Friday, April 1, 2022

REVIEW: 'RuPaul's Drag Race' - A Roast Reveals Just How Familiar and Expected the Humor Has Become in 'The Ross Mathews Roast'

VH1's RuPaul's Drag Race - Episode 14.13 "The Ross Mathews Roast"

The queens take part in a good old fashioned comedic roast, of Drag Race judge Ross Mathews. Dulcé Sloan guest judges.

Over the last few seasons, the roast has become a regular challenge - both on the original U.S. series as well as the numerous international spinoffs. Stand-up comedy has always been a part of the show. It's a skill the queens must showcase to prove how capable they are on the stage by themselves and only using a microphone to entertain. However, roasting is a very particular skill within that genre. It allows everyone to be meaner because they have the freedom to be as cruel as they want. Everyone has signed up knowing what this challenge entails. As such, no one has a right to be hurt by anything said. It just has to be funny. Crafting a joke is already hard. Roasting places added pressure because if one thing goes awry then the entire set crumbles. These queens are already under a lot of pressure. Bosco celebrates being saved by the golden chocolate bar. She is thrilled to have escaped certain elimination. Daya is no longer the only person annoyed by how many queens are still left in the competition. And yet, the editing suggests the finale is right around the corner. That's true given the eliminations at the end of this episode. However, it doesn't feel that way when the queens return to the workroom and start talking about what happened in the Rusical. It's disjointed. That's a weird energy to then carry through the rest of the episode. The mini challenge is fun mostly for the sight of Jorgeous carrying a giant paintbrush and getting paint everywhere. That physical humor is gold. This season has proven many times these queens can be funny - especially when writing their own material. That's what made them all flopping Snatch Game (except DeJa) so surprising. This challenge is meant to serve as redemption to a certain extent. That narrative latches onto Bosco most fiercely. How it all ultimately plays out is fairly typical of what the audience has come to expect with this challenge. As such, it's no longer surprising and new. Michelle can only be called a whore so many times.

That's the fundamental problem with a roast. It requires everyone to be so inventive with the humor. However, they can't repeat anything that has already been said about these judges. That's difficult when RuPaul, Michelle and Ross have all been the victims of a roast before. And so, many of the setups are familiar. Bosco wins the challenge. She does so even while delivering a joke about versatility that is similar to what Bianca del Rio did back in Season 6. The fans have long memories. We expect to be entertained just like the judges. It's hard to do stand-up without an audience. At least it's an evening of comedy without some other talents being showcased as well. That's why comedy always fails during the talent show. Here, everything fits together nicely. But again, the queens are challenged to do something no one has done before. It was funny and original when Michelle was told she wasn't a dancer and her two left feet actually left her body a long time ago. That was heard in rehearsal but not during the actual show. Michelle and guest judge Dulcé Sloan are eager for the queens to listen to their advice. They are the judges. If they're laughing, then the queen testing their material should feel comfortable. Some do have that support. Plenty have reasons to be concerned. They take that energy and don't really do anything with it. It's strange. There is no surprise that knocks everyone away. Instead, it's Bosco and Lady Camden killing it as the opener and closer. Meanwhile, Willow and Angeria were confident in their delivery even when the jokes weren't as funny as they wanted them to be. And finally, Jorgeous, Daya and DeJa had too many awkward pauses where they were certain they were going to fail. They set up those expectations. And so, no one should be surprised when that's delivered.

The queens at least got to do a runway alongside the roast. That doesn't always happen. Sometimes they are judged for what they were wearing in their routines. Some of them had fun looks. But the audience simply enjoys the looks made specifically for the runway more. That means that conversation can occur as well. "TuTu Much" is a fun category. It immediately invokes a certain silhouette. It's fascinating to see who breaks from that expectations and who goes all in with complete conviction. Willow and Lady Camden are the clear winners on the runway. Their looks are both absolutely perfect. Willow's defies easy explanation. It's simply gorgeous from head to toe. Meanwhile, Lady Camden delivers stunning ballerina as only she could. It's what the judges wanted and she delivered. Bosco's look has a similar feel to Camden's while going in a campy horror direction. It's fine. The little details pale in comparison to what Camden achieved. That's especially glaring with the appliqués on the nude illusion body suit. Elsewhere, Daya notes her look was completely made from recycled materials. That's fun and showcases her personality as a drag queen. It's only really flimsy when it comes to the fascinator. She wanted to be as tall as possible. That's awkward considering how hunched over she was during the roast. She at least didn't trip this time from walking in those crazy high heels. Jorgeous had a punk edge to her. However, it was mostly forgettable in the overall lineup. The judges praised Angeria's look. It certainly is a bold color. However, the silhouette on the bottom cut her body up too much to seem purposeful. Those details must be noticed in order to help her improve. She designs these outfits herself. She looks beautiful. She can also push herself much further in these looks. And lastly, the judges read DeJa for wearing a disheveled prom dress. It came off even less polished than that expectation. It wasn't good. She too has the skills to make garments. Seeing a different perspective of what she is capable of doing will probably help her get even better. That's a journey completely accessible to her.

Bosco wins. That's not a surprise. Lady Camden was strong but the judges thought the echoing joke didn't work despite her expanding it from its original concept. That means Bosco can clearly be seen as the frontrunner once more. She can regain that standing after some massive mistakes. Bosco, Camden, Willow and Angeria are the clear top 4. That makes it feel like the show is biding its time until it can justify Daya, DeJa and Jorgeous' exits. They are talented queens. That can't be denied. However, they aren't quite there yet to justify being crowned as the winner of the season. They don't embody all the traits the judges are looking for to be the next drag superstar. That's harsh. Plus, production now wants to get these eliminations out of the way. All three are put in the bottom and forced to lip sync. After a stunning lack of momentum in the middle of the season, RuPaul is now fine eliminating two queens at once. That's a nice jolt that comes at the end. Jorgeous and DeJa even seem at peace with the final decision. They understand this placement. They weren't destined to go farther. They are talented at drag. They have received so much encouragement from the entire production and their fellow competitors. They can only get better. Of course, the editing of the lip sync tries to justify the end result. Jorgeous looks the part for Olivia Rodrigo's "Good 4 U." She is moving as a dancer to the entire song. She won. And yet, it's just not feasible for a queen to win five lip syncs. After being in the bottom that much, it seems like an elimination is the most merciful thing to do. Meanwhile, Daya can deliver the emotion behind the song. She beats DeJa in a rematch from their lip sync in the split premiere. After that, DeJa was told she was a lip sync assassin. That declaration felt premature then. She has held onto that compliment even though she doesn't prevail here. So many positive things defined Jorgeous and DeJa's journeys on Drag Race. They shouldn't be bitter. The season simply had to escalate to an ending sooner than later. A new queen has to be crowned after all.