Friday’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race raised the curtain on Madonna: The Unauthorized Rusical — and by the end of the night, it was curtains for one of the nine remaining queens.
Of course, the shenanigans began long before the contestants hit the runway, beginning with Brita’s clumsy attempt to sweep her feud with Aiden Zhane under the rug. After reading Aiden’s mirror message to the other girls, Brita remarked, “I love Aiden. She stuck with it. I’m proud of that bitch.” If you suddenly felt like you stepped into The Twilight Zone at this point, you weren’t alone. “Once again, you can just taste the fakeness in the air!” Widow Von’Du told the cameras. “Everybody wants to act like they actually gave a s–t about Aiden. You all wanted her gone. Can somebody tell me when this turned into Best Friends Race? Because back in Untucked, you had a lot to say — but now you don’t.” The fakery!
Heidi N. Closet also used the opportunity to confront Gigi Goode for hating on her makeup in Untucked. “Y’all are gonna have to call me the umpire ’cause, bitch, I’m about to call these bitches out,” she said. Gigi apologized for her choice of words, while Sherry Pie and Jackie Cox attempted to re-write history (aka “apolo-lie”) , but the damage was done. And if there was any doubt about that, Widow told the lot of them, “When y’all fall, I hope somebody tears you down as much as you tore us down.” Gauntlet thrown!
Needless to say, the tension in the workroom was off the charts when the queens reconvened for this week’s challenge. And that tension only escalated during the casting process, especially when Brita’s limited vocal range caused her to swipe Gigi’s No. 1 pick. At least Jan seemed to have the right attitude; she wasn’t thrilled about playing “early” Madonna, mostly because she didn’t want to have to go first, but she accepted it and moved on. (In other news, “Yeah, I’ll sing my t-ts off” just became my new karaoke mantra.)
Speaking of Jan, the song-and-dance queen didn’t even try to hide her excitement about this week’s challenge. From recording her song to rehearsing her choreography, she missed neither a note nor a beat. Meanwhile, her fellow queens weren’t feeling so good about their prospective pop careers, from Jaida Essence Hall’s inability to access her sexuality to Jackie totally missing the concept of Madonna’s “boy toy” phase. Even Gigi was visibly nervous — never mind the fact that she doesn’t know who Patti LuPone is!
Then came the big show. I don’t know if it was the magic of autotune, the rush of adrenaline or a healthy mix of both, but most of these queens managed to pull decent performances out of their butt padding, far superior to their half-assed rehearsal showings. And while Jan set the bar pretty high with her killer opening number, she became a distant memory as soon as Gigi took the stage as “Unapologetic” Madonna. The transformation! Those moves! That backflip! I don’t know where any of that came from, but Gigi turned it out like no other.
After saluting Michelle Visage’s favorite artist, the queens then paid homage to Ru’s right-hand woman directly with a “Night of 1,000 Michelle Visages” runway. Jan squeezed her big ol’ boobs into a Glamazonian Airways uniform, Brita attempted to recreate Michelle’s look from the Season 10 finale, and Crystal Methyd threw it back to Michelle’s RuPaul Show days. (I also have to confess that I laughed hard at Sherry Pie’s spot-on “Kitty Girl” Michelle presentation.) But it was Gigi who once again stole the show, eliciting gasps from the judges with her model-esque take on the blonde look from S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M.’s “It’s Gonna Be a Lovely Day” music video.
Given Gigi’s sneaky success in the Rusical and impressive showing on the runway, it was no surprise when Ru named her this week’s big winner, even if my heart did break a little for Jan. This was her challenge to lose… and she did. True to her name, she really got Jan’d tonight. (Gigi, Gigi, Gigi!)
Brita found herself back in the Bottom Two, this time facing Heidi to the tune of Madonna’s “Burning Up.” With no more fireworks hidden up her sleeve, Brita floundered through the performance, amping up the drama but never making the judges feel anything. Heidi, meanwhile, took the comedic route — with a major split to boot — which earned her the judges’ approval.
“Thank you so much for everything,” Brita told Ru. “This is a dream come true.” She then tried to make some catchphrase happen on her way out, but I wasn’t really listening. Bye, Brita!
Was Brita the right queen to go? Cast your vote below, then drop a comment with your thoughts on the episode.