Friday, February 18, 2022

REVIEW: 'RuPaul's Drag Race' - An Acting Challenge Goes Unhinged Thanks to RuPaul's Editing in 'The Daytona Wind'

VH1's RuPaul's Drag Race - Episode 14.07 "The Daytona Wind"

The queens don shoulder pads and flex their acting muscles in a campy '80s soap opera. LGBT activist TS Madison guest judges.

This episode is an elaborate stunt trying to create an iconic moment. That's not saying it doesn't work in the creation of such. It's simply nice to know that ten minutes of fart jokes is all it takes for RuPaul to completely lose all sense of the rules. The queens aren't let in on the joke when reading the script or filming the scene either. That's both good and bad. It doesn't allow them to make any choices that are informed by what is coming from the editing room. Some queens still get in their heads after trying to deliver the lines with the campy yet consistent quality that they deserve. At the end of the challenge though, it's all strung together. Everyone gets lost because the star is truly the person throwing in the various sound effects. That's the winner of this week's challenge. It apparently was the plan all along. RuPaul makes it sound like something created in the editing room after the producers started piecing it together. Everyone should be smart enough to know that's just a gag. Bosco is the one who sums up the moment after the fact when everyone realizes the joke of the piece. That's done with the intention of the audience having been fooled along the way too. It's easy to check out during these acting challenges because they are usually so bad. The most iconic ones are those that go off the rails and are full of so much cringe when they're watched. The producers have apparently wised up to the fact. They offer something new. They simply go above and behind to completely reinvent the entire episode and not just the challenge. That may be overkill. But it keeps the unhinged sense that has driven a lot of this season to date. That is reinvigorating too. 

Of course, all of this starts with Daya questioning Jorgeous' win from last week. A congratulations from RuPaul and $5000 should be enough for Jorgeous. The rest of the queens don't have to shower praise onto her as well. They aren't required to do so even if they disagree with the judges. Of course, it also takes nerve to say those opinions out loud. Part of it stems from Daya's frustration over not doing better in the competition so far. She wants critiques. She wants input from the judges. Right now, they only say that she resembles Crystal Methyd too much. Of course, that's a criticism for her while it's treated as a compliment whenever something suggests Jasmine looks like Alyssa Edwards. That too is part of the contortion to make Daya seem like the "villain" of the season. She is the queen who isn't going along with the rest of the crowd. She is off on her own path in a way that stands out and is to her personal detriment. It's positioned in a way for the audience to almost root for her to fail. It's not quite playing out like that because Daya truly does bring up some reasonable points. She can be friends with Jorgeous while being critical of her as a competitor. The other queens don't accept Daya's apology as genuine. They know that she probably doesn't mean it. That's when the queens interact as group. When they break off for individual conversations, Daya does offer a better job of explaining her feelings and how they shouldn't take away from what Jorgeous accomplished. She impressed RuPaul after all.

In fact, it seems like RuPaul creates the Top 6 format just because she wants the opportunity to at least tease another performance from Jorgeous. Nothing she does during the acting challenge would justify placing her in the bottom. Michelle can simply tell that Jorgeous grew up around over-the-top telenovelas. As such, she expected more from her. That's the big critique for her. It's enough to convince RuPaul to leave her out of the top two. It realistically should have kept her safe. The results of the challenge easily could have followed the same format that has been established after fourteen seasons. Deja, Kerri and Angeria are the bottoms while Lady Camden, Daya and Bosco are the tops. That would make perfect sense. The runway theme is "Chaps." That seems difficult. Michelle has a history of critiquing queens who've worn them in the past. She has always explained that every idea has already been done by a drag queen on how to incorporate chaps into a look. It does afford a nice moment where the queens talk about the Folsom Street Fair in the workroom. The show still feels compelled to offer those lessons about the nuances of the LGBT community. Lady Camden leads it all because she comes from San Francisco. And then, she blows all the other queens away with the runway. That's a refreshing stunt. It's not something that has been done to death. It's iconic without someone needing to say it out loud. Everyone else is cute. But they didn't bring it the same way Camden did. She could win on the strength of the runway alone. Fortunately, she was solid in the challenge as well. She did have the best entrance from the doorway after all.

Typically, a queen just has to win the maxi challenge and stun on the runway in order to collect $5000 from RuPaul. Here, Lady Camden has to stand out in the maxi challenge, deliver on the runway and win a lip sync. It leaves the impression that even though she has done well the last two challenges she has to work harder to get the same gifts from RuPaul. She should have won over Jorgeous last week. She is equally deserving here. But it's all down to the lip sync to Blondie's "One Way or Another" against Daya Betty. That too is really no contest in the end. They are both eager to prove themselves as performers. This is Camden's first chance to lip sync. Meanwhile, Daya looks for redemption after previously losing a lip sync and going home. The performance basically just affirms that the House of Methyd doesn't prioritize lip syncs. Crystal was decent whenever she had to do so in Season 12. That's not where she stood out and became a fan favorite though. And now, Daya has lost two lip syncs. That feels justified. It's just weird that the hat stays on throughout the entire thing. It feels like something that would go in the first moment of the song. It may not have been a comfortable outfit for Daya to perform in. It was stunningly beautiful. Camden simply won as soon as the music started. She removed her fake mustache to reveal she had painted on another mustache underneath, Again, this queen just keeps delivering. She was largely in the background at the start of the season. She has now come out with a vengeance to prove herself as a competitor. Angeria and Willow should still be seen as the frontrunners. However, Bosco and Lady Camden have proven themselves to be some really entertaining spoilers along the way. Plus, everyone gets the opportunity to show more of what they can do - even the bottom queens who struggled this week and didn't get to hear the judges say anything about it.