This week saw a very different Drag Race, as the show got political.
Drag has always been political in a way: as it is a mirror towards society and it’s expectations. It is a political act just to exist as a drag queen and many a queen has fought back against those in power in her shows. Ru herself has often used Drag Race and her own position to urge people to vote, be involved and make change happen.
But Trump the Rusical marks the first time the politics were addressed heads on. This shows how problematic society has become. Knowing hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ have risen 226% in areas where Trump held rallies you just can’t remain silent anymore.
Most of the episode spoke about living in a world where you can be attacked for being who you are. Nina West described her life on a campus where she was abused and threatened. She grew up in a deeply conservative and political environment and was terrorized in college when she ran for student government, once people knew she was gay. She also linked her story to the tragic case of Matthew Shepard which happened at the same time. It was a time when LGBTQ+ tolerance was at a low, where it sadly seems to be heading again now.
A timely as well as a cautionary tale.
Then Mercedes Iman spoke out, regretting not doing so last week. She talked about having to fight hate and stereotypes from many sides (being a gay drag queen as well as a black immigrant and Muslim). She wants to show the world that Muslims are not terrorists, despite living in fear on a daily basis. It is good to see her finding herself.
It would have been great to hear the voice of Plastique Tiara as well in this, as growing up gay in a conservative Vietnamese household raised by her grandmother would give her a unique perspective as well. Sadly she never featured in the episode at all.
Of course Silky had another surprise up her sleeve: she is a registered republican. Not because she is republican but to fight the power from the inside!! “Re-movement of the districts… Get smarter than them, register as a Republican.” In Untucked Silky also showed a different side of herself when she comforted Vanjie who had a semi panic attack thinking she’d be in the Lip sync.
Meanwhile Yvie Oddly revealed she suffers from a connective tissue disorder that causes all of her joints to be hyper-flexible and therefore prone to dislocation in physically demanding situations.
“I have a disease called Ehlers–Danlos syndrome type 3. I don’t produce a whole lot of collagen, so I have extra skin everywhere…. but it’s not going to hold me back in this competition!” She added.
So after a new kind of mini challenge (newsreading in the style of Rachel Maddow) and a brutal choreography training with Deadpool ballet dancer Yanis Marshall (where Ra’ja found out boosting about dance training isn’t very wise when it was decades ago) it was over to the musical itself.
Based on Grease it told the tale of the women of Trump who, with a little help from Oprah, find out that being your own person is better than being a dictators possession. It ended with an ode to womanhood and a call for more women to run for office.
All the queens did very well with a few standouts including Yvie and Nina but in the end Silky’s Oprah was singled out as a winner.
Talking points were Michelle Visage’s clear dislike of guest judge Joel McHale and the growing relationship between Vanjie and Brookelyn. Vanjie still seems to want to play it down, though.
It was sad seeing Mercedes leave the show just as she found her voice, it would have been great to see her stay just a little longer as she has already proved herself to be iconic.
Hope to see you back one day Opulence Queen!!
RuPaul’s Drag Race is available to stream on Netflix
Dannii Cohen is a stand-up comedian (drag name Divine Varod) and comedy writer turned author, psychologist, professional counselor, life coach and self-help expert. Specialized in LGBT issues, anxiety, empowerment, children’s issues and bullying.
Published works include children’s books about childhood depression and the importance of being yourself (When Clouds Hide The Sun and Christopher the Lonely Bear) and an easy to use self help manual 50 Things To Know To Have A Better Life: Self-Improvement Made Easy.