Warning: This article contains spoilers for this week’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. If you haven’t watched the latest episode, read on at your peril.
Battle lines were drawn at the start of this week’s episode, as the queens started to disrobe from last week’s runway, Divina De Campo and The Vivienne went head to head. But before we dive into that, because it’s weaved through the whole episode’s narrative, can we have a shout out for Crystal’s leaving message on the mirror.
“You’re a bunch of ugly talentless horrible little witches.”
There’s a reason why they won the reading challenge and are supported so by the fellow queens, and I love this so much. I was informed by a reader that I had been using the wrong gender pronouns in reference to Crystal, who is nonbinary. We can find it confusing when drag performers present with fem or female, so best to ask them how they would like us to identify them. My apologies for getting it wrong.
In a completely not set up scenario, The Vivienne was asked who she would have picked if she had won last week’s reading challenge. She said she would still be on a team with Cheryl Hole, and then paused (maybe) and this is where the editors and producers realised what this week’s storyline would be.
Divina is having none of it, after 15 years performing, choreographing and working around the country she is sick of being underestimated and under-appreciated – and she is over it. Suddenly we see just how hard the editors have been working to paint Cheryl into a corner when she comes out with some pearls of wisdom and the queens are listening. Cheryl advises Divina to pick her time to talk about this, because emotions are really high and conversations can go in many directions.
But Divina hits the nail on the head when she exclaims, “Maybe it’s the conversations that need to happen!” and we end up with a fab verbal spat that had the producers gagging between Viv and Divina, with Baga serving comedy gold as she looked on.
I stand with Divina (for now) on this, we have a room full of talented people and it’s frustrating when someone doesn’t pay you the same respect for your craft that you pay them.
Anyway, more about that later. It’s another day in the Werk Room and we have the most pointless mini challenge ever with the BBC. Where the queens have to figure out if the Brit Crew are wearing boxers, briefs or going commando. So that happened. Still, it is great to see some diversity with the Brit crew in size and ethnicity… now how about some love handles?
Divina gets the most guesses and wins a video chat with Katya. But before that it’s time for the maxi challenge. The queens have to create a marketing campaign for their own brand of bottled water. Handling every detail from the name, to packaging and producing and starring in their own commercial
As the queens get to work, Cheryl is stumped, she is the only one without a badge and she has no inspiration for her water challenge. In news that shocks no one, she is going to go with an Essex theme. The Vivienne tells her to try something new because they have seen the Essex theme a lot … and she isn’t wrong. And while I’d like to see something more, from the looks of things, it’s just going to be more of the same!
Ru enters the Werk Room to give everyone a pep talk. Blu Hydrangea acknowledges to Ru that she assumed that she would go home in Snatch Game and was shocked to realise her dirty humour was such a hit. Since then she has been relying on it as a crutch and doesn’t know where else to go. Ru suggests opening her box of tricks. Let’s hope it will work.
Baga’s idea is terrible and Ru gives her some common sense to just rely on what she is good at, having a simple idea, being camp and people will laugh at her (Snatch Game not withstanding). The Vivienne gets such a kind edit, you would think she managed to bring about world peace. She certainly knows what she is doing and how to play to her strengths, but come on production team!
And then there was Cheryl. She is feeling flat and Ru tries to shake her out of her confidence slump. After all, she is here for a reason, but as this is the ‘Cheryl meets Cheryl’ (from Girls Aloud) episode, they have already OD’d on the confessionals, and I am just not here for it. Whatever she does she will bring her all.
Then there’s the moment the producers were waiting for: Ru asking Divina if she thinks she is underestimated by the other contestants. Unfortunately, we have been through this, so it’s not the shady edit one would hope as The Vivienne looks on. I love that Divina just laughs at all of it, because she knows her skill and what she is trying to achieve (and her add proves that later).
Anyway, it’s time to film their commercials with Graham Norton as director, and the real star of these scenes with all his laughing. Blu is up first, and Graham is loving all the crazy expressions she has on her face. But there isn’t much to the add. There’s apolitical pun, and then a lot of sexualising a bottle. Still Blu looks fantastic and calling her water bottle Blu Hydration is genius.
Then we have Cheryl, who seems to just be dancing and loud … and still has too many of the confessionals in this episode. The Vivienne had a great look and a great character (that voice is on point), but I guess we will see how both their commercials pan pout in the final edit.
Divina was the episode editor’s dream as she came in with a mermaid screenplay. It lends to a lot of comedy from the queens on the side and Baga falling asleep (in their defense, they have been sitting in those spots for ages), and I am loving how confused everyone is by what they are seeing. If you know what everything is at the time of filming, then your final edit might fall flat.
Before they get ready for the runway Divina has a chat with Katya, who gives her the best advice I’ve ever heard on reality TV: do the opposite of your conditioned thinking and imagine you are in your own one-woman show.
It’s elimination day and it is time to get ready. So much effort has been put into the drama of this episode, that we skim over a really important moment as the queens are getting ready. They are all talking about drinking and doing drugs and working the night life to the point that you forget to have a real life, and The Vivienne brings up that she was addicted to drugs for four years.
It’s only been two years since her recovery, after hitting the lowest point in her life. It’s great that space has been given to acknowledge that many in our communities struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. We have some support networks in our communities for people who experience drug or alcohol dependency, but not enough, and we really don’t create the spaces that we should to allow room for what those people are going through. Considering the high rate of drug and alcohol dependence for LGBTI+ people in Australia, perhaps that’s something we should look at.
Can we all take a moment to share some LOVE to @THEVIVIENNEUK for sharing her story and helping so many people with being so honest with her struggles. She’s a brave person, a beautiful soul and a sister for life. I love you girl! ❤️
— Cheryl Hole (@CherylHoleQueen) November 8, 2019
Now it’s time to take it to the runway, as the queens make it rain with Rainy Day Eleganza!
Divina da Campo: had me worried when she walked out on the runway in a raincoat and hat. Thank god there was a reveal into a rain coat corseted outfit. It was great, but unfortunately it didn’t make the impact we would hope.
Cheryl Hole: What am I looking at, is that tin foil? I feel a bit bad for Cheryl, who at one point I thought was in bloomers under that ill fitting dress. If she had just taken off the jacket it would have shown her shape, which is what this needed, because the wig and jacket and ill-fitting dress take away all the work she has done into her silhouette. Still, in a completely nonplanned situation, she is onstage in front of her idol, Cheryl.
Baga Chipz: What the hell am I looking at? I don’t think Baga expected to make it this far in the competition. It looks like she just grabbed some sequin look from home and stuck a rubber duck and upside down umbrella on her head. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very on brand, but come on … at this point in the competition, allowing this is just cruel to the others who have spent more money and time on their looks. No wonder she has so much personality on the runway.
The Vivienne: Stole the show with her runway look as an oncoming storm. With a cloud wide brim hat and beads raining down the side, and a wet blue face of makeup, it was fabulous.
Now it’s time to look at the commercials.
Divina’s may not have been filled with jokes, but that wasn’t one of the criteria, was it? She had a fully formed idea that had lots of dimension, and a cute nod at water sports serving mermaid realness. Poor Cheryl, she had a good idea, even though it basically came off like an Alysaa Edwards ad in her season, and it was very her. However, the fact that judge Cheryl had no idea what the ad was for says something too.
Graham Norton is such a diplomatic judge, he compliments them on anything they did good, when truthfully, they all did a good job. Then we had Baga’s commercial – where she has bottled fish n chips and is then just Baga a lot on a bench. I didn’t like it, but when I watched it at a screening, the crowd went wild. The idea didn’t hit its potential … haven’t we had that all season?
But the upside is we got ‘Michelle vs Cheryl’ moment in the judging. I am all for Michelle when it comes to this, the branding was all over the place, her message was lost and it’s a miss.
Finally we have The Viviennes’ commercial, who was serving Coronation Street meets Jennifer Coolidge realness. As with every challenge, she knows her strengths and nails them brilliantly, and her accent is heaven.
As the queens cool off backstage, Baga looks like she has thrown the towel in. She doesn’t know the lip synch, she hates her outfit and she is just down. I love how much the girls try to slap some sense into her. She is their competition but they won’t let her just give up. Still, Baga is preparing for the worst.
With The Vivienne on the top and Baga, Bliu and Cheryl on the bottom, it looks like Baga could be going home. If ITD Events hadn’t published a Drag Race UK tour with Baga, Divina and The Vivienne I might think that would be the case. But Baga is safe. Was it because she won the most challenges? Because it certainly wasn’t that runway look.
In a completely not set up scenario, Cheryl Hole is performing a Cheryl song as she lip synchs for her life against her friend Blu. I was livid about this. Either have a lip synch with the three bottom queens or make Cheryl safe, she did not deserve to be in the bottom, and it was clearly a set up. Still we got this ‘hatgate’ moment that made us all laugh.
— RuPaul's Drag Race UK (@dragraceukbbc) November 7, 2019
The lip synch was a great number with high energy and a whole lot of energy but unfortunately the luck of the Irish was not with Blu this week. She has done an amazing job and brought some truly phenomenal looks to the runway. I miss her already. Also, can someone make sure that Cheryl didn’t hurt herself with that painful death drop?
Still, Blu’s exit catchphrase was heaven, ‘Don’t feel Blu, just follow her on Instagram!’ So what are you waiting for – follow here now!