Earlier this week, I ranked the Ru Paul’s Drag Race queens based on their brief Meet The Queens interviews. Now we’ve seen a whole hour of them interacting and strutting their stuff. Who came out on top?
1. Bob The Drag Queen
Bob seems to be the queen to beat this season. Everything about her in this episode was perfection.
I think her potential stumbling block is that her fashion might be a little too obvious and off-the-rack based on her Meet The Queens and entrance look. Yet, we saw her construct a stylish garment for the challenge – and, it was one of the most from-a-pattern garments of all the looks. Clearly she has a sense of her fashion and fashion history. Whether that comes across in her suitcase remains to be seen.
There’s also the risk of her sarcastic humor. Bob’s style of comedy does not yet feel like something she can perform all season without ever backtracking or apologizing the way Bianca did.
I don’t think either issue is going to seriously hamstring Bob – she comes off as one of the smartest contestants of all time and I don’t think she would have auditioned without a plan. In the shorter term, I doubt she’s in any danger from next week’s acapella challenge.
2. Kim Chi
Despite my instant obsession with Bob, last year I had Violet in first place largely because she swept the first week of challenges. Who nailed that this year? Kim Chi. She was excellent on everything from entrance look to runway, with some hilarious interviews between.
Kim Chi seems to have the ingredients to make a deep run in this competition except for one thing – her meekness. We saw her be meek in the photo shoot and, to a degree, in some of the runway discussion. She was also a non-factor on Untucked. Wallflowers are not generally winners here, and despite Kim Chi being bomb dot com at everything this week, I have serious concerns about her making it through team challenges or anything theatrical. There’s a certain shyness about her that puts her at risk. We need to see her overcome that ASAP.
3. Acid Betty
I’m torn on Acid Betty. I think she is unambiguously cast as a villain and spoiler in the mold of Detox or Phi Phi. They went far and didn’t win. She also fits into the high concept mold (Raja, Sharon, Vivacious). That’s two winners and one early flame-out.
Despite her attitude, she was outstanding this week – enough that it was almost surprising that Kim Chi won the main stage challenge over her.I don’t think Betty came to wipe out on doing badly on an obvious skill like sewing, acting, or singing. I do think she will need to do straight-up glamorous a few times to sate Michelle Visage. She’ll need to be careful to not go too sideways on her solo concepts or crash out of any group work.
Let’s say she does that. Can she go to the finals? Both of the ladies above this point and the several directly below have the potential for a major flameout. If she survives long enough, Acid Betty could wind up the most well-rounded queen standing.
4. Chi Chi
I honestly don’t know what to make of Chi Chi. She’s one of the most determined contestants we’ve seen and she also has room to learn and grow. Her trash bag gown was one of the most intricate executions of disposable fashions we’ve ever seen. Her open-mindedness in talking with Naysha about pageants this week makes me think she isn’t going to be a replay of Kennedy, who was alternately game-on and totally-over her challenges. Yet, she has already confessed to having a weak suitcase compared to the other girls due to her lack of financial stability.
She may be the most dangerous dancer/performer in this cast, so I don’t see Chi Chi being felled by an early challenge (certainly not acapella). If she’s not careful, runway might do her in on a middling week.
5. Cynthia Lee Fontaine
This week we saw Cynthia be better than average at most things, which doesn’t even count her incredible (as in, not even credible!) operatic singing in Untucked. However, a closer look at her runway on Fashion Photo RuView proved it was remedial. She would have been in more trouble in a smaller group, and it calls into question how well she might do with later sewing challenges.
She’s a lock to make it through a singing challenge. The danger is that her kookiness takes over on a challenge and the hilarity just doesn’t land, which will put her at risk on the runway. If we don’t see that happen in the next two weeks, she becomes one of the queens to be (and beat).
6. Naomi Smalls
We didn’t see enough of Naomi to truly understand her capabilities, but in what we’ve seen there are no specific weak points or self-sabotaging behavior. The big question is if she has the performance chops to match her modeling. If she stands up for herself in this first group challenge and delivers another strong runaway I think we’ll have a true contender who should move up the ranks. If she wilts, her days are numbered.
7. Thorgy Thor
I love love love Thorgy. From her Meet the Queens to her entrance to her impressive runway, we’ve seen more versatility out of her than from any other queen so far. It did not escape my attention that she constructed one of the most structurally sound garments of everyone this week.
Despite the love, I don’t think she’s best at any single thing, and I worry that her character actress nature will nab a “we don’t know you” tag even if she survives the next few weeks. She’s at risk for a shocking elimination from many of the other queens if she hits the bottom two.
8. Derrick Barry
We need to understand what Derrick is capable of when she doesn’t come out as Britney. What if it’s stunning? Then, I think she has some traction and can move up the ranks. What we saw from her in the photo shoot was one of the canniest moves we’ve ever seen a queen pull in an editorial challenge. However, we also saw that her conceptual and sewing skills are on the weaker side.
With so many accomplished seamstresses in this group, Derrick will hit a wall at some point. I don’t think she’s got the Chad ingenuity or the Adore ingenue factor down enough to hit the Top 3. If she has a hope (beyond evolution), it’s being fantastic at all of the theatrical challenges – and, girl can sing.
9. Dax Exclamation Point
This is another queen I adore who simply might not be equipped for the win. We did not see a lot of strength from Dax this week, although it could be simply that this week’s edit did not favor her.
In Dax’s favor, there is the sheer “getting shit done” aspect of prepping for cosplay again and again. This girl can bang out a faithful costume and she can inhabit a character – the flawless Hello Kitty dress this week was just a small indication of that. Yet, in the premiere she came off a little soft and self-congratulatory, and those are not traits that get you past the mid-point on Drag Race. It can lead to false confidence and silly missteps, like choosing her middling Storm cosplay as an entrance look.
To move up the ranks, she is going to need to deliver multiple weeks of being the strong point in teams and then go high glamour instead of playing for quick jokes on the runway. If she does those two things, I’ll be convinced she can penetrate the top half, and maybe even the finals.
10. Robbie Turner
Aside from his photo, Robbie delivered one of the most wretched week-one performances of all time. It was almost worthy of Magnolia Crawford. Unfortunately, regardless of his toxic personality and inability to be strategic, I suspect Robbie has packed some nice dresses and has an array of theatrical talents, which will keep him afloat for another week or two. Maybe she even disposes of one of the best contenders in a lip sync. However, she is clearly not America’s Next Drag Superstar.
11. Laila McQueen
Laila is a very enthusiastic queen who hasn’t quite leveled up to the Performance Art caliber of Drag Race’s best contestants. She is perhaps a year or two too early in her growth to make an impact. Does that mean she is absolutely headed home next week? Not necessarily. She might take good direction in group challenges. Other queens might underestimate her. She might do well on another lip sync. Yet, on the whole I think it’s safe to say that she does not have the skills or wardrobe to make a deep run on this show.