It’s safe to say that RuPaul’s Drag Race making the switch to MTV for its fifteenth season has been controversial, but fans of the series scored a small win this week. MTV’s experimentation with the award-winning series has drawn backlash from the show’s fervent online community — mostly due to the fact that the star attraction, Drag Race, has had to make unintended cuts to the usual 90 minute runtime so that MTV could tuck in The Real Friends of WeHo between Drag Race and Untucked!
In hindsight, some TV executive should’ve known this would set both Drag Race and Friends of WeHo up for failure. By cutting down the show everyone’s really there to see and then forcing them to watch a show or change the channel in between the two shows they’re there for, MTV has drawn the ire of Drag Race fans, and that’s even without mentioning the problematic Todrick Hall being one of the faces of WeHo.
Despite Hall’s online outbursts over the show’s backlash (and claiming that 90 minutes of Drag Race would not be returning), Drag Race broke the news this week that after WeHo completes its run later in March, Drag Race episodes will go back to their original runtime. Unfortunately, this is a bit too little too late, as much of the series will be over by then — but it might be the start of a corrective course for the season (ultimately, if full versions of these past episodes were released to streaming, it would more than make up for the WeHo blunder. One minute long runways and poorly edited confessionals have really bogged down a season of great and exciting contestants.)
Good news aside, this week’s episode, ‘The Daytona Wind 2’, clocks in at a paltry 40 minutes, seeing Season 14’s fart-joke soap opera get the sitcom treatment for Season 15. Following last week’s Golden Girl Groups episode and the elimination of Robin Fierce, this week’s episode sees the queens return to the werk room and air out some Untucked! drama. Yeah, the producers really thought after devoting most of last week’s episode’s runtime to the fight for who gets to do the heavy metal song, we’d love to have a part two this week. This would’ve been fine in a 90-minute episode, but it really highlights how the show has lost touch, especially when deciding what to chop when trimming these episodes down for the new runtime.
That tension from Malaysia and Mistress spills over into the next week, and it seems like the show is intent on making this a prominent storyline in the season. RuPaul arrives to announce the return of ‘The Daytona Wind’ challenge and the switch to a sitcom style. Last week’s winner, Aura Mayari, gets the coveted role of assigning parts to everyone in the sitcom.
The role that grabs everyone’s eye when reading the script is Fancy — with multiple girls being asked to get it (while Anetra, hilariously deadpan, says she wants metal.) They’re out of luck, though, because Aura gives the role herself — after misreading the name and calling it ‘Fantasy.’ In confessionals, Aura admits this is something she’s never done before, which is obvious foreshadowing. After Bosco’s hilarious performance as Fancy last season, this coveted role probably should go to someone with the comedy and acting experience to pull it off.
Other than that, there’s little drama this week in assigning roles, so the girls break up into each of their scenes to begin rehearsing — and of course Mistress and Malaysia are in the same scene. After failing to grasp the role of Fancy, Aura decides to do a run through the script swapping lines with Mistress with the rest of the queens feeling this was manipulative on Mistress’s part. With how badly Aura was floundering the rehearsal, it actually seems more like an act of compassion on Mistress’s behalf — there’s plenty of queens in the past and present werk room who would’ve told Aura she picked her role and had to tough it out, knowing they’d be safe as she failed.
On set, Spice has difficulty taking direction from RuPaul, while Malaysia and Mistress put their tensions aside to play up the comedy in the challenge. The energy immediately dips with Jax’s delivery of the ‘stoner’ character. With Mistress and Malaysia being so full of over-the-top energy, poor Jax just cannot keep up that level of momentum — with RuPaul even mentioning that Malaysia and Mistress should get a spinoff of just their two characters.
In her new role as Widow, Aura continues to struggle, showing that Fancy was clearly out of her depth, despite her saying in confessionals she wished she’d kept Fancy’s part. It’s worth noting that none of the other queens got filming footage in this week’s edit, making it pretty safe to assume Jax and Aura will be in the bottom while Malaysia and Mistress dominate the top. There’s a lot less guesswork to Drag Race in 40 minutes, with the show literally having to hold the viewer’s hand and guide them to the end because there’s so little time to spare in getting from point A to B.
The queens head to the runway for the screening of their acting challenge, where RuPaul greets Michelle, Carson and guest judge Harvey Guillén. The runway challenge is ‘Puffa, Please’ and the queens strut the runway in puffed up outfits.
Loosey LaDuca begins the runway with an instantly recognizable not to the Stay Puft Marshmallow (Wo)man. The look really encapsulates the character, and the puffy jacket she uses as an accessory keeps the look on theme beyond just the character inspiration.
Spice’s look is, as expected at this point in the competition, beautiful and simple. One can only imagine if Sugar were still here how there would be a copy of it in an alternating color. The twins certainly defied expectations and proved they’re more than canned queens, but that still doesn’t stop this puffy look from feeling underwhelming and lacking any innovation.
Sasha Colby, on the other hand, continues her upward trend of being innovative when it comes to her runways, rocking a yellow and gold puffer jacket/vest that shows off her gorgeous body and is visually exciting with its bold lines leading the eye around the jacket and vest, to the suspenders moment.
Luxx Noir London brings a futuristic Jetsons spin to Jackie Kennedy’s Pink Chanel suit. Luxx’s past runways have been so killer that this one feels paler in comparison, but it’s still a strong entry. Malaysia Babydoll Foxx comes out in a lemon yellow outfit with a puff cape; it’s nice and fashionable, though lacking the wow factor that bolder designs like Sasha and Luxx’s runways had.
Aura Mayari stuns in a puffed up kimono, looking the best she’s ever looked on the runway. By now in the competition, Jax’s runways have a running theme of being underwhelming or poorly tailored, and this week is no exception. Jax has all the elements of a great queen, but there seems to be a big disconnect when it comes to the runways especially.
Mistress Isabelle Brooks, on the other hand, knows all about how to give an exciting and polished silhouette, and her puffer look is a highlight. Despite being one of the ‘big girls’, Mistress doesn’t shy away from showing as much skin as Sasha Colby, and with how well tailored the garment is to her curves, she looks stunning. (Her makeup is also amazing!)
Anetra and Marcia Marcia Marcia both have quick runways this week. Both continue their trend of enjoyable runway presentations that, like Spice, don’t reinvent the wheel and are what you’d expect from them. Not amazing but not bad — if just a little boring compared to some of the larger personalities and their wardrobes.
Always full of personality, Salina EsTitties struts the runway in yet another questionable outfit that she sells the hell out of with her presentation. While the taste level may not be winning any awards, her ability to sell the garment surely could.
The queens then watch the ‘Daytona Wind’ reboot. The surprise of the added-in fart noises to the original ‘Daytona Wind’ last season made the soap opera hilarious and over the top, but Drag Race couldn’t get that surprise shock value a second time around. The decision to turn things into a sitcom and have canned laughter added in is an odd one, and it honestly makes the first scene feel even less funny because of the backing track.
As expected by the filming footage, ‘Daytona Wind 2’ really only has notable performances in Mistress and Malaysia hamming it up. The over-editing and self-referential Drag Race lines in the script also plague ‘Daytona Wind 2’ into being one of those pieces of entertainment that just shouldn’t have gotten a sequel. There may have been more comedy to be found if the Season 15 queens didn’t have such high expectations with how well the Season 14 queens performed in the original (and its much better, more fitting soap opera format.)
In a surprise twist, Danny Trejo steals the scene at the end as Big Daddy. When he delivers the Drag Race quote lines, it’s actually hilarious — even though the rest of the sitcom was full of them, when the queens themselves reference the show, it just feels a bit cringey at best.
After the screening, RuPaul makes the decision to have Loosey LaDuca, Sasha Colby, Luxx Noir London and Salina EsTitties be safe, a fair and predictable decision based on the show’s editing.
Spice is criticized for her performance and runway, although Carson’s claims that the ‘laugh track helped’ just aren’t true considering it just made it even more apparent how un-funny everything was for all the queens. Michelle is bored of Spice’s runway presentation, with Spice promising to ‘spice it up.’
Malaysia is praised for her performance and outfit, while Aura only gets praise for her runway. RuPaul even criticized the difficulty in directing Aura. Following that critique, Jax gets one even more damning from Michelle, saying that while Aura was difficult to direct due to her fixed view of the character, Jax had no point of view at all.
Mistress is praised for taking the runway theme and truly dragging it out, as well as for her performance and adlibs (RuPaul praising her for the rare instance where all of the adlibs were funny.)
Marcia Marcia Marcia and Anetra also both receive high praise for their roles in the sitcom’s conclusion. The judges want more from Marcia again, in both her runway outfits and makeup, but they’re happy to applaud her for her efforts in taking things to a bigger level, even if it needs to be bigger in the future.
After the judge’s deliberate (off screen this season due to the short runtime), RuPaul crowns Mistress Isabelle Brooks the week’s winner and sends Jax and Aura to a lip sync of ‘Sweetest Pie’ by Dua Lipa and Megan thee Stallion (but not before saving Spice, who hilariously walks to the back of the runway doing the gag that she was criticized for just moments earlier!) “It’s the last time, I promise!” Spice howls, after RuPaul ‘cues the sniper’ while Michelle looks unamused.
This is Jax’s second week lip-syncing, but she’s still got enough tricks in her bag to put on an exciting performance. Aura’s heavy kimono look would have been burdensome to perform this song in, but she ditched it before the song really even got started, and what was under the kimono was underwhelming to say the least.
In the end, RuPaul saves Jax again, sending last week’s winner Aura to sashay away from the competition. Next week’s Drag Race teases the Lollapa-Ruza challenge ‘with a twist.’
Watch RuPaul’s Drag Race on Friday’s on MTV and streaming on Paramount+.