Allegations. Apologies. Judgement. Unfortunately, the biggest thing about this week’s second premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race (AKA episode two of season twelve) aren’t the fabulous runways or the interesting queens – it’s scandal.
Hours before the episode aired, the show’s official twitter announced that season twelve contestant Sherry Pie is now completely disqualified from the show and will not be present at the finale special, which has yet to be recorded. According to a Buzzfeed article that was published March 5th, Sherry issued an apology after five aspiring actors came forward with accusations that the drag queen “catfished them over several years via email, posing as a casting director who led them to submit embarrassing audition tapes of themselves saying and doing degrading things.”
The details of the story are disturbing and bizarre, leading to the showrunner’s decision. Before the episode aired, there was a disclaimer detailing the disqualification and letting fans know that the rest of the season will air as originally planned so as not to diminish the hard work of the cast and crew. The show must go on, but how will this change the show’s dynamic for the viewers? It will undoubtedly be hard for some to continue watching knowing that there’s a predator of sorts on the show. It’s a tough call. The show is not perfect, but the decision to disqualify Sherry from attending the finale and doing what’s fair to the rest of the queens was a correct one and the show must go on. With that in mind, the review must go on.
The remaining six
To accompany the seven queens from episode one, we are introduced to:
- Aiden Zhane, a Georgia queen
- Dahlia Sin, a New York queen
- Jan, a New York queen
- Jaida Essense Hall, a Milwaukee queen
- Rock M. Sakura, a San Francisco queen
- Sherry Pie, a New York queen
Each queen enters the show with unique looks, charm, and a level of diplomacy that is honestly quite rare for the workroom entrances. Aiden is pegged as a “spooky queen”; Dahlia makes it clear that she is a legacy of season nine and All Stars 3 alumna queen, Aja; Jan is a sporty cheerleader-type queen; Jaida is, to put it simply, opulent and radiant; Rock is a zany, full-blown anime dreamscape; and Sherry is pure old school camp.
The queens are quickly greeted by RuPaul, who informs them that they’ll meet their other competition soon. But first, they must do a Spring and Fall Fashion Runway challenge (just like last week) and then write, record, choreograph, and perform a girl-group song. However, this week’s song will be less Nicki Minaj, and more Bob Fosse, the musical choreographer and director best associated with Chicago, Cabaret, Pippin, and others.
The Mini Challenge runway goes extremely well with not a bad look in the bunch, and certainly no mishaps like Heidi’s tumbling headpiece from last week. The real drama naturally comes when they must rehearse their choreography for the Maxi Challenge. Rock takes the lead and things seem to be going well. That is, until Jaida begins to question and argue over the steps, complaining that they’re all wasting time, which leads to more time being wasted as Jaida continues to argue – it’s a cycle that devolves into Jaida and Aiden becoming worried about their handling of the choreography.
The tension of episode two’s rehearsals echo last week’s figurative headbutts between Widow, Brita, and Jackie. This time, Aiden is concerned over whether or not she can pull off the performance, having confessed earlier that she doesn’t have consistent shows or gigs back home. The rehearsal abruptly ends and it doesn’t look great for Aiden or Jaida (thanks, producers!)
The next day, while everyone gets ready, we get a peek into Rock’s backstory after she breaks down over being put in the leadership role. It turns out that having so much aggression on the stage when she was the one in charge triggered some deep emotional trauma. Rock confesses that her mother was addicted to meth and blamed her for getting hooked on drugs. It’s a brutal thing to be told by one’s own mother and Rock breaks down crying. There’s an old saying that it’s “not called RuPaul’s Best Friend Race” but the other queens prove the saying wrong by rallying around Rock and giving her their support – it’s a nice reminder of the Drag Race sisterhood and coalition. Jaida gives her a lot of encouragement and it seems that the tension from rehearsal has dissipated.
We cut to the meat of the episode with RuPaul, the regular judges Michelle Visage and Ross Mathews, and the two guest judges: actress Thandie Newton (Westworld, Solo: A Star Wars Story) and pop star Robyn. The queens get right into with their Roaring 20’s Finest and their performance of “You Don’t Know Me”, a slow, Cell Block Tango-esque number that leaves little to be desired. I take back what I said about last week’s “I’m That Bitch”, compared to this drowsy melody, it most certainly was a banger.
Personally, I don’t think that any of the verses or delivery of the verses were that great, outside of Sherry’s funny camp factor, Jaida’s ass smack and Rock’s (sorry) ass crack – yes, Rock M. Sakura had the Nerve to purposely fart on stage and in her lyrics. I just – I am always one to laugh at a fart joke every now and then, but to (again, sorry) bust one out in your first episode is a real watershed moment. I laugh every time I think of it, but there’s a chance that it could get her in trouble with the judges. Overall, Jaida had the strongest lyrics and killed with her part.
The theme for the runway is “Tulle” and there are few disappointments; there are mostly monochromatic gowns with varying degrees of fabulous-ness, and a surprise or two in terms of creativity – Sherry turned herself into a rain cloud (a very similar look to Aiden’s Spring runway from the Mini Challenge) and Jan’s clever take on the theme by coming out as a sexy construction worker with traffic cone earring and her “tulle” belt.
In another repeat of last week, there are few negative critiques and mostly positive ones for all of the queens – it becomes very clear very quickly that nobody will go home and that there will be another Top Two – but whom?
Don’t Fuck Up!
In the end, it comes down to Jaida’s perfection throughout the episode (those producers really know what they’re doing with the insecurity edits) and Sherry’s humor and camp in the performance and her final runway. Aiden was given high praise but her runway wasn’t as fierce as Jaida’s and despite huge praise for all of her looks, Rock’s fart truly does her in, and Rock gets a warning from Mama Ru.
It’s Jaida and Sherry who battle it out for the top prize of $5,000 cash, while lip syncing to Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” and the whole thing is over before it even begins; there are a good handful of lip syncs in Drag Race her-story where it’s clear who the victor is within the first two seconds of the song and this is one of them. Jaida immediately owns the stage, she knows all the words and knows how to work her dress. Sherry does well enough, but it’s not enough to take your eyes off of Jaida, and RuPaul agrees. Jaida wins the lip sync, Sherry is safe, and everyone gets to continue on to next week’s episode. Before that can happen though, they have to meet the other seven queens – will they all get along or will the drama really heat up?
Despite being marred down by the Sherry Pie scandal, episode two was a good one. Hopefully, this momentum will continue into next week when we see how all thirteen queens behave with one another and the first girl goes home.
After a strong kick off to the season and a bevy of queens to stan, we didn’t really get a chance to get to know any of the queens this episode, besides Rock M. Sakura. With her vulnerability and lack of shame or embarrassment that goes hand-in-hand with that kooky humor, Rock came out on top as the MVQ of the episode. Rock wasn’t the only queen to get a special moment in the episode though: Aiden, the “creepy” queen with little to no experience on a stage, who looked like she was going to get the Laila McQueen or Jaymes Mansfield edit, ended up getting some of the best critiques of the night and real validation for her take on the drag – something I was in no way expecting. Because of this, Aiden is the real Underdog of the episode and perhaps, someone to look out for. This could also easily be said for all thirteen of the queens. I cannot wait to see them together next week and to say just where this season is heading. Hopefully, it heads down a path where Sherry is eliminated early; I don’t know if I want to keep seeing that same disclaimer before every episode.
What did you think of episode two? What are your thoughts on the Sherry Pie situation? Who will be the first queen to go home?
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