Shea Couleé (#110 of 4)

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 6, "Snatch Game"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 6, "Snatch Game"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 6, "Snatch Game"

Challenges come and challenges go, but the Snatch Game is eternal for a reason. From season to season of RuPaul's Drag Race, it has the power to confirm frontrunners, establish dark horses, expose one-trick ponies, and torpedo look-dependent queens' hopes. And it's not only a fan favorite, it's every contestant's favorite too. It's the mirror image of the dreaded sewing challenge, in that the ones who know they can't sew dread that challenge's arrival and hope they can fake their way through it. No one dreads the Snatch Game because no one thinks the ability to make RuPaul laugh is a particularly difficult skill. She brings it to you every bump into or out of a commercial break! Like Alfred Hitchcock's bomb theory, the difference between the sewing challenge and Snatch Game is the difference between queens who see the oncoming train wreck and queens who get utterly blindsided.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 5, "Kardashian: The Musical"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 5, "Kardashian: The Musical"
RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 5, "Kardashian: The Musical"

“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’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 4, "Good Morning Bitches"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 4, "Good Morning Bitches"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 4, "Good Morning Bitches"

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.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 1, "Oh. My Gaga!"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 1, "Oh. My. Gaga!"

VH1/Logo

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 1, "Oh. My. Gaga!"

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.)