RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10 episode 9 review: Breastworld


An overlong episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race is saved by the best lip sync of the season and a surprise ending.

When I heard that every episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10 was going to be two hours long, I got nervous. There have been good episodes of the show that long — it’s particularly helpful in the early going when we don’t know many of the girls well. But after we know who we’re dealing with, there’s less need to spend that much time with each of them, particularly when we whittle them down to a reasonable number, say six.

For a good chunk of this episode, those fears felt founded. Looking at beautiful models in their underpants is great and everything, but the memory game mini-challenge dragged on a bit long. RuPaul’s workroom walkthroughs can be enlightening, but we don’t need to visit every queen, particularly when Ru’s advice to each is a variation on “Find a way to stand out.” By far the most interesting talk is the one with Asia O’Hara, who’s touched by Ru’s continued encouragement. For most of the others, I encourage the show to embrace the power of editing, although I appreciated Ru advising Monét X Change on how to choose wigs that compliment her body shape.

All that being said…damn, that lip sync made up for everything and then some. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ve arrived at the acting portion of the season, usually one of the less memorable portions. “Breastworld” is no exception, although it gets points for novelty: I did not see RuPaul’s Drag Race doing a Westworld parody. Breastworld is a “new, edgy, slightly confusing” cable drama, although this being Drag Race, success for the contestants ultimately comes down to who can land their broad, pun-based jokes. Aquaria, who’s easy to underestimate on account of her detached self-confidence, comes out swinging as Dyslexa the robot waitress. Like she did on the Snatch Game, Aqauria turns her stiffness into a strength; playing a robot is a good look for her, although I don’t want to undersell how gleefully she throws herself into the bits where Dyslexa glitches out. Monét is also very strong as human guest Viv. Like Bob the Drag Queen during the acting challenge in season 8, Monét slips in ad libs so effortlessly you’d think they were part of the script. She’s comfortable with this character, and that lets her relax and allows her natural charisma to shine through.

Monét would have been my pick to win, but as RuPaul is constantly reminding us, the final decision is hers to make. Ru, as it happens, enjoyed Asia’s more controlled performance as conservative ladybot Para Sailing, which is fair. Asia brings her signature pinpoint precision to the scene, and is smart enough to pick a character the likes of which she’s familiar with back in Texas. She snags her second win and sets herself up for a spot in the top three.

So that’s who does well. Miz Cracker, Kameron Michaels and Eureka all struggle for different reasons. I get the idea that Cracker is getting frustrated with her record; she’s been near the top and she’s been safe, but she hasn’t won any challenges. It’s driven her inside her own head, where many a queen before her has crawled up and died. As Ru points out, we can see the wheels spinning when she performs; it’s the opposite of what Monét does, and it doesn’t work.

Seeing Eureka come up short was a surprise. Eureka is so charismatic she could play a tree in the background and we still wouldn’t be able to look away from her, and she still makes an impression here. But she’s just a little out of step with the scene. When she has to shoot someone with her death ray/hair dryer, she doesn’t go big enough, and she can’t say “Ivy Winters” the way Ru does to save her life. And Kameron, a naturally low-key person without much in the way of acting experience, has trouble finding the right level for Muffy, a skittish guest character. And once she finds one level, she has trouble shifting to another.

To be clear, no one in this group did a bad job — we’ve seen far worse acting on other seasons of Drag Race — but Kameron was the most out of her element. I wasn’t surprised to see her in the bottom two, although I raised an eyebrow when Eureka joined her there.

But I’m glad it happened, because these two tore the floor up. The song gives them a good head start: Patti LaBelle’s “New Attitude” is a great song to move to no matter the time or place, and gives the queens the platform they need to cut loose.

But they’re the ones who follow through. Watching Eureka high-kick and give face and scoot her way across the floor, I couldn’t help but think back to her her lip sync against Kalorie Karbdashian-Williams in “PharmaRusical.” That was Eureka-lite. Here, she’s completely on her game. There were moments where I couldn’t tear my eyes away from Eureka even though she was just standing still, and even though Kameron was throwing her body every which way right next to her. That’s how charismatic Eureka is when she’s in her groove.

I didn’t know what to expect from Kameron, but she was fantastic. Kameron is a mild-mannered guy, but he’s a drag queen, so you know he has reserves of passion stored up somewhere. They come out here. He kept a bit of his runway character with him for the lip sync, spastically darting this way and that, but he added a healthy dose of dance know-how and a lot of physical abandon. He knew how to work the stage, he knew how to work his wig, and he knew that the sight of an old lady’s head on top of a muscular man’s torso is hard not to look at.

In the end, RuPaul decides to keep both Eureka and Kameron in the competition. It’s a good call. This is a terrific turnaround from last season, when so many of the lip syncs were forgettable.

Kameron is the highlight of Untucked, too. Where is the line between introspection and self-loathing? Is there such a thing as a strong silent type, or does silence mask something you’d rather not say out loud? Those are questions Kameron digs into this week, and as painful as it might have been to grapple with them, seeing his doubt even in the face of so much support from the girls and the judges finally made me feel like I get what makes him tick. Kameron has seemed implacable up to this point, and that can be helpful in a stressful situation, but being vulnerable is what wins hearts and minds. Even though she was in the bottom two, this was the first episode I was really able to imagine Kameron as a potential winner.

Okay, enough about the episode proper. Let’s hit the runway real quick, queen by queen.

  • The theme was “silver foxy,” aka “what you’ll look like in 50 years.” Barring horn-rimmed glasses (a popular choice) and botox lips, Cracker didn’t do much to age herself, but her style choices were on point. This was a clean, coherent look, with a pouty attitude to match. And it was the only silver outfit! Way to adhere to the theme.
  • Asia O’Hara had a funny bit with glasses (see?), and I liked her flip-flops, but the judges were right that the outfit itself — a colorful one-piece that made her look like a parakeet — didn’t fit with much of anything.
  • I loved Monét’s look. I know Ru made some noise about it being out of place outside a club, but I don’t care. She had fake boobs dangling down to her waist complete with giant sparkling pasties, a wisp of pallid white hair, and a freaking IV cart hooked up to bags filled with booze. She went there! Reward the nerve!
  • Aquaria looked good, as always; the beige monochromatic thing was working for her, but nothing about it gave “50 years from now” realness.
  • Eureka had a similar problem. She wore a lovely long deep purple coat, but there was nothing “silver foxy” about it. Just putting on glasses doesn’t make you look old.
  • Objectively, Kameron may have had the best look. She looked like a genuine octogenarian, with just enough sparkle in that leopard jacket to still read as drag queen. She gave herself the shakes, was the only queen to wear a prosthetic face, and the bit with the pills was cute.

Next week, the queens make over social media stars. Who wants attention more? Let the battle begin.

Next: T’Challa might not be safe after all for Black Panther 2

Random Ruflections

  • “Evil triumphs when good queens do nothing.” I enjoyed the Vixen, but girl is still being uncomfortably defensive even after she’s left the show.
  • Monét: “This workroom is so empty now. Isn’t that crazy?” Aquaria: “There’s finally room for all of us.” Eureka: “Well, for your ego.”
  • Of course Aqauria has no idea who Michigan J. Frog is. Ah, the ravages of time.
  • Between appearances by Nancy Pelosi and Stephen Colbert, this season is giving season 9’s Lady Gaga cameo a run for its money. And Colbert was getting into his narration!
  • “I’m the Joan of Arc of this challenge. I’m the martyr of Breastworld.”
  • “You live in New York. You know how to be patronizing.”
  • “I don’t know how many times Miz Cracker’s going to repeat these lines and yell at herself about it, but let’s hurry this shit up.”
  • The Portland drag queen Cracker and Monét discuss is Darcelle XV. She’s 88, not 96, but damn, either way, that’s pretty cool. Darcelle for season 11? Probably not?
  • “Throw your hands in the air like Medicare!”
  • Maybe I’m a spoil-sport, but the script for the Breastworld skit seemed even weaker than usual. I’d like them to come up with more jokes that aren’t just references to Drag Race catch phrases. And where did that reference to “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” come from? Or was the point that it didn’t make sense?
  • “[Eureka] looked like Paula Deen dressed up like a witch.”
  • “She has resting Mrs. Doubtfire face.”
  • “Miz Cracker, your silver fox rocks, but your Breastworld hostess wasn’t the mostest.” Keep ’em coming, Ru.