When just five contestants remain in any reality competition that you care about remotely, every single elimination stings. Well, mostly — and yes, I’m gazing in your direction, Tatianna. But last night’s elimination on RuPaul’s Drag Race stung more than just a usual top-five send-off. You see, my favorite constant on the show — that’d be Ms. Pandora Boxx — was forced to “sashay away,” after the judges and RuPaul agreed that her “drag mother” had out-shined the sweet, hilarious Pandora. And at the same time, a lesser contestant — yes, we’re back to you, Ms. Tatianna — was allowed to remain on the show. I’m in no position to tell the judges when they’ve made a mistake, but doesn’t that go without saying in this case? Yup.
Now, truly, I have no ill will toward Tatianna. She’s a smashing queen for the most part, despite the near-constant whining. What I do like about her is her willingness to roll with the punches. During this week’s challenge, for instance, which found the five queens vamping up aging men as their “drag mothers,” Tatianna ended up with a silver daddy who had a gimpy leg. (And that was even after she got first pick of the dudes, surprisingly.) Here, she found a way to make it work, rolling the guy out on a walker during the main stage portion of the show and made the most of the situation. Great! She employed comedy, yes! Which is what seemed to pull her through.
But what I don’t get about the aforementioned comedic defense for Tatianna this week is that the master of comedy on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race has, without question, been Pandora Boxx, with her hilarious facial expressions, quippy self-deprecating nature, and always-sunny demeanor. Where was that defense for Pandora? Remember her as Carol Channing during The Snatch Game episode? Or in the commercial challenge when she played a chain-smoking white-trash lady? This week in particular, however, the judges chastised Pandora for being shown-up in the funny department by her drag mother, but did they consider that Pandora could have orchestrated all the hilarity that ensued between her and the older queen? Did they think about the fact that Pandora has been a great contestant for all episode episodes thus far? Did they consider that she’d be a great ambassador as “America’s Next Drag Superstar” come the finale? Sigh. I suppose I’m getting too dramatic about her exit, but Pandora’s Sunshine will be sorely missed in a Drag Race landscape that now includes Dark, Mean, and Surly (Raven); Bitchy (Tyra Sanchez); and Whiny (the aforementioned Tatianna); and then just the one other Ray of Light (Jujubee).
I suppose, again, you have to judge on what happened on this particular challenge, so there’s that. And I had another thought as I watched the ladies on the main stage last night, mostly when Jujubee and Pandora were facing off by lip-syncing for their lives to “Shake Your Love” by Debbie Gibson: Pandora is not glam-glam like the other ladies. That’s never been her thing. She’s always worn crazy prints and looked sort of crack-whore-ish. (Hmm, what does it say about me that this is who I preferred on the show?) So maybe her exit is for the best, since the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race should probably be some sort of glam-obsessed queen. Fittingly, Juju, during the lip-syncing, was glamorous and beautiful. And actually, Pandora said it best at the end of the episode last night. “What I brought here wasn’t what they were looking for,” she said, with a big grin. “F— ‘em.” Again, there’s that humor that made Pandora such a delight to watch. At least Ru nodded to the fact that seeing Pandora go was difficult: “At this point, it’s not about who’s the worst,” Ru said. “It’s about who’s the best of the best. The next Drag Superstar.” She continued: “You shared your talents and opened your box for the world to see. There’s no stopping you.” Hopefully, that’s true for Pandora!
With all that said, I think I’m rooting for Jujubee now. I mean, I’m 99 percent sure that she won’t win — it’s just something I feel in my bones! — but I like to root for the underdog. It seems like this competition will probably come down to Raven (who won last night’s and last week’s challenges) or Tyra (who won a couple challenges earlier on). Tatianna, if she wins, I mean… Actually, let’s not go there right now. Again, love her, but no. That sort of just can’t happen.
Now that I’ve rattled on for hundreds of words about the virtues of Pandora Boxx, I suppose I should at least talk mention some other things from the episode. Here’s some of what I loved: the drag mama names the gals gave their silver daddies, including Golda Lamé, Litter Boxx, and Contessa Tooshay; the silver daddies in general (they were generally dolls!); the geniuses that were extra special guest judges Cloris Leachman and Debbie Reynolds (pictured with RuPaul, above) and the fact that they literally referenced both Ginger Rogers and Dancing with the Stars during their sorely limited commentary; and this encouraging little bon mot from Jujubee, when she was practicing her choreography with her drag mama: “Without confidence, we’re Tatianna.” Snap! And Juju even claims to be friends with Tatianna! You see, even Tatianna’s friends can see the cracks.
But, what of you, Drag Race fans? Are you as disappointed about Pandora Boxx’s exit as I am? Who are you rooting for to win the season? Who are your picks for top three? Did you die laughing at Mystique’s baby “photo” like I did? Are you planning your finale (April 26!) viewing party already?
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky
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