Saturday, March 10, 2012

Drag Race Season 4: Separating the Men From The Boys and the Drags from the Queens

(If you can't love Season 4, how in the hell you gonna love anything else?)

RuPaul's Drag Race continues to be the most fun show on television. I find it totally fascinating. The blurring of gender norms! The camptastic challenges! The creativity and talent of the contestants to execute all their different runway looks! The witticisms and punnery of the regular judging panel! The enthusiasm of the guest judges! The bitchery and sweetness of the girls chatting in the work room! The sensational lip syncing for one's LIFE! (the performance level of which have been a big improvement over last season) And while these Drag Queens all really want to win, the show still to never takes itself too seriously and champions a message of acceptance and empowerment above all else. Credit to RuPaul. It's a great hour or entertainment. (And the half hour "Untucked" follow up show is a lot of fun too.) Now that we're half way through the season and pretty much only serious contenders for the title and winning prizes are left, I figured I'd give my assessment of the field ranging from least likely to most likely to win it all. Here goes. 

7. Jiggly Caliente
Read her: Girl is a Hot Mess. She is fun and has a lot of personality, but she's been avoiding getting the axe by the slimmest of margins for weeks. I genuinely like her and it's fun how every episode Ru asks "May I call you Jiggly?" and Jiggly laughs and says she can, but her time is near up. Her lip synch performance skills have saved her twice already, and a Big Girl who's actually a boy who can do a split is always impressive, but a third lip synch for your life against the remaining girls... could mean DEATH!
Highlight So Far: Winning the first photo shoot mini-challenge!
Lowlight So Far: Her pride float and matching runway outfit were both really bad. She didn't know what she was doing the whole episode. It's lucky for her Milan imploded while she held it together during the lip sync for their lives.

6. DiDa Ritz
Read Her: She's got talent, and acquits herself well in challenges, but her runway is WEAK. The judges don't like her outfits or her wigs. She's been improving, but I don't think her learning curve is fast enough. I don't have a whole lot else to say about her, which is not a good sign either.
Highlight So Far: DiDa killed it lip syncing to This Will Be (An Ever Lasting Love)
Lowlight So Far: Her "pedestrian" runway looks all jump to mind.

5. Phi Phi O'Hara
Read Her: She started so strong for me, but has faded fast in the last two weeks. She's one of those people just not cut out for Reality TV competition. She's been absorbing the stress of the situation week after week and her energy is increasingly negative. She's way too jealous of Willam's and Sharon's successes. She shows how it eats her up inside not to win, but she hasn't really ever deserved to win in their places! When a bitch is better than you, just say "well played" and regroup for the next round. Phi Phi can't do this. She's internalizing the losses and it's weakened her subsequent performances.
Highlight So Far: Screaming at Sharon Needles to take her freaky ass back to Party City. It was a great line.
Lowlight So Far: Losing her wig AND her fake boobs during the wet t-shirt contest. Total fail.

4. Chad Michaels
Read Her: I put Chad in 4th basically because as a person he seems very sweet and in the competition he always acts like a professional - a fact which he'll never miss an opportunity to tell you about. Granted, he's already won two challenges and been at the top for many others. I just think what will keep him from the final three is that his drag is kind of old-fashioned. His looks are well-executed, but not always innovative. And generally, he looks older than the other Queens. I mean, his Cher impression is fierce, but she's also in her late 60's, no? Still he's a sweetheart. Of all of them I think of him as a boy and not a girl. I think it's because he doesn't have a different stage name.
Highlight So Far: Impersonating Cher in Snatch Game. Spot on.
Lowlight So Far: Her pride float and outfit were forgettable. But otherwise she's been on point.

3. Sharon Needles
Read Her: Her look is always kinda freaky, but what she does, she does really well. She had a lot of early success, but she has to keep outdoing herself and she might just run out of room to go by the time the finale rolls around. The judges want to see growth and something new, and I don't know if there's enough bar left to raise in that regard to claim the title. Still, I'm not like Phi Phi. I don't want to see her go back to Party City anytime soon.
Highlight So Far: Blood drooling out of her mouth during the Post Rupacolypse runway!
Lowlight So Far: Her runway look following Snatch Game made her look both average and old. A rare misstep.
2. Willam
Read Her: Willam is a bitch, an ass-kisser, and a total actress. But she's always on, always brings the sass, and has a killer body, so you have to respect the bitch. She is very entertaining, and her verbal barbs and mind games are just gentle enough that you don't really hate her for messing with the other girls. You have to hand it to her, she knows what she has to offer and she's the best at delivering it. I don't think the judges will hand her the crown for it, but it should take her all the way to the end. PLUS she has the best bag of accessories from which to pull. Who has several dozen star-shaped stickers of her face tucked away in her bag in case they'll come in handy for an art project? Willam does. Damn, girl. You came prepared.
Highlight So Far: Her Jessica Simpson impersonation was great and she totally killed her Pride Float.
Lowlight So Far: It took her a couple early episodes to really find the right note to hit in her bitchitude, so through Week 3 she kinda sucked, but ever since she locked into that sweet spot, she's been cruising along just fine.

1. Latrice Royale

Read Her: I don't think she is -as of yet- the front runner to win, but she is definitely the Dark Horse and the best shot at a Big Girl ever winning this show. Latrice has elegance, personality and a great sense of self. Whereas some Big Girls in the past have played up their bigness for laughs, or just seemed not to know how to style themselves, Latrice is in full control of her full figure. She's incredibly likable in and out of drag and knows how to stay sane in an insane world. Jesus is your biscuit. Sop it up, Girl. Stomp those skinny bitches and take that crown!
Highlight So Far: Winning the Sitcom Challenge "Get those nuts away from MY face!"
Lowlight So Far: Being called out on needing to wear a new pair of runway shoes after wearing the same leather boots several weeks in a row. It's gotta be hard to find supportive ladies footware in that size!

So now that I've made my rankings, I'm sure Latrice and Willam, will both be in the Bottom 2 next week and somehow Jiggly will fight her way through six more eliminations to the crown! Ah well. Good luck to y'all remaining ladies! As Ru says, Gentleman start your engines, and may the best woman win!

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