RuPaul's Drag Race: “Snatch Game”
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RuPaul's Drag Race: “Snatch Game”

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RuPaul's Drag Race

“Snatch Game”

Season 5, Episode 5

“Snatch Game challenges your improv skills, your wit, and your impersonation skills. Without these three skills, a drag queen may as well not call herself a drag queen.”—Jinkx “Little Edie” Monsoon

It’s here. The moment that America (or at least I) has been waiting for since watching the trailer for this season: Jinkx Monsoon plays the Snatch Game as Little Edie Bouvier Beale and wipes the floor with every other contestant. Snatch Game has become such an integral part of RuPaul’s Drag Race that every queen should come in with a plan for the event, and this is the first season when that becomes a major topic of discussion on the series. The best Snatch Game performances—Pandora’s Carol Channing, Chad’s Cher—really embody the complete essence of a celebrity, from the grandest gestures to the tiniest quirks. That is what Jinkx delivers, and she comes to this competition with a strategy for Snatch Game that takes her straight to the top, despite the show trying to make a big deal out of Little Edie not being the most recognizable character. It doesn’t matter that she’s recognizable to a broad audience, it matters that she’s exploding with personality, and there’s so much material for Jinkx to work with as one half of Grey Gardens.

The editing on RuPaul’s Drag Race is truly masterful, and the people working behind the scenes on this show are some of the best storytellers in the reality-television business. The manipulation of the narrative is especially clear during the opening scene right after last week’s elimination, which the editors are now using to set up all the conflicts that will appear throughout the episode. Jade vs. Alyssa and Jinkx vs. RoLaskaTox are introduced at the start of the episode, and those are the major throughlines all the way to Untucked. Alyssa is shaping up to be this season’s villain, and it will be interesting to see if she continues to be an overly dramatic ice queen or if she’ll start showing some signs of vulnerability à la Willam last year. I’m not going to spend extensive time talking about it here because good God is it annoying, but Coco and Alyssa have a big blowout over past bullshit this week. Before now, it seemed like Coco was the one that wouldn’t let old wounds heal, but this week we see that Alyssa is just as eager to pick at the scabs. 

In a stroke of genius, the contestants on the Snatch Game are the Julies Brown. While they’re both entertaining guests, Julie Brown pulls ahead of her “Downtown” counterpart with her clever responses, although no one is watching Snatch Game for the contestants. It’s all about the panel, and while the majority of this year’s impressions disappoint, Jinkx Monsoon delivers a performance that Julie Brown calls “the Meryl Streep of drag queens.” It’s the small details that really make Jinkx’s Little Edie come to life, like when she holds up a card that says “SIEZURES (sp?)” and makes sure to check in with the judges if her spelling is correct. It’s not, and the fact that the character is desperate to know if she’s right when she’s dead wrong shows just how well Jinkx has personified Little Edie.

This queen has the perfect props with her can of cat food and magnifying glass, which is especially good when she decides to pick up the other queens’ slack and reclaim the spotlight. It’s not hogging attention when Ivy’s Marilyn Monroe completely fumbles the easy political joke RuPaul lobs her way and Jinkx steps in to intercept and score a touchdown, it’s grabbing back the attention that is hers the entire time. The top left seat is prime real estate on the panel because of its proximity to Ru, and Jinkx takes complete advantage of that to build a rapport with the host that comes in handy during judging. Michelle might hound Jinkx for her lack of glamazon fierceness on the runway, but Ru is in her corner and that’s the vote that counts.

The bottom row of the panel is a shit show again, with one standout on the far right courtesy of Roxxxy Andrews’ Tamar Braxton (sitting in the same place Chad was at during her winning appearance). Last year was so traumatic that it must have left bad supernatural energy in the furniture; Lineysha is sitting in the Ultimate Disaster seat, occupied by Kenya Michaels’ Beyonce last season. Lineysha originally plans on doing Michelle Obama until Ru humiliates her on the spot, and she changes to Celia Cruz but ends up doing a horrifying mix of Milan and Kenya from the previous year. The language barrier is the big obstacle with the humor, but holy shit does Lineysha look a hot mess in that wig and wardrobe. She fails miserably, and it doesn’t matter how hot she looks on the runway, she goes straight to the bottom two.

Lineysha is joined in the bottom row by, in order of descending shittiness, Ivy Winters, Alyssa Edwards (this week’s “Thank God I have immunity” case), and Coco Montrese. Ivy’s Marilyn Monroe is a total flop: the voice is wrong, the personality is flat, and there’s no sexuality at all. She can’t banter with Ru and she can’t think of good answers for the questions, which also turns out to be Alyssa’s problem. They both should have known better than to pick either of those characters; Marilyn is an icon that has been done so many times that if she’s going to be impersonated, it better be really goddamn good. Katy Perry’s appeal is in her visual, not her personality. It’s the Lady Gaga problem, and Detox’s Ke$ha suffers from it too, giving the worst performance of the top row. She relies on references, not jokes, and her peeing stunt is the worst kind of Snatch Game showboating. Unless you’re Willam with a cardboard cut out of Jessica Simpson, don’t get out of your Snatch Game seat. 

Coco Montrese does Janet Jackson six nights a week in Vegas, and while she’s certainly got the look down, she has no sense of humor. She has a little more charisma than when she played a zombie ventriloquist’s dummy a few weeks ago, but she, like many of these queens, just doesn’t get what makes this game funny. The more ridiculous the answer, the higher the probability the judges will love you, and that’s what Jinkx, Roxxxy, and Alaska’s Lady Bunny do. They’re self-absorbed but still engaging performers, and most importantly, they know how to respond with wit when Ru speaks to them. Jinkx gets her revenge on all these bitches saying that Little Edie isn’t famous enough when she tells Ru that she doesn’t recognize Ketchup and Janice Jickson and asks why there aren’t any real celebrities on this show. Coco Montrese tries to be smart by asking Ru, “What’s a Little Edie?” and she gets an appropriately condescending answer explaining what Grey Gardens is.

On the runway, the queens are asked to serve up their fishiest look, which some interpret quite literally. Ivy is getting swallowed by Nemo, Detox looks like a jellyfish, and Alaska walks out with a prop bass. Jinkx is called out by Alyssa and Coco for her lack of glamour before hitting the runway, and while Michelle doesn’t like her breezy garment, it’s cute and shows a much different side of Jinkx than what was displayed in the Snatch Game. Jade, Coco, and Alyssa are safe, Roxxxy, Alaska, and Jinkx are in the top, and Lineysha, Detox, and Ivy are in the bottom, and it’s the perfect decision from the judges.

The beginning of the episode is setting up a win for Jinkx and a blow to the threat level of RoLaskaTox, so it’s obvious that Jinkx is going to be victorious despite complaints from Michelle. What is more of a shock is Detox in the bottom two against Lineysha, but it’s the right move to guarantee an awesome lip sync. After last week’s double elimination, the queens have a new fire under their asses when they hit the stage to lip sync, and both girls turn it out. Lineysha justifies her presence on this show with her performance, but it’s hard to compete with the jaw theatrics of Detox. All the face choreography just makes for a more interesting lip sync, and Detox shantays to safety while Lineysha sashays home. She began with such promise, but like Puerto Rican queen Kenya last year, the language barrier prevents Lineysha from overcoming this show’s most entertaining hurdle.

Stray observations:

  • This week on Untucked: The safe trio of Alyssa, Coco, and Jade means a bitchfest with three of the meanest queens on this show, and it’s a lot of the drama keeps this show moving, but no one actually cares about. There’s not enough time spent with the other, far more interesting group of queens, and Ru missed a great hashtag moment with #Kleptneysha. Not required viewing.
  • Proving that Drag Race is the center of all things, all three of the TV shows I cover for TV Club on Mondays have connections to this episode. Julie Brown voiced Zatanna on Batman: The Animated Series, and Jade Jolie wears an Adventure Time Jake hat for a good portion of the plainclothes segments. But what does it all mean?
  • Lineysha during the camera sweep over the Snatch Game panel is horrifying and hilarious.
  • Jinkx calling Ke$ha “Ketchup” is one of my favorite Snatch Game moments evah.
  • RuPaul is serving up Grimace on acid realness on the runway this week. Meanwhile, Michelle is in an uncharacteristically conservative cardigan.
  • How many animal props and accessories did Alaska bring to this competition?
  • RuPaul forcing Alyssa to #RuPaulogize to Katy Perry on Twitter for her shitty portrayal shows how this series continues to manipulate social media like no other.
  • Alaska: “How am I supposed to wear something that is so goddamn ugly?” Ivy: “Just like everything else you wear.” Turns out Ivy does have the wit, it’s just hidden.
  • “I think it was the best makeup she’s worn all season.” Who’s wearing the cat mask again?
  • “I’m my own continent. I’m incontinent here still.”
  • “Let me guess: Margaret Thatcher?”
  • “Mother darling.”
  • Gibblits for the cat bitches!
  • “You know, the last time I had a battle of the Browns was about 10 minutes ago in my dressing room.”
  • “It was quite the scandal, actually. With my cousin-in-law, really. It was in all the magazines at the time.”
  • I love bad Snatch Games responses: “I haven’t put out a hit in a while.”
  • More bad Snatch: Alyssa: “Would you like to try some.” Ru: “No.” Alyssa: “Okay.”
  • More bad Snatch that turns good: Ru: “Have you ever kissed a girl?” Alyssa: “No, Ru, never.” Ru: “But—uh—yeah… Have you ever fucked a black guy?!”
  • “Well Julie, I just wrote ‘anus.’”
  • “The Jade of it all!”
  • “Now that’s a catch.” “But she’s still very koi.”
  • Jinkx gets two runway reads: Michelle: “Brackish actually.” Rupaul: “Now there are 102 ways to wear a scarf.” And then she wins. Suck it, bitches!
  • “She has a date with Moby Dick.” “Lucky.”
  • “I love a bedazzled muffin.”
  • “I do think we have a slightly different aesthetic.” Jinkx ain’t takin’ no shit tonight!
  • #DeadliestSnatch
  • My favorite non-Jinkx interpretation of Little Edie:

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