Do you hear the Boyz II Men in the air, kids? That’s because we’ve come to the end of our road. (If you can’t hear it, it’s because you’re under 25 and don’t know who Boyz II Men are; get off my lawn.) Chad, Shannel, Raven, and Jujubee enter the workroom with a keen awareness of the tension: they are all friends, but no longer teammates. Plus, they know that Deathstrike Michaels over there has a knife in her wig or something. She’s never not talking about murder and/or the Hunger Games. Luckily, SheMail arrives before anyone starts crying or killing.
The video message itself is a little obscure even by the show’s usual standards; I’ve Googled the various quotes she rattled off and still can’t find a common thread. To stop you from thinking too hard about what was just said, RuPaul busts in with the best suit he’s ever worn. It’s a Technicolor, candy-coated dream creation, and I want one so bad that I’d put on a dress and go on this show just to get close enough to steal it from him. Hashtag #ArielItalicSeason7, y’all. Anyhow, there’s no mini-challenge this week because the girls are facing a MAJOR challenge: a three-part, city-wide, multi-outfit media blitz moving from interview to weird secret “honor” before culminating in a stand-up routine in front of a live audience. That last part would be old hat for anyone from season 3, but none of them made it this far. Let’s pour out a bottle of foundation for our fallen hunties.
To prepare for their comedy debuts, the ladies meet individually with someone who went to her plastic surgeon and said, “I want to look kind of like Cheri Oteri.” No, just kidding: that is, I’m pretty sure, what’s left of the real Cheri Oteri. Anyhow, she manages to slog politely through while everyone grabs for humor the way you might blindly grab for the light switch in a dark room. Jujubee goes first, sputtering little bits and pieces about her family that never pay off. She’s hilarious as soon as she stops trying to script herself, but oddly can’t bottle that particular lightning. Chad is all, “I’m old, guys. Mad old. OLD.” Cheri’s like, “yu-huh.” Crickets. In the first of what turns out to be a series of baffling choices this week, Shannel opens with a bit about how she’s trapped in a black woman’s body before proceeding into weird non sequiturs that read as possibly racist. Also: we can see you, and you’re not in a black woman’s body. Raven slinks out last and comes across as unprepared. Her intention seems to be to talk about the routine rather than actually perform it, and the Cheri-like woman (the weird resemblance makes me think that she maybe used to be Alanis Morrisette?) keeps having to direct her to just tell the damn jokes.
Once we’ve been good and convinced that all four contestants will fail spectacularly, the show jumps to commercial break. SUSPENSE. By the time we return, everybody’s dolled up and ready for their interview. And hey, they’ll be taken around the city by old friends! You know we live in an unjust world when Mimi Imfurst gets to be an All Star while Delta Work and Ongina are relegated to van-driving detail. But they accept their chauffeur status with dignity and dutifully transport their brethren (sistren?) to the group interview with E! correspondent Marc Malkin. The dapper host lobs a few softball questions at the queens while they scrabble for air time like dogs fighting for scraps. Juju comes out as the runt of the litter, somehow assuming that politeness will get her anywhere with this group of bitches. In my opinion, though, it’s Shannel who stands out as the real loser: the only thing worse than saying nothing is saying a whole lot of nothing.
The segment ends almost as soon as it’s begun. There are a lot of quick cuts when you’re cramming three challenges into a single hour-long show. In an unexpected twist, outfit changes happen in transit, leading to a brief slapstick interlude that sadly does not result in someone smearing lipstick all the way up to her eyelid. It turns out that each of the final four is having a menu item named after them at Hamburger Mary’s. My guess: the Chad Michaels is a perfect circle of aged beef, the Jujubee is sweet but sloppily prepared, the Raven is ice cold with dressing on the side, and the Shannel is overdone, extremely cheesy, and bigger than you remember. I love that the West Hollywood City Councilman is there to introduce the event. Honestly, hosting drag-related functions is probably most of what a WeHo elected official does. Since this portion of the contest has no clear winners or losers (it’s not as though one of them bit the burger best), let’s just move on.
Obviously, the stand-up is the most relevant part of this challenge, mostly because it’s easier to ascertain who did well. Jujubee jumps in first and does solidly, though I feel like she ends on a low note by essentially recreating Margaret Cho’s well-worn (and funnier) impersonation of her mother. Chad manages to find some fresh material to support her over-the-hill schtick, but runs slightly over the imposed time limit. The standout is Raven, who slays with her routine about a slut who finds true love with her cellmate. The material is just so relatable! Shannel stands out for a whole different reason by clinging steadfastly to her wrong-headed black lady nonsense not only in content, but also in delivery, putting on a vaguely urban accent and demeanor that suit her terribly.
But enough talk. The real throwdown happens on the runway, and there’s nothing like seeing everyone’s best on parade. First out is, of course, RuPaul herself, bronzed and bodacious in her copper sequined frock and serving ‘90s realness in a yellow-blond wig harkening back to her earlier days. I assume it was chosen as a reminder that she’s been queen of the world longer than some of us have been feeding ourselves. Next up is Chad, whose presentation is polished but maybe a bit young for her. This is the kind of getup that Christina Aguilera used to rock, but if she’s gotten past it, then Mama Michaels probably ought to as well. Juju follows, sporting an uninspiring baby blue ruffled confection. Sorry, hon, but in drag, enough is never enough. Predictably taking the opposite approach, Shannel emerges in a costume made entirely of bedazzled plush lobster toys. I mean, that’s what that is, right? Is there another explanation? For the final walk, Raven goes vintage boudoir. Category is: CHEESECAKE.
Judging commences: the usual misfits, Santino and Michelle, are joined by Beth Ditto and a high school art student’s clay sculpture of Cheri Oteri created entirely from memory. Chad earns praise for both her “sexy superhero” attire and her successful performance at the comedy club, though they worry that perfection, while perfect, might also be boring. Jujubee is chastised for getting lost in the interview. Everyone loves her personality, but they agree that she never manages to get the ball all the way to the end zone. (Of course, they don’t use a sports metaphor; I’m kind of surprised I did.) Shannel doesn’t get a lot of praise during her review, firmly establishing her as this season’s Rebecca Glasscock or Wendy Pepper or whoever you don’t like from reality TV. Mostly because someone needs to justify the existence of the Hamburger Mary’s challenge, they ding Raven for being shiny during her burger acceptance speech, ignoring the fact that she was in a grease barn and had prepared for the appearance in ten minutes in a moving vehicle. Her feedback is positive overall, however; they like her versatility and star quality.
It’s easy to predict the top two based on this commentary: Raven and Chad will lip sync to my least favorite RuPaul track, “Responsitrannity.” They’re both fantastic in their own way, but we have to crown a winner, and it goes to the grand dame, Chad Michaels. There’s been a lot of talk about how exciting it is to get into the Drag Hall of Fame, but I hope the money ends up being more fulfilling to her. Seriously, it’s not real, it’s just a false wall with two pictures on it that has probably already been torn down now that filming’s over. It’s not like you can go to the Drag Hall of Fame and get the world’s shortest tour or something. Nonetheless, congrats to her and all the other competitors for a job well done.
Well, it’s been fun recapping for you guys. If you miss my catty comedic stylings in the future, catch up with me at HuxtableHotness.com, where I review the fashions from The Cosby Show one episode at a time. Yes, I have that much free time on my hands. Shut up.
- The opening montage reminded us that “Happy Hunger Games” was the absolute first thing out of Chad’s mouth this season. I sincerely hope Lionsgate is giving her kickbacks for all that product placement.
- And speaking of Chad’s entrances, why did she walk in carrying two wigs at the start of the show? Is homework allowed?
- Beth Ditto’s accent is so country. I was way not expecting that.
- By the look of Shannel’s Hamburger Mary’s drag, the drive there must have involved a shortcut through a Kirstie Alley.
- I feel like part of being a drag superstar is no longer having to pour yourself into a dress in the back of a taxi. Then again, I suppose the bar for superstardom is set a lot lower in the drag world.