Metro Weekly

RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 episode 9: A barely watchable Breastworld

A Westworld parody made for excruciating viewing in Drag Race's latest episode

Photo: VH1

Oh Drag Race, it was going so well. After the delightful fun of last week’s Cher-inspired musical episode, hopes were high that season ten was finally getting a place where it could stand on its own two feet — rather than ride the backs of the seasons that have come before it. And then we came crashing into the dreadful depths of “Breastworld,” a Westworld-inspired acting challenge which was intended to test the emotional ranges of our remaining six queens. Instead, it ended up testing the patience of everyone watching at home.

Not helping matters was that, up until the main challenge, this was another solid hour of TV. Things kicked off with the usual post-elimination drama, as the queens discussed Vixen’s lipstick mirror message, which warned about evil triumphing when good queens do nothing. Asia had zero time for it, and quickly wiped it off the mirror. Bye Vixen.

The queens are in an odd place right now. Some have won challenges, some have come close but not quite managed to land (hey, Monét and Cracker). Kameron, for her part, seems a little shell-shocked that she won last week, despite clearly being the strongest performer during the musical. Naturally, Aquaria’s overconfidence flared up and she announced that she wasn’t in the bottom three (she was) and that she just happened to be the last person to be declared safe (no, she was definitely in the bottom three). The other queens promptly read her for being overconfident, and for being unsportsmanlike.

However, in came Eureka, with a bit to camera, calling Aquaria out for not sharing the spotlight and not letting the other queens have their moment. Hindsight is going to be a bitch for that comment, as if anyone’s guilty of hogging the spotlight it’s Eureka. Side-eyes all round, honey.

After the credits had rolled, the queens were greeted by the magnificent Stephen Colbert — a fan of the show and RuPaul — who proceeded to tease the forthcoming acting challenge in splendid fashion. Shout out to the funniest line of the episode, as he walked out of frame shouting “Someone untuck me, please!”

This week’s mini-challenge was the always fun objectification game, where RuPaul trots out an expanded Pit Crew in their underwear for some form of match game. This time, the queens were trying to pair the boys’ boxers — and in a nice nod to representation, one of the models was Laith Ashley, a very handsome man and the Pit Crew’s first-ever openly transgender member.

After the requisite amount of thirst from all of the queens — and just enough ass shots to make the Parents Television Council mad — Aquaria was declared the winner, gaining the power to decide who would take what role in the main challenge. That challenge? Filling the roles in “Breastworld,” a Westworld parody set in a gay holiday resort with the queens taking on a mixture of human and robotic roles.

In a surprisingly un-Aquaria move, she allowed the queens to pick their own roles, rather than playing to win. It was a surprising move, and she herself admitted she wanted to try and be friendlier with the other queens. It was cute, if a little false after saying she would happily send most of them home at the start of the episode.

Anyway, on with the challenge, and first up came a surprisingly great workroom walkthrough from RuPaul. This segment was the episode’s highlight, as it shows not only how high the standards are getting for Drag Race, but also how RuPaul’s attitudes have changed over the years. In earlier seasons, RuPaul would always offer advice, but kept the sterner comments under a joke or a soft expression. Now? She’s coming for these bitches. If a queen is self-sabotaging — Miz Cracker — Ru is calling it out and telling them to get out of their head. If a queen sounds like they’re not grasping the challenge, she’ll tell them how to fix it. It’s a feistier, more overbearing RuPaul, one who isn’t going to settle for letting the contestants make the same mistakes over and over again. We’re absolutely here for it.

Once the queens had learned their lines and donned their costumes, it was onto the sound stage to shoot “Breastworld” with Michelle and Ross directing. This was… a mixed bag. As the resort’s director Julie, Cracker was still struggling to get out of her own head. By her own admission, she excels on the runway, throwing one-liners to the judges, but in challenges the wheels spin a little too visibly as she self-corrects. Cut to an extended scene of Cracker repeatedly flubbing her delivery as she failed to grasp her characterization.

Aquaria worked well as the resort’s ditzy, drinks-serving robot Dyslexa, and takes direction well as she works through her minimal lines. Kameron as resort first-timer and slightly homophobic Muffy is over-the-top in her shock at all the gay stuff going on around her, and struggles to deliver the emotional monologue at the end. Monét is effortless as Muffy’s best friend who’s trying to get her to loosen up a little — she even ad-libs her own lines, leaving Michelle and Ross rolling around in their director’s chairs. Asia excels, too, as Sarah Palin caricature Parah Salin, stomping into Breastworld to shut this gay nonsense down.

And then there’s Eureka. Say what you will about her obnoxious nature out of drag, Eureka has consistently served it in the main challenges when it’s come time for her to act out a character. And yet here, she crumbled. Repeatedly and consistently, whether tripping over Kameron’s lines or failing to grasp how to fake shoot one of the Pit Crew. It was excruciating to watch, and everyone — Michelle, Ross, the other queens — was clearly getting sick of it. Heck, she couldn’t even land the classic RuPaul deliver of “Ivvyyyyyyyyyyyy Winterrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrs” when her robot character “Toots and Reboots.”

Nothing, though, compared to watching this fiasco play out on the main runway. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

First, it was back into the workroom to get ready for this week’s runway theme: Silver Foxy. The queens were tasked with dressing up as themselves 50 years in the future, and it led to some interesting discussions on aging, including America’s oldest drag queen, Portland’s Darcelle XV, and Aquaria’s preference for befriending and spending time with older members of the LGBTQ community. We also had some tidbits about dating as a drag queen, such as Asia, who pointed out that she doesn’t like meeting men while in drag as they fall in love with her drag persona, not her. These sorts of workroom discussions, which feel much less forced than in season eight and nine, offer a great insight into how these queens live and work.

Category is: Silver Foxy — Photo: VH1

Anyway, let’s get on with the runway, and this week’s tops and bottoms.

Our Tops:

  • Monét X Change was glorious as an older version of herself whose body is falling apart at the seams. With just a smattering of hair left, her breasts dangling to her knees, a hospital gown, and an IV full of liquor, she served a comedy bit and it absolutely landed.

  • Asia O’Hara went in a similar vein to Monét, but instead foresaw herself as still trying to deliver showgirl glamor, but with elderly comfort mixed in — a beautiful top and silver (albeit thinning) cornrows mixed with house shows and busted tights. Oh, and she carried a bowl of chips, because waistline be damned, and various glasses to better see with. It was delightful.
  • Kameron Michaels opted for prosthetics to look older, and arguably looked the most like an aged version of her drag self. She then delivered a surprisingly comedic routine as she swallowed pills and busted out a shakily energetic performance.
  • Miz Cracker chose to age like the women in uptown Manhattan, with big, plumped lips, a carefully maintained bob, and “glamorous matriarch” chic.

Our Bottoms:

  • No one can argue that Aquaria didn’t look amazing in her Michele Lamy-inspired outfit — she just didn’t look old.
  • And then there was Eureka. She apparently wanted to go for a classy older lady look, but instead it was just Eureka with paler makeup, a white wig, and a big, floaty coat. This screamed “I have nothing for this runway” and the judges rightfully read her for it.

Once the queens had finished stomping the runway, it was time to watch their efforts in “Breastworld” — and if you’re not a fan of cringeworthy television, this made for brutal viewing. Not even Stephen Colbert’s narration could save this car crash. It’s not that it was offensively bad, it just wasn’t funny. Indeed, it was consistently unfunny for lengthy stretches at a time. Sure, the editing and retakes helped cut out a lot of the flubs during shooting, but the writing, the acting, the production, everything was just bad.

AND IT WENT ON FOR SEVEN MINUTES.

Really, that’s the worst thing about Drag Race’s extended runtime this season. When something works, we get more of it than we would have in previous seasons. When something doesn’t — this whole challenge — it drags on, and on, and on, and on, and on. It also makes it all the more obvious just how thinly the writers are stretching the material in these sketches. It’s telling that some of the funniest moments came from Monét’s ad-libs, not the actual script. It was so bad, so unwatchable, and so mirthless that it brought down this entire episode. Not even a random Randy Rainbow cameo at the end could save it.

Back on the runway, it was Asia versus Monét for this week’s win, but it was ultimately Asia who walked away with the prize. She certainly earned it, but we feel Monét perhaps deserved it more — she’s yet to have a win, and while Asia exuded charm, Monét kept “Breastworld” alive until Asia’s character entered at the end.

Not so safe were Miz Cracker, Eureka, and Kameron. Cracker slipped through on her runway and slightly better main challenge performance, leaving Kameron and Eureka to lipsync for the lives. What followed was an energetic, well-staged, and genuinely funny performance to Patti LaBelle’s “New Attitude.” And Eureka was also on-stage. Seriously, she stomped around for most of this song looking at the judges, but not really doing anything, while Kameron jerked and danced and delivered her characterization to the judges. Even Eureka’s walk to the back of the stage seemed to take forever, her back to the judges’ table, as she prepared to do her first bit of actual performing, as she dropped to the ground and humped her way across the runway. It certainly got better as it went on, but Kameron served from start to finish.

That only made the end result less welcome than intended, as RuPaul decided to keep both queens based on their lipsyncs, saving Kameron first and then Eureka. We’re not sure we agree. Eureka has been a strong performer this season, and clearly RuPaul is a fan, but she flubbed this challenge and didn’t do much for half of her lipsync. She deserved to go home.

And that was episode nine. What did you think? Did you gag over any moments we missed? Did Eureka deserve to be saved? Let us know in the comments!

Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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