RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 Episode 1 Review: All Hail Vanessa Vanjie

23 March 2018, 17:00

RuPaul & Vanessa Vanjie
RuPaul & Vanessa Vanjie. Picture: Netflix / VH1

By Josh Lee

Get into all the tea from RuPaul's Drag Race season 10, episode one.

After a disappointing and oftentimes inexplicable season of All Stars 3, it was with some trepidation that team PopBuzz gathered round Netflix to get into RuPaul's Drag Race season 10. And though one episode might not be enough evidence to judge a whole season, on first impression it looks as though Drag Race might have just got her groove back. This season, we're going to be bringing you a blow-by-blow review of every episode of Drag Race. Let's get into it.

The entrance looks

Alongside Snatch Game, a queen's entrance into the Werkroom is one of the most important moments in their Drag Race experience. This is your one shot to make a first impression, rattle the competition with your Charisma, Uniqueness and Nerve (the Talent portion comes later, of course), and begin building your legacy as the best of the best. So how did the girls do?

Eureka: The first to enter the Werkroom, Eureka gave us the full phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes fantasy in a bright red bodysuit and fiery feathers. While I appreciate Eureka embodying her storyline (remember that she's returning after crashing out of season 9 due to a knee injury), having seen some of her more avant-garde looks on social media in recent months I was a little disappointed to see Eureka serving me what was essentially showgirl realness.

Asia O'Hara: Asia gave me Texan auntie at the cookout teas, and while it was a little daytime for my tastes I wasn't mad at it. Asia has a huge rep in the pageant scene, so there's a lot to live up to there. If she can hold on to the soul of this entrance outfit, but jush it up a little bit across the season, she'll do just fine.

Ms Cracker: Any caucasian queen who has the self-awareness to describe her herself as "thin, white and extremely salty" gets a thumbs-up from me. Cracker's outfit was a gorgeous shade of blue and beautifully put together, with every proportion adding to the WASPy fantasy. I'm REALLY excited to see what Ms Cracker does this season.

Yuhua Hamasaki: Yuhua is apparently friends with season six winner Bianca Del Rio, which might explain some of the makeup similarities. But while there might be some aesthetics in common, on first impressions their personalities couldn't be more different. Warm, open and full of charisma, Yuhua feels like an early contender for Miss Congeniality, if not the crown.

Blair St Clair: I'm sorry but you can't wear a belted coat onto Season 10 of RuPaul's Drag Race. That being said, Blair's ingenue gig is extremely endearing. Let's see she does over the season.

Kalorie Karbdashian: This is one of my least favourite entrance looks in Drag Race herstory. Kalorie came in looking like she drives a Fiat 500 and sells weight-loss tea on Instagram. And why would you wear a black bodysuit underneath your white outfit?! Rookie error. Next!

Monique Hart: My GOD that outfit was BEAUTIFUL, every piece of bejewelled fringing jostling and floating with every step of that c*nty entrance walk. Top, bottoms, earrings, hair, makeup, everything was 👏TO 👏GE 👏THER. Get it, sis.

Aquaria: #TeamCracker

Dusty Ray Bottoms: There was a real disconnect between the outfit and the makeup for me with this look. Still, Dusty seems like a unique queen with a lot to offer, so I'm excited to see what she does next.

The Vixen: The Vixen's entrance outfit looked like if you looked at Shea Coulee's season 9 entrance while on psychedelics. It was entirely too much, and some of the pieces looked very precariously attached - a wardrobe malfunction in the making. Props for the braids though, they're cute.

Monet Xchange: This is a queen I've followed for a very long time, so I had sky high expectations for her entrance look. And I have to say, I wasn't blown away. Monet and season eight winner Bob The Drag Queen are bffs back in New York, so it's interesting that both their entrance outfits kind of had the same issue - they're really smart concepts, but lacked that final 1% that would have taken them from "yes" to "yassssss."

Vanessa Vanjie: Remember when Beyoncé did her promo for the Mrs Carter Tour looking all regal and whatnot? Vanessa Vanjie gave me that, but with her trademark banjee backbone. I absolutely loved this look, and as soon as Vanessa opened her mouth I dropped dead. An Icon. TENS ACROSS THE BOARD.

Kameron Michaels: I love the juxtaposition of her super masculine body and the hyper-feminine dress, but I don't want to hear "I'm a muscle queen" for the rest of the season. We don't need another Milk.

Tops: Vanessa Vanjie, Monique Hart, Ms Cracker.

Bottoms: Blair St. Clair, Kalorie Karbdashian, The Vixen.

The Mini Challenge

Season 10's inaugural mini-challenge saw the girls party on the runway in front of a veritable feast of past Drag Race contestants. It's always fun when the old guard comes back for a kiki, because you get to see how far they've come since their own seasons. And while we're not here to judge the comeback kids, I have to give a quick shoutout to Adore Delano, Morgan McMichaels and Jiggly Caliente for looking FLAWLESS. But enough of those old bitches, let's look at the new kids on the block.

Mayhem: Mayhem oozes confidence, and performing a cartwheel in a full-length gown is no easy feat. Props to ya, mama.

Ms Cracker: Ms Cracker seems to really have the balance between fierce and funny completely in check. I'm ready to stan.

Asia: One word - fringeography. I actually changed my mind on Asia's entrance look when I saw it worked to its full potential in this mini challenge. Fierce.

Kalorie: I appreciated the splits, but there's a difference between twerking and shaking your butt; something Kalorie is yet to learn.

Yuhua: I'm not sure if Yuhua was serving enough fierceness for the dud cartwheel to have the sort of comedy payoff I think she thought it had.

Monique Heart: I love a queen who doesn't rush, and Monique ate up every single moment of her runway without the need for tricks and gimmicks. I'm really into this queen, I think she's going to be super exciting.

The Vixen: Again, Vixen was entirely too much. Edit, girl, edit.

Vanessa Vanjie: WORK BITCH. I love this girl, everything she does is hilarious to me.

Kameron Michaels: Good sis really dropped into the splits and dragged her crotch across the runway while dressed like an extra in a Desperate Housewives summer BBQ scene. I live.

Blair St Clair: I don't think this was Blair's natural habitat, but I also don't think she did everything she could with the material she was given. I would have loved to see Blair totally ham up the ingenue fantasy, and give me Fanny Brice in the club realness.

Dusty Ray Bottoms: There's not much to say about this performance, which isn't a good thing.

Aquaria: I was so glad to see a little clown come through in Aquaria's performance. Clearly somebody studied Violet Chachki's season seven mistakes.

Monet Xchange: The body was RIGHT, but I'm not sure she gave us the best voguing on the runway.

Maxi challenge

When you start to lose your way, sometimes the best thing to do is to go back to your roots, and that's exactly what Drag Race did with this first Maxi challenge. Drag on a dime is quintessential classic drag race, testing creativity over budget and forcing the queens to show off their resourcefulness. And with 100% of the action taking place in the Werkroom, you get extra time to get to know the queens without having to watch them being barked at by Todrick Hall.

Ms Cracker reliving her impoverished but artistically nourished childhood was super endearing (do I smell a winner's edit?) and obviously every word that came out of Miss Vanessa Vanjie's mouth was pure gold. Catching glimpses of Blair St. Clair's wicked witch look gave me hope that she'll be more versatile than she appeared at the start of the episode, and hearing about Eureka's road to recovery was genuinely emotional. Those moments where you really get to see the passion that these girls have for drag helps to elevate the show above the constructed drama and inexplicable twists, and I'm extremely grateful that the producers didn't go overboard with shade klaxons and side-eyes. Even Cracker and Aquaria's same-face beef wasn't dwelt on for too long - something I was happy to see.

Bring it to the runway, runway.

This week, the girls' got to show off the breadth of their creative talents in a runway extravaganza of self-made, drag on a dime fashion, and each and every single one of them was upstaged by Christine Aguilera. I MEAN REALLY. How can you compete with the Ain't No Other Man inro? I love an A-list guest star, but I thought it was a little unfair of the producers to have the queens go toe-to-toe with XTina. The Judges picked the right top and bottom queen in my opinion so I won't dwell too much on that, but I do think Dusty Ray Bottoms was treated a little unfairly by Michelle; calling out a queen's signature makeup on day one felt a little uncharitable to me (but then again, when has Michelle Visage been known for her charity?). Ms Cracker's wit on the main stage was very impressive, and Mayhem's genuine, tearful gratitude after being praised by the judges establishes her as a queen to root for.

Had it been up to me, I would have put Aquaria in the bottom two rather than Dusty. Kalorie Karbdashian and (I hate to say it) Vanessa Vanjie, however, deserved to be there because their outfits were horrible.

Lipsync for your life

I was rooting for Vanessa SO HARD, but credit where credit's due - Kalorie lip-synced the house down BOOTS. I mean, she pulled dollar bills from her top and made it rain on herself as she jumped into a split. You can't argue with that gig, man. Poor Vanessa, on the other hand, got tangled up in her netting and never fully recovered.

Did Ru eliminate the right queen?

It pains me to say it, but yes. Vanessa was clearly the more exciting contestant, but when it came down to it Kalorie lip-synced circles round her.

Episode MVP

She may have only survived one episode, but I've no doubt that Vanessa Vanjie has secured her place as a hugely well-loved, iconic Drag Race queen. She embodies the irony that's at the core of male drag, and I truly believe she had a lot more to offer than she was able to give this season. Sadly, the nature of the competition means that even amazing performers can be sent packing first; but if it's any consolation Vanessa is easily the most memorable first-out contestant in Drag Race herstory.

Final thoughts

RuPaul will probably never admit it, but it definitely feels like the show really took on the criticism that season 9 received and put queerness back at the heart of Drag Race for season 10. It's exciting to see the show go back to its roots ten years on, and if they continue to tap into what's made the show great for so many years, they are really onto a winner with season 10.

When is the next episode of RuPaul's Drag Race? Head over here for all the latest information.