RuPaul’s Drag Race, S4, E10-Untucking the Straight Boys

Is the fix in on Phi Phi?

In addition to the usual fabulousness in the Comments section, there is talk about Miss O’Hara’s depiction in this episode, and what it could mean for the overall arc of the story. Also, whether or not this kind of challenge should include an elimination since a part of the performance is out of the lady boys’ control. Let’s discuss those things in a moment.

But first let’s join the Contestants and their DILF’s in the Lounge.

Dude Looks Like A Lady

As far as the Queen is concerned, the producers could honestly chuck the Race part of this episode and cut right to Untucked. I am inexorably jaded about spontaneity when it comes to Reality TV. However there’s something about these episodes which seems absolutely off-the-cuff. Watching the Dads lumber into the the room-with their heels in hand and plopping spread-legged into the chairs is just so damn real!

Can you say Fantasia Barrino?

Granted, there is consensus in the Comments section around the fact that these dudes have all been hand-picked. So the producers have found men that are mature and aware on some level. And the Queen has enough male friends that identify as straight to recognize that very few are actually Troglodytes. It still doesn’t make it any less surprising when you hear guys who aren’t used to the lifestyle expound so progressively on issues that involve cross-dressing. Leland’s new found respect for his wife’s process of getting ready to go out, Chris’ revelation about the wonders of Pantyhose. And how both of them very naturally (and respectfully) referred to the queens in the feminine.

Man In The Mirror

One thing in this section that the Queen wants to bring up regarding Mike and Chad’s confrontation in the workroom. Sharon’s reaction was: “And you know what? It’s no different between me and the other girls…but when we do it we read each other’s looks and we read each other’s attitudes. We don’t ever bring like a sense of violence to it, I guess, and when I hear that it just freaks me out…”. With all due respect to the lovely Ms. Needles–that’s a justification. She, of all people, knows that violence extends far beyond the physical. There is an all too familiar viciousness and almost sadistic behavior in the gay culture that I’ve experienced. We may label it as “joking”, but there is a level of self-hate–and even misogyny that is quite violent in its underlying nature. After all, we may be prissy at times, but we are still men with testosterone…no matter how much rouge is put on. Anyone looking at the sometime vicious outbursts between Sharon and Phi Phi would probably not see it as “good clean fun among friends.” Mike was mirroring the way he saw the queens deal with each other. It’s like a person of another ethnicity who calls a black person a nigger because he hears one of his black friends say it. All he is doing is imitating what he sees. I do understand what Sharon is saying: there was a palpable sense of physical danger in the air. Sharon defended her sister Chad, then made a beeline away from Mike! Still, we gotta do a Michael Jackson around stuff like that and first look at the Man In The Mirror. We have to be the change we want to see.

Teach Your Children Well

As the Queen said in the first post about this episode (and as some of the Miss Things agree), trying to do too much dissection of straight vs gay relationships will become muddy and self-serving. I know the intentions are good and many of the one-on-one moments between the dolls and the DILF’s were really touching. However I think the messages and morals are much clearer and cleaner when left to Untucked. The candid discussion between the DILF’s was poignant and beautiful. Again, there’s no way all of this can happen for most men by dressing up as Drag Queens, but MAN does it renew my hope for, as James said: “…partying together.”

I’ve Never Been To Me

So what’s up with this?

As much as I rag on the producing/directing–I have to say this was a stroke of genius. I mean we’ve seen it before with Raven in the Golden Gals challenge. It’s an old premise: “Bitch turns out to have a Heart of Gold.” But I never believed it could work with Phi Phi O’Hara. But the conflict, and the way she handled it was almost heartwarming…and strange. As Jon Mallow says in his weekly recap: “She didn’t even tell anyone to go home, or call anyone talentless. I want my money back!” it seemed suspiciously like a calculated way of gradually turning Miss Hyde back into Miss Jekyll. Forget the insult it would be to Sharon Needles to have Phi Phi win–could you actually forget about her antics over the season and stand by her becoming The Next Drag Superstar?

Now, back to the Comments section. nomadoflove made a very interesting suggestion about judging this particular type of episode: “I just don’t think it’s appropriate to send someone home for the “put an anomalous type male in drag” challenge. Rather, this should be something the final four are expected to do (as they have every season) where they compete for an excellent prize but not to avoid being sent home.”

The Queen thinks that is a really,really interesting idea. However I think I look at the episode a little differently. I’m not sure how the judges score the dolls–and I’m sure it is much more subjectively than I’d like. However I DO think that there are relatively objective criteria for the win that really show off a contestant’s Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent. I think that you have to have a very defined skill set in order to translate it to someone else. In other words, you have to really have a command of your own process of applying make-up and creating a character and routine. Sharon thought her routine with Mike was simple, yet he was having a problem with it. Can you, as the director, self-adjust to make it easier and more effective for your partner? These are things that I think the challenge really brings into play, and are important for any entertainer to have.

Well, the Queen can’t think of any more songs to use as section headers, so I’ll throw it to you Miss Things. Thoughts and more fabulous comments?


15 thoughts on “RuPaul’s Drag Race, S4, E10-Untucking the Straight Boys

  1. This episode seems to be a case of the producers wanting to have their cake and eat it, too. There’s always a “drama queen” or a “bitch” to be the bad girl in “reality” TV, and Phi Phi became the obvious choice for this season. However, her personal circumstances also make her a sympathetic figure; one that I would think many people could have related to more had she not been so obnoxious in the first place.

    Phi Phi’s history does a lot to explain why she is who she is, but we’ve already heard her story before, even if the DILFs hadn’t, and there’s only so much sympathy to be had for Miss O’Hara when we see her lashing out regularly at her fellow queens and being Cleopatra, Queen of Denial when it comes to her own self. There aren’t too many episodes left, so I would hope that this is the last we hear about it.

    • I hope you’re right and this is the last. But my writer’s instincts are telling me that since we’re coming to the end, it very well could be a part of Phi Phi’s overall “redemption” arc.

      • I dunno–Phi Phi is her own worst enemy, she’s bound to tip the scales back into mega-bitch territory. The producers would also have to come up with something new to generate more sympathy for her. Phi Phi’s gotten about all the sympathy she can out of the dad story; continuing to talk about it could easily be seen a a crutch or an excuse for bad behavior and she would lose whatever sympathy she’d already gained.

      • To Jade:

        “The producers would also have to come up with something new to generate more sympathy for her. Phi Phi’s gotten about all the sympathy she can out of the dad story”

        Well, unless they’ve already got Mr. O’Hara (or whatever his real name is) lined up for a “My eyes have been opened and I’m so proud of you, Son!” moment. Which is exactly what I’m afraid of. They’ve been working this belated parental acceptance/approval all season: Jiggly with her mom approving before she died; Latrice with her brothers closer to approving after her mom died; and Dida last week learning that her parents were far more approving/accepting than she ever thought. So I really, really feared that as soon as they started with the Phi-Phi and her dad story that they were setting up a melodramatic reconciliation scene, just in time for the finale. Ugh, I so hope not!

  2. Phi Phi will be a bitch next week. She’ll probably be extra-unsufferable since she won. It’s just too much too little too late (hey, a song title!) for me to forget her past ugliness.

    Sharon was totally justifying her dad’s behavior. That kind of nasty shit shouldn’t happen period. There’s a fine line between a sharp read and a razor-filled creampie to the face.

    OK, I’m about to date myself, but does anyone else remember the ’70s TV movie “Trilogy of Terror” with Karen Black? You know the doll one? That doll is what Kenya reminds me of.

    • That friggin’ devil doll gave me some of the WORST NIGHTMARES OF MY CHILDHOOD.

      The absolute worst nightmares came from finding out that, not only was The Exorcist based on a black boy and not a white girl; but it also turned out the original case took place less than 12 BLOCKS FROM WHERE I LIVED!!!!

      • I cannot watch that movie. I did know the case came from D.C., but not anything else.

        Now that I’m grown, Trilogy of Terror is a hoot!

      • Funny you say that, hellkell…Trilogy of Terror gave me nightmares for most of my childhood, after seeing it at a slumber party. I decided, as an adult, to re-watch it, thinking I’d find it ridiculously silly. Instead, it scared the shit out of me again.

        The Exorcist just makes me sad, though, as people who were considered “possessed” were actually autistic or mentally ill. I hate that the demonic nonsense is perpetuated in movies.

    • Hellkell, that little yammering monster scared me something terrible…one of the greatest made-for-television movies of all time!

      As for the Exorcist House…I was once asked if I wanted to take the dreaded walk. She did NOT get the digits.

  3. “Sharon’s reaction was: “And you know what? It’s no different between me and the other girls…but when we do it we read each other’s looks and we read each other’s attitudes. We don’t ever bring like a sense of violence to it, I guess, and when I hear that it just freaks me out…”. With all due respect to the lovely Ms. Needles–that’s a justification.”

    I think that’s a really good point. “Reading each other’s looks and reading each other’s attitudes” can be a good way of knowing how to stick the knife in deeper as opposed to any sense of restraint or kindness. So I think she was definitely doing a dodge on the realities of throwing shade. On the other hand, I also kind of get what Sharon is saying about that qualitative difference in there being a sense of violence or not. For example, my ex never hit anyone in his life that I know of. But, man, he could work himself into such a rage that the feeling he could turn violent in a moment was really palpable. I was devastated when one of my sons once told me that growing up there were times when he wished his dad would just hit him because the tension of thinking he was going to was unbearable. Words can be extraordinarily hurtful, but that feeling is something else altogether. So, yeah, I can see Sharon saying that was something that just freaked her out. Clearly, she’s not going to have any trouble with any shade thrown her way by a queen, no matter how malicious or vicious (as it can truly be) because she knows how to handle it and herself if the queen of quips.

    • I actually meant to put that concept into the post. I knew where she was coming from. I have a good friend whose family feels the same about him. They are absolutely sure that he would never lay a hand on them. He might put a hand through a wall or do bodily harm to himself–but never to them. And I’ve had his wife tell me that dealing with that knowledge when they are in the middle of the conflict is infinitely worse.

      Although, as I type this I recognize that behavior as a form of psychological violence.

      • I guess I would use the word aggression instead of violence. I figure if there is no blood drawn, it’s all a form of nostril-flaring and ground-scratching (though certainly there are psychological and psychic blows as well as physical ones). Going back to Sharon, I think it all comes down to her being quite capable of handling one form of aggression (the “gay” kind, if you want to call it that), because she is so damned quick-witted and verbal, while she is freaked out by a cruder form of aggression that is more reminiscent of the kind she experienced in high school. The motives may be no more pure, and just as testosterone-fueled, but as a form of aggression you’ve got to say that at least “throwing shade” has going for it being a step or so up the evolutionary scale, involving as it does an actual use of, like, words, and at its best a pretty damned sophisticated use of words. Think of how exquisitely Shakespeare could have his characters throw shade. (And I know that much attention is often given to how Shakespeare “couldn’t” possibly be Shakespeare, but has there ever been a suggestion that the man HAD to be gay? That is one helluva lot of taste, discernment, and verbal acumen for a straight guy!).

      • @mefein1: [I don’t think I nested this comment quite correctly] The idea that one’s previous experience of aggression/violence colors one’s reactions is what jumped to my mind during this scene. I work with someone who can become quite agitated (it’s not a matter of emotional maturity it’s a diagnosed place on the autism spectrum), and I have come to regard others’ reactions to him as an off-the-cuff indicator of how much threatening behavior, if not actual physical harm, they’ve experienced in their lives, somewhere, somehow. The majority have never felt for an instant physically intimidated, but a minority do – some going so far as to prefer not to work with him because “they don’t feel safe.” The latter are ALL women, and I can’t help but think (though I don’t really know) that they wouldn’t feel so threatened if he were another female.

        Which is not at all to trivialize how real that feeling that you describe with your ex can be.

        I like the idea of Shakespeare’s characters “throwing shade.” It’s so natural to imagine actors of the period indulging in that kind of verbal pyrotechnics.

  4. I do not feel sorry for Phi Phi at all because she is a bitch to people, and doesnt make any apology of it. She is proud to be the person she is.

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