RuPaul’s Drag Race UK- Episode 7 Recap
By Louis Shankar
I love Drag Race UK so much. Season 2 is undoubtedly one of the greatest seasons of the Drag Race franchise. It gives us much needed joy during these seemingly endless lockdown months — despite its ongoing references to lockdown itself, which came to the fore this week.
Coming to Britain but sticking to all the core principles, including, importantly, including both Ru and Michelle, is the perfect shake up Drag Race needed — with the original American show now on its thirteenth season. This was clear in the first 2019 series but has really crystallised in its second iteration. Occasionally, some of the original charm is lost in its transatlantic translation — but, more often than not, the transposition to the UK has given the Drag Race format a much-needed burst of energy. This energy often tends toward chaos, which is precisely its joy.
Once per season, in the tradition of Paris Is Burning, the library is opened and the queens take turns to ‘read’ each other — that is, they throw shade in sharp, pointed and funny critiques of one another. This works remarkably differently in a British context: they come across as far more brutal, less shady, but each queen gives as good as she takes, showing it’s all in good humour.
“I would love to see you slip into something long and flowy,” Sister quipped at Tayce. “Like the Thames!” Cue Ru’s giggles. A’Whora made reference to the ongoing jokes about her past relations with Tayce, which seemed to come from nowhere but had the desired effect. It was disappointing to see so many of the queens make reference to Lawrence’s size — but she took it in her stride. She delivered one of the funniest, simplest lines: “Ellie Diamond, you are so stupid you studied for your Covid test.”
Sister Sister won the mini challenge, which gave her a much needed boost of confidence — and a head start in the maxi challenge that would, actually, come to bite her in the ass. (More on that later.) Sister has been the victim of vicious online abuse in recent weeks, with Drag Race’s often toxic fandom piling on her, deeming her inadequate compared to some of the queens to have been eliminated. She wrote in The Guardian this week, “There’s a simple message that’s as old as water: If you don’t have anything nice to tweet then don’t tweet anything at all. Leave the drama to the experts on TV.”
The main challenge was to design and make a Super sHero outfit made entirely from the types of supplies bulk bought and hoarded over the pandemic period: toilet roll, cleaning products, unused summer supplies. The materials were tough, with a lot of plastic and little traditional material. To have to make a specifically themed look on top of this was quite a challenge, but we’re down to the final six now.
Sister was given a fifteen second head start and boy did she take that advantage, hoarding a huge amount of the material provided, much to the chagrin of the others. They made do, though, even Bimini, who only managed to scrounge minimal supplies from what was left. (She eventually found some much more workable materials.) As they prepared, Drag Race royalty and Ru’s personal makeup artist, Raven, toured round the queens, offering makeup and fashion advice.
Onto the runway, where each of the queens “transformed” from their drab lockdown lives to Covid Super sHeroes, each with silly new names. (There was something odd about the editing of this episode, with far more cuts and sound effects than normal — it was hectic but rather wonderful.) Tayce underwhelmed hugely: an experienced runway queen, her look was incredibly simple, effectively half a look, with almost nothing below the waist. While elegant in its simplicity, it paled in comparison to the other looks — quite rightly, she ended in the bottom two.
Lawrence had to change her design partway through the challenge but this didn’t show at all: it wasn’t hugely exciting, but the details were clever, the construction was excellent, especially considering the difficult materials, and it fit the brief perfectly. A’Whora was the star, undeniably: a trained fashion designer, her look had an incredible silhouette, intricate and original construction, yet a chromatic simplicity that tied it all together. Her makeup was remarkably similar to Sister’s iconic blue glitter circle — ironic, considering A’Whora’s recent jokes and accusations about Sister stealing ideas. Nonetheless, it was a great week for A’Whora — she looked stunning and strutted down the runway like a peacock.
Bimini was fine, to be quite honest. She looked great, but that was as much down to the styling as the outfit itself. It was a simple dress made from crepe paper and a shower curtain, styled out in a very Vivienne Westwood way. Her face was impeccable, though; like Tayce, she looked utterly beautiful, but unlike Tayce, she sold her look, from head to toe, too.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Ellie: it felt like something we’d seen before, and her outfits and makeup alike seem to have a tiring consistency to them. I wanted something different, a bit of variety. The details, which the judges loved, seemed simple: marshmallows and lollipops don’t scream fashion. She was safe, but I’m wondering how much longer she’ll last, although she’s yet to lip sync for her life…
Sister was… quite something. The amount of work that went into her outfit was astonishing — but, to be at least, it seemed misplaced. The core garment was, I think, a kind of pant suit, decorated and embellished with a variety of flowers, leaves, and other plants. With some refinement, it would have been wonderful, but it was too busy and both her body and face were lost amongst all the decoration.
A lip sync of Sister versus Tayce seemed to have only one outcome: both have been in the bottom before, and Sister’s solo foray is already iconic, but Tayce is a phenomenal performer, arguably the best in the cast. Despite the boring Jess Glynne song — why Ru?! — Tayce was certainly better onstage and was saved, while Sister sashayed away. Despite never doing particularly badly in a challenge, she rarely shone, either, and now seemed like her time to go.
Next week, stand up routines with Alan Carr and Dawn French. Should be hilarious, although I’m already worried for a few of the remaining queens…