RuPaul's Drag Race: “Reunion”
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RuPaul's Drag Race: “Reunion”

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RuPaul's Drag Race

“Reunion”

Season 4, Episode 13
A

RuPaul's Drag Race

“Reunion”

Season 4, Episode 13

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RuPaul is an evil genius. It’s not a coincidence that she played the supervillain in last week’s “Glamazon” video, but unlike the costumed tyrants that populate comic books, RuPaul always wins. Never has her manipulation of the reality TV genre been clearer than last week’s “finale,” when she decided to withhold the crowning of this season’s queen until tonight’s reunion episode. Judging from the reactions on the live chat and in comments, fans were not pleased that they had to wait another week to see their favorite crowned, but it was a (evil) genius move on Ru’s part.

With the series at a high point in popularity and drag queens’ propensity for spilling the beans, it only makes sense that RuPaul would do whatever it takes to keep the final results of her series secret. Three separate endings were even filmed for the reunion, which goes to show just how far Ru is willing to go to keep a bitch’s mouth shut. (I don’t know how that worked exactly, and if anyone has further knowledge on that, please share.) Add in the already heavy hype surrounding the reveal of why Willam was disqualified, and RuPaul has set up the season’s real finale to be a showstopper.

RuPaul’s Drag Race: Reunited begins with that drag show staple: the group number. With the top three dressed in gold (Sharon in a beer mug Halloween costume), the girls perform a dance routine, although one queen is missing: Willam. She’s absent for the first third of the episode, but good things come to those who wait. After the group number, Ru makes her grand entrance in a radiant red dress, looking even more flawless than usual. All the queens have clearly done well after appearing on the show, and the wigs, makeup, and wardrobe have improved across the board. This show will have a massive impact on their futures, and maybe one of these queens will be in RuPaul’s seat in 20 years (assuming the apocacloc doesn’t come in 2012).

The first set of interviews is completely forgettable, but things get more interesting when Kenya, Dida, Milan, and Jiggly take the stage. Milan’s wig-flipping is brought up, and she brings up her usual bullshit about people misinterpreting her as an artist. RuPaul decides to play a cruel trick on Milan and asks her to flip wigs together, dedicating herself to the point that Milan asks if she’s serious. That evil side of Ru comes through in the gleeful smile she wears as she torments her girls on national television.  In a brilliant guest appearance, Charo is brought on as Kenya Michaels’ translator, and the two share a great little bit. More importantly, Charo’s appearance brings up puzzling question: why hasn’t anyone been Charo for Snatch Game? It seems like such an obvious choice for the queens that have trouble with English, and would have made a lot more sense for Kenya than Beyonce.

These quick-fire reunion questions are fascinating in that they reveal what each queen’s central story was this season:

  • Alisa: first cut
  • LaShawn and Princess: so boring they have to share a story
  • Madame LaQueer: always picked last
  • Kenya: no one can understand her
  • Milan: can’t keep a wig on her head
  • Jiggly: is a mess
  • Dida: rough relationship with parents

The girls that get one-on-one time rose above that single-sentence narrative and established themselves as stars on this show. Before Latrice takes the stage, Willam gets her chance in the spotlight, finally getting in on the action in a super-short, skintight flesh-colored dress with black unicorns on it. Willam’s there to be remembered, and she will not rest until she hogs all the attention. And what of the big revelation? Contestants are not allowed to tell anyone that they are doing the show, and her boyfriend found out and made a few conjugal visits to Willam’s hotel room. I don’t know how exactly this would have effected the other queens and their reputations the way Untucked suggested, but the reveal ends up being an afterthought in Willam’s return. It’s just nice to have him back.

Latrice looks absolutely stunning, from the larger-than-life wig to the flawless makeup. America said “fix your makeup, girl,” and Latrice Royale listened. She has such a wonderful presence and welcoming personality, and her gratitude for this experience is evident in everything she says. In an adorable moment, she reads a letter from the mother of a 10-year-old girl who has turned to Latrice for strength in dealing with school bullies. It’s a perfect example of the Latrice Effect. “It’s ok to fall down,” she says. “Get up, look sickening, and make them eat it.” These are words to live by. Latrice is named Miss Congeniality and will be appearing on this upcoming season of Drag U, where I’m sure we’ll get the “Jesus is a biscuit” that we were denied on this reunion.

The top three come out and they are, seated from right to left: hot, hot, mess. Sharon and Chad come to the show glammed out, Sharon wearing (if I’m not mistaken) one of the custom made dresses she won during the show, and Chad rocking one of her partner’s designs. They’re dolled up for the event, but still incorporate their own unique style: Sharon with a Ouija Board “Mystic Hand” planchette on her forehead, Chad with the general Cher-ness. Phi Phi also brings some of herself in her look: tired-ass showgirl. Wearing the hooker version of Chad Michaels’ “Frock The Vote” costume, Phi Phi looks downright silly up there, and it’s just the start of the bad for her.

RuPaul talks to each of the girls about their experiences and what being crowned America’s next drag superstar would mean to them, and although I love Chad, her answers come off a little wooden and rehearsed. I think Chad’s incredibly thrilled to be there, but she’s thinking too hard about giving RuPaul the answers she wants to hear. I wonder if the queens think the competition is still happening at this point, and are trying to sway RuPaul to crown them. I’d imagine Ru has come in with the decision already made, but it’s possible that this competition came down to the wire. Doubtful, but possible.

When Ru brings up Sharon and Phi Phi’s rivalry, we get the only real fireworks of the reunion as Willam gets right to work stirring the shit. When Phi Phi says she loves Sharon and respects what she does, Willam cough-yells “bullshit,” then proceeds to call out Phi Phi for not just being a bitch on the air, but for being a bad drag sister once the cameras are away. Phi Phi admits that she comes across as crazy on the show, but Willam doesn’t think that excuses her signing autographs “Fuck Willam” and “Fuck Sharon.” In her book Working It!: RuPaul's Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style, RuPaul lists her rules to live by, and Phi Phi breaks a big one: “very little is off limits, but draw the line at being unkind.”

Phi Phi started with the bullying angle to gain sympathy, but when she became a bully herself, the story became more focused on her father. I don’t doubt that her current situation with her father is true, but her ever-shifting intentions on this series bring an air of falseness to everything she says. When RuPaul asks Phi Phi about what she wanted to achieve in this competition, she says, “I wanted to be the backbone and strength for a lot of those kids that had to go through like, a child abuse past and stuff like that.” But when RuPaul asks what winning this show would mean to her, Phi Phi immediately says, “Money in the bank.” She might’ve dismissed it with a laugh and started talking about the emotional worth of the crown, but the money was still her first answer.

RuPaul has gotten criticism in the past for crowning the queen that is most like her, and it’s the same case this season. Except instead of picking the queen that matches her in glamour, Ru picks the one who matches her in innovation. Sharon Needles is crowned America’s next drag superstar, and she deserves it. One of RuPaul’s favorite sayings is “you’re born and the rest is drag,” and Sharon preaches that same message. When RuPaul asks Sharon why she wants to win the competition, Sharon says that she wants to prove “you don’t have to fit a certain mold to make it in any industry or in any desire you want.” Sharon was always characterized as the spooky one, but she has one of the biggest hearts of any of the queens this season, even offering Phi Phi some comfort while she works out her daddy issues.

Sharon Needles has been my favorite to win since the very first episode, and I’m sure that’s the case for most of this season’s viewers. She quickly established herself as one of the most versatile, resilient, and intelligent queens this show has ever seen, constantly impressing the judges by revealing that she’s so much more than a one-trick goth. She showed moments of fear and vulnerability, was willing to admit to mistakes, and never stopped growing, surprising us on the runway every week. Sharon consistently delivered drama and comedy, and she rightfully deserves the bump in status this show will bring her. Even though she’ll be representing RuPaul and Absolut, I don’t see Sharon sacrificing any of her shock value now that she’s the reigning queen of drag.

Stray observations:

  • LaShawn is serving up Havok realness with that headdress.
  • Did anyone really want to see Madame LaQueer try the reading challenge?
  • Michelle is a pretty perfect announcer.
  • I completely forgot about the phrase “baked potato couture” for Jiggly’s first runway trainwreck.
  • Hey guys, it’s chubby Willam starring as a gay prostitute on an episode of The Shield Genevieve Koski was watching this weekend.
  • The energy in the room after Sharon is crowned is very odd. The rest of the queens don’t like being reminded they’re losers.
  • “She had the looks, the moves, but what the hell was she talking about?”
  • “You are the air beneath my foot.”
  • Thanks to everyone for asking for RuPaul’s Drag Race coverage, then showing up week after week to indulge my ramblings about a bunch of wacky drag queens. Special thanks to Genevieve Koski for getting me hooked on this show and covering for me in a pinch, and all the fellow TV Clubbers (Marah, Claire, and Phil) that participated in last week’s live chat. I’ll see you all for the upcoming All Star season!

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