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Snatch the frown on RuPaul’s Drag Race

RuPaul's Drag Race Season 14 Episode 10 Recap (VH1)

This week’s Snatch Game lacked charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent.

In ancient times, a wise philosopher named Adore Delano once uttered the profound proverb all contesting queens have since followed: “Snatch Snatch Game, snatch the crown.”

This week, it’s Snatch Snatch Game, snatch the frown. Everything grinds to a halt as a cast of competent and talented queens take the legendary challenge far too literally. The punishment, both for those involved and those watching at home, is that we have to wait yet another week before a queen goes home.

We begin this week in the awkward position of having to agree with Daya Betty. How can this be episode ten with eight queens remaining? The crown still feels really far away and it’s incredibly frustrating. Yet, calmly, blithely, blissfully optimistic, I went into The Snatch Game assuming this pre-conversation was just a setup, that the challenge would sort the wheat from the chaff and be a much-needed course correction for a dour season.

First, a mini-challenge (sponsored by Bubly). The queens must make wearable pop art quick drag using nothing but bubble wrap. It’s perfectly fine. Bosco wins a little extra taxable cash for creating the look that was the most fashionable (read: Aquaria-adjacent). Sadly, this will be the only time the episode is truly popping.

The queens are then told that this is the week they’ve been sweating about for weeks: all scream for Snatch Game. The queens will be joined by guest judges Raven and ingenue actress Dove Cameron. And on the runway, the category is Holy Couture (no explanation).

Before that, some chatting in the Werk Room. Ok, a lot of chatting. And then some more chatting. Normally, we’ll be clued into some queens’ choices through their conversations as they get ready, other queens are kept a secret, and only a few are shown at the table with Ru. This week, it’s the opposite: It feels as if each queen is getting an interview with Ru to talk about their complete character history, second choice options, and any insecurities that might be good television. 

Why are we doing this? Why are we spending so much time at the table during the most anticipated challenge of every season?

In retrospect, the answer seems to be because the footage they do have of the Snatch Game is across-the-board embarrassing, and they needed to fill the time with something at least somewhat entertaining. Because ‘entertaining’ these performances were not.

We might as well begin with this episode’s winner, DeJa Skye. Her performance of Lil John is composed in cycles of “Yyyeah!,” “Pimp cup!”, “Grillez!”, repeat. In recent years, Ru has shown himself to be quite tickled by drag queens doing men for Snatch Game. Contestants who do, like Jasmine Kennedy, Ben DelaCreme, and now DeJa Skye, often place high or win their episode. Perhaps Ru enjoys circling back to the critiques of masculinity now that he’s seen drag-queen-male-drag done successfully. But that doesn’t really explain the absence of drag kings that these Snatch Game performances call out. Ru has continually barred drag kinds from participating yet publically enjoys ideas and techniques poached from them.

In any other season where there were more properly prepared queens, DeJa’s performance would have kept her safe, but not much more. Because it’s acceptable, it is properly ridiculous, but it doesn’t reveal anything about DeJa or Lil John. The best Snatch Game performances try to do both.

This week, all we have are performances of characters. Part of what makes this episode so frustrating is that none of the queens are settled into their characters to perform as them. They all have great ideas: Willow does Drew Barrymore, Bosco purrs through Gwenyth Paltrow, Lady Camden chomps a toothy William Shakespeare, even Jasmine Kennedie’s nasal Betsy DeVos, are all inspired choices. These queens have done their homework.

The trouble is they all try to give accurate answers in a drag game show challenge that wants them to be as far away from serious as possible. Yet all these queens give answers that are a little too earnest and on the nose. During the judges’ “investigation” into this disaster, they keep saying the performances didn’t feel “like drag” and this is what they meant. The answers and performances were all straight. There was no surrendering to stupidity, instead, there were only over studious responses that got barely a smile.

And that’s the queens who were moderately successful. There were still some queens who did worse. Daya Betty’s idea of Ozzy Osborne allows her to play into her confusion, but it doesn’t help her play out of it. Jorgeous, Ru’s pet “innocent child,” does an Illana Glazer which I can’t fully comment on because I haven’t seen Broad City. I have, however, met a human woman before, so I can say for certain that Jorgeous was nowhere close in that regard. 

And that leaves us with dear sweet Angeria, who decides to do infamous and adored Season 1 contestant Tammie Brown of all people. It’s a safe move to play to Ru’s vanity in this way, but Angeria’s embodiment struggles to get beyond that of a bobblehead. In the end, her impersonation spins off into a wholly new character that is neither famous nor all that funny. 

Raven’s continual side-eyes to the camera tell us everything. She knows what we’re about to see.

The runway is equally uninspired. Granted, Holy Couture is a tired trend that tends to run people into one very Christian direction, so the queens aren’t fully to blame for my boredom. DeJa comes out first as Joan of Arc via Florence and the Machine. Willow tries to break out of the mold with a fungus-inspired look designed by Chicago designer extraordinaire Ida Birthing (whose name Ru so rudely refuses to say correctly). Jorgeous wins my stoned heart as a The Dope Pope, but it’s really just a well-made mega-joint with a green jumpsuit.

It’s Bosco who gets closest to stomping the runway for me. Angeria is a close second with her flawless classic Church Lady outfit. And while Bosco’s nun’s habit into BDSM reveal is by no means revolutionary, the winking touch of her cloven hooves adds a nice level of knowing hyper-theatricality that “drags up” an otherwise obvious ensemble.

When the queens untuck, they’re quite shaken. None of them, with the exception of DeJa, got good critiques. Michelle even took a moment before critiques began to say that she was more interested in getting to the bottom of why Snatch Game was such a disaster as opposed to tearing down queens. While DeJa is the clear top, there are no certain bottoms this week because everyone feels this is their time to be on the chopping block. A few queens even wonder if there might be more than two in the bottom.

And they would be right. After DeJa is crowned the winner, Ru announces that all of the remaining queens are up for elimination. She will need to see all of them participate in a lipsync Lolla-pa-Ru-zza to determine who should go home. But not this week. That would take up too much time. We will spend next week determining who should have gone home this week. Will anyone else go home, though?

Between this and the Golden Ticket of Immunity still lurking in a swiftly melting chocolate bar somewhere, Season 14 absolutely refuses to end. I’m truly at a loss as to why. No beefs will be brought to bear, and Ru’s been acting like COVID is over for a while now, so it’s not a quarantine thing. Instead, it feels like this season is stretching on just because it can. That’s one act of self-indulgence fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race don’t need or want.

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