It’s costume chaos week on House of Drag – but who surfs the waves and who gets washed ashore? Sam Brooks power-ranks episode three of House of Drag.
After a shaky beginning, it seems that House of Drag is beginning to find its feet on the catwalk. Episode three is an altogether tighter ship, with clear narratives for the contestants throughout, and the right balance of heart and shade. And, considering that this week’s challenge revolves around shoving each other aside while looking for two dollar shop materials in order to build an outfit, that’s quite an achievement.
By far the best, and most illuminating, part of the episode was an early conversation between Trinity Ice and Hugo Grrrl about coming out and privilege in the trans community. The frankness with which both of these queens discuss their lives and experiences as trans people is incredibly refreshing and necessary. It brings things to the fore – namely, the privilege that trans men may have over trans women – that I hadn’t ever thought about, and I’d wager the same would be true of a lot of this show’s audience.
It’s a reminder that, at their finest, reality shows can be some of our most prescient, relevant and easily digestable social commentary. Sometimes they stumbles into it, and sometimes it’s intentional – as it is with House of Drag. If the show can keep threading in these conversations while not detracting from the competition, we’ll have a winner on our hands.
But without further ado, in classic Spinoff tradition (and we’ll be covering the show in this fashion throughout the season), I give you the power-rankings for episode three.
ELIMINATED: Trinity Ice
Trinity, you were not long for this competition. Your stonefaced antics will be missed. Your joke about ‘a homeless’ will not be missed. You definitely had more to give House of Drag, and it’s a shame that you were the casualty in another strategically chosen (and more on this later) elimination.
6. Leidy Lei
Leidy Lei seems to be skating through the competition at this stage. Having barely scraped through after her stand-up comedy breakdown last week, even to her own surprise she avoided elimination after her chaos costume hewed closer to the Christmas tree on your office desk than greatness.
To quote: “I know what I’m wearing is garbage.”
If there’s an underdog narrative in play here, I can see Leidy Lei being a top three – but she’s got a lot of ground to cover, and after two consecutive episodes at the bottom of the pack, it’ll take a lot of work to make it there.
5. Bunny Holiday
Bunny Holiday is getting the full villain edit here; there’s nary a cut to her (even outside of the Shade Cam – and I question the necessity of a Shade Cam when the contestants have no filters around being mean to each other to their faces anyway) where she’s not shading somebody else.
She’s going to be around until the very end, and despite this week’s aggressively decent elf look, I can sense her being a real contender when it comes to the performance challenges.
4. Vulga Titz
As my colleague Alex will attest, I cannot say, think or even conceive of the name ‘Vulga Titz’ without laughing in disbelief. Vulga Titz has invaded my idle thoughts, more as a name than as an actual queen, and I’m not upset about it.
Titz seems to be a contender for this show’s Miss Congeniality – or whatever legally okay version of Miss Congeniality this show will end up having – her to-camera interviews are earnest, and she seems to be throwing the least shade. In a competition where you can barely find the sunlight for all the shade blotting it out, that’s an asset in itself.
3. Lola Blades
There’s a chance it played onscreen better than it did in person, but I was fairly won over by Lola Blade’s green fabric ensemble (the first and last time I’ll say that phrase, I’d wager). It looked like something that you could feasibly make in a small amount of time, and if someone showed up to Halloween wearing it, I wouldn’t be mad at them. Confused sure! But not mad.
I’m much less won over by Blades’ competitiveness – which has the steely, terrifying assuredness of a Housewife in Her Prime – and by her listing the titles she’s won over the past few years. Mostly because it’s a quality I recognise in myself that I don’t like very much. Reality shows: making us look at things we don’t like about ourselves since the late nineties, roughly.
The one thing going against Blades is that a key part of the competition’s elimination procedure relies on another contestant liking you enough not to send you home, and Blades doesn’t seem to be endearing herself to any of her fellow contestants at this stage. But hey, look how far not being liked took Omarosa!
2. Medulla Oblongata
There’s little to be said about quiet, assured, classy competence. So I give you eyes on fluffy tits. Not to be mistaken for Vulga, Titz.
WINNER: Hugo Grrrl
The winner of this week’s episode, for his truly amazing plastic cup ensemble that could fill an entire whale’s stomach, is Hugo Grrrl. He’s also the winner of these power-rankings, for handling an altercation with Lola Blades in a truly classy way – by politely and simply asking ‘What do you think about your actions?’
Imagine if reality show contestants always handled conflict in this way! Imagine if people in real life handled conflict this way! We’d have solved climate change by now, or at least maybe toxic relationships.
Lola’s explanation still isn’t enough to keep Hugo from putting her in the bottom two (if you need a refresher, the winning contestant gets to choose the bottom two, and the two hosts choose who goes home). It’s plausible that Hugo doesn’t hold a grudge against Lola for aggressively taking all the fabric, but also I still hold a grudge against a teacher who gave me a slightly lower mark than the one I deserved in high school. Humans are a rich tapestry, and grudges run deep. If I had a chance to send that teacher home, you can be sure that I’d goddamned do it.
Regardless, Hugo’s decision to pit Lola against Trinity in the bottom two backfired. Presumed serious contender Trinity went home, while Lola skated through – in a repeat of what happened last week, with Luna and Leidy Lei. It showcases the limitation of this method of elimination, because it’s a highly subjective, non-performance-based method. Unless somebody royally screws up, it’s still left up to hosts Kita and Anita to decide who is meant to go home. It’s not hugely satisfying to watch, it’s clearly unpleasant for the contestant who has to choose a bottom two, and it makes it nearly impossible to construct a contestant narrative arc, which is the backbone of any reality show. It’s why we keep tuning in.
Grudges and eliminations aside, Hugo is the one to beat. After their successful stand-up bit last week (I would’ve given them the win, easy) and this week’s challenge, Hugo is a threat in every way. They can perform, they can make, and they can resolve conflict in a satisfying way that still makes for good television.
You go, Hugo Grrrl, you go.