CHAD: Oliver, you’ve been pretty lukewarm on this season so far, and I think you gave this episode a “C”. In your opinion, what’s wrong with Season 9?
OLIVER: Everyone is too damn nice. There’s a sisterhood of Drag Race queens, but the season 9 contestants are putting that sisterhood above the competition when they should be doing everything in their power to win. I’m not saying I want them all to be stone-cold bitches, but I want contestants that are ruthless, unapologetic, and selfish because that creates drama, and drama makes for good TV. There’s a risk in being a villain, but if you play the role well and aren’t unbearably obnoxious, you’ll be remembered and respected. I think a lot about Bianca Del Rio and how she managed to embody those villainous qualities while also being a mother figure to the other queens, and she helped them out because she wanted the competition to be fiercer.
Of the remaining queens, I think Trinity has the best chance of fitting this role, but we’re getting close to the end, and she hasn’t been as vicious as I thought she would be at the top of the season. I was at the Drag Queens Of Comedy show on Friday night, and Bob the Drag Queen pointed out that someone is apologizing to someone else in pretty much every episode. It happens after the trip to the library this week, with both Alexis and Farrah apologizing to each other for comments they made, and I’d much rather see a queen tell the offended party to deal with it and move on rather than undermine what they said in the challenge.
CHAD: I’m guessing that repeating so many challenges and runway themes hasn’t helped this season stand out, right? I remember the performances of Jinkx, Alaska, Detox, and Coco from the Season 5 Roast so vividly, and I worry that this week’s Roast won’t be remembered so fondly.
OLIVER: If it’s remembered at all. It’s hard not to compare the current queens to past contestants when they’re doing repeat challenges, and each repeat challenge this season has been inferior to what came before. I wasn’t impressed by this episode’s Reading Is Fundamental mini-challenge, and while there were some solid reads, I wanted to see the queens dig a little deeper rather than going for the obvious insults. A lot of my disappointment with this season stems from it following season 8 and All-Stars 2, which I thought were two of the show’s best seasons, and because these queens aren’t meeting the very high bar that’s been set, season 9 feels more tame and less exciting. The same goes for the roast, and of eight queens, I feel like only three of them (Shea, Sasha, and Peppermint) delivered in a substantial way. That’s not a good ratio.
CHAD: I do get a little defensive when I hear people complaining about this season because I DO think it has a lot of amazing queens. But maybe it’s the wrong mix for good TV? Certainly, there aren’t any comedy queens to steal the show like Bob and Bianca did during their respective seasons. Which Season 9 queens are the standout personalities?
OLIVER: Shea, Valentina, and Trinity have the most distinct personalities for me. Shea is the frontrunner of this season, and she’s performed well in every single challenge, dominated the talking heads, and shown really strong comic instincts throughout. She’s unflappable and clever, with a sharp fashion sense and a deep understanding of the different elements of drag performance. She also recognizes the high stakes of being on this show and is playing to win. This is an incredible opportunity for a drag queen, and Shea isn’t going to waste it.
Valentina doesn’t have the range of Shea, but she’s also been doing this for a shorter period of time and is using the Drag Race experience to grow and expand her horizons. She’s the talented little sister of this group, and even if her character is mostly being peppy, pretty and smiley, she has the exaggeration I’m looking for from a queen. Trinity is also delivering in that respect, and I like how cartoony she lets herself be. She’s not precious about her drag and realizes that sometimes you have to risk looking stupid to get a laugh. Trinity has also been really fun in Untucked, and she’s probably the shadiest queen we have this season.