Tops and Bottoms: All Stars Season 5, Episode 3

Has there ever been a more telling moment from Michelle Visage than her claiming she’s wealthy just after Mayhem and Blair spent five minutes mocking people who think “rich” is a personality trait?

Bottom

8. Cracker

20200624_191114140161746938440142.jpg

So, let’s get into why Cracker just isn’t working for me in All Stars 5.

Like I said last week, I don’t mind in theory that Cracker has done a massive heel turn, and in fact I think this was a smart move. The issue is in framing, as Cracker is still given a very generous, sympathetic edit, one that tries to justify her awful tendencies by blaming her anxiety. Even compared to someone like Sharon Needles or Jinkx Monsoon, Cracker’s “underdog but she’s still clearly a favorite who might win” character feels contrived.

And it’s not as if I can’t appreciate a negative yet sympathetic edit in a season. Hell, in broad strokes, Cracker’s story is near identical to that of Gia Gunn’s in the last All Stars, a story that wasn’t just my favorite of that season but of all All Stars seasons thus far. What is it about Cracker’s edit that doesn’t work when it so easily worked for Gia?

The difference is all in framing. While Gia’s mean streak and lack of fucks to give is steeped in her feeling unwelcome as a Trans woman, a notion that recontextualizes her in Season 6, Cracker’s bitchiness is based in some vague anxiety that never seemed to be an issue in Season 10. While Gia was despised by the rest of the cast to the point of it feeling personal, Cracker has people trip over themselves to defend her, and the attacks against her are all mercenary and for the sake of the game. And while Gia never had a shot in hell in making past the third episode, Cracker is still a front runner and judge darling that basically has an automatic place in the finale. I’m not saying Gia didn’t play up the sympathy, but her reasoning for feeling isolated felt much more sincere given this show’s history. And even if it is true, Cracker’s anxiety feels wholly manufactured.

The show can’t decide if Cracker is a villain or a misunderstood hero, and this indecision hurts both her and the season.

7. Shea

20200624_190909265463647523534953.jpg

Shea’s episode 3 is, in my opinion, a perfect example of not just how reality television works, but how Shea just can’t jive with it.

Did Shea deserve to be Bottom 3? Of course not. Shea wasn’t great in the challenge, but hell no one was outside of Blairhem, and I honestly really liked her off-beat but well-realized runway. Like most people, I totally believe that Shea was placed in the bottom to incite some sort of drama. She might be a front-runner, but she was disposable: someone the show could place in the bottom to stir things up, and was reasonably sure she would stay, but also someone the show did not mind sacrificing for the big picture. Shea was a pawn.

And she doesn’t even realize it.

Shea’s bottom placement this week stems from her falling into the exact same trap as last time: allowing a less talented front-runner to hook her wagon to her, jeopardizing Shea’s chances of winning. Shea, after seeing everyone torpedoing Cracker, decided to join her out of “fairness,” and started unintentionally enabling Cracker’s bad behavior. It’s not a cute look, and hopefully she comes to her sense next week.

Middle

6. India

20200624_1909503977755096167836963.jpg

Geez, I’m so glad India stuck around and not Derrick, aren’t you?

5. Mariah

20200624_1910096496664113870793726.jpg

Mariah deserved better.

I’m not exactly thrilled with her coming to Cracker’s defense, but I’m less offended by it than with Shea because that’s who Mariah is: everyone’s supportive Drag mom. Mariah works best when there’s more trouble-making youngsters saying shit and being obnoxious, and as this cast is both much older than season 3 and with the seemingly one villain being her age (we’ll get to her), Mariah never found her footing. She didn’t even give us any great catchphrases or inspirational speeches.

I feel cheated.

Top

4-3. Blair and Mayhem

20200624_1911317957928460948405362.jpg

Blair and Mayhem should have won, first and foremost.

What makes these two work so well is their self-awareness. While they aren’t always the best parts of the episodes they’re in, they are the best at understanding what it means to be an All Star. Most fans have accused them of ripping off Club 96 for this week’s challenge, but that was exactly why they did so well. Let’s be frank, the real meta of All Stars is not alliance or even to get to the end, but to meme and joke and be as iconic as you can possibly be, while still coming off as sincere. Mayhem and Blair were the only ones to understand both this and last week’s challenge (which is maddening when you think about it) and capitalized on their back-to-back team-ups by talking about how much easier it is without Cracker. I’ve said for ages now that All Stars are about selling yourself, and these two are the only ones this season doing it correctly.

This is Blairhem’s season.

2. Jujubee

20200624_1912051937526375410613524.jpg

Jujubee has finally arrived.

It’s weird to think that this was Jujubee very first win (until you remember Raven torpedoed any chance they had in All Stars 1), but what’s even weirder is how she earned it. After spending the entire episode complaining about her team and the challenge, calling their hotel idea stupid, and just going through the motions, Jujubee swoops in and steals a win she didn’t really work for. There’s something comedic about Juju stumbling ass-backwards into not only her first All Star win, but her first win, period. Naturally, we stan.

Also, legit actual good moment where Jujubee talked about her addiction and how she still contends with her demons. A nice touch (especially when one remembers the Black Velvet lip sync) and is one of the few times Drag Race has a touching moment that felt genuine. And if anyone was going to allow that, it was Juju. Like I said before, part of Jujubee’s mystique and power is how she’s such an honest soul. She’s iconic and hilarious, but there’s something very human about Jujubee that makes you want to see her succeed. I really liked her Untucked with Blairhem about addiction and how you must be honest with yourself because you can seek help. Legitimately well done, show.

But of course, her best moment was undermining the deliberation scene with her talking about missing her cats. That, my friends, is prioritizing.

1. Alexis

20200624_1911512602930249163786287.jpg

Alexis has always, even in Season 3, been a massive asshole. This often gets forgotten, both because of her ESL and because her asshole tendencies tend to be focused on people being even bigger assholes, but when push comes to shove Alexis will eviscerate someone if she needs to. And she’s never been better deployed than in this episode.

Alexis spends the entirety of the episode homing in on Cracker and calling out her big bag of bullshit. From the start, Alexis doesn’t believe any of Cracker’s half-apologies, and has no problem calling them out in both confessionals and to her face. And while this could get tiresome, the episode pairs this with Cracker getting unearned sympathy from other contestants and making patronizing comments. The crowner of this dynamic, naturally, is Cracker explicitly stating who her real friends are and Alexis taking note that she is not among them. What could’ve been Alexis stirring the shit just to stir the shit is justified by Cracker totally trying to other the people who called her out and weren’t nice to her.

Alexis’s trouble making moments aren’t always deployed well, and she benefitted greatly by her target being a seemingly untouchable front-runner, but that doesn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying this explosion of Alexis.

Next Time on RuPaul’s Drag Race!!!

Blair and Mayhem bring in a super special guest to their luxury hotel.

maxresdefault

What could possibly go wrong?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.