Friday, February 11, 2022

REVIEW: 'RuPaul's Drag Race' - Questionable Judging Quickly Derails the Momentum of the Season in 'Glamazon Prime'

VH1's RuPaul's Drag Race - Episode 14.06 "Glamazon Prime"

Michelle Visage's online shopping has gotten out of hand. In this design challenge, the queens are tasked with making outfits from all the junk she has ordered. Taraji P. Henson guest judges.

Did the judges think it was necessary to reward Jorgeous for her phenomenal performance in last week's Bottom 2 lip sync beyond simply calling her safe? They have fallen in love with her as a performer. And yes, she is talented on the stage. She knows that's where she does her best work too. That doesn't mean her runway walks should always be dance numbers to distract from how simple her looks are. And yet, the judges are enamored because they have seen the proof to be thrilled when she starts dancing. They are aware of her talents. And so, they are blessed whenever she decides to move. That energy was present throughout this entire episode. The other queens can feel that shift as well. Even though Jorgeous was in the bottom, she came out really impressing everyone. That is part of this competition as well. It's why the elimination is formatted that way. It gives the queens a chance to prove themselves doing what they do best. Of course, lip syncing isn't how every queen makes a living nowadays. That can create some awkward and lop-sided moments as well. Orion was outmatched by Jorgeous. Maddy is outmatched by Jasmine in the lip sync this week. Those elements are easily understood and accepted. That's not where the harsh critiques and questionable judging come into factor though. That comes from the judges being enamored with Jorgeous at the expense of the other queens who do much more creative work in this challenge. Jorgeous should be safe. The editing hopes that by pointing out the little details she is still green on in drag can show how much she improves with a polished look later on. It's just a false choice.

It's important to know when critiques are valid and when they are completely meaningless. This episode wants to give Daya Betty the villain edit simply because she is desperate to remain onstage and hear what the judges think about her. The worst has already happened. She was eliminated after her first episode. She was brought back. That could be seen as a cruel twist of fate. The producers manipulated her to create story with dramatic tension. And now, she is the one obsessed with winning. It's a valid concern. Fans of the show know that every season's winner has won one of the first five or six challenges. This season is running up against that deadline soon. It's actually positioned as Angeria's season to lose because she has two wins already and easily could have won many more - including this design challenge. The pressure is understandable. RuPaul and Carson share that Daya resembles Crystal Methyd too much. Her own unique personality has yet to come across onstage. It's a little unfair to say that she has only been offering Crystal with her looks and makeup. In some moments, that comparison has been clear. She has plenty of times though where she did something totally her own that was creative. She views that as necessary given she can't just wrap fabric around her body and model it. She has to dig deeper into her aesthetic and the story she is telling with each look. And then, she is continually proclaimed safe. She easily should have been swapped out with Jorgeous to make a Top 3 with Lady Camden and Angeria. The focus so much on Jorgeous and Daya actually takes away from Lady Camden being the one truly robbed in this challenge. She walked out first and let everyone else know just how impeccable the standard should be. At times, the editing plays into the fact that this is some questionable judging. A slight is heard when Lady is declared safe and then Daya's confessional starts going after Jorgeous wins. It's transparent. That doesn't completely overcome the decisions actually made in the moment though.

Guest judge Taraji P. Henson says Beyoncé could be seen in Jorgeous' look. That's outrageous. It feels like a well-meaning compliment with the wrong analogy. Elsewhere, she is fine. It's always better when the guest judges come in with some personality. It's lame when they only say an outfit is nice or that they would wear it. ***cough cough Ava Max cough cough***. That one comment can't ultimately outweigh everything else that is discussed. Lady Camden had an elevated look thanks to listening to RuPaul say she needs to draw a bigger lip. That is a perfect example of a queen knowing exactly what to offer and delivering it flawlessly. The same is suggested with Jorgeous. It's just less clear. In fact, this season seems to have many unpolished queens who are still discovering their drag personas. Many would probably kill it should they be brought back for All Stars. It's simply a struggle staying around long enough and making an impression on a regular season to actually get the invite. The eliminated queens so far would all fall into that category, which may leave them with less than stellar careers simply because they were cast too early. It's a complicated subject. One where the placement on a competition show shouldn't dictate their success in the real world. So many put that pressure on themselves. That's what prompts the strong emotions when queens are declared safe. It's startling to see the difference between Jasmine and Daya with those moments. They are both made to be ridiculous. Daya has some valid critiques though. With Jasmine, she believes she is better than she is. A bottom two placement is warranted in the hopes of igniting a fire within her. Was this the challenge to do so? Maybe not. Kerri's outfit was certainly worthy of bottom placement alongside Maddy as well. But the judges clearly wanted another show. Jasmine does deliver that against Maddy. It's not as consistent as Jorgeous was. And so, the comparisons continue. Everyone is trying to live up to that success. It's exhausting and leaves so much of the actual competition feeling artificial.