RuPaul’s Drag Race UK – Series 1, Episode 5 Recap: “Girl Groups”

Hello everyone and welcome to another post recapping the first ever series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. For years UK fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race have been hoping that Ru would make the journey across the Atlantic to test the Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent of some of the best drag performers in the land. So far they have been tested in runway performance, acting, designing and, last week, their improvisation skills in the annual Snatch Game. Six queens remain in the competition as we move into the fifth episode of the show.

*This review contains spoilers as to the results of the episode*

The episode begins with the remaining queens reading Sum Ting Wong’s lipstick message on the mirror. I honestly had high hopes after she smashed the first challenge of the series but never reached that high point again. But I think, at this point, she is a shoe in for Ms. Congeniality and has definitely got many more fans after the show has aired. Attention quickly turns to the double win of the last episode and whether it was deserved; I think The Vivienne deserved the win more than Baga down to the runway presentation but I can see why they both won.

The mini challenge in this episode is another staple of the American series; the Reading is Fundamental challenge. Unlike most of the US series, everyone is pretty strong here, with reading them by telling them to “f*** off to where they came from” and that they are “a raggedy-ass bitch”. It is quite honest and crude compared to the attempts of the US queens of coming up with clever reads and I think that makes it all the funnier. Crystal is named the mini-challenge winner which is… alright I guess. I feel like anyone could have won that if Ru wanted them to.

So as Ru’s video message suggested, the maxi-challenge involves the queens getting into two competing girl groups to record their version of the song “Break Up (Bye Bye)”, the groups’ first and only hit singles. They will have to record vocals with producer MNEK, come up with choreography and design stunning outfits to wear in the performance. As the winner of the mini-challenge, Crystal gets to decide the teams and she picks The Vivienne and Cheryl Hole, who are great choices but not if you don’t have as big a personality as them. That leaves Divina De Campo, Baga Chipz and Blu Hydrangea to make up the second group.

Crystal’s group comes up with the name Filth Harmony and initially seem very confident, but that quickly goes when it is revealed The Vivienne is the only one who can truly sing and Crystal doesn’t seem convincing when explaining what she will bring to the group. The latter then struggles with performing either a rap or a sung verse and also with the choreography, whilst Cheryl, in the words of Viv, “has taken over this challenge”. The other three settle on the name Frock Destroyers (based on the porn star duet who have become the subject of numerous memes by LGBT+ individuals). They have a better recording session, having fun with the name and the concept of the group, while Divina makes MNEK gag with her exceptional whistle tone. Divina also creates the choreography, which the other two seem very comfortable in performing it.

Back in the workroom, conversation turns to bullying in school. Blu and Crystal admit they were ostracized and then Divina brought up Section 28, created by Margaret Thatcher’s government as a way to eliminate discussion of homosexuality in schools. I think that the LGBT+ have come so far in the twenty years since Section 28 was revoked but the hate is still there between students, as anyone knows who was in that position. This enforces that hate is taught and I hope that young people can feel in the future that they can express themselves in a way that doesn’t make them a target. As a side note, Divina’s talking heads are probably one of the most informative and honest ever on the show.

It is now time for the runway. RuPaul looks brilliant tonight in another shorter dress that shows off her brilliant legs. Joining Michelle Visage and Graham Norton tonight is Little Mix star Jade Thirlwall, who is a big advocate for the LGBT+ community. First up is Filth Harmony. Cheryl Hole is full of energy, power and looks like she is having a ball; you can really tell that this is her thing. Crystal is not great from the start with her swiggly arms and lacklustre verse. But the biggest surprise is The Vivienne. Putting herself in pink hair may have been a shady move but right out of the gate, she forgets a line in her own verse and later more lines and parts of the choreography. It seems like the nerves got to her. The group is then annihilated by a fantastic performance by The Frock Destroyers. Baga, Blu and Divina all come up with great verses and a way to add to the base of the song and the choreography is very tight, professional and looks much more polished. It is no surprise that in recent days their version of the song charted on The Official Charts.

The category for the runway was Day at the Races. Here are my thoughts on each of the six outfits and runway presentations:

Baga Chipz
A lovely switch up compared to the lacklustre previous two weeks, it was camp British drag and I loved the yellow colour on her.
Blu Hydrangea
Another good look from Blu this week, the headpiece is certainly what draws your eyes and it is complimented well by the flowing blue outfit and chest glitter.
Cheryl Hole
Definitely the most real on the runway this week, though didn’t feel extravagant or unique in any way. The hair colour looked great on her!
Crystal
If anyone thinks this looks familiar, then look at Shuga Cain’s facekini outfit from season 11. However they were filmed at very similar times so she wouldn’t have known; this look is lovely and different from the rest.
Divina De Campo
Another queen to think outside of the box with her outfit, she is both the jockey and horse in one and the soft colours really compliment each other; another great week for her on the runway.
The Vivienne
The Vivienne always looks really polished on stage but, next to the more conceptual outfits, it looks a bit plain. Love the copper colour though.

The Vivienne is instantly critiqued on her lack of presence in the challenge and forgetting her words, you can tell it has really affected her. Cheryl is emotional on stage because of the challenge but is praised on the power she brought to the challenge, even though her outfit came under heat. Crystal was really praised on her outfit but she completely faded to the background. All three members of The Frock Destroyers were praised for their outfits, their performance in the challenge and for how they completely came together as a group.

Backstage in Untucked, The Vivienne breaks down over the fact she knew she messed up the challenge. It is clear that she puts a lot of pressure on herself to always perform well and maybe this has a part in her downfall. Crystal starts to reveal why she is feeling so down, before she is interrupted by a tactless Cheryl flowing about girl groups and what the challenge meant to her. It might have been edited but she has consistently got this lack of awareness on the show. Crystal then reveals that maybe her best isn’t good enough; it feels like she had already half given up.

In a surprise twist, all three members of The Frock Destroyers were named as the winners of the challenge, meaning Blu gets her first win of the series and Baga now has the most wins of any queen, with an incredible three out of five. However, I would have personally given it to Divina for her brilliant versatility in the number and the great runway look. On the flip side, it was no surprise that The Vivienne and Crystal had to lipsync to the song “Power” by Little Mix. This was a very tight one, both feeling the music and hitting every beat. Despite starting stronger, I felt that once Crystal revealed her wig, her power dropped and The Vivienne grew stronger as the song went on, including hitting the big power note. Thus she stayed in the competition, whilst the quirky Crystal, who I have enjoyed seeing on the runway in particular, was told to sashay away, leaving five in the competition.

What did you make of the Girl Group challenge, who impressed you and who do you think has what it takes to go all the way? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below and stay tuned for more Drag Race UK recaps in the next few weeks. The end is in sight.

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