Sam Brooks recaps the third episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, and wonders why some of these queens don’t know how to sew.
This episode asks, and sort of answers the main question that millions of people across the world: why would you come on Drag Race and not know how to sew?!
There is always a sewing challenge. Sometimes there are multiple sewing challenges! If you don’t know how to do the skill that is being challenged, you are going to end up in the bottom two. You are probably going to go home.
And, in this case of this episode, if you deliver the worst outfit to have ever been seen in Drag Race themstory, then you’re going to be sent home.
Now, onto the episode.
Scaredy Kat, the first contestant to have never performed on stage before (which also feels like a ‘you should know how to sew’ level misfire), is gone! Blu Hydrangea names her as her roadkill, and sets a target up on her back pretty much immediately. You lip-synced in the second episode, Blu! That’s not a good sign!
Anyway, onto the mini-challenge.
RuPaul asks the queens to do that quintessentially British thing: dance around the maypole! You know that thing that all British people do. The queens, quite rightly, look bemused.
It’s essentially one of those challenges where everybody gets dressed up in bad drag, dances around for a bit, lets Ru workshop a tight five minutes, and an arbitrary winner is chosen.
Highlights: Crystal’s pole-dancing routine, Davina committing to some body convulsions, Baga Chipz comparing herself to Paula Radcliffe, and Blu’s Friar Tuck realness. It’s a fun mini-challenge! Cheryl Hole wins, because why wouldn’t she?
Raven joins us! It’s almost like she’s in the UK, potentially doing Ru’s makeup or something (that’s exactly what she’s doing). She flops a few jokes, reminding us that while Raven is a memorable and great queen, she might not be, uh, the most personable queen.
The show dispenses with her quickly and sets up a classic Drag Race challenge: make a fashionable outfit out of trash. The team is loosely a car boot sale.
Crystal sets herself up for failure by saying that she has a degree in costume design – remember the last time someone said they had a degree? We got Silky. Remember the time before that? Serena Chacha.
The rest of the workroom brilliantly sets up the rest of the episode, namely:
- Sum Ting Wong cannibalising one of her favourite jackets to use as a pattern for her work inspired look.
- Vinegar Strokes getting inspiration from a toothbrush and then, after some wise/mean advice from The Vivienne settles on making some book-inspired drag.
- The Vivienne saying, correctly: “We all know a sewing challenge is coming so if you haven’t prepared, it’s stupid, really.” As abrasive as The Vivienne might be, she does have that undeniable asset of being correct.
- Ru walking around the workroom and alternately gassing up or gaslighting the contestants. Davina is gassed up, Baga Chipz is gassed evenly, and Vinegar Strokes is read to absolute filth. Drag Race is a more emotionally violent show than most, but I don’t think the show has ever been more savage than when Ru calls Vinegar’s drag “hodgepodge”. Hodgepodge!
- Cheryl making this face:
- Crystal getting a chance to explain her hairy chest and armpits! It’s genderfuckery, and there hasn’t been lots of this particular variant on the US version. This is one of the things I really enjoy about this spinoff – it gives queens the space to explain themselves a bit more and it rounds out the show for both the contestants and the audience. It’s good TV, y’all!
- Davina DeCampos and Blu Hydrangea talking about how drag has changed since they both started (Davina is roughly 500 years old, Blu is 22). It’s a frank, honest discussion about how technology has changed both how accessible drag is and how cool drag is. I like these talks!
It’s worth noting that even when it’s clear some of the queens aren’t – to be a bit generous – thriving in the challenge, everybody takes it in their stride and joins in. Vinegar takes ownership of the label ‘hodgepodge’ and seems preternaturally comfortable in that her outfit is going to be bad, and the rest of the ribbing about her look is good-natured and never cruel.
This just in: it’s nice to see people be nice to other people on television. On to the runway!
Also, some clunky editing foreshadowing: Sum Ting Wong, who has managed to staple together some kind of jacket out of drapes, says that “out of everyone”, Vinegar Strokes is who she needs to hang around the most. Don’t say that! That’s like a dog saying it’s his last day before retirement on the police dog force!
Real talk: RuPaul’s reading of the line “simple pattern” is the funniest she’s been on this show. And for someone who gets hundreds of slaplines (not quite punchlines) an episode, that’s notable.
Realer talk: Vinegar Strokes has the worst look I have ever seen on this runway. You need a few images to truly understand how:
What is the orange! Why is it books! Why the tassles! Too many Q’s, not enough A’s.
Just… truly bad.
On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got Crystal, who is giving us full Renaissance Freedom Furniture realness:
GUEST JUDGE: Dame Twiggy, known best to me as a reference on Absolutely Fabulous and a supermodel. She does well and seems lovely!
WINNER: Davina DeCampos, half because she looked fashion as all hell, and half because she had a breakdown last week and probably needed it. Crystal definitely deserved it.
BOTTOM TWO: Sum Ting Wong and Vinegar Strokes, definitely deservedly, but if there could be a bottom three, Cheryl Hole would be clearly there for stapling gloves onto a skirt. But it’d hard to get out of a judging that includes Michelle Visage saying, in the deadest of pans: “Talk me through why we’re not wearing a shirt.”
The judging is honestly super fair here, with Michelle reading people who don’t know how to sew for not knowing how to sew! There’s been over a decade of Drag Race and if you come here not knowing how to sew, you’re coming not to win. That’s as basic as it gets.
For a third week in a row, there’s no ‘Downtown’. Who has a grudge against Queen Petula Clark? Show yourself!
Anyway, this is a fine lip-sync, to one of the second-tier Eurythmics songs ‘Would I Lie To You’. Classic episode three fodder: A potential contender, and someone who could’ve been a contender but wasn’t ready. Goodbye, Vinegar Strokes. We’ll always have hodgepodge.
VERDICT: A great episode! Nice moments, bad moments, mean moments, and people being sent home rightly.
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