Drag Race Down Under – Episode 8: The Recap
Are you up to speed with Episode 8 of Drag Race Down Under? Do you know who’s won? Let’s get into it.
Well, we’ve made it to the end of Season 1 of Drag Race Down Under.
Our Top 4 is Karen, Art, Kita, and Scarlet.
This episode followed a fairly familiar format – plenty of reflective moments, and lots of pseudo-therapy interventions from RuPaul.
The main focus of the episode was the performance – each of the queens had to write a verse for a group performance of RuPaul’s track You’re A Winner.
Everyone seemed to do a solid job on their verses. It was hard to get a sense of how they were all managing the choreography and performing as a group, but from what we could see it seemed like Art was nailing it, Karen was struggling, Kita was in a world of her own but having fun, and Scarlet was the star of the show.
From there, it was into the final runway. The category was Best Drag.
- Art: Art looked stunning. A sapphire blue princess ball-gown, with dramatic makeup. It wasn’t a game-changer look, but it was drag excellence executed perfectly.
- Karen: I think I can kind of see what Karen was going for – taking a pin-stripe motif and transforming it into a shimmering gown that showcased the glow-up of the office girl character. The concept was strong, but the end-result seemed underwhelming. The turquoise green ruffle accents didn’t seem to connect with anything else on the outfit. It also didn’t feel particularly flattering.
- Kita: Kita’s best-drag costume was a show-stopper. A bedazzled white body-suit with articulated angel wings. Obviously, we’ve seen Courtney Act do this on the show a few years ago, but Kita’s outfit and use of the wings was equally impressive and didn’t feel derivative.
- Scarlet: Scarlet gave us classic glamour with a dusty pink gown that evoked classic Hollywood beauty. Not ground-breaking, but undeniably beautiful.
After an extended section of the contestants making heartfelt speeches to photos of their younger selves – I won’t lie, I fast-forwarded through that bit – it was on to a lip-sync.
Each queen had to take turns lip-syncing to Physical by Olivia Newton-John.
This must be tedious to film, but the edited version gave us highlights with glimpses of each performance. They all seemed entertaining performances.
At the end of the day, someone had to be declared the winner.
It felt like it had come down to a two-horse race between Scarlet and Kita.
Ultimately, it was Kita that was declared the winner. On balance, that feels correct.
The verdict on the series
It has to be acknowledged that it can’t have been easy to make this series. It was filmed at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. There were clearly numerous challenges and obstacles, so it’s a tribute to the cast and the production team that they were able to make it happen.
The global response to this series hasn’t been great. The general RPDR audience around the world appears to have been less invested in this series than in comparable versions of the show such as Canada, the UK, Holland, and Spain.
My feeling is that it hasn’t been one of the best series we’ve seen, but it’s still been watchable.
- The cast all seemed fairly accomplished.
- Rhys Nicholson worked well as a judge.
- It demonstrated that this is a competition show format that is tried and test and can pretty much work anywhere.
- Short and punchy – eight episodes – is good. You don’t want to outstay your welcome.
- The entire show felt like a missed opportunity around racial equality. ‘Missed opportunity’ is probably putting it politely. Losing Jojo in Episode 1, and then the way that the revelations were handled about Scarlet performing in black-face. All of that felt misjudged.
- I really love Art Simone, and it was a shock when she was eliminated in Episode 2. Totally reasonable for the production team to try and find a way to bring her back into the show, but by making no attempt to explain or justify why she was brought back felt clumsy and seemed to damage the audience’s emotional investment in the show.
It may not have been a smash hit, but I imagine that there’ll be a Series 2 of Drag Race Down Under. I’d like to see it with a different host – Australia and New Zealand has such a rich drag culture that it might be more fun if the show can really lean into that.
Drag Race Down Under – done!
USP: Usually works as a double-act with Anita.
Final Ranking: She’s our winner of Season 1! Kita came into the show with lots of experience and determined to make the most of the opportunity. She’s done exactly that.
USP: Has performed in black-face.
Final Ranking: Scarlet is clearly very talented and a formidable performer. She won the most challenges in this competition and was clearly very close to be crowned the winner. Hanging over Scarlet is her acknowledgment of using racist stereotypes in past performances before her appearance on Drag Race. The way that this was addressed on the show didn’t seem particularly helpful. That’s going to be difficult for her to move beyond in life after Drag Race.
USP: Killer drag name and a big reputation.
Final Ranking: Coming into the show, Karen was one of the bigger names in this cast. She looked strong throughout, but wasn’t quite the stand-out frontrunner that we expected but a Top 4 finish is solid. It will be interesting to see where she takes the character and her career from here.
USP: An established queen with a big presence on social media.
Final Ranking: Art was one of the biggest names coming into this series and was clearly one of the frontrunners. It was a major shock when she was eliminated in Episode 2 – losing the lip-sync to Coco. But then, a twist! She was resurrected in Episode 4 – without any attempt at explanation or rationale. Queens that return to the cast mid-season don’t have a great track-record in this format, but Art made it to the Final 4 and that felt correct.
USP: She works for Kita and Anita. From what we’ve seen so far, Elektra seems a bit rough and ready but can certainly put on a show.
Final Ranking: Elektra saw herself as the underdog in the competition, and she embraced that storyline. She made it to Episode 7 – eliminated by Kita in the lip-sync. Elektra has emerged as a much more confident queen – she can be very pleased with her performance on the show.
USP: A seasoned performer
Final Ranking: Maxi has been in this business for a long time, so the questions was always whether she could translate her experience into the format of the show. She had a solid go at it – eliminated by Scarlet in Episode 6.
USP: Young and fun.
Final Ranking: Etcetera made it to Week 5 – eliminated in the lip-sync by Maxi Shield. She’s got a great energy on camera and is clearly a bit of a weirdo. We’ll be seeing more from Etcetera.
USP: Usually works as a double-act with Kita.
Final Ranking: Eliminated in Week 4 – losing the lip-sync to Karen. We didn’t even get the Anita versus Kita lip-sync that seemed like a certainty. With a win in Snatch Game under her belt, and an opportunity to showcase the charm of her manic energy, Anita has done well.
USP: Big and beautiful.
Final Ranking: Eliminated in Episode 3 – no shame in that. I really liked Coco, but it seems like she didn’t get the chance to find her feet in this competition. Bottom 3 in Episode 1, Bottom 2 in Episode 2, eliminated in Episode 3 – losing the lip-sync to Elektra.
USP: Representing Australia’s indigenous people, Jojo describes herself as Faboriginal.
Final Ranking: Eliminated in Episode 1, Jojo is the Pork Chop of Season 1 – losing the lip-sync to Elektra. Representation is really important, particularly with the racist and genocidal history that Australia is still grappling with. It would have been really powerful for Jojo to have more screen-time – it feels like an unforced error by the producers to eliminate her in Episode 1.