Friday, January 20, 2023

REVIEW: 'RuPaul's Drag Race' - Bad Bits in Snatch Game Create the Lip Sync Everyone's Wanted in 'Supersized Snatch Game'

MTV's RuPaul's Drag Race - Episode 15.04 "Supersized Snatch Game"

RuPaul serves up a double helping of the celebrity impersonation game show, with the queens playing in two rounds, with two different casts of characters. Amandla Stenberg guest judges.

For the longest time, Snatch Game was seen as the greatest indicator of who was in serious contention for the title of America's Next Drag Superstar. It was a unique concept that required the queens to juggle so many skills. Executing it flawlessly is difficult. As such, those who do well in this challenge typically have the trajectory to take them all the way to the finale. That is no longer true because Snatch Game has taken on a life of its own. Part of it comes from the expansion of the franchise where it's simply difficult to find a character who hasn't already appeared in the game. Moreover, the impersonation has to have a unique perspective. A couple of mannerisms and catchphrases are never a winning strategy. It's a daunting challenge. It should no longer have this extra pressure to it though. The queens are now trying to subvert expectations of the format. Big risks are taken. That's not always rewarded. That doesn't mean those risks signal a queen who no longer has potential. Willow Pill received the winner's edit on Season 14. That was true before the disastrous Snatch Game. That failure from almost the entire cast didn't change that outcome. As such, the audience shouldn't place so much importance onto this challenge. Sure, it's horrifying to imagine a Snatch Game with 14 contestants. However, this is the challenge the early out queens always say they would have done well at. That theory can be put to the test here. Irene and Princess Poppy are the only queens of the season who don't get that luxury. This cast is enough of a blank slate to allow something unexpected to occur. As such, a narrative can begin to form for the season. That's necessary for this particular challenge to have relevance once more. That may still be too much pressure but it's at least enough of a reinvention to create intriguing drama.

The remaining queens are arbitrarily split into two groups. It's all based on where they happened to be standing when RuPaul entered the workroom to announce the challenge. The first Snatch Game featured Marcia Marcia Marcia as Tim Gunn, Luxx Noir London as Amanda Lepore, Malaysia Babydoll Foxx as Saucy Santana, Mistress Isabelle Brooks as Rosie O'Donnell, Anetra as Gordon Ramsey in drag, Robin Fierce as Karen Huger, and Salina EsTitties as the Virgin Mary. In this group, Mistress and Marcia were the obvious standouts. They were both consistently funny. Sure, Mistress forgot who she was at one point. She did a mix of Rosie and Abby Lee Miller. However, both would make for excellent Snatch Game characters. Plus, she achieved the fundamentals of the challenge in making RuPaul laugh. Luxx, Malaysia, Anetra and Robin played it safe. In the end, that was ultimately a smart call for all of them. With Snatch Game happening so early, it allowed many to blend into the background. That has never been the norm before but it's a given now. However, Luxx's dig at Trinity the Tuck's prior impersonation of Amanda Lepore was unwarranted. That was the first moment where her confidence came across as arrogance. Meanwhile, Salina had to be relieved when the second group went. She took some big swings with the Virgin Mary. It was a complete character she made her own. It just wasn't polished enough. In fact, the editing made it seem like it was cut off abruptly. That was basically the producers acknowledging how the second group needed more screentime because it had the higher highs and the lower lows. That's valid to a certain extent.

The second group featured Loosey LaDuca as Joan Rivers, Sasha Colby as Jan Crouch, Jax as the Mona Lisa, Sugar as Trisha Paytas, Amethyst as Tan Mom, Spice as Miley Cyrus and Aura Mayari as Bretman Rock. This presentation should serve as the latest example that doing social media influencers on Snatch Game is never a good idea. The personalities just aren't big, bold and revered enough to work. Moreover, Michelle Visage and the guest judge may understand the references. RuPaul more than likely won't. That's a big hindrance right away. That's why the top row does such a better job at making an impression. Sure, Sasha and Jax were also cut off from executing these impersonations fully. That's because so much oxygen in the room went to the various bits happening elsewhere. When Sugar and Spice first entered the workroom, they boasted about communicating in bits. It comes across as annoying to people who don't understand what's going on. Together, they form a cohesive package. This is the first time where they didn't try to purposefully complement each other. They knew Snatch Game was coming but didn't try to embody a duo so they could tackle the challenge together. Instead, they left that to the runway once more. That was a disappointment. But again, the bits involved with Miley and Trisha didn't work with the confines of Snatch Game. They weren't actively listening to see when their commentary would enhance the scene. They took big risks in the pursuit of laughter. It all flopped. They at least had a game plan. Aura went into the challenge defeated. She knew this wasn't something she was good at. As such, she didn't really try. That was evident and she couldn't go unnoticed by the judges.

On the runway, the critiques are very much the same for the various runway looks. A couple of them standout while the rest just need a few little tweaks in order to be their best possible versions. Luxx has quickly established herself as the look queen. It's stunning to see her interpretation of a drowned woman killed by her husband. Of course, it's distracting that her leg tights don't match the color scheme present on the upper half of her body. That took away from the illusion. Her commitment to moving around with the cinder block was admirable though. Elsewhere, Aura and Amethyst pulled off some memorable feats with their designs. However, Aura boasts of her acting skills as if they are incredible. It's mostly just the same expressions without much variety. At least the black design was purposeful and told a story this week. The blood spurting out of Amethyst proved that she knows what she's doing even if the look outside of that gag was a little basic. Again, the creativity is obviously present amongst all of these queens. Their task now is being able to take things to the next level. Marcia has the skills to be phenomenal. Her looks just aren't exaggerated and drag enough when standing next to her fellow competitors. She has done more with her makeup. However, it's still nothing compared to Mistress - who finally receives praises from the judges for her skills. Ultimately, Loosey is the correct winner. Her two-face interpretation of infamous horror villain Jason Voorhees allowed the reference to be apparent without having to hide behind the character's most iconic feature. And finally, it was inevitable that Sugar and Spice would lip sync against each other at some point. That was always going to be too tantalizing of a moment for the producers to resist. They choreograph a whole number to Pat Benatar's "You Better Run." It's unlike any lip sync that has ever been done before. It doesn't exactly feature either of them fighting for their chance to stay in the competition. It's just two siblings having fun with each other. And so, Spice stays mostly because she seems to have more untapped potential even though her Snatch Game was worse. It's odd but it will also allow her own narrative to develop beyond solely being in the competition with her twin. That comparison is gone. It's simply happened much sooner than anyone probably thought.