“This is RuPaul's best friend race!” exclaims Alexis Michelle as three or four other RuPaul's Drag Race contestants kiss and make up in the workroom. What happens when queens all get along? Producers manufacture drama, silly. And, even for a show that wears its fabrications and intentionality on its rhinestoned sleeve, the machinations start to seem just a touch mannered. Following a series of episodes that effortlessly drew personality (or lack thereof) from a cast that seems more look-oriented than personality-dependent, the fifth episode of the show's ninth season is a marked regression. And not only because I now, after all these blessed years, am forced to finally write the names of all the Kardashians, a situation for which it will take me some time to forgive Mama Ru.
RuPaul (#1–10 of 6)
For whatever qualms longtime fans of RuPaul's Drag Race may have about season nine's streamlining, at least the challenges remain extraordinarily well placed. Or, as Phi Phi alleged in the embittered aftermath of All-Stars, the producers know exactly what they want and how to get it. Just as the queens are getting to that Real World zone where they've stopped being polite and started serving up realness, they're thrown into a morning-news-show challenge that forces them to slap a mealy grin on their simmering tensions. And it's more of a failure than a success, but in this context, bad TV makes for excellent TV. Or, at least, a train wreck comparable to Kathie Lee & Hoda.
Occasionally on RuPaul's Drag Race, frontrunners emerge right out of the gate. Raja set the bar for season three when she aced both the photo and the runway challenge without so much as breaking a nail, and Sharon Needles cut down among the fiercest of competitor slates the series has ever seen with a “post-apopolopic” look that instantly rewrote season four in her favor. Other times, though, queens emerge into their essence only with the passage of time. Just ask season five's Alyssa Edwards, who didn't really peak until her All-Stars run, or season seven's Katya and Trixie Mattel, who are arguably still reaching a creative crescendo with their brilliant “UNHhhh” segments on the World of Wonder YouTube channel.
Opulence! O-P-U-L-E-N-C-E! You'd think season nine of Rupaul's Drag Race would have it rough matching up to the show's still-ballooning legacy. Season eight maybe didn't mark itself as distinctive in many respects, but it at least afforded itself the chance to dance like Beyoncé in the end zone about reaching 100 episodes/100 queens. But the recent All Stars season truly elevated the entire Drag Race universe to new levels of sickening. Even fresh off the heels of Mama Ru's Emmy win, though, apparently World of Wonder still has something to prove on the runway. Why else would the franchise shantay its slot all the way from Mondays on Logo (the perfect time to commemorate the total evaporation of a weekend's worth of hangover) to Friday nights on VH1? (Cue the shade rattlesnake sound cue.)
1. ”Fast & Furious 7 will shoot scenes with doubles and replace Paul Walker with CGI to keep him in the film.” Hit franchise's seventh installment, starring Vin Diesel, is keeping his late co-star by using CGI and voice effects.
“Shooting has now resumed for 'Fast & Furious 7,' and Confidenti@l has learned exactly how Paul Walker will remain in the film. 'They have hired four actors with bodies very similar to Paul's physique and they will be used for movement and as a base,' one source close to production tells us. 'Paul's face and voice will be used on top using CGI.' Our insider adds that this is option number one producers and Universal Pictures have decided on, and that the studio feels confident fans of the franchise will feel satisfied with the result.”
It's still no Drag Race, but the contest for costume design (i.e. the Oscar category most likely to send me headed to Wikipedia to even remember what won last year) just got a little bit more interesting over the weekend. And if the Costume Designers Guild's award for Patricia Norris's desiccated plantation line from the House of Mason-Dixon is to be taken seriously, then Amy Adams's milky, sleek sternum is simply not as eye-catching an accessory as the funk of 40,000 lashes. (And I'm not talking the Maybelline kind here.) That Norris this weekend pranced past Michael Wilkinson's chesty silhouettes in American Hustle wasn't a major surprise, but that those drab rags left Catherine Martin's flip-flap frippery from The Great Gatsby face down in the pool does arch one's eyebrows. Or maybe that's not such a surprise. The Costume Designers Guild have never much warmed up to Martin's work; her Oscar-winning feathers and ruffles from Moulin Rouge weren't even invited to the guild's dance back in 2001. Perhaps they, like many of us hardened vets who experienced that Oscar season in real time online, were simply weary of the squealing zealousness of those “kicking up their heels” (and writing those same noxious words ad nauseam) over Baz Luhrman's over-performance that year.