RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 14, Episode 10: “Snatch Game” — Review
Another week has gone by since the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, so let’s remind ourselves of everything important that happened last week ahead of tonight’s new episode!
Previously on… EFN’s Drag Race Season 14 Reviews
“Why aren’t we eliminating someone?”
“…we just had a non-elimination round.”
“Anyway, no one went home.”
“WHAT ARE THE CHOCOLATE BARS FOR?”
Clearly, I was not satisfied with having a second non-elimination episode over three weeks in a season that has a surprise non-elimination mechanic baked into the format.
“But what if,” Drag Race asked, “we made it three non-eliminations over four weeks?”
And ya know what? It’s not just me. Following the double-shantay, a number of the remaining contestants were irritated too. After all, within the competition, this is now four potential eliminations that simply didn’t happen if you count Daya Betty and Orion Story returning from being booted in the two-part premiere.
The following morning, after a Bubly-inspired bubble wrap red carpet photoshoot, the cast learned that the week’s task would be Drag Race’s most iconic challenge: Snatch Game! As we’d expect, each member of the cast prepared a celebrity impression to compete in a spoof of the classic game show Match Game. We’ve also come to expect certain conversational tropes from the Snatch Game walkthroughs, but consider those expectations bucked.
Snatch Game walkthroughs are typically a challenge all their own with RuPaul making oddball suggestions and planting seeds of doubt. But this season’s Snatch Game walkthroughs were relatively tame and supportive. Hell, whatever conversations RuPaul had with Willow Pill and Bosco didn’t even make the cut, and no one—no one—appeared to change from their first choice, giving us the following impersonations:
- Willow Pill as actress and talk show host Drew Barrymore
- Bosco as actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow
- Jorgeous as actress and comedian Ilana Glazer
- Daya Betty as musician Ozzy Osbourne
- Angeria Paris VanMichaels as former Drag Race contestant Tammy Brown (Season 1 and All-Stars Season 1) — apparently the ban on impersonating former cast members has been lifted?
- Jasmine Kennedie as former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos
- DeJa Skye as rapper and music producer Lil Jon
- Lady Camden as playwright William Shakespeare
As for the Snatch Game itself, the only place to start this season is at the end: apparently everybody except DeJa bombed. What’s a bit puzzling is that it didn’t seem like DeJa gave an all-time great performance, though the laugh track would suggest otherwise, or that the other seven were horrifically bad compared to an average cast despite several cuts to a confused or unamused guest judge Dove Cameron.
What did feel different was RuPaul’s and Raven’s reactions to the cast and the cavalcade of interjecting cast members stating clearly to the audience, “just so you know, we really sucked at this, and here are the academic reasons why.” Things just felt… out of sync. For example, RuPaul clearly found Daya’s impression of Ozzy Osborne funny, and the sheer stupidity of Angeria’s Tammy Brown visibly tickled Raven. Did either of them totally nail it? No, but guess what: most Drag Race competitors don’t nail Snatch Game. It’s always been difficult, and it’s always been awkward.
But you would think coming out of this episode that the only person who ever made anyone laugh more than once was DeJa. Thanks, uproarious fake audience!
Maybe I’ve kept my tin-foil hat too close to the TV, but the end of the episode suggests maybe it’s right where it belongs.
Category Is: Holy Couture
If ever there were a more important runway, it was seemingly this one, because almost every single member of the cast was convinced they might end up in the bottom two. And what a terrifying position to be in, because whatever they prepared ahead of time for the category was what they had to wear.
If survival relied on runway performance, it might have worked out for some. Willow’s psychedelic mushroom, Bosco’s slutty nun, Angeria’s church lady, and Jorgeous’ marijuana bishop were certainly highlights. Less likely to save them from the bottom were Jasmine’s astrology gown, Daya’s Gaga-inspired Franken-bride, and Lady Camden’s Spice Girls homage.
Narrator: But survival did not rely on the runway.
Yet Another, Another Non-Elimination…
The strongest argument for this actually being a disaster and not purely a concocted television moment was the judges’ critiques. The cast received earnest feedback laced with humor and camaraderie instead of an encore of RuPaul’s infamous anti-H&M outburst (Drag Race UK Series 2) or any Michelle Visage finger-wagging. Frankly, it was infinitely kinder than anyone should’ve expected.
And then the gag: DeJa Skye was declared the winner and… everyone else was declared the bottom. That’s right: one winner, seven bottom performances. Ru announced that the bottom seven queens would compete in a Lip Sync LaLaPaRUza Smackdown, something we first saw following the All-Stars Season 4 Roast of Lady Bunny. In that version, the remaining cast members each faced off in a Sudden Death Lip Sync against an eliminated cast member, and the whole thing ultimately ended up being a convoluted way to bring an eliminated queen back into the competition.
Though it wasn’t specified how this version of the LaLaPaRUza will work, presumably at least one cast member will go home by the end of next episode.
So once again, another non-elimination. Am I annoyed? Yes. But here’s the thing: it’s really not that they’re refusing to send people home this season—I don’t need an elimination every episode—it’s that they’ve come up with so many weird reasons not to. And sure, if you throw enough against the wall, something will stick, but they don’t need to make it so complicated. So let’s stop down for a second and reflect on each of this season’s methods for not eliminating competitors:
- The chocolate bars: Aside from its awkward and mildly cruel execution, this would be fine as a non-elimination mechanic if they’d explicitly stated at the top of the competition that in Season 14, there would be no returning competitors and there would be no double-shantays. Give us those stakes. But they didn’t, which poisons nearly the entire rest of the list.
- Immediately undoing the first boots: This is actually one of the less offensive non-elimination mechanics as a way to ensure no cast member is relegated to just one episode, but there are much better ways to go about it narratively than just, “jk, they’re back, those lip syncs never mattered!” Again, competition shows need stakes.
- The Daytona Wind: Flatulent, sure. Offensive as a non-elimination mechanic? Not at all. This was a great way to do a non-elimination. Production played a light-hearted prank on the cast, quickly brought them in on the joke, and let them know that no one was going home. They just celebrated a cast of drag artists for an episode. Chef’s kiss.
- The double-shantay: Normally? Great. No notes. It’s the standard mechanic for non-elimination within the Drag Race franchise, it creates eternal discussion within the fanbase, and its potential to disrupt the competition or the television product is minimal. But again, even a single double-shantay defeats the introduction of the chocolate bar mechanic. It’s just too much.
- Lip Sync LaLaPaRUza Smackdown: This would have been fine if they’d simply presented it as a new surprise mechanic for the week and not as the result of a disastrous challenge performance. Instead of feeling like the natural conclusion to a disastrous performance like a double-sashay, an impending LaLaPaRUza feels like the reason for their insistence that everyone was bad.
Ten episodes, five out of sync mechanics introduced for not eliminating contestants.
Ya know, at this point, I just don’t know… but I’m crossing my fingers for an elimination.
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ airs on VH1 in the US and Crave & OUTtv in Canada, streams on Stan in Australia, and streams on WOW Presents Plus everywhere else.