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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"

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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 2, "She Done Already Done Brought It On"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 2, "She Done Already Done Brought It On"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 2, "She Done Already Done Brought It On"

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.

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!"

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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.)