This post contains spoilers from the first four episodes of RuPaul's Drag Race UK series two.
Even though RuPaul's Drag Race has been on television in some permutation for over a decade now, it feels like the show is getting better with time. Sure, at times it can become predictable -- when we start seeing a queen tell her life story and it's not really related to the challenge, we start fearing her narrative arc is nearing its end -- but the producers have become experts at making good TV. And now, with an episode that has H&M saying it "broke" their Twitter account, RuPaul's Drag Race U.K. has put out a near-perfect episode.
If you haven't been watching, we aren't going to do a full explainer of the season here but in this week's episode, the queens have a chance to do Werk Room first look entrances over again in boy drag. The reason: the ongoing global pandemic sidelined production and sent them home for seven months and now they have returned to finish the competition. So seven queens return to the Werk Room -- some with new faces -- ready to pick up with where they left off.
The reunion brings up the first point of why the show is so perfect: the cast. There's truly someone for everyone to root for in this cast, as well as a bit of Werk Room tension, genuine competitive streaks, and a little romance. We truly want the best for Tayce and A'Whora in their drag careers but now that they have moved in with one another we also would not mind a joint OnlyFans on the side, as a treat! There's even a bit of "copy cat" drama with A'Whora saying Sister Sister went home and copied her look during quarantine.
\u201cWho's still gagged from that twist? #DragRaceUK\u201d
— RuPaul's Drag Race UK (@RuPaul's Drag Race UK)
Ru greets the assembled queens wearing a random yellow wig -- we have extreme questions but have elected to believe she was trolling Ginny Lemon and will leave it at that -- telling them that Veronica Green contracted the virus at the center of the pandemic and will not be able to return. In her place, those queens remaining in the competition can vote one of the first three queens back into the competition which brings the first out, Joe Black, back.
The maxi challenge is writing, recording, and performing two cast versions of the track "U OK, Hun?" and take some lessons from MNEK. It is clear to literally anyone paying attention that the United Kingdolls (stream their version on all platforms right now) are gunning for the win with stand-out verses from Bimini Bon Boulash and Tayce as well as a no-nonsense choreography session headed by Tayce. It is just as clear that Black, who is a part of the Bananadrama group, is headed for the bottom: she already has something to prove given that she was previously eliminated meaning there's no room for error and from the mere description of her performance look her group members seem worried for her. The writing is truly on the wall.
\u201cSex, drugs, and sausage rolls! Meet the United Kingdolls \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7\n\nServing girl group glam in their UK, Hun? verses: @ShadyLawrence and @awhoraofficial! \n\n#DragRaceUK https://t.co/f9SbTLBdlt\u201d
\u201cSex, drugs, and sausage rolls! Meet the United Kingdolls \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7\n\nServing girl group glam in their UK, Hun? verses: @its_tayce and @biminibabes! \n\n#DragRaceUK https://t.co/f9SbTLBdlt\u201d
What wasn't necessarily on the wall was Ru's blow-up moment. Watching the Bananadrama performance, Ru is clearly pretty miffed and unimpressed. As the judges' critiques begin to roll she starts slowly letting it seep out as they go down the line. She not only tells the queens she expects more but then requires them to respond to her critique. But it's Joe Black who gets a repeat of Ru's now-infamous "I don't want to hear any goddamn excuses" moment. It is really some extreme "no more wire hangers" or "we were all rooting for you" energy.
Michelle Visage starts by telling Black her look seemed as if she could buy it off the rack at Primark -- which, extreme tea. Black laughs it off essentially saying the look was actually from H&M. And there's really only one thing that seems to get under RuPaul's skin more than being boring: appearing to not care about the competition.
"That outfit off the rack was a huge disappointment to me. That's what everyday people do. And you should know that because you are a star. And this goes to all of you up here. And if it is from H&M you better glitter the fuck out of it and make it something special. We're looking for Great Britain's Next Superstar. Don't waste my time.
"I don't want to see any fucking H&M," she finished. "What say you, Joe Black?" Black's response was unsatisfactory, centering on being stuck in her ways. So Ru had more to say.
"You know, listen," she started. "I came all the way across the pond. I want more, I want more. Is that asking for too much? I don't think so. I don't think so." The Miranda Priestly reference from Devil Wears Prada leapt out.
"This is the Eurovision of drag," she said simply. "So ... alright. I think we've heard enough."
Just as the producers wanted, it was certainly the viral moment of the episode so much so that brands are responding to it. "Good morning to H&M only," Black tweeted. When she hadn't gotten a response in an hour ASOS stepped in.
"Good morning babes," they tweeted. "Looks like H&M aren't here yet ... wanna talk?" But H&M wasn't far off.
"Oh, we're here, they tweeted. "But Joe Black broke our Twitter so we've been scrolling for hours."
While much of the discourse around the moment understood RuPaul's intent, there has been a thread of it that has criticized it for what they have claimed to be a classist or elitist take. To this, the words were a condemnation of drag performers who can't pay top dollar for looks. But when looked at within the full context of what Ru said -- and has long said on the show -- that doesn't hold up. The point was explicitly spelled out that for those who do shop off the rack, it's important to put the extra work in to make garments feel special. Sometimes that means spending an extra $5 on a glue gun and some glitter, or putting it in a specific context -- like an ASOS jacket with a box of chicken and short shorts for a challenge inspired by your hometown -- to make it drag.
But in addition, Ru ended up qualifying her previous outburst making it clear that it was all to bring the best out of contestants.
\u201cThese times have taught us to seize the day. Carpe diem, darling! \ud83d\udc51\n\n@rupaul #DragRaceUK https://t.co/f9SbTLBdlt\u201d