With fourteen seasons under its belt, it’s no surprise that RuPaul’s Drag Race has the show and its formula down to a science, but damn if the last few weeks haven’t shown that the show’s handling has gotten a bit sloppy with this new season on MTV.
Season 15 has so far been very paint-by-numbers, giving us the easily predictable Sugar vs. Spice lip sync, with the only thing shaking things up being that usual fan favorite challenges have been brought forward in the season. This sounds like a good thing but has actually ended up making things a bit too crowded thanks to more queens competing in these challenges and an even shorter runtime for the show. These problems only worsen this week, as the queens are tasked to form ‘old lady girl groups.’
With screentime being such a scarce commodity in these trying Drag Race times, confessionals seem to indicate who will have staying power in the season. Past seasons have done their best to give soon-to-be-eliminated queens a storyline and attempted to elicit some viewer empathy, but the 45 minute Drag Race can’t find the time, allowing the early out queens to instead just be like pawns, easily sacrificed to the drag gods without much thought, and this becomes more apparent this week.
For the golden girl groups challenge, RuPaul starts the episode allowing the queens to pair themselves into three groups. One group will tackle a heavy metal Rock of Ages anthem, another being a country track, and lastly a hip-hope style track — with Ru allowing the queens to divide themselves up and also decide who gets which track. There’s a surprise cameo appearance from TikTok’s The Old Gays as this week’s Pit Crew before the queens break into groups to listen to the song instrumentals.
Rather than regrouping based on who wants what genre of song, the queens stay in their pre-selected groups and battle it out for their desired genres, with no group wanting to do country, with Spice remarking it’s a bit too ‘on the nose’ for old ladies to do a country song.
This leaves two groups fighting over having heavy metal, with Marcia Marcia Marcia trying to mediate, suggesting a rock paper scissors match for the genre, but Luxx and Malaysia both stand firm, with Luxx’s group absurdly claiming that they ‘already called’ metal, so they see no reason to relinquish their choice.
It eventually comes down to drawing pieces of paper out of a hat, resulting in Luxx’s group losing the fight and taking the country song. Despite how adamantly they were fighting for the track, after losing it the group seeks to make amends and claiming they were just ‘cutting up’, but Sasha Colby doesn’t buy it, seeing just how ruthless these queens are prepared to be.
The groups then head off to record their vocals, being advised to put a lot of personality into their vocal performances to give them something to play off of on the stage. This is good advice considering this isn’t Drag Race‘s typical girl group song challenge, instead being a much more comedic take on the series’ staple.
Robin Fierce struggles in the recording for the hip-hop group, while last week’s bottom-two survivor Salina EsTitties also finds a challenge in infusing the country track with Southern flavor. The heavy metal girls feel the pressure of doing well after fighting so hard for the genre, and Aura Mayari stumbles behind fears of damaging her voice trying to achieve the heavy metal screaming style.
Straight after recording, Drag Race ships the queens off into choreography practice, with Sasha Colby pointing out how quickly things are moving in the Drag Race factory. (In all fairness, they probably have season 16 and 17 to shoot in the week following this season’s recording!)
The hip-hop group are aimless in their choreo practice, while Marcia Marcia Marcia leads the country group with her Broadway experience. Team Metal realizes that the genre is more about acting crazy and rocking out than doing choreographed moves, and foregoing any structure in the performance seems like a dangerous risk to be taking.
The performances then are ready to be churned out, with RuPaul greeting the judges — including viral ‘Hi, Gay!’ comedian Megan Stalter — before doing the most unenthusiastic “may the best drag queen win” hand gesture in the entire length of the series.
The country group (The Banjo Bitches) start the performances off, with a comedic performance including cowboy hats and walkers. The group’s lyrics are sharp and witty, playing into both the genre and the geriatric comedy of the challenge. Despite being the least-desired genre, the country track ended up feeling natural and fitting for the theme.
The ‘Rockin’ Old G’s’ are up next, doing the metal track that was so highly sought after. Sasha Colby leads the group, smartly playing up on her neck cracking in the ‘drag queen heaven‘ challenge earlier in the season. In a group with Colby, Spice seems way out of her league, with her vocal performance doing absolutely nothing to give metal vibes — even the hesitant Aura Mayari’s vocals were more in character for the group.
The hip-hop ‘Ol Dirty Bitches’ wrap up the performances, with Anetra giving a flat vocal performance (and seems to not entirely even know the words), and the group’s choreography weirdly juxtaposed the old characters with acrobatic splits that would likely break the golden girl’s hips. Loosey LaDuca shines, though, wobbling with the cane and writing a strong verse. Robin Fierce’s verse is full of word salad — on paper the lyrics are nice, just a bit too complicated and rushed for the track’s tempo, and desperately in need of editing.
Despite the old lady track suits, the hip-hop group is the most youthful in appearance of all the groups, with the other two groups sacrificing their beauty and really living up these older characters.
This week’s runway theme is tie-dye, and with how much Drag Race allotted to this week’s group fight over who got heavy metal, there’s not much time left to appreciate the runways which are speedily edited down to a bite size portion of the show.
As usual, Anetra’s look is on point, delivering in aesthetic appeal as well as meeting the runway briefing criteria. There’s not a whole lot of tie-dye in Jax’s look, which is more of an orange and lime green color blocking ensemble.
Loosey LaDuca brings a stunning purple and blue tie-dye outfit, matching her eyeshadow with one eye being blue and the other purple. LaDuca continues to show that she is much more than a comedy queen that may have come across during initial impressions, consistently bringing fashion, vocals, impersonations, and comedy to the Drag Race stage, and she’s quickly becoming a front-runner.
Another queen whose tie-dye is understated to say the least is Robin Fierce, while Mistress Isabelle Fierce and Luxx Noir London bring more than enough tie-dye to make up for it — with Luxx’s in particular being a stunning orange and yellow combination that beautifully complements her skin tone. When it comes to runways, Luxx, like Loosey, is leading the pack.
Salina EsTitties continues her trend of questionable runways, no doubt nailing the tie-dye briefing but once again lacking much taste in her delivery, with an aquatic themed tie-dye look that is just unflattering to her figure paired with multi-colored hair that just doesn’t have enough volume, even when you factor in that it’s supposed to look wet.
Marcia Marcia Marcia comes out in a white look complete with comic style red blood decorating it, which seems to have no correlation at all to the actual runway theme — even less so than the queens who chose more subtle tie-dyes in their looks. Marcia tweeted an explanation for the look and her thought process behind it, but as they say regularly on Drag Race, when you have to explain the look, it’s not hitting the mark.
Sasha Colby brings head-to-toe tie-dye in a multi-color latex look that shows why she’s another clear front-runner of the season (as if she needed to do such a thing.) Colby’s drag is just in a league of its own, and her effortless performances continue to show that she’s really in her own caliber here.
Aura Mayari opts for a darker, almost animal-print tie-dye that would look much better if there was some effort put into her bare male-presenting chest. Spice delivers a very on-brand tie-dye look, but it’s neither innovative or exciting six weeks into the competition. Wrapping up the runway, Malaysia Babydoll Foxx delivers a simple dress with a nice, tie-dye pattern; like Spice before her, this wasn’t entirely exciting to see, but after Sasha Colby’s jaw-dropping look, none of the queens after her could really compare.
As for the judges’ critiques, RuPaul announces that the queens will be judged individually. Loosey LaDuca, Luxx, Salina, Marcia, Spice, and Malaysia get the news that they are safe and head off to Untucked while the judges discuss the remaining queens.
The judges were quick to point out Anetra’s forgotten lyrics while praising her runway look. Jax receives critiques on both her performance and look, with the judges citing her for being out of time on the choreography as well as the orange jumpsuit in her runway look. Robin Fierce is criticized for being safe and holding back, but there’s no discussion on her look or performance.
Mistress Isabelle Brooks is applauded for her stage presence in the performance as well as her runway look (with Ru reading Marcia and her makeup to Mistress while Marcia is not even on the stage! It would feel unnecessary if Marcia didn’t deliver such a bizarre look this week.)
Sasha Colby is another top performer of the week, with the judges applauding her willingness to swing big and take things to the absurd. Aura Mayari also receives praise for her performance — and it’s worth noting that her runway look is a lot more visually appealing when it’s not in motion; with Aura standing still, the exposed chest issue is not even noticeable, and it’s much more fashionable and edgy.
Ru then deems Sasha Colby and Mistress Isabelle Brooks safe, giving Aura the win for the week. Among Anetra, Jax and Robin Fierce, Ru spares Anetra, pitting Jax and Robin Fierce against each other in a lip-sync to ‘In Your Room’ by the Bangles.
As Jax wins the lip sync and Robin is sent home, Drag Race‘s editing this season becomes noticeably the biggest issue with Season 15. Robin’s presence in the show has been nearly nonexistent up to this point, and the episode featured only one (very brief) confessional from her. This seems par for the course on the first week or two, but by this point Drag Race should be able to deliver an over-arching story for the season while still having enough time to dedicate to each week’s episode and the story within a story that they tell.
This week’s episode feels almost inconsequential, with Robin having little role in the season so far. Of course, Drag Race always has its contestants who are obviously going to give better confessionals and ham up the drama, but with 16 queens competing this season, Drag Race continues to have bitten off more than it can chew in making each queen feel like a competitor in the first place.
Maybe by the time things get down to the top five, there will be enough time for character development and proper storylines to let viewers feel attachment to the queens, but by that point will it even matter? Drag Race has been a mainstream reality staple for a while now, but the show seems content with disregarding what made it so enjoyable to watch in the first place. Perhaps with so many different seasons and spin-offs constantly being produced, Drag Race is getting over-saturated, with the franchise runners no longer caring about quality — choosing instead to rake in advertising coin with a high output of quantity.
In the end, it’s really the queens competing, as well as Drag Race superfans who are losing out.
Watch RuPaul’s Drag Race on Friday’s on MTV and streaming on Paramount+.