RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13, Episode 8: The Unverified Rusical
Disclosure: I’m a Symone stan and this episode was a difficult journey to process, so kindly, proceed with caution, support the dolls in their endeavours, and spread love not hate. Let’s go.
The episode begins announcing this season’s musical challenge: The Unverified Rusical. The queens must record vocals, learn choreography, and steal the show in a musical about social media. The runway category is Yellow Gorgeous! Rose stuns with her first challenge win, but Symone and Kandy Muse land in the bottom two and lip sync for their lives, in the end receiving an elusive double shantay!
Assigning The Roles (Feat. Anne MF Hathaway)
The queens are given a script, an iPod, and a challenge brief but they are not assigned roles. So one by one they assign roles as amicably as they can. The most compelling part of this scene however is Denali’s insistence on having it all.
She wants Utica Queen’s Lady Tweets role after she’s done already done chosen herses, and then she here to battle for Rose’s preferred role as Foxy. After a quick audition that Rose kills for singing reasons, the girls do democracy and vote for their favourite audition. Rose gets majority of the votes, wins the part, and Denali is given the keys to the struggle bus, to drive it and park it right into her new role as Russian Bot #2.
Anne Hathaway makes a guest appearance via satellite to talk Musicals with the girls. Her Oscar-winning 2012’s Les Mis performance is brought up, and she drops the most inspirational piece of intel revealing she was the ninth choice for her iconic role in The Devil Wears Prada.
Social Media Rusical Time!
As far as Rusicals go, this (in my opinion) is probably the most alike an actual musical that has been in the series since Shade: The Rusical in S6, but not as good as S12 Madonna: The Unauthorised Rusical. But let’s talk about our Broadway standouts:
Rose! A clear winner, her energy, singing, performance and choreo really carried her over the finish line this episode.In a similar vein, Olivia Lux did a wonderfully camp job with her role, setting the tone for the musical, showing us yet another elevated performance.
Another NY native, Tina Burner, really killed her Emcee job of narrating the entire musical. She had a lot of work, and for what it’s worth I thought she coped incredibly well, certainly much better than the judges were saying. For anyone unaware, Tina was doing Liza Minelli in Cabaret cosplay and its a shame it didn’t get more props.
Gottmik & Denali as Russian Bots was of course a trip, a recent IG Photoshoot shows them reprising their roles with one of Drag Race most famous Russians: Katya! Overall however, Denali had nothing to worry about and Gottmik really showcased a performing quality we had yet to see on the competition.
Category Is… YELLOW Gorgeous!
Named after Barbra Streisand’s iconic “hello gorgeous” this category is a freewheeling one for the queens to interpret the colour yellow however they please. I thought there were so many fantastic standouts, among them Olivia Lux in body hugging Yellow Pageant Gown by Eddie Couture.
Another highlight was Tina Burner! Who doesn’t often find herself in this section of the recap as a Fashion Highlight. Alas, her Yellow Taxi with Headlights and License Plate by Florence D’Lee was especially stunting, and a nice rest from her usual red-orange storyline. Elliott with Two Ts had a similar idea, executed with an 80s twist and perhaps with a bit more witty in its design.
A personal standout was Kandy Muse, in her Beyonce’s Lemonade, Sunflower Goddess Dress. The reference is from Beyonce’s Hold Up and her iconic scene busting an array of car windows whilst wearing a now historic yellow Roberto Cavalli dress. Kandy isn’t the most consistent in the challenges but her library of references are really exciting to see on the runway.
Was this my favourite Symone look? No. But was it great? Absolutely. Our LA angel wore a Neon Yellow Short-Boot-Suspender combo by Oscar Utiérre with a Versace coat, and custom hair Lil’ Kim could’ve confidently worn in the early 00s. She missed the mark in the challenge but we can always count on fierce runways.
Lowlights of the Week
This week I thought Rosé had a high chance of winning until she came out in her Mitochondria Bress which was a no for me. Also, a no was LaLa Ris Very Fitted Black Top that she tried to pass for a dress, that was not it. And lastly, Tina Burner’s Fire Themed Little Black Dress, beautifully designed (by Florence D’ Lee) but not the riveting interpretation we were looking for.
Lip Sync… For Your Lifeee!
This week Kandy Muse and Tamisha Iman lip-synced to Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!) by Blue Cantrell. Tamisha absolutely kept up with 49 years of age, wearing an ostomy bag in the process, but Kandy embodied the climax of the song with a fiery passion that in the end kept her in the competition. Sending fan-favourite and drag veteran Tamisha Iman, back home.
Werkroom Moment of Grace!
Oliva Lux briefly discussed her weight loss journey and her difficult years as a closeted teenager. Her story made her win a very satisfying end to the episode, and continues to reveal a very promising queen, hungry for her next win!
Lowlights of the Week
Symone and Kandy unfortunately did not shine in the challenge. But less obviously I think the entire premise of the musical was a lowlight, attacking social media was a slightly out-of-touch angle for my liking and it showed a real bias against young people somehow. The whole Billie Eilish-inspired Tik Tok portion with Elliott with Two Ts felt like an uninspired take on Gen Zs I felt could’ve been fleshed out better.
Lip Sync… For Your Lifeee!
The bottom queens were Kandy Muse and Symone, they lip synced to Fifth Harmony’s BO$$. If we are honest, Ru made the right decision saving Symone first. She had the cleanest lip sync, again exuding that signature confidence whilst Kandy struggled getting tangled in her dress and hair. In the end, both queens get to stay in maybe one of the least exciting double shantays the series has provided.
Werkroom Moment of Grace!
Kandy Muse discussing her own meme ‘Sitting Alone in the VIP’ (an Alaska Thunderfun song featuring Kandy now available on iTunes too) and giving us some context to S9’s iconic “You’re perfect, you’re beautiful, you look like Linda Evangelista, you’re a model” meme moment between Aja and Valentina. A beloved meme among Drag Race fans can easily become a POC queen’s worst nightmare, being sent out constant racist abuse by trolls which was the case with Aja. Starkly reminding us to appreciate the memes, but always treat the queens with respect as they navigate their newfound notoriety.
Aja has progressed in their career as a music artist, having released two albums in 2019, with a new project called 21 Roads coming out on March 1st. Definitely give them a listen, their fearless flow is magnetic to behold.
Quote of the Week –
“You want a side hustle / Flex your work muscle / You wanna get hired, wanna be desired / Upload your res, sis / Tell ‘em your skills, sis / Just come to me, sis / I’m a profesh, sis!”
— Kandy Muse as Ms. Linked All The Way In, triggering struggling millennials worldwide.