Canada’s Drag Race: Gay Christmas in August

S1/ Ep 9

Jeffrey, Michelle, Brooke Lynn, and Stacey; courtesy of Bell Media

Perhaps hearing the cries of frustration from gay men and Drag Race superfans everywhere, First Lady Michelle (Visage, that is) has arrived in the Great White North, and our top four queens are absolutely quaking.

It’s the penultimate episode of Canada’s Drag Race, and with Lemon taken out of the game, the pressure is on Jimbo, Scarlett BoBo, Rita Baga, and Priyanka to make it the finish line.

Starting things off with an unusually long Mini Challenge, Stacey McKenzie has the queens play the part of a local chanteuse and sing the national anthem. Honestly, this late in the competition, the Mini Challenges act as a distraction to the main event; Rita wins, which means we can move on to what we’ve come for: The Snow Ball

As the queens explain to the viewers, balls, and ballroom culture, is directly tied to LGBTQ+ history, specifically LGBTQ+ people of colour. The balls are underground runways (and, at times, dance competitions) that act as a safe space for Black and Brown LGBTQ+ people who historically have not been welcome in gay bars. Terms and phrases that have become mainstream, like “shade”, or “spilling tea”, originated from ballroom culture.

For this challenge, the queens have to prepare three looks for The Snow Ball. The first category is Executive Holiday Party Realness, then Apres the Apres Ski, and finally, the Ice Queen Eleganza.

There are a few storylines to keep track of as the queens get to work, with the most obvious being Scarlett’s lack of wins (or bottom placements) all season long. The producer’s editing shows her losing it over being unable to sew her garments, which, in reality TV world, sets characters up for either success or utter failure. Likewise, Jimbo informs audiences for the 600th time that she absolutely has to win and has to make it to the top, which immediately gets her in danger of elimination.

This close to the finish line, Canada’s Drag Race needs us to care about who gets the final chop.

Priyanka in Executive Holiday Party Realness; courtesy of Bell Media

In the Executive Realness category, Priyanka shines as “Brenda from Ajax, Ontario”, an absolutely hilarious caricature of an employee who had a little too much fun at the Christmas party. Scarlett’s John Galliano Dior-esque newspaper print power suit looks great, but doesn't really scream Snow Ball. I have the same critique for Jimbo, but at least her suit is gold; metallics are always a holiday favourite, after all.

The less said about Rita’s office secretary look the better.

Apres the Apres Ski is a less successful category. Jimbo plays it safe with another “I’m a slut” look, and Scarlett goes with a decorated bodysuit. Rita takes the experimental route in what isn’t a runway look as much as it is performance art — something Michelle notes in her critiques. Priyanka, or specifically Priyanka’s wig, is the best of the four, giving us the perfect walk of shame.

Finally, the Ice Queen category. The show emphasizes that this is the last look the judges will see the queens in before it is decided who moves on to the top three; it’s frustrating, then, that Priyanka appears in a bodysuit with Christmas ornaments stuck to it. I fully expect Michelle Visage to pop a vein in the judge's panel, but she doesn't go as hard on Priyanka, noting her excellent hair and makeup.

Scarlett in the Ice Queen Eleganza category; courtesy of Bell Media

Rita and Jimbo end up in the bottom after appearing in eleganza looks that they can barely walk in. Rita’s craftsmanship is impressive, I personally think the crown overshadowing her eyes is killer, but both queens pale in comparison to… Scarlett BoBo.

That’s right, folks. After a season of being the underdog, Scarlett BoBo is heading into the finale as this week’s Maxi Challenge winner — her first win of the season. My main concern here is that her storyline has come to a close, meaning that there may be no reason to crown her as the winner because she finally got that win she so desperately wanted all season long, but for now, we can just be happy for one of Toronto’s It-Girls.

Even more concerning is Rita lipsyncing for the second time in two weeks, right before the finale. Rita’s performance of Tegan and Sara’s “Closer” is stronger than Jimbo’s, who struggles to move on stage in her outfit. Jimbo, a fan favourite and victim of Jeffrey-Bowyer Chapman’s uneven judging, gets sent home.

Our final three for the season: Rita Baga, Scarlett BoBo, and Priyanka.

Just between us squirrel friends…

Twitter was ablaze this week after Jeffrey deleted his account, presumably over hate from fans, which prompted the official Canada’s Drag Race account and the World of Wonder account to issue statements. Yes, he’s probably one of the worst reality competition show judges of all time, but remember, drag is about love. Let’s keep things positive.

Those interested in ballroom culture — I highly recommend FX’s Pose, one of the best shows on television, with a third season on its way.

Canada’s Drag Race airs Thursday nights at 9 PM EST on CraveTV

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