'RuPaul's Drag Race' Recap: Episode One, 'Whatcha Unpackin'?'
Each week, Alive’s Brittany Moseley and Erica Thompson will offer a review of the latest episode of “Drag Race.”
Erica: So gearing up for the show brought back a lot of memories of RuPaul from childhood, from seeing him on TV and in “The Brady Bunch Movie” to hearing his song, "Supermodel (You Better Work).” It’s so cool to now see him with this great empire in “Drag Race.” So even though I’m not an aficionado of the reality show, I’m excited to wade into this world and support our hometown queen Nina West!
Brittany: As a fairly new Columbusite (Columbusian?) I only became aware of the local legend that is Miss Nina West a few months ago (please don’t @ me), but I am here for her. I will go to my grave regretting the fact that I didn’t start watching “Drag Race” in 2009. I now know better, and I’m sorry for my past transgressions.
Erica: I loved seeing the ladies entering the workroom at the top of the show. I was so excited for the return of VANJIE! I hope she goes far this season, but not as far as Nina, of course! Speaking of which — she entered next looking fabulous in yellow. And I think she distinguished herself right away as the season’s only “comedy queen” among all the pageantry (but don’t get it twisted,she won Entertainer of the Year).
Brittany: If you’re feeling depressed by the weight of the world, might I suggest spending an evening watching “RuPaul’s Drag Race” with half of Columbus? The loud cheer the crowd at Seventh Son Brewing let loose when Nina walked onto the screen was enough to restore my faith in this world. Nina is here, and it’s gonna be all right. (And yellow is so her color.)
Erica: Nina definitely wasn’t stingy with the subtle shade. That “more like a Buick” comment about Mercedes stung. Overall, I think there are a great mix of queens, some very beautiful, some very “odd” (with Hot Wheels in tow).
Brittany:My second favorite Nina moment in the opening scene was the look she gave Shuga when the New York queen said she started doing drag a year ago.It’s the same look Melania gives Donald when she realizes who she married.
Erica: The first photo shoot was fun with the return of “Drag Race” legends as posing partners. I must say Vanjie stood out for um...overshadowing her partner. Nina looked gorgeous and confident in her shoot, but it was Silky, the plus-sized queen with a ton of personality, who won the challenge. She did a great job but quickly became a bit annoying in the workroom as the ladies had to make dresses out of past queens’ wardrobes.
Brittany: When I saw Silky going to work during the photo challenge I thought, “Okay, this girl is not messing around.” But then five minutes later, I was over it when she started giving lap dances. But I did rejoin team Big Silk when she realized BJ the tech guy was actually Miley Cyrus (in terrible drag might I add).That moment of pure joy—Big Silk in a hair net and tank top with only half her face on, Miley in a baseball cap and a beard made out of misplaced pubes—will live on in “Drag Race” history. I’m pretty sure the Internet has already shipped BJ and Silky.
Erica: I started to get extremely nervous during the second challenge when Nina admitted she wasn’t great at sewing. It almost made me too scared to appreciate that fine “Columbus Rocks” T-shirt she was wearing (yes, represent, girl). But I felt like Honey Davenport gave me a much-needed pep talk by reinforcing that Nina is a drag legend. So I was hoping Nina reminded herself of that as well.
Brittany: I wanted to shake Nina when I heard her say sewing wasn’t her strong suit. Going on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and being an “okay sewer” is like going on “The Amazing Race” and being an “okay stick-shift driver.” (Just in case you’re unfamiliar with the show, I’ll give you a hint: You will ALWAYS have to drive stick.)
Erica: Miley Cyrus in drag was underwhelming. First of all, we could tell it was you. Second of all, why did you have to name-drop your godmother Dolly Parton within five seconds? Shouldn’t you be somewhere dissing hip-hop?
Brittany:Is she dissing hip-hop before or after she co-ops black culture? To be fair though, if Dolly Parton was my godmother, I’d mentioned it every chance I got.
Erica: So I think most of the contestants did a great job on the runway. I will say Brooke Lynn Hytes was a standout for me with her like 1980s Jazzercise meets futuristic “The Fifth Element” getup. She ended up winning the challenge (and a trip to Paris at that).
Brittany:Also, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Miss Vanjie who redeemed herself in spades with her figure-hugging red number. It was giving me major Scarlett O’Hara vibes. You know, if Scarlet had been a bawdy, brassy woman. (Oh wait...)
Erica: And Nina! She was super close to lip syncing for her life. Funny thing: We all rolled our eyes at all the other contestants’ excuses, like Soju’s tendinitis and cysts. But when Nina talked about auditioning nine times and buying RuPaul’s music in the ‘90s, we felt her deeply!
Brittany:There is a strong sense, both locally and beyond, that she deserves this and, first challenge aside, has the guts and talent to pull it off.
Erica:Miley, we’re sorry for dissing your drag earlier. Thank you for sticking up for Nina.
Erica: So Soju in her sea of chiffon battled Kahanna Montrese to Miley’s music from the Hannah Montana era. I mean, Kahanna was destined to win...Hannah is practically in the drag queen’s name! In all seriousness, Soju couldn’t compare to her competitor, who hit a freaking backflip during the number. I guess video bloggers finish last, Soju.
Brittany: Soju’s performance was cringe-worthy. Just a total trainwreck you couldn’t look away from. As Ariel Versace alluded to earlier in the episode, it takes more than an Internet connection to make you a great queen.
Erica: I can’t wait for next week, when the new challenges will hopefully allow Nina to showcase more of her dynamic personality. And if not, don’t be afraid to start an argument with one of the queens or something, girl. We need you to stick around!
Brittany:Columbus is rooting for you, Nina!