RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10 episode 7 review: Snatch Game


RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10 rewards talent but prioritizes drama as the queens do battle in the latest edition of the Snatch Game.

Aquaria won the Snatch Game. I don’t think anyone saw that coming.

From the start, Aquaria has given off intense Violet Chachki vibes; she’s young, confident and stylish. She excels at making and wearing clothes, but she doesn’t have a ton of charisma, so fans probably pegged her as someone who would struggle with an improv challenge.

If she had trouble, she didn’t show it. Her choice to play Melania Trump could have gone disastrously wrong. Melania, like a few other celebrities on the panel, doesn’t have an outsized personality, but Aquaria packed her performance to the gills with references — a nameplate that read “Michelle Obama,” a reference to the time Melania was accused of plagiarizing Obama’s speech, a Tiffany box with a “Help me” card inside, and plenty of potent puns about her husband. (“No wonder why my husband’s complaining about Chyna all the time!”) Even if Aquaria isn’t a natural actor, she picked a character she could inhabit with minimal effort, and she did her homework.

Compare that to someone like Monique Hart, who flops as Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Again, Waters isn’t someone known for having tics or inimitable habits. But this time, Monique didn’t do the research needed to give herself enough to work with; she breaks out laughing during at one point and isn’t even sure what part of California Waters represents. The makeup is on point, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t know enough about the person you’re imitating to crack jokes about them.

Monique’s alternate choice, Cookie Lyon from Empire, would have been a better fit, and I think RuPaul’s workroom buddy Bianca Del Rio did Hart a disservice by steering her away from that. Cookie is exactly the kind of explosive character who can do well on the Snatch Game. And she can run on pure charisma, something Monique has in spades.

Asia O’Hara and the Vixen also chose blank slates: Beyoncé and Blue Ivy Carter. It’s long been established that the inscrutable Beyoncé is a bad choice for the Snatch Game. (Monét X Change: “Beyoncé has been crucified on the Snatch Game twice before, and Asia is gonna try to resurrect her for the third time?”) since she has so little in the way of distinctive personality quirks to parody. To make up for that, Asia decides to adopt a “mean mom” persona, constantly hushing and criticizing Blue Ivy, but that character doesn’t fit what we know of Beyoncé, and just isn’t funny.

Basically, unless you’re Maya Rudolph, just stay away from Beyoncé impressions. And even with Rudolph, the bit is that Beyoncé is unknowable and untouchable, forever possessed by her badass onstage persona.

As a six-year-old, Blue Ivy is an even more bizarre choice. Playing a child need not spell doom — after all, Eureka’s performance as Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson is a huge hit — but Honey Boo Boo has her own show and the presence to back it up. Blue Ivy is just a kid… maybe she’s quiet, maybe she’s loud, maybe she’s petulant or patient or precious. We don’t know, so if you’re going to play her, you’re going to have to make something up. The Vixen doesn’t go there; all she does is pout as Beyoncé belittles her and stare agog as Eureka does Eureka next to her.

And Eureka… damn, Eureka.

As predicted, she’s an unstoppable typhoon of energy, and the boisterous Honey Boo Boo is the perfect character to channel it. Eureka comes armed with bits — so short is Boo Boo’s attention span that she keeps drawing pictures on her cards rather than writing out answers — but it’s mainly her personality that wins the day. Even when her lines aren’t screams by themselves (“The last pageant I competed in was Ms. Trailer Park 2015 and I won!”), you crack a smile because Eureka throws herself so completely into the performance.

Really, the win could have gone to Eureka, Aquaria, or Monét X Change, who gave us the wry Maya Angelou impression that we were frankly owed after Chi Chi DeVayne whiffed it so badly on All Stars 3. Remember when Chi Chi couldn’t even spell Maya Angelou’s name, much less make jokes in her voice? Well, you’ll forget all of that when you get a load of Monét’s quick wit (Maxine Waters: “Aren’t you dead?” Maya Angelou: “Like dust, still I rise.“) and on-the-spot poetry. (“I will not hesitate to put thou in a ditch, cause Maya Angelou ain’t no punk bitch.”)

What puts Aquaria over the edge is her runway look. The theme is mermaid gowns, and Aquaria is the only one who gets really creative with it, slathering herself in black oil for a striking, memorable, Exxon Valdez-meets-Italian Vogue look. At the top of the post, I compared Aqauria to Violet Chachki. With two wins under her belt, it’s starting to look like she could follow Violet to a season win.

But for better or worse, Aquaria isn’t the most memorable part of this episode. That honor goes to the Vixen and Eureka, who get into a fight both onstage and off.

This episode is the one where Ru, acting according to Drag Race tradition, asks the girls who should go home and why. The bulk of them choose the Vixen, and she’s clearly hurt. We could have guessed that the Vixen, who puts up such a strong front, was actually deeply vulnerable, but it’s shown off here in almost uncomfortable detail. The Vixen comes after Eureka hard, accusing her of not scaling back her naturally huge personality when the Vixen herself has, in past episodes, refused to censor herself in the name of keeping it 100. But the Vixen isn’t thinking about whether she’s being hypocritical. She’s just angry and hurt and lashing out.

It’s kind of uncomfortable to watch, but raw moments like these are also a big part of what makes reality TV compelling. The question is whether they should be allowed to overshadow the talents of performances like Eureka, Aquaria, and Monét.

And we haven’t even talked about Miz Cracker and Kameron Michaels, who turn in fun takes on writer Dorothy Parker and wrestler Chyna respectively. Chyna is the right choice for Kameron. The combination of his muscular body and Chyna’s high-pitched voice is already funny before any jokes even come out. We don’t get to see a ton of those jokes, and maybe that’s because they failed. But I think the strength of the concept carried Kameron through, even if he was worried he’d end up in the bottom.

Likewise, Dorothy Parker is a good choice for Cracker, even though Parker’s humor is too surgical and precise to bring the house down on something as broad as the Snatch Game. Parker was known for her pithy, cutting pearls of wisdom (“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”), which plays on Cracker’s gift for one-liners. She gets off a couple clever zingers (“I love spending an event making jokes with smart and beautiful people, so you can imagine how disappointed I am.), but I wasn’t surprised that she was merely safe.

I don’t want to spend too much time talking about the lip sync because it’s. It’s between the Vixen and Monique Hart, to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Cut to the Feeling.” The Vixen brings feeling and energy and raw dance power. Monique’s wig falls off and she doesn’t know her words. It’s over before it starts.

Monique always seemed capable of more than she gave us, and I’m sad to see her go. Maybe we’ll see her alongside Vanessa Vangie in All Stars season 4.

Next week: all Cher all the time. That could work.

Next: 20 underrated reality show gems you need to watch

Random Ruflections

  • RuPaul on some “thing” she once had with Carrot Top: “I was young and he needed the money.”
  • Bianca del Rio on Honey Boo Boo: “I don’t know if she realizes she’s funny or if it’s just the inbreeding.”
  • I somehow doubt that “Facts are facts” is going to replace “Vangie Vangie Vangie” as the catchphrase of the season.
  • “This is the first time Beyoncé’s ever written for herself.”
  • “I’ve written 17 books, 19 plays, 13 autobiographies and 2 Hallmark Cards.”
  • “It’s all right, Barack, no worries.”
  • Yeesh, Alex Trebek has been hosting Jeopardy for 34 years. Oh, and he has a cameo here.
  • Monique: “There are no edges in sight. #NoOneHasEdges.”
  • Aquaria: “I don’t get my words right. I don’t form sentences very well.” Bianca: “Well, it works for our president.” The show has been getting more political of late, as with the global warming ball a few weeks back. Given the charged political climate, that makes sense. RuPaul knows where his bread is buttered, but he’s also always acknowledged the role drag plays in protest. It was illuminating tonight to hear the girls, particularly the Vixen and Monique, talk about that aspect of their art.
  • Eureka: “I hate quiet time.” The Vixen: “We know.”
  • On the runway, Asia wears an opulent pageant mermaid gown, but tops it off with a ridiculous creature-from-the-black-lagoon mask. The judges were split on it, but I dug the juxtaposition. It may have been what saved Asia from lip syncing.
  • “She’s looking for her friend, a net.” Mermaid pun of the night.
  • I didn’t even mention that we had the reading challenge this week. Some highlights:
    • “The Villain…I mean the Vixen.”
    • “Kameron Michaels…I don’t really have a read for you. Please just f**k me.”
    • “Aquaria, I love your confidence. You’re always telling yourself how you’re beautiful, how you’re talented, how you’re gonna win…You’re also a pathological liar.”
    • Vixen to Eureka: “Stop relying on that body fat!”