Friday, March 24, 2023

REVIEW: 'RuPaul's Drag Race' - A Makeover Produces Jennifer Coolidge Comparisons on the Main Stage in 'Teacher Makeovers'

MTV's RuPaul's Drag Race - Episode 15.13 "Teacher Makeovers"

The queens give drag makeovers to hard-working teachers, from kindergarten to high school. Queer pop musician Hayley Kiyoko guest judges.

Based on her mirror message, Salina was pissed by her elimination. The other queens understand that right away. They were asked who should be eliminated during a challenge where everyone did well. Mistress and Sasha took the easy way out by naming their biggest competition. They focused on who was standing in their way on their quest to the crown. That wasn't what was asked of them. The names that were said led to many emotions coming out. Salina and Loosey were baffled by their names being shared. They didn't deserve to be in the bottom. That's never been the fate they saw for themselves based on their performances. It was shocking to them every single time. That either showcases a lack of self-awareness or their refusal to abide by the storyline production was destined to play out. It could actually be a mixture of both. Salina and Loosey are both great entertainers. It has hard to imagine either of them making it to the finale. They deserved endearing runs on the show that made them each favorites amongst the fans. That doesn't particularly seem like the outcome delivered. Salina did a much better job of coming across as genuine in the edit. With Loosey, it's been more of a struggle. She has needed more people defending her. She actually was smart and strategic. In the mini challenge, she calls herself out as the likeliest to go home next because she wanted to win. If she didn't abide by the overall consensus, then she wouldn't have won the five points attached to that question. She was the only queen who was on the right side of every shady question RuPaul asked. She won money. She is proud of every mini challenge she has won. Many don't consider those real victories. They have prizes attached. That's significant. It showcases how well Loosey has actually done on the show. It's more than what was simply presented on the main stage. She helped shaped this competition. Her energy will be missed. She is right in some critiques during her exit interview as well. And yet, it's seemingly a pointed message to continue the overall impression that she is delusional for not agreeing with everything the judges said.

Due to COVID-19 protocols, the show hasn't been able to produce a makeover challenge in awhile. It has always reliably been an emotional focal point for the show. It belongs in the competition just as much as Snatch Game or the ball do. It couldn't happen because of the restrictions. It would have caused risky exposure. That wasn't practical. It also just doesn't carry the same weight when drag queens are making each other over. Sure, that too can be pretty dramatic. It doesn't carry the same earnest emotions typically required. This episode continues the winning emotions from last week by being incredibly timely and relevant. Just like drag bans, so many state legislatures are trying to dictate what teachers can do or say in the classroom regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. It's powerful to spotlight these allies who provide that same refuge to their students. It's something the queens wish they had growing up. They are inspired by the younger generation because they haven't been taught to hate. They are completely accepting and empathetic. The world wants to condition that out of them because they are afraid of losing power. Nothing is lost by celebrating queer culture. It only makes the individual journeys more difficult because people are told that this expression of identity is wrong and they will be punished for doing so. That's so harmful. These important conversations are had. It's crucial to be an ally at this moment in time. Life is tough. And yet, so much joy exists out there as well. It's important to find that and appreciate it for all that it has made possible. Those overall conversations occur. At the end of the day though, this challenge is all about the queens connecting with their new drag daughters. Selling that bond on the runway is what truly determines who is on top and who's on the bottom.

For the entire challenge, Luxx believes Loosey sabotaged her. It's because she was assigned the teacher who didn't align with her racial background. The other four queens were pleased with their matches. As such, it comes across as Luxx feeling defeated before anything actually happened. Moreover, this makeover challenge feels like the queens were actually designing the looks instead of coming to the competition knowing this challenge awaited them. That resulted in a runway that wasn't all that inventive or daring. So much of it was defined by presentations in the same fabric. It was required for the makeup to match between mother and daughter. And yet, the two don't have to be mirror images of each other. That was lost a little bit. Luxx took a huge risk in presenting two completely different looks. They had no resemblance whatsoever. That was ultimately more damning even though she created a beautiful drag queen. Luxx's daughter looked stunning in her transformation into Jennifer Coolidge - however unintentional it may have been. Meanwhile, Loosey and Mistress created cardboard cutouts of themselves. It's shocking that Mistress didn't receive more criticism. Yes, it was pageant excellence as has commonly been presented on the show. Mistress knows all the tricks and tips to fool the judges. But all the black detailing swallowed her daughter up. Sure, the two of them had fun together. That energy was more important it seems. Ross ate up how they left the runway. Meanwhile, Loosey was more stilted seemingly because she was worried about how her daughter was doing. The makeup was exactly what Loosey always does. She isn't really known for changing things up. Sasha has brought the most variety in her makeup skills throughout the competition. Mistress frequently gets complimented on how she beats her face. Sasha and Anetra were the two queens who did well. The judges loved the oversized padding both Sasha and her daughter featured. Meanwhile, Anetra was praised for how she reversed the colors to deliver the same effect. The judges cite her as a way to excel despite dramatic differences in size. And yet, that wasn't really what tripped up past contestants. This challenge requires the queens to think about their drag personas in different proportions while highlighting another person's personality. That family connection must be apparent without losing who an individual is. Sasha and Anetra did that.

Anetra wins while Luxx and Loosey are in the bottom. If Ross had his way, Loosey would have earned that fate entirely on failing to stone her drag daughter's show. That was his big complaint. He didn't wade into the disagreement between Michelle and guest judge Hayley Kiyoko over whether drag mother and daughter connected onstage. He was off in his own world. In fact, this season has really featured the audience turning on Ross because he offers nothing actually constructive to the competition. That's been a notable occurrence with queens both past and present calling out how little he contributes - especially with the fashion component. Plus, the perfect replacement is already being lined up with Ts Madison serving as a rotating judge on the panel this year. That shift would be totally fine. It wouldn't change the show in the slightest. In fact, it would offer a different perspective instead of something already known and accepted in queer culture. Black trans representation is important to recognize and honor after all. Back to this episode though, Luxx and Loosey lip sync to "For the Girls" by Hayley Kiyoko. It's always intimidating to perform a song in front of the artist. That never really came up for Luxx or Loosey. It didn't really matter because Luxx dominated immediately. She pulled focus from start to finish. She was proud of having never been in the bottom until now. She deserved this particular fate. Loosey did as well despite an overall fine presentation. That's just not good enough when compared to Sasha, Anetra and Mistress. Those three probably have what it takes to land in the finale. Luxx remains a wildcard. This truly could be anyone's game. It's no longer a certainty for Sasha despite that being the overwhelming feeling for so much of the season. Anetra has really made an impression the last two weeks. She regained that spark that was ignited in the premiere. Loosey is upset about going home. That's obvious. She's a little sour. It's perfectly alright to want to win. When that doesn't happen, she has every right to be upset about it. People must extend that compassion. She has a bright drag career ahead of her. If she's brutally honest about what she does well and what needs improvement, then she could have a fierce return for All Stars. So much of that depends on the work offscreen. Right now, the viewer is in the moment living the fantasy for the girls on the cusp of making it to the finals competing for the crown.