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Ranking the House Down: Our Squirrel Friends of Rupaul’s Drag Race, Season Six (Recap #6)

Ranking the House Down: Our Squirrel Friends of Rupaul’s Drag Race, Season Six (Recap #6)

Logo TV are fitting Rupaul’s Drag Race into a new timeslot next week, so for
the sake of easing audiences into the new program schedule the network ran two
back-to-back episodes last night. Two episodes of Drag Race and two episodes of
Untucked in one week feels like an extreme fast forward, especially given how
radically the competition was shaken up between “Glamazon by Colourevolution” and
“Drag Queens of Comedy”. Let us return to the predictions made last week and
see where the cards lay at this point… (We will discuss the matter of Laganja
Estranja in a separate article, coming soon.)

Trinity K. Bonet:

Last week our money was on Trinity K. Bonet and Laganja Estranja going home, in
that order. The rationale was that Trinity’s lack of confidence seemed to
consume her every time she had to step up to an acting challenge, while
Laganja’s generally safe performance across the season was starting to show
lack of growth. Neither queen had won any main challenges, nor had either of
them hit any high notes in many weeks (Trinity not since the Scream Queens
challenge, and Laganja since the butterfly fascinator). Joslyn Fox on the other
hand, for all her unpolished wardrobe choices, demonstrated significant
improvement across “Snatch Game” and “Oh No She Better Don’t”. She appeared
safer going into this week’s two episodes. 

This week flew in the face of everything we thought of Trinity. All that power
she has brought to her lip-syncs in the past was finally applied in the main
challenges this week. With helpful guidance from Bianca Del Rio and Ru, Trinity
got up some gumption and took risks we have wanted to see from her all this
time. Her hooker act in the Glamazon commercial was well-timed and played up
for an edgy contrast to Bianca’s boss bitch character. (On a related note,
while the hooker humour on Drag Race has been questionable in the past, I at
least appreciate the show’s stance in this season that sex work is real work.)
Trinity looked like she was enjoying herself in her working hoe character, and
as a result she let the brighter sides of her personality come through in her
performance. We may never find out what helpful tips Bianca gave to Trinity to
render such a performance, but I can imagine Trinity was advised to relax,
forget about the competition, and just have fun with her character. And it
really paid off.

After her solid performance in the Glamazon commercial Trinity hit homerun in
the “Drag Queens of Comedy.” It is peculiar how this episode unfolded. We all
figured Bianca and Darienne Lake had this challenge in the bag, but beyond that
nothing panned out the way we had imagined it. We certainly had not imagined
Trinity performing well as a comedienne. In fact, I said last week that Trinity
“does not have a funny nerve in her body.” I am now eating my foot. Beyond the
surprise, it was a real pleasure to see Trinity energize a room of seniors, as
well as throw out some brilliant jokes. That gag about her sister dying of an
ear infection was so poignant, as it treaded that line where comedy and parody
meet social reality. It takes a skilled and usually seasoned comedienne to use
humour in such a way that it works through life experiences and issues of the
day. Trinity pulled this off like she had been doing this gig for years. It
made me wish Wanda Sykes was on the judges’ panel.
It is worth noting that Trinity’s runway choices this week were consistent with
past weeks. For the youngest competitor in the competition she is no amateur in
the style department. That domino dress was high drag, plain and simple. The
Indochine-chic cocktail dress she wore in the “Drag Queens of Comedy” was well
suited to her sophisticated humour. It was fun and easy-going, but
serious-minded as well. If Trinity applies herself in the talk show challenge
next week like she did in both of this week’s main challenges, she will have a
chance at replacing Ben de la Creme in the top three. 

Darienne Lake:

Last week Darienne ranked low. Since her main challenge win Darienne’s
performances in the have ranged from safe to low, and while her runway presentations
have to date been impeccable she has nonetheless worried us that she might have
peaked early. Next to Trinity and Laganja she has not been the worst, but there
have meanwhile been five other queens continuing to performing on a much higher

The Glamazon challenge was another flop for Darienne. It sucks to see a concept
like cosmetic surgery fall flat in execution, because if pulled off right that
could have been the funniest commercial of the bunch. As it turned out it was
just one joke stretched out for thirty seconds, and not a funny joke at that.
The really shitty thing about Darienne in this challenge was that she kept
inadvertently waxing Ben’s car. By playing the meaner of the two, and not
playing cooperative in front of Ru in the workroom, Darienne is just making Ben
look like a saint. She needs to bring her game face to every challenge,
regardless of what it is or who she is paired with.

Darienne turned it around in the “Drag Queens of Comedy”, thank goddess. We would
have been extremely disappointed had she not performed well in that venue (much
the same as how upset we are with Adore, but more about that later). This event
was a reminder of what we like about Darienne: she knows how to play to her
audience, her timing is great, and she knows how to use her physical person
(Laganja, take notes). As usual, Darienne’s hair and makeup were on point for
both episodes. Her style choices across these eight weeks have consistently
presented a brassy and flirtatious persona, which is really refreshing given
how little sexuality the rest of this cohort exudes (regardless of how little
clothing they wear). What’s working against Darienne at this point is her track
record: even with her strong performance in the “Drag Queens of Comedy”,
Darienne’s low points are too many now for her to gain momentum for the rest of
this competition. She has the worst performance average of all the queens at
this moment in season six, so the only way she will better her chances of
making it to the top three is by winning another challenge or two and hitting
high for every week until. This does not seem probable.  

Joslyn Fox & Courtney Act:

Last week Courtney and Joslyn ranked as safe.
While Joslyn had been gaining force in the competition for her strong acting
skills, Courtney had been blending in with the scenery for the weeks succeeding
her main challenge win. This week saw a drastic decline for Joslyn, as her and
Courtney were weak in the Glamazon challenge (on record, there were a couple
funny moments in that commercial), a low point that was then followed by Joslyn
falling flat in the comedy challenge and having to lip-sync against Laganja (to
a Pink song no less—talk about a low blow). Furthermore, Joslyn took smack from
the judges for the second week in a row for wearing basically the same
semi-nude sex kitten getup. This was disheartening to watch, as we have for the
past weeks watched Joslyn rise in the competition with a ditsy-comedic edge that
we have not before seen from a queen. Her tacky runway choices have an almost
punk vibe, for how unfinished they are and how straight-faced and earnest
Joslyn presents in them. Adore Delano calls herself polish remover—Joslyn might
be liquid bleach. It’s cool, but she ought to find more crafty ways to flip the
bird to her fellow competitors if she wants to still be standing alongside them
in a few weeks. Joslyn deserves to be where she is at this stage in season six.
She has worked for this, and it has paid off, but the fruits of Joslyn’s labour
will not last for long if she does not switch gear. Now is the time for her to
get eleganza extravaganza, and in a big way. No more low-rent Courtney Act,
especially since Courtney Classic is becoming a tad outdated.

After receiving her harshest critique of this season for the Glamazon
commercial, Courtney made little improvement in the “Drag Queens of Comedy”
challenge. That Broadway number was embarrassing. Like, Glee embarrassing.
Bruce Vilanch considered it smart that Courtney stuck to her strengths by going
for a musical theatre approach. I, however, side with the late Pauline Kael
when she argued that a performer repeating herself is not a sign of self-cultivation
or the mastering of a craft—it’s the sign of a hack. By virtue of having not once
yet lip-synced in this race Courtney still has more of an edge than Darienne or
Joslyn, but her powers of persuasion are to starting to wane. She better watch
herself, because Trinity is fast on her coat-tails. We need to see more Klaus
Nomi realness and less underwear-and-blanket nonsense.

Adore Delano & Ben de la Crème:

This week Adore Delano won another challenge with her Glamazon commercial, and then followed her winning streak by flubbing her stand-up act. I cannot decide what aspect of Adore’s performance in “Drag Queens of Comedy” was more of a disappointment, the fact that she managed to bomb a challenge that lent itself so easily to her strengths, or that she fucked it up while dressed like a total amateur. Seriously, there was no shape to that ensemble, and the hair was flat and boring. This was a devastating episode for Adore’s adorers, myself among them. She will still last to the end of this competition, no doubt. However, I am scratching my head as to how she will survive the style-centred challenges that are up ahead.

With Laganja gone we are left with seven distinctive queens who have a wide
breadth of talent between them. There really is not a queen in the competition
that I am not a fan of, at this point. Ben, however, grates on me more than the
other girls. It is a peculiar thing, given how much Drag Race viewers live and
die for Ben. In fact, many people hate Darienne on the grounds that she is mean
to Ben—the Ben love is that strong. I personally understand Darienne’s view of
Ben: there’s just something about her that annoys me once she drags up. The
whole darling shtick is too much. The most I have loved Ben since the Snatch
Game has been in the Untucked lounge when she screamed at Darienne, “I’M NOT
GOING HOME!” In that moment she conveyed the vulnerability and naked emotion
that we crave from these queens, and that we do not get enough of from Ben.
Also, her proclivity towards high school semi-formal dresses is disconcerting.

The judges this week pulled Ben through the ringer on account of her
underdeveloped persona. They called her out for being costumey and put on. This
is a hard criticism to make of a drag queen, but in the cases of Ben and
Laganja it makes sense. Their drag personas do not seem to extend from their
personalities, but seem like stock characters in bad comedies. Ben is a smart
squirrel, and unlike Laganja she will probably meet the judges’ expectations of
her in weeks to come. Sharon Needles, Alaska Thunderfuck and Jinkx Monsoon were
similarly taken to task when the judges thought they were becoming too shticky,
and look where they are now. I predict that this week’s episodes will be the
low-point of Ben’s story arc, and that Ben will rise from it stronger and
better prepared. The show is really building a narrative around Ben’s
obstacles, and like with Trinity we get the sense that it promises endurance
for this competitor. If Ben stays afloat the next couple weeks she will likely
slay in the drag-up challenge and the drag ball. Overall, Ben’s odds in the
competition are about the same, and this two-week low is probably meant to
build suspense for her fans.

Bianca del Rio:

“Hurricane Bianca is in town. No one is safe.” Bianca’s performance in this
whole competition thus far has been almost flawless. She has only once not ranked
as one of the best squirrels of the week—just once! Few queens have held such
momentum throughout a season. In addition to Bianca’s performances in the main
challenges she is stunning on the runway. I feel weird being so awestruck of a
clown, but she is a really beautiful and elegant clown!
Overall, Bianca’s control of her craft and her general discipline in this
season, even when she is talking shop and throwing shade, are the skills all
six of her remaining competitors lack. This is her race to lose.

This is how season six looks from here on out:

7th place: Joslyn Fox. We want the world for her, but our
expectations have plummeted.

6th place: Darienne Lake. She is a classy dame, but she fucks up too
much to last this season.

5th place: Courtney Act. Klaus Nomi was a major hit, but in the
challenges Courtney has been underwhelming the judges.

4th place: Trinity K. Bonet. Squirrel is gaining speed!

2nd Runner-Up: Adore Delano & Ben de la Crème. Despite their
pitfalls they are still Bianca’s biggest competition (though by a long shot).

WINNER: Bianca Del Rio. Who else?

But how would we like to see queens go home? The following is how we rank the
house down…

7th place: Courtney Act. She’s becoming a tad boring.

6th place: Ben de la Crème. She isn’t accessible. It’s hard to like
someone who we barely know.

5th place: Trinity K. Bonet. After the last two episodes we love
Trinity again. It would be a scream to see her compete in a design 

4th place: Darienne Lake. The Darienne haters are too many and for
no good reason. She’s hilarious and gorgeous. She’s the whole package. It’s too
bad she’s a weak competitor.

2nd Runner-Up: Adore Delano & Joslyn Fox. For all their flaws we
cannot but love these squirrels. They are our best friends of season six. They
are the Jujubee of this competition.

WINNER: Bianca Del Rio. The patron saint of shade.

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