Friday, March 31, 2023

REVIEW: 'RuPaul's Drag Race' - RuPaul Anoints the Queens at the End of the Competition in 'Blame It on the Edit'

MTV's RuPaul's Drag Race - Episode 15.14 "Blame It on the Edit"

The final queens collab with RuPaul on a remix of his song "Blame It On The Edit," recording their own verses and creating a space-themed music video.

RuPaul told herself she would eliminate a queen at the end of every week. She reveals that detail during the final deliberations of the season. As such, she basically acknowledges how annoying numerous non-elimination episodes had become throughout a typical season. Sure, fans may complain about that and then get frustrated when an epic lip sync doesn't result in a double shantay. Tough decisions have to be made. 16 contestants started this season. They had to be whittled down to the best of the best. A top four of Anetra, Luxx, Mistress and Sasha feels right. It's probably the ending many people imagined. In order for all of them to make it to the Grand Finale, RuPaul needs to break that promise. It's something she brings up only to establish stakes for the surprise later on. RuPaul knows exactly what she's doing when it comes to producing a television show. She found a way to introduce suspense into the situation once more. The queens dropped their jaws when they heard only three would make it to the finale. Luxx notes how that hasn't happened since Season 8. They were convinced they had already achieved that fate. Now, they simply got to relish in the reward of writing verses and performing in a RuPaul music video. That's the prize they've each earned no matter what happens in the finale. One queen is destined to get crowned. That decision may be obvious to some. However, each of these queens have the spark to win over legions of fans. They have been endearing and entertaining to watch throughout the season. This is the only ending that made sense. Sure, that was annoying as the show struggled to get to this point. The climactic moments of the season were full of so much rewarding emotion and energy. RuPaul may go overboard with more emotions from the tic tac lunch and addresses to the queens' younger selves. Some bloat is apparent in the final edit. But it wouldn't be this show if someone wasn't complaining about how production edited the drama. That's become the latest self-referential beat. This time the show simply hasn't done it to death. It still produces plenty of insight and infectious entertainment.

It's fascinating how Sasha achieves such an emotional response that's driven from so many unique perspectives. Part of it has to come from age. RuPaul and Michelle better understand the world she came from. But she has also just spent time asking those philosophical questions and contemplating how to apply them to her life. The queens were all struck by how nice she was. They were initially intimidated by her because of her status as a former Miss Continental. She is legendary in the community. And now, she's legendary on Drag Race. She never faltered. She deserved all that praise. It doesn't come at the expense of anyone else either. She earned every praise given her way. She is capable of accepting that because she put in the hard work. It's devastating to hear about her father's death. And yet, his presence served as affirmation of her existence and art. She was celebrated and had that connection that brought her close to a meaningful legacy. Her story isn't done either. She's achieved a lot. Drag Race has opened new opportunities for her. It's done so for all the finalists. This show makes careers. It's a big deal simply to get cast. RuPaul also offers the contestants these moments of self-reflection. Part of it is more forced - like making Anetra discuss how her onstage persona is different than her nature elsewhere. Luxx's confidence absolutely needed to be explored. However, that story is empowering as well. That showcases what's possible when parents simply uplift and support their child to be excellent at whatever they want to be. That's in contrast to the other three queens who have difficult relationships with their parents. They each found a place to thrive. This competition serves as confirmation of that. They have their struggles while filming the music video. And yet, each end with enough positive to justify no one being eliminated.

It's still annoying how Michelle judges the queens based on how easily they took direction from her. Mistress struggles the most in learning the choreography. That's still true in the final product. As such, she has to be praised for how she sells it in her face. That's fine. But it's based on knowledge of what the experience was like off camera. The queens had to have known they would go straight into filming after learning the choreography. They were already in drag when getting taught. They had to adapt. Luxx and Sasha did with ease. They nailed every second of the final product. Sasha is absolutely mesmerizing to watch. She took the beat and best applied the lyrics to the song. Plus, the look she presented during her solo verse was captivating. It stood out as a unique character within this alien world. Sasha delivered it with so much intensity and passion. This challenge doesn't always produce a winner. In this case, Sasha had to be called out for what she delivered. Everyone in the room felt compelled to discuss how seduced they were by her presence. They understood. Anetra played closely to the beat of the song as well. However, her lyrics weren't quite as memorable as Sasha's. That needs to be important too. Sometimes, the queens try to throw everything they can do into these verses. So they rap and sing. They also spit words out so quickly to get everything they want in there. It's a very specific skill to know exactly what's required of the moment. No one does a bad job. It's just obvious Luxx and Mistress were drawn to those impulses. They reveled in being featured on a bitch track. So much was still propping themselves up. Again, that's nothing new. The delivery had the best impact. Sasha was just so clearly out in front.

Of course, everything shifts when it comes to the runway. Anetra and Mistress nailed in their presentations of "Drag Excellence." It's even more astonishing later on seeing how Anetra's gown is pieces that can be taken off. Mistress complains about how much her beaded gown weighs. It looks like it at some points on the runway. However, the beauty is absolutely stunning as well. The movement was impeccable. Hearing Mistress talk about the ways in which the print is incorporated into the beading invited everyone in to explore every single detail. As such, her saunter down the runway was the approach that sold it all. Meanwhile, Anetra's design took homage from her Asian culture while interpreting it in a fashion-forward way. The boldness of the color was striking - especially in comparison to everyone else. It was playful while also remaining striking. Elsewhere, the detailing on Sasha's look sold the overall effect. It too honored her culture while being gorgeous in presentation. The color was perhaps a bit too muted. She still achieved what she wanted in this moment. With Luxx, the crystals on one side of her chest just didn't pop. They could have been removed to create a much more clean final design. It definitely reads as more simple and eloquent than her other looks this season. That almost feels like her conforming to what she believes is expected instead of offering her own take on the prompt. The judges have nothing but praise for the finalists. They remark on how great they've been throughout the season. Anetra and Mistress lip sync to "When Love Takes Over" by David Guetta and Kelly Rowland. That's a song that can either be played as an emotional ballad or intense performance number. Anetra and Mistress felt restricted in the ways the queens always do when the song requires movement and they're in outfits that limit that. Anetra had more range in her physicality. And yet, Mistress' face still sold every detail. All four going to the finale is the only outcome that makes sense. Yes, it's RuPaul breaking her word. However, it's hopefully done for the best presentation at the finale where the crown is truly on the line.

NOTE: It's unlikely I will offer a review for the Season 15 reunion. As such, my thoughts on the season will conclude in two weeks time when a new winner of RuPaul's Drag Race is named.