Well if that don’t beat all?
There’s a reason that many queens revere vocal divas like Judy, Patti, Bette and Whitney. And why we are drawn to movies like The Women and All About Eve: they deliver High Drama. They have us throwing our hands in the air when we hear them sing, or dabbing our eyes with Kleenex and gay gasping on every other line when we watch them in the dark, while curled up on the couch with a Diet Coke and bag of Orville Redenbacher.
And Miss RuPaul gave us that last night.
Unfortunately, it also tipped the Queen’s already jaded Reality TV scale that much closer to the “Bullshit” mark. Since the beginning of The Real World, and the other shows that ushered in the modern era of “unscripted drama”, I have always accepted the fact that producer manipulation was almost a necessity to tell a cohesive story. However I always wanted to believe that in the best shows, the manipulation was guided by organic drama, and not simply a plot line manufactured in some boardroom months before the show went into production.
Well last night’s episode proved me wrong.
While it was loads of fun, and in many moments rather sophisticated scripting–it was still scripting.
We literally have a movie plot here. I mean, this was excellent classic movie storytelling–complete with foreshadowing, plot twists and a kind of cock-tease denouement. Starting with the lie detector test (by the way: that lie detector guy, John, gets around. He’s on every talk show from Dr. Phil to Anderson). Not only did they set up the whole thing with Willam, but they set up many other subplots and gave yet another plug for his shoe line (gotta love him for that blatant self-promotion).
Here’s where the Queen’s issues begin. For a minute, let’s go with the construct that this is a scripted series. The script itself has several inconsistencies. Assuming that the “moral” of the episode is that “you can learn something about yourself–especially from your enemy”, then you have to set up a very strong rivalry between the protagonist and antagonist. Other than Phi Phi and Sharon, we really haven’t seen a huge rivalry among the others. So the producers have to make up a conflict. And when it’s not done with any finesse, then you might as well have Patrick Duffy come out of the shower dripping wet.
The tepid drama in the rehearsal segment really did nothing for me. it was poorly manufactured and clumsily forshadowed the drama to come. I was watching some of Phi Phi’s club performances online. She’s actually a decent performer. The problem as I see it is that–like many “decent” performers out there–she imitates, she doesn’t innovate. She has a decent voice: a nice vibrato and tone. But she is easily thrown off. Just like in much of the rest of what we see of her on the show, she doesn’t know how to listen to others–which is crucial in choral singing. Sharon held the melody well. Phi Phi took the harmony and crapped all over it.
The beat with Sharon and Phi Phi in the dressing room, in which they seemed to get along, was unexpected. Plot-wise it would have been a lovely, subtle touch. If they had done well on the runway. As written, the moral for them became: “making friends with your enemy won’t help you–it’ll only mess you up.” Muddled writing.
So it’s Condragulations to Latrice and Willam.
None of the other lady boys even came close. The routine was tight and crisp. Bianca and the Queen agree that Latrice finally brought the personality that we see offstage onto the runway. And we also agree that it probably had much to do with Willam’s direction. We differ slightly on what that means for Latrice overall. She takes direction beautifully, and can usually run with it. I believe that the Next Drag Superstar needs to be able to listen to a director–but also create on their own. I’ve yet to see Latrice do that.
And Phi Phi and Sharon have to LSFYL.
Here is the self-induced schizophrenia that I am looking to avoid in the future: I want to watch this show either as a study in Reality TV editing, or a Reality TV Show–not both. When RuPaul announced that their team was on the bottom, I thought of it as a study: which one would the producers pick? Sharon is an important favorite, Phi Phi is an important antagonist…which would they sacrifice? Then, when they started performing, I watched it as a Reality TV Fan. The Queen starting rooting for Sharon, and praying that Ru would not reward one more damn Drag Queen for Dancing For Your Life, instead of lip syncing for it.
And then Ru comes out with a twist worthy of Citizen Kane.
So it’s Sashay Away to Willam.
The Queen will go into detail about his thoughts on the “break the rules” convention, and why I think it was the straw that broke the gay camel’s back. Suffice it to say, that as a dramatic device it had more holes than Gruyère Cheese.
I will miss Willam. He was one of the most interesting characters on Reality TV that the Queen has seen in a long time. He is the evolved product of the genre: a self-aware performer, who had an intricate game-plan that he executed brilliantly. He was a strange combination of someone you love to hate…and love to love. If you ask the Queen, it was a PERFECT way for him to go out: dramatic, with much intrigue. Drag Race lovers will be talking about him for seasons to come. And sir? If you’re still reading the Queen’s humble blog: I wish you a long, continued career of success and fabulousness!
Okay. I’m done for now. But something tells me you Miss Things have a LOT to say. Have at it!