Lights! Camera! Green screen! It’s the top five and we’re making an award-winning, boundary-pushing, history-making work of cinema! Or, you know, a silly sketch.
But first! Symone’s “favorite strange little being on Earth” Utica Queen has gone home and Symone is desperate to claw her way back from the bottom. She says she’s determined to figure out how to change something in her head. Oh, my love, if you figure it out let me know the secret!
It’s a new day in the work room and Kandy says the other queens are her best friends — Symone tells her to wait until she watches the confessionals. Ru walks in with a mustache and announces the maxi challenge: a movie called Henny, I Shrunk the Drag Queens.
Symone and Kandy both want to play Dominique, the villain. The other role left is Margarita, the smart one, and while it makes more sense for that to go to Symone, I think her instinct to play against type is wise. Eventually she concedes and all the queens end up in their expected roles — Kandy and Symone joined by Rosé as the funny one, Gottmik as the ditzy one, and Olivia as the sweet one.
The queens are learning their lines and putting together their outfits when they’re interrupted by a video call from Scarlett Johansson. Drag Race is a complicated show to love, but something about this appearance felt gross and cynical even for RuPaul. For those of you who don’t know, in 2018 Scarlett Johansson signed on to play a trans man in a movie called Rub & Tug. When she was criticized for this decision she doubled down saying that all criticism “can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” Not only does this statement ignore the progress made since those cis actors played trans characters, but citing Tambor, a cis man who sexually harassed multiple trans actresses, was especially egregious. This also happened right after she faced similar criticism for playing a character in Ghost in the Shell who was originally Japanese. In a 2019 interview she confirmed her views on casting saying, “As an actor I should be able to play any person, or any animal, or any tree.”
Casting isn’t the only reason Johansson should be critiqued. She’s also more pro-Israel than the UN and the Red Cross and she’s one of the few actors to still adamantly defend Woody Allen who was accused of molesting his daughter Dylan — among a variety of other abusive behaviors all outlined in the stellar HBO docuseries Allen v. Farrow. The fact is Scarlett Johansson should not have been on Drag Race nor should she continue to have her star power. Do you know how hard it is to be Jack Antonoff’s most problematic ex? It’s not even like she’s a good actor. Across eight Marvel movies, she’s shown two emotions. Mickey Rourke hasn’t moved his face since the 90s and he’s still more expressive in Iron Man 2. Johansson’s acting is so wooden as Black Widow maybe her life goal really is to play a tree. Actually, I’d love to see her get a role like that or any role like her career best as the AI voice in Her — basically anything where I no longer have to look at her face.
As if Johansson’s appearance isn’t bad enough, she’s joined by her husband, Colin Jost, who in 2016 blamed trans people for Hillary Clinton losing the election. Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost are the opposite of a power couple. But anyone who knows anyone in Hollywood knows that Jost is about as faithful as Naomi Smalls on All Stars. So when I say they deserve each other, I really, truly mean it.
Anyway, back to the show that wants praise for casting its first transmasc queen during its 13th season. Michelle and Carson are directing the movie and Carson starts by making a joke about small dicks. I’m sure it’s a lot of fun for Gottmik to try and work while experiencing this endless wave of microaggressions!
Symone appears to be struggling. She’s still in her head about losing the part to Kandy and she falls into what Olivia calls “her acting voice.” But Olivia is falling into her own acting voice — sweet diva. Meanwhile, Kandy Muse is chewing scenery as the villain and Rosé is once again showing off that BFA with some legit acting. Also a legit actor? Gottmik! To her own surprise, Gottmik has blossomed into an excellent dramatic performer. And by dramatic performer I mean really selling it as she’s attacked by a giant cat paw with her ass out. She says she’s having so much fun that she maybe wants to become an actor. Wow a real trans actor! With real charisma! Whaddya know!
Back in the workroom, Symone says she wants to do well and to not disappoint anyone. She feels the pressure of living up to Gigi and the level of quality brought by the House of Avalon. In the confessional, she starts to cry saying that she doesn’t want people to say she fizzled out. Symone isn’t the first Capricorn queen but she is the first CAPRICORN queen, for better or worse.
The queens start discussing the first time they saw themselves represented on screen. Olivia cites the Brandy/Whitney Cinderella. Gottmik says she never saw herself on TV. Even when Chaz Bono came out and she started seeing some transmasc representation, she felt alienated by their masculinity. She says if she saw someone like her she could’ve shaved years off her journey. She hopes to be that representation for someone else — evidence that trans people don’t have to be Barbie and Ken. Or, maybe, in her case, that trans men can be Barbie too.
Ru, Michelle, and Carson are joined by an Oscar-nominated actor who actually has talent — Lena Waithe’s mistress Cynthia Erivo! Watch Widows, listen to her version of “I’m Here” from The Color Purple — Cynthia Erivo is amazing. Truly baffling to have Cynthia Erivo literally on set and to conference in Johansson to say: “Acting is all about making a situation that’s unreal feel very real.” Thanks Stanislavski.
The runway theme this week is Haute Pocket. Symone’s entire outfit is a denim pocket with a zipper. She’s wearing an orange wig and says the look is a tribute to Hayley Williams, lead singer of Paramore — and a fellow Capricorn! She looks amazing even for Symone who always looks amazing. Olivia is in a diamond themed dress that’s pretty but light on pockets. Rosé is in a phenomenal black and white mod dress that she reveals by flinging off an equally phenomenal cape. Kandy is in a Japanese-inspired dress with dangling linked pockets that doesn’t quite work. And Gottmik is wearing a trench coat which she opens to reveal watches for sale and a dress made of watches. It’s such a good look!!
Henny, I Shrunk the Drag Queens is one of the longer sketches the show has ever done, but it held my attention. All the queens were good — including Symone much to my relief — but Rosé and Gottmik were really the stand outs. There are a lot of fun bits like Michelle stealing the queens’ makeup and the cat attack on Gottmik.
The judges love Symone, Gottmik, and Rosé. Cynthia tells Rosé that her look is her wet dream and reminds her of Sweet Charity. (This was very exciting to me because I was asked on a podcast this week what musical I’d want to queer and my answer was a trans Sweet Charity!) The judges are harsh on Olivia and Kandy not because they’re bad per say, but because this is the top five and it’s a really stellar group of queens.
Ru then asks them who should go home. They all say Olivia except Olivia who says nothing. It seems like she wants to say herself but eventually she concedes and says Kandy. Gottmik and Symone are safe. Rosé wins! And Olivia and Kandy are lip syncing.
The song is “Strong Enough” by Cher and maybe I’m just feeling sentimental because we’ve been with these queens so long, but this was one of my favorite lip syncs… ever?? Olivia and Kandy just seem to be having so much fun and, more importantly, so much fun together. My favorite lip syncs are when the queens interact either sexually or in friendship. There’s a real fondness between them and it’s a joy to watch. Also Kandy has a glitter moment and who doesn’t love that?
Kandy shantays and Olivia sashays. I love Olivia, but this is pretty much my dream top four! Ru might upset me. The show might upset me. But I love these queens and I love getting to see them work.
Teleport Us to Mars!! Here Are Some Random Thoughts:
+ Kandy is happy she won last week explicitly because former drag family members Aja and Dahlia never won a challenge on their seasons. I love her.
+ Rosé is wearing butch hair and Kandy says it makes her miss her baby Joey Jay. Cue dreamy montage.
+ If Symone is the quintessential Capricorn drag queen, Hayley Williams is the quintessential Capricorn musician. “The Only Exception” is like the most romantic song ever to me and her two recent solo albums are soooo good and speak to my Capricorn walls soooo much especially “Pure Love.”
+ The movie sketch is filled with fun references, but my favorite is the tiny queens walking by a lipstick with “Dela” written on it.
+ Gottmik says her look was inspired by the guy selling sundials in Hercules rather than, you know, real people selling watches out of their trench coat. I love Gen Z himbo bimbo and future Oscar winner Gottmik!!
+ Queen I’m rooting for: Symone
+ Queen I have the biggest crush on: Symone
+ Queen I have weird sexual feelings for that I need to unpack: Gottmik being attacked by a giant cat paw