Casting rules everything around me.
RuPaul’s Drag Race has always had a knack at drawing out character, in both the kindest and most cynical senses of the word. At its best, Drag Race can bring the best of someone to the surface. It’s a quality which makes this show one of the most inspiring on television. And while it isn’t fair to say that the moments when ugliness emerges are the worst, those moments aren’t as fondly remembered.
And so, with not quite heavy hearts, we turn to Jasmine Masters. Bye, Felicia.
A queen that rose to the top of the heap in weeks one and two, based almost purely on smile-wattage, did a major swan-dive to the bottom before sashaying away. In this episode, Jasmine fails at two acting challenges. The first is obvious, and she falls hard on her pretty face as a part of “MacBitch”. The second is equally as bad, and infinitely more important.
Casting matters. It matters in the lovely land of RuPaul, where two of Shakespeare’s best-known tragedies are adapted into pun-filled sketches, and it matters in RuPaul’s Drag Race, where the best competitors seem to sense, in some part, the role in which they’re cast. Not so with Jasmine Masters. She went from a joyous entrance that celebrated the fact that she and the other queens were there at all—”I’m here! We made it, bitches!”—to stank-face. Funny stank-face, but stank-face nonetheless.
Here, a children’s treasury of Jasmine Masters’ quotes from the first three minutes of “ShakesQueer”:
- “Honey, when they picked that group, I knew it was a lot of buffoonery.”
- “They all weigh two pounds.”
- “Trixie, Pearl, and then there’s that old tight-ass long-horse-face Violet … they don’t know shit about performing … that’s not drag.”
- “I don’t like shit about them young hoes. Not the air they breathe, not their bony-ass, slim, up-and-down pole bodies.”
- “Cover that ass up. Panties, bitch.”
This isn’t a show where everyone holds hands and walks children in nature. But it’s particularly jarring to see a nice queen go nasty, and ‘nice girl’ was exactly where we seemed to be headed with Jasmine. In Drag Race, as in life, you should know your strengths, and then play to them. That, or contour them out.
We see enough of Jasmine in the early stages of the episodes that it’s safe to assume she’s headed to the top or the bottom. One hopes she’ll emerge from the fog of bitchiness, like a butterfly from a cocoon, but one would be mistaken. And she and team leader Kennedy Davenport nearly tank everyone around them in the process.
Often, when Ru or another judge says that something was the best or worst of its kind in Drag Race herstory, it’s for the sake of drama. This time it may just have been true. It’s fair to assume that editing plays a role—as in the long, awkward pause when Pearl pops up from behind a backdrop—but it’s hard to hide a total lack of chemistry, commitment, and professionalism. With a last minute casting switch, Kennedy sinks her team. By initially giving Jasmine the role she wants, and sticking Violet with a role that seems like a very bad fit, Kennedy puts her whole group at risk. Switching the roles is the right call—but a call she should have made earlier.
Over in the “Romy and Juliet” camp, Max earns a well-deserved victory by choosing a great team, leading them well, turning in a very funny performance with some totally ludicrous text, and then hitting the runway in a Tim Burton and Salvador Dali-inspired curlicue mustache and beard that absolutely kills. Maybe not the best runway look of the night, but damn close. Other runway highlights include Katya’s fabulous Baberaham Lincoln chic, Trixie taking us to church with a lush beard and an angel-wing headpiece, Mrs. Kasha Davis as a glamorous version of Kathy Bates in American Horror Story, and Violet, who Ru herself describes as “Peggy Sue Got Hairy-ed!” Bless this show.
That said, there weren’t many lowlights. Most of the queens show off their uniqueness and their makeup and wig skills on the runway, and quite a few manage to charm in the acting challenge. While there’s some momentary suspense about the bottom two, there’s no way that Violet’s lukewarm but prepared performance will put her in jeopardy, particularly given her transcendent runway presentation.
And so new friends Kennedy Davenport, sporting a beard that seems to be made of what we’ll just call body hair, and Jasmine Masters, who paints on hobo clown shadow so she won’t get life-threatening acne, lip-sync for their lives. They’re both in gowns so heavy that neither of them can move. They also don’t want to compete against each other, because they have a bond. Girls, you met two episodes ago. That isn’t a bond. This is a bond.
It’s so boring that not even the power of Kylie Minogue saves them. Two things keep Kennedy from packing her bags: one, we haven’t seen the “Dancing Diva of Texas” dance yet, and two, Ru already kicked two queens out at once a few seasons back, and it’s probably too soon to do it again. Step up your game, girl.
- Too many good puns this week. Not even gonna try.
- New candidate for most GIF-worthy moment in the show’s history: “What. Is. Happening?”
- “Someone bring me a puppy. I want to die.”
- I rag on her a lot, and she deserves it, as far as I’m concerned (especially if you’re watching the new, online-only Untucked), but Jasmine still has moments of charm. “You gotta pop them corns so the kids can eat.”
- “Ready… set… [BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP].”
- Damn, Ginger. What conditioner are you using? Where can I find it?
- Pearl: “Call me young, call me illiterate.” The entire group of people with whom I watched, speaking in one voice: “Illiterate!”
- “Where did you get a load of bread?”
- A big high-five to Jaidynn for working through her anxiety, and to her team for supporting. Not something that’s easy to deal with, and it must be much, much worse when cameras surround you.
- Presented without comment: “This is the best gown that ever walked the runway, in the history of Drag Race.”
- On that note, has a fabulous look ever totally saved someone from elimination? I know a raggedy-ass split has. Maybe my inner Drag Race encyclopedia is failing me.
- Ru first introduces Mel B. as being from America’s Got Talent. Maybe not calling her a Spice Girl is a part of her contract?
- “Fu Manchu better work!”
- The mini-challenge is really cute, but not one of those queens is as funny as Ru on her Rascal —or, as a friend put it, “Ru dressed up as a traditional theatre-goer.”
- Another joke from friends that’s too good not to use: “Girl, don’t tear off your beard!” “Unless underneath your beard is another beard!”
- If you haven’t been watching either of Katya’s web series, you are seriously missing out. I am particularly partial to “RuGRETS.”
- Thanks to Oliver for letting me fill in! I’ll be hanging out in the comments next week, discussing the incredible insights of guest judge Ariana Grande.