RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 Episode 3 Review: The Vixen Ruffles A Few Feathers

9 April 2018, 09:27

The Vixen
The Vixen. Picture: VH1

By Josh Lee

This week, feathers fly as Aquaria gets a crash course in how to come correct.

Hey kitty girls!

It's episode three of RuPaul's Drag Race season 10! This week, our girls were tasked with trying to flog RuPaul branded chocolate bars by any means necessary, before breaking off into teams to write and act in adverts for three never-seen-before (and never-to-be-seen-again) dating apps. But before the episode starts in earnest, we get to see the girls reflect on the previous challenge, which saw The Vixen rise to the top and Kalorie Karbdashian fall by the wayside.

Post-elimination drama: Is Monique being overlooked by the judges?

Monique isn't happy with being safe two episodes in a row, and while I see her point as far as episode one was concerned, I don't think she did anything to earn a spot in the top last week. Monique's Drag On A Dime was certainly the most creative, but in week two she didn't particularly do anything stand out. To bust through to the top, Monique is going to have to consider every aspect of her drag, and bring it all up from a seven to an 11 in future episodes. Will she be able to do it this week?

The mini-challenge

Playing the ingenue at her first audition, each queen has to take wild direction from Ru as they're put through their paces in the RuPaul Chocolate Bar screen test. After Miz Cracker's extremely awkward turn I was a little worried that this mini-challenge was going to be a cringe-fest from start to finish, but it was saved by and large by Monique's Dick Van Dyke-esque British accent. Monique, Blair St. Clair and Monet Xchange go on to win the mini-challenge, and get the privilege of picking teams for the maxi-challenge.

The Maxi challenge

This challenge tests wit, characterisation and an understanding of branding - clearly RuPaul is looking to separate the wheat from the chaff as quickly as possible. Watching the groups record their ads, it becomes clear early on that Blair's team are pulling ahead of the pack; everyone has a clear character and they're able to pack a lot of narrative into a short space of time without it being convoluted. Poor team Monique, on the other hand, flounder at almost every turn. I was particularly disappointed with Mayhem and Kameron, who seemed resigned to ride the coat tails of the rest of their team and hope for the best; but little do they know that they are about to find themselves out on their own on the main stage.

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Back in the werkroom

Once the queens get back from filming their ads, we get some heartfelt werkroom moments and a huge scoop of drama for good measure. Aquaria makes the fatal mistake of coming for Vixen, questioning how her runway last week could have been her "best drag" when she borrowed her wig from Monique. Aquaria clearly wasn't ready for the clap-back, and was only spared a full-scale scalping thanks to a spider in the werkroom sending everyone into a meltdown. Part of me feels for Aquaria as I think that Vixen's reaction was slightly disproportionate, but at the same time the Vixen has made it very clear from day one what kind of competitor she is, and Aquaria should have had the presence of mind to say, "you know what? I don't want this beef" and focussed on being better than The Vixen this week in the challenge.

On the other side of the werkroom, Dusty shared her experiences of rejection and dealing with a homophobic family, giving fans an important reminder of the issues LGBTQ+ people still face. As Drag Race picks up a larger straight audience, it's important that the show lays out the realities of being gay - both positive and negative. It's been refreshing to hear the girls discuss religion and homosexuality from all angles these past two episodes, from Monet X Change, who is lucky enough to be able to go to church in drag, to Monique, who has to hide her sexuality from her religious family.

Bring it to the runway

This week, category is "feathers," a versatile category that gives the girls the opportunity to be as campy or glamorous as possible. Asia, Kameron and The Vixen's outfits are lightyears ahead of the rest of the girls, with Asia's camptastic Tweety Pie dress showing just how much range she has as a drag performer. The Vixen's peacock feather dress was completely radiant, and Kameron gave us final boss battle realness in black and gold. Team Blair unsurprisingly delivered the best performance of the night, however it was Asia's bat-shit characterisation in the otherwise dreadful Team Monet performance that snatched the win. After discovering that they will be judged as individuals, Yuhua, Kameron and Mayhem all deservedly wind up in the bottom.

Lip-sync for your life

Mayhem and Yuhua lipsync to Courtney Love's Celebrity Skin to stay in the competition, and it's a total one-horse race. Yuhua's lipsync was pretty limited, and didn't show off any real flair for characterisation. Mayhem, on the other hand, ate the lipsync all the way up.

Did Ru eliminate the right queen?

Yes. Yuhua has buckets natural charm, but her complacency in this challenge and lack of energy in the lipsync sealed her fate.

Episode MVP

Though most of the conversation happened on untucked, this week's MVP has to be The Vixen for bringing to light the racial dynamics within the Drag Race fandom. The unconscious bias and, at times, overt racism within the Drag Race community has real consequences for black queens, and while the conversation was uncomfortable, Aquaria's attempts at painting herself as the victim when she poked the bees nest needed to be called out. Plus, from what Aquaria posted on social media in the wake of the episode, it seems as though the experience really did humble her. It would have been very easy for Aquaria to bask in victimhood and allow her fans to come at The Vixen for responding so harshly, so I appreciate her willingness to try and see things from The Vixen's perspective.

Final thoughts

Between the action in the main episode and the Untucked drama, this week could quite possibly be the most important week in Drag Race herstory. It's always shocked me that racism can be so prevalent in the fandom of a show created by a black person, so hopefully Aquaria and The Vixen's falling out this week will be a sharp wakeup call to the fandom.