RuPaul's Drag Race: “Can I Get An Amen” 
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RuPaul's Drag Race: “Can I Get An Amen” 

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RuPaul's Drag Race

“Can I Get An Amen” 

Season 5, Episode 6

Heathers and Mean Girls taught us that cliques can be dangerous things, and “Can I Get An Amen?” is when the cracks begin to show in the foundation of this season’s most obnoxious alliance: Rolaskatox. The pre-title sequence shows Jinkx lamenting that no one praises her win as strongly as a Rolaskatox win (well, at this point just a Rotox win), but that’s precisely why they created this little group in the first place: to give each other support. If Roxxxy wins, she knows that Detox and Alaska are going to be there on the sidelines to cheer her on and keep her momentum going. But there’s a downside to all that support, and that’s the weakness that comes when you’re relying on two other people in a competition, rather that focusing on yourself. It can make a queen complacent, and Ru ain’t got the time for that.

It’s almost as if the producers realized the Rolaskatox thing was obnoxious and decided to break it down to the point where they’re not yelling their name every time they walk into a room. We won’t know if that happens until next week, but the runway was dominated by talk of the alliance, with the judges painting it largely in a negative light. In other painting developments, this week’s fantastic mini-challenge had the queens putting on make-up in the dark, and the results weren’t too bad. Makeup isn’t Jinkx’s strong suit, so she struggles, but Jade and Coco have their problems, too, foreshadowing bad developments to come for both of them. Coco looks especially bad, apparently reaching for the Kraft macaroni and cheese powder for the area around her eyes and forehead.

Detox wins the makeup challenge despite some strong competition from Alyssa’s fish face, winning a big strategic advantage as she gets to pick groups for their singing challenge. Taking inspiration from “We Are The World” and “Voices That Care,” the girls have to write and record a new inspirational anthem: “Can I Get An Amen?” Detox has to pick two teams of three and a team of two, and she makes the smartest choice she could make, or at least she thinks she does. Putting Alyssa and Coco together is a no-brainer, as they’ve both shown that they can’t focus when they’re around each other. If you make yourself an easy target, you’re going to get shot down, and instead of sucking it up and making the best of a shitty situation like Alyssa, Coco descends into a state of self-pity that manifests as misguided anger toward Detox. She’s just playing the game by pairing Coco and Alyssa, but Coco takes everything as a personal attack. Of course Detox wants Coco to fail. At the end of the day, she wants everyone but herself to fail.

Rolaskatox is obviously united for the challenge, although it would have been wise for Detox to choose one of the other girls (Jinkx or Ivy) to throw everyone off and get some extra talent on the team. Roxxxy, Alaska, and Detox don’t compete in this week’s challenge; Rolaskatox competes, and thinking about the best thing for her clique is what costs Detox the win. Looking at the groups in terms of school dynamics, Jinkivylie are junior high theater kids, Rolaskatox are high school mean girls, and Colyssa are undergrad rivals who are holding onto drama from years past. Jinkivylie stays mostly drama-free although Jinkx and Ivy are clearly better singers than Jade, and while Rolaskatox doesn’t have much conflict inside the group, Coco and Detox butt heads when Detox assigns Colyssa to sing the first verse.

Drama is fine on the dressing room, but it is not appropriate when Lucian Piane has to listen to it. That’s right, squirrelfriends! Lucian Piane is back! The modern master of drag queen dance music on cable television helps the girls while they rock their most radical ’80s looks. Coco decides that their recording session would be a good time to passive-aggressively thank Detox for putting the pressure on her to start the song. She should spend less time blaming other people and focus on her performance, because she sucks. Coco was tolerable at best when she first showed up, but she’s only gotten worse with each episode as she loses drive and gains a more rotten attitude. Alyssa has proven herself to be a much stronger performer who is capable of putting all the personal stuff to the side in order to get the job done, but Coco just shuts down from all the pressure. The judges see that in her supergroup showing, and combined with a really shitty runway look, Coco ends up in the bottom two for the second time.

Coco is joined in the lip sync by Jade, who has been a consistently blah presence this season, and she lets her lack of singing talent prevent her from going as far as she needs to sell the music. She’s looking down a lot and basically not performing while Ivy and Jinkx are belting and singing harmonies, and that’s not going to cut it. Rolaskatox does fine, but Alaska realizes that her partners are not taking this as seriously as they should be; they’re not because they’re too busy flirting. The last part of the challenge has the girls riffing over an instrumental break, which garners mixed results but also this week’s best hashtag courtesy of Roxxxy’s party chant: #WhereMyPeopleAt.

It’s one hell of a runway show when the ladies are asked to spotlight their best body part, with Roxxxy and Detox bringing some particularly dramatic looks that have the judges howling. I love when the panel goes out of control, and Roxxxy and Detox bring out the wild side of a crowded judge’s panel that includes the Pointer Sisters and La Toya Jackson, making her third appearance on the series. Roxxxy’s favorite body part? All of it, of course, and she immediately disrobes once she hits the stage, revealing her curves and breasts that look like a coconut split in half. Her wig is also comically huge, and the general theme of Roxxxy’s look is bigger is better. Her favorite part of her body is that it’s big, so everything is exaggerated. Detox isn’t quite as revealing, although she shows skin where it counts. Walking down the runway in a sleek black gown, when Detox turns around she reveals an exposed back all the way down to her crack.

Detox and Roxxxy are easily the two most high-impact looks, although Michelle tells Detox that she’s getting a little one note. Michelle is really bitchy this week in general, specifically targeting Jinkx and Alaska. She doesn’t like Jinkx’s makeup contouring in the video and thinks her runway look is a hodge-podge of different eras of glamour, and is a very harsh critic of Alaska’s comedy shtick. Ru agrees with that, bringing up the Sharon connection and telling Alaska that her partner was able to balance that shtick with genuine heart and vulnerability. Alyssa gets read by the judges during deliberation for her pointing on the runway, but she otherwise has a solid showing. Ivy ends up stealing the judges’ eyes with her crafty dress made out of her headshots, which earns her a win after the judges see her musical performance. Ivy has Talent, but she seems to be missing Charisma, Uniqueness, and Nerve, and her winning is as much a message to Rolaskatox as it is a reward for a job well done. Rolaskatox think they’re invincible, but the last two weeks have shown that there are significant weak spots that their cumulative arrogance has made them blind to.

The episode ends with a strong lip sync between two very hungry queens, and Coco and Jade turn it out for the drag classic “I’m So Excited.” The memory of Vivienne and Honey still lingers, and the queens are fighting for their lives when they end up in the bottom two now. Jade does very well, but she can’t match Coco’s energy and precision, and she has to sashay away. One thing that makes this show stand out is just how civil the eliminations tend to be, and RuPaul tries to send queens away with a sense of pride in the work that they’ve done on the show and knowledge that their legacy will be remembered. Jade will always be très jolie, even if she’s not America’s Next Drag Superstar.

Stray observations:

  • This week in Untucked: It’s an Alyssa-centric episode as the queens all gang up on her for being fat before she gets a video from her estranged father telling her that he’s proud. Everyone has a good cry, and then they go back to talking trash about each other. 
  • All Drag Race fans need to direct themselves to Chad Sell’s spectacular illustrated recaps of this season, which are taking it to the next level with some sweet animations. Jinkx as Little Edie is fabulous.
  • “Dusty” is a word that is about to be added to my everyday vocabulary.
  • Don’t say “herstory,” Santino.
  • Detox has had her hips, ass, pecs, undereyes, brow, six pack, cheeks, lips, jawline, shoulders, and biceps surgically altered. She has not done her knees, nose, and big toe. That’s intense.
  • Don’t forget that all this shit is available on iTunes. Ru certainly won’t let you.
  • “You should be viewing me as a threat.” Cut to sleeping Jinkx for an editing win!
  • “It’s all fun and games ‘til the looting starts.”
  • “Mmm…interesting. Very interesting.” RuPaul with night-vision goggles is comic gold.
  • “Face face face face face…”
  • “You can see the storm clouds gathering. (Assortment of crazy sounds.)”
  • “I don’t know if I’mo be able to take it to church. I may take it down the street the Jack in the Box.”
  • “Lost and confused / I had to smile deep within / When I realized / These women were min.”
  • “Our challenge for this week is to record a song about how drag can save people’s lives and change the world.”
  • “I lost all hope today.”
  •  “Sequins dress.”
  • “(Alaska screeching)”
  • “I’m walking Tupperware, girl. I’m part of the Glad family of products.”
  • “How do I feel about queens who have had plastic surgery? Jealous. If I had my way, my upper lip look like this (future .gif)
  •  “You bettna hide it!”
  • “And it never gets a dull moment when I look at you.” Welcome Back, La Toya.
  • “I was going to come out in assless chaps, but they’re at the cleaners. So I’m showing off this bone right here.”
  • “Say yes to crack!”
  • “She get that dress from her crack dealer?”
  • “Peek-a-Ru, I see you!”
  • “Don’t let the weight of the world flatten your weave / Just tease out from Adam to E-e-eve.”
  • “But, and it’s a big butt.”
  • “Alyssa, your singing proved you are an amazing dancer.”