It all comes down to the Snatch Game. Since season two, this infamously difficult Maxi Challenge has been a mainstay on RuPaul’s Drag Race due to its ability to make or break the queens; if a contestant doesn’t make RuPaul laugh, then they are toast. The majority of Drag Race winners excel in the Snatch Game so statistically, it’s extremely important to get through it.
What is the Snatch Game, you may ask? A parody of the popular game show Match Game, where celebrities must answer questions in hopes that their cards match the contestants’ answer to the same question. On Drag Race though, it’s less about getting the correct answer, and more about your improvisation and celebrity impersonation skills – and yes, making RuPaul laugh her ass off. Will this season’s Snatch Game leave us wanting more? Let’s get into it.
Win the Snatch Game and perhaps you’ll snatch the crown
Now, Drag Race has been around a long time and in recent seasons, the Snatch Game has unfortunately deteriorated in quality, due to either an influx of queens who focus more on looks as opposed to comedy, the bar being set so high as the show gains more and more popularity, or perhaps a mix of both. The last truly great Snatch Game was gifted to us from across the pond on 2019’s RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season one, where the jokes and setups were so blue and so hilarious that two queens actually won that episode. PSA: if you haven’t watched Drag Race UK, then you absolutely must do everything you can to see it.
Earlier in the episode when the queens were preparing for the challenge, they were gifted with extra special guest – former Drag Race contestant Miss Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, whose charm and hilarity were enough for Ru to ask her to return to the show after an early elimination and barely squeak her out of lip-synching in season eleven’s Snatch Game. She is there with RuPaul to give the queens advice on the dos and don’ts of how to do well in this extremely difficult challenge. With each passing season, Ru gives more and more detailed hints to help the queens but this is just ridiculous – she seems to really be holding their hands and giving them a playbook on how to get through it. She talks more and more about how they need to be able to “volley” with her and be able to bring their characters to life in an over-the-top way. It’s hard to tell if this is because the quality of comedy has decreased with each season or if the bar has been set so high, either way, it’s a good way to raise the tension as queens second-guess their character choices and their methods of making Ru laugh.
Some queens of note that RuPaul and Miss Vanjie talk to are Crystal, Heidi, and Gigi – in that Ru either doesn’t quite understand the direction they’re going (Crystal and Gigi’s characters both having an android angle) or wanting the queens to change their characters altogether (she wants Heidi to do someone with a southern accent; she wants Crystal to be – surprise! – El DeBarge on account of her mesmerizing El Debarge mullet). But, no matter how much advice Ru may give, it’s still on the individual queens to make the magic happen.
Just like the original Match Game, there are contestants who must work with the celebrity panel to win the game; in our game show, the contestants are also the episode’s special guest judges – actors Daniel Franzese and Jonathan Bennett of Mean Girls fame. Their celebrity panel is a bevy of interesting characters. Namely: Heidi as previous special guest judge (and hopefully future permanent judge) Leslie Jones, Jackie as Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Rinna, Jaida as rapper Cardi B, Jan as Broadway actress Bernadette Peters, Widow as Tina Turner and THEN Ike Turner, Gigi as Maria the Robot (a non-copyright infringement depiction of Sophia the Robot, the first robot to become a citizen of any country), Aiden as The Rocky Horror Picture Show star Patricia Quinn, Brita as Broadway star Jennifer Holliday, Crystal as pop star Poppy, and Sherry as Hollywood legend Katherine Hepburn.
Needless to say, this season’s Snatch Game has big heels to fill and I believe that it is ultimately… above average. There are plenty of laughs but few of them were spread out enough to make it feel like we were dealing with some real comedy queens. The two standouts are undeniably Gigi and Jackie. Jackie as Lisa Rinna is a clown car of props, references, and Real Housewives craziness, though brief. She interacts extremely well with the others and there’s no denying that she IS Lisa Rinna.
Despite RuPaul’s concerns over her choice in the workroom, Gigi knocks it completely out of the park with her “Maria” the Robot. She’s never out-of-character, she delivers the deadpan jokes perfectly, and she honestly gives me hope for the future of comedy when the computers take over. Sherry also does a good job as a shaky Katherine Hepburn, but at this point, it’s to be expected since she’s probably the season’s best when it comes to ease and comprehension of comedy.
Most of the other queens do well enough but it’s painfully clear which three queens are in the bottom: Brita, Aiden, and Crystal. Out of the three, Crystal’s Poppy was able to come up with a few chuckles but there are almost zero laughs for Jennifer Holliday or Patricia Quinn; Brita’s Jennifer is as bland as can be and Aiden’s go-to punchline for Patricia is that she is confused about everything and has no idea where she is. It’s extremely hard to watch, but it’s also serendipitous because it looks like the Aiden-Brita saga may finally reach its climax. But first, the runway.
Bring it to the runway, runway
The theme for the runway is “Frozen Eleganza”, inspired by the Disney film and Broadway musical. The queens take it to the runway in either campy get-ups, gorgeous women venturing out in the snow, or literal ice queens. There are a lot of gowns and a wide array of inspirations. Brita, Jaida, Jackie, Heidi, and Aiden all go in the gown direction. Only Jackie and Aiden bring a camp element to their gowns with Jackie’s being a gown version of Queen Elsa’s crown, and Aiden’s simple gown being a base for a cute Bumble from the Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer concept, complete with googly eyes on the headpiece.
Widow’s look is full camp as a frozen passenger of the Titanic; Gigi is a cute little vintage ice cream pin-up girl with a chilly red nose and a giant ice cream prop; Jan is fully Elsa-turned-White Walker in blue icy silicone; Crystal is painted a lovely shade of blue in an interesting pantsuit type outfit. Sherry is… well, they actually completely cut out her runway so there’s little attention given to her outfit.
Once again, there are few terrible looks, just ones that range from average to breathtaking – I personally adore Jan’s look and hope that she will be able to get a real critique from the judges on her excellent wardrobe (due to Jan being safe for the majority of the show, she has had little face time with RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Carson Kressley, Ross Matthews or the special guest judges). Another runway look worth mentioning is Heidi’s white fur ensemble, complete with mukluks, hat and muff. Elegant and wonderful.
Jan, Heidi, Jaida, and Widow are declared safe, leaving the rest of the queens on the stage for their critiques. Left on the stage are Aiden, Brita, Crystal, Gigi, Jackie, and Sherry. As predicted, Crystal is spared (RuPaul really seems to love her) and it’s Brita and Aiden who are put in the bottom two; all of the bitterness from Brita and the attacks on Aiden has manifested into the two of them battling it out on the main stage.
Before that can happen, a winner must be named and Gigi takes the gold – her Snatch Game was hilarious and her runway was cute and detailed so it’s a much-deserved win. This is now Gigi’s third win and she is tied with Sherry as the indisputable front-runner for the season and, interestingly enough, the two of them have been essentially alternating wins each week; Gigi was one of the winners in episode one, Sherry was one of the winners in episode two and then Sherry won for episode three, Gigi for episode four, and then Sherry again last week. At this point, I’m sure the other queens are getting pretty tired of these two queens winning every week – I know I am. It would be nice to see Jackie or Jan get at least one win, and to see Widow get another “con-drag-ulations” from RuPaul.
The Lip Sync for Your Life
They had their blow-up in last week’s Untucked, there have been numerous swipes at each other (well, mostly Brita swiping at Aiden) over the course of four episodes, and Aiden has been kept in the competition in hopes that a lip sync battle between these two would go down. And was it worth it? Eh, not really.
First off, the song is the Broadway rendition of Frozen’s “Let It Go” and not the original, which is a bit of a letdown. Second, as the two queens perform it’s almost certainly clear that Brita will win because the camera barely stays on Aiden; the lens is almost always on Brita and she is somehow over lip-syncing – Brita has a very wide mouth and it barely closes as she mouths the words, giving the impression that lip-syncing is not something she’s used to. In the end, Brita lights off a fire magic trick, wows the judges, and Ru (finally) lets Aiden go.
Aiden should have gone home sooner, but she did bring something different to the show. In the press junkets leading up to the premiere of season twelve, it’s clear that Aiden took the notes of the judges and all of the girls and in the year since taping the show, she has certainly stepped her drag up. She is a good drag queen and who knows, perhaps she’ll learn from her mistakes and end up on a future season of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars. I can see her growing enough to be asked back and then do well enough in that competition, but, in this competition, can I see Brita learn from her mistakes and grow enough to stay another week? It’s hard to say. Now that Aiden is gone, Brita is the weakest link in the competition and she’s really going to need to step it up. If not, then she will certainly be the next queen to go home.
We are now (most likely) at the halfway point for the season and it is time to reflect. Sherry Pie is undoubtedly going all the way to the end of the competition though it will all be for nothing since she is disqualified. Thanks to her three wins, Gigi Goode is the undeniable front-runner, with Jaida and Widow right behind her as they have each won a challenge. Everyone else is in Drag Race purgatory where they are either doing very well and have nothing to show for it (Jackie and Jan), are one more fuck-up away from being sent home (Heidi and Brita), or are forever being saved from the bottom two (Crystal).
We have learned a lot about many of the queen’s backgrounds – from Jackie’s parents not really knowing she does drag to Widow’s mother’s death to Gigi coming out as gender fluid during this very episode. We’ve consistently seen Brita talk about how she’s a sickening New York queen and Dahlia Sin making little cameos in her sexy Brocc-Ally costume (it sometimes pays to be the first girl to go home). At this halfway point, we are seeing a lot of strong competitors but we are also seeing cracks in the foundation that is RuPaul’s Drag Race. With the Sherry Pie scandal, Rock M. Sakura going home too soon, the one-sided rivalry between Aiden and Brita, and the fact that COVID-19 may force the Finale (which is filmed about a week before it airs so as not to spoil the announcement of the winner) to be changed dramatically, this season has proven to be a challenge unto itself for the franchise. My hope is that future queens will be further vetted for predatory behavior and that production will do something else to shake up the competition.
With that being said, this is turning out to be a good season with some of the best queens to come out of the show, and with our front-runner Miss Gigi Goode, we’re able to catch a glimpse of our possible winner – she has the style, the comedy chops, and the bravery to come out as gender-fluid on a show that is dominated by cis, gay men. It’s still a ways before we learn who our winner is but in the meantime, I think it’s enough to name Gigi not only the winner of the Snatch Game, but also the Most Valuable Queen of the week.
What did you think of the Snatch Game? Do you think Gigi will end up winning the entire season, or are you rooting for another queen?
Watch RuPaul’s Drag Race on VH1 or Vudu.
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