kim Chi and Naomi. I just want to put them on a shelf forever.

Everyone thinks their closeness will be a weakness, but they actually get more personal than the other queens. This doesn’t quite work for Kim Chi, whose overall performance isn’t that coherent, but Naomi actually gets in a couple of decent reads about Kim Chi’s ability to walk in heels and her lisp. For that, and for their fantastic runway presentations, they’re safe. The theme is black and white movie star realness – what’s that sound? Oh it’s just Robbie Turner, screaming in Seattle – and Kim does an interesting French mime look, while Naomi pays homage to Raven’s look from the Season 2 finale.

Meanwhile, Bob and Derrick may not like each other, but they both love winning. They learn to work together, though Bob easily outshines Derrick who just isn’t as smart. Bob knows exactly the level to go for with a joke about bathroom blowjobs – there’s not a lot of room for subtlety in these skits. However, Derrick is willing to eat a baby to get this done, and that work ethic pays off as the two of them win the challenge.

I don’t think it’s entirely fair that this challenge was judged in pairs rather than individually. Consider the difference between Bob’s fantastic Freaks-inspired carnival look, with the best make up we’ve seen her do all season, and Derrick’s transformation outfit. From a cheap black dress to a cheap white dress, Derrick really does have range. One thing I will say about Bob: we’ve seen her in a fair few catsuits this season, but no one’s read her for it. They have all been quite different, but I feel it still would have been brought up with a less favoured queen.

Chi Chi and Thorgy fare worst in the challenge. Thorgy is terribly smug about the fact she’s written 30 pages of material, but that’s not called for when the brief is to make a 45-second ad. Even worse, she doesn’t actually bother editing it down before she goes to film, making it up on the fly. Considering she was the one complaining about Chi Chi’s time management last week… Chi Chi’s look in the ad is weak and she looks – dare I say it – like a man. Still, her runway is better than Thorgy’s. Nothing Thorgy is wearing fits right, and she has the worst greyscale make up – her skin tone shows right through. Chi Chi’s make up isn’t the best, but her gown is lovely and she is giving us something different.

As with last week, the lip sync song seems to have been chosen to favour one queen over the other: in this case, Chi Chi over Thorgy with ‘And I am Telling You I’m Not Going’. Both do well, but Chi Chi brings a greater intensity to her performance, and when Thorgy breaks out a cartwheel at the end, I’m rolling my eyes. Resorting to gymnastics: it’s not big, and it’s not clever. I still don’t think she deserved to go, having had a much stronger season than Chi Chi, but I suppose that’s Miss Congeniality in the bag for her. This in spite of the fact she’s had a face like a cat’s arse for most of the competition. Oh well, all’s fair in love and war – and nothing’s fair in RuPaul’s Drag Race. See you next week.

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