Welcome to my review, recap, and power rankings of the sixth episode of Drag Race Belgique Season 1 – A deux c’est mieu! That translates as “Two is better [than one].” That’s the perfect title for Belgium’s first makeover challenge as the queens partnered with five presenters from Radio-télévision belge de la Communauté française – or RTBF (Belgium’s version of NPR & PBS).
If you follow my RuPaul’s Drag Race coverage, you’ve just read my thoughts on the mercurial nature of makeover challenges from yesterday’s “Teacher Makeovers.” Makeovers give production carte blanche to make any placement decisions they please, but sometimes that involves less interference and more going with the flow of the narrative.
That’s exactly what happened in A deux c’est mieu, with each queen producing the exact result you’d expect. The excellent queens delivered excellence, the contentious queen delivered contested results, and the low-key queens had nowhere left to hide from the judge’s critiques in such a slim field free of anyone making a mess of things.
That resulted in a satisfying episode, even if it highlighted the particular deficiencies of Lufy as a judge.
In her workroom walkthrough it was obvious that Lufy was playing the Michelle Visage role of giving pushy, counter-intuitive advice that could easily backfire. However, Michelle backs that up with the utter conviction of being right all the time. If her advice turned out to lead a queen astray, she simply doubles down that if what she said was done correctly things would’ve turned out fine.
Lufy is a much less experienced media personality. She couldn’t deliver on the much-needed judging punchline when one queen one faltered because of her advice and another succeeded despite it.
Even if the judging this season feels inexperienced, Drag Race Belgique more than makes up for it with a stellar cast of professional, entertaining, personable queens. We had two queens exchange rankings compared to last week’s Snatch Game line-up, but we’re heading into the semi-final with the three queens I predicted for the Top 3 in the pre-season and a fourth who I was most hoping to see succeed.
(Want to watch Drag Race Belgique outside of Belgium? For most of the world, it’s available as part with a Wow Presents Plus subscription as soon as the episode is done airing.)
Lecteurs, start your engines. Et, que la meilleure Drag Queen gagne!
Reminders: I consistently refer to Drag Race artists with their drag names and with she/her pronouns even when they are not in drag, which is the convention of the show. Some performers may have different personal pronouns. Drag is inherently brave, political, and artistic, and all drag is valid. It’s also hard to do. Every drag artist in the world deserves endless essays dedicated to their talents and life stories. I’m commenting on drag artistry in how it fits the established expectations of this specific television program, but the reason I’m commenting at all is because I celebrate all drag and the people who create it.
Drag Race Belgique Season 1, Episode 6 – “A deux c’est mieu!” makeover challenge Power Ranking
Before we get to this week’s Power Rankings, I think we have to talk about Rita Baga.
I don’t know what’s going wrong with Rita’s styling as a judge, but it feels like the situation is getting more tragic every week. Her looks are getting farther and farther away from her kooky “alien actress” brand and their proportions are getting worse and worse. This I Dream of Jeannie adjacent look could have been saved with a dramatic retro beehive of hair and massive primary-color bangles, but instead it receive a paltry bump in the front and nearly-invisible accessories.
The thing is: it’s not like Rita is so weird-looking you can only do oddball looks on her! To my eyes, she has always been a dead ringer for Adele. Look at that nose – it’s the same nose! Adele’s recent glam-up in her Vegas residency shows that there are many ways that Rita’s looks could have been elevated as the host of a Drag Race franchise. Unfortunately, I think the limited imaginations of her styling team are letting her down.
#1. Drag Couenne – 2 Wins (avg. 1.50, was #1, 1, 1, 1, 4, Pre-Season #7)
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Drag Couenne overcame a slight enthusiasm gap with her partner to deliver a shockingly well-matched pair of makeover looks on the runway. If Athena didn’t require a win for narrative reasons to keep the show dramatic, Couenne could have easily snatched this victirt.
We’ve seen several queens go for a “clowns” makeover and fail at it, including our host Rita Baga on Canada’s Drag Race Season 1. The difference with Drag Couenne is that her exaggerated and slightly scary clown look is close to her actual brand of colorful and slightly scary punk drag. She wisely brought back her Joker-esque extensions from the corner of her mouth, painting a variation of them on her partner, RTBF meteorologist Stephane Piedboeuf. She also contrasted the severe with the silly with their inflatable balloon shoulders.
All of those touches made Piefboeuf’s alter-ego “Jacky-Van-Piperzeel” look authentically like a part of the Couenne dynasty.
It feels as though Drag Couenne is clearly the drag superstar of Belgium. Even if she is forced to lip sync next week, the show has no incentive to cut her over one of these other queens. The real question is whether one of the rest of them can build enough momentum next week to seem like realistic competition in the finale, or if Couenne’s claim to the crown will go undisputed.
#2. Athena Sorgelikis – 2 Win (avg. 2.83, was #4, 4, 4, 2, 1, Pre-Season #3)
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Athena Sorgelikis delivered a strong likeness and an even stronger narrative in her makeover challenge, finally breaking her safe streak with a second win and solidifying her as Drag Couenne’s chief competition for the crown.
If we’re being cantankerous bitches about this a deux c’est mieu makeover, Athena did some rough work. Her own mug wasn’t even the best example of an Athena look we’ve seen, which made it hard to appreciate if she created a true family resemblance on Tipik host Lara Bellerose.
I think one of the problems was Athena painting freckles on herself and then reversing them out as white on Lara’s darker skin. She should’ve simply painted the same freckles, because that’s how freckles work. Similarly, neither of these outfits were particularly flattering. Maybe if the look seemed more fitted on one of their frames it would make sense for it to look a bit dowdy on the either, but it seemed equally unsuited to them both.
However, where Athena came through – and what made her the genuine best pick to win this challenge – was in her connection with Bellerose. Athena originally planning to play out a story on the runway of hiding her love of playing dolls and dress-up, but it was so much more powerful to show that as a mother/daughter shared connection. Between that narrative breakthrough and her shared Greek heritage with Bellerose, who they dubbed Artemis Sorgelikis.
Sometimes shared connection and shared joy can win a makeover challenge as obviously as a similar paint, and that was the case for a deux c’est mieu.
That makes Athena Sorgelikis the chief competition for Drag Couenne by virtue of snagging a second win and never showing a true weakness in six weeks of competition. If she storms into next week with renewed confidence and scores a third win, suddenly this competition will feel the hottest it has been all season! However, I think the judges would keep her even if she is forced into her first lip sync… as long as it’s not against Couenne.
#3. Susan [from Grindr] – 1 Win, 1 Lip Sync (avg. 4.17, was #3, 5, 2, 7, 5, Pre-Season #2)
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Susan rightfully rioted against bad advice from Lufy in a workroom walkthrough that was so wrong-headed it almost seemed like deliberate sabotage. While Susan’s disobedience kept her out of contention for a win, it also was likely the one thing that kept her safe from a lip sync.
Susan’s makeover concept of a pair of old film stars was a perfect match for journalist David Wathelet, who delivered a charmingly oafish quality when in full drag as her daughter Mireille. However, Susan got downright rotted advice from Lufy, who advised her to go hard on old age makeup to sell her motherly connection with the older-in-actual-life Wathlet.
Susan rightfully pushed back on this direction. Old lady makeup vibrate badly against her typical “lipstick lesbian” style of drag. Plus, it would make it even harder to achieve a likeness on her partner.
I think in her resistance Susan still manage to lose the plot of the family resemblance. Mireille has totally different brows and winged eyes, although their noses and mouths do look similar. The lack of facial likeness paired with looks that contrasted more than matched meant there was hardly a resemblance between the two.
Yet, what they lacked in family resemblance they made up for in familiarity in an entertaining runway presentation. If Couenne is the queen who dresses like a clown, it’s Susan whose drag comes closest to actual clowning. That came through on how easily she was able to sell the story of a fading star mother offering up her slightly-homely daughter to a life of fame and fortune.
Susan’s biggest challenge in this competition continues to be the clear enthusiasm gap the judges show toward her drag aesthetics. That’s wild to me, because in a way Susan is the queen in this cast that reminds me the most of Rita Baga – someone more about comedy and character than coming out in high glam every week. I still say Susan is the best-qualified out of this whole cast to make it to the finale as a lovely runner-up, but she will need to hold off the peerless (if slightly dull) professionalism of Boop next week to make it all the way.
#4. Mademoiselle Boop – 1 Win, 1 Lip Sync (avg 4.83, was #2, 3, 5, 8, 7, Pre-Season #1)
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Mademoiselle Boop fell prey to shaky advice from the judges that scuttled her good instincts to deliver something elevated in the makeover challenge. Instead, she fell back on more of her polished femme realness drag. Despite a marvelous likeness between her and her partner, it finally landed her in the bottom.
Boop struck gold by pairing with presenter and comedian Tamara Payne, who is already gorgeous without a lick of drag and who had a great can-do sense of humor. I was sure that this pairing would score Boop a second consecutive win!
What went wrong? Lufy and Rita talked Boop out of a potentially tricky Marionette theme on the runway, and her low-key jewel thief concept failed to impress despite a near-perfect likeness between her and Payne as Carrie Boop.
Was that a fair outcome? Maybe not for this challenge judged in isolation, where likeness is meant to be the main criteria. However, Boop was long overdue for a critique on the low-key approach to drag that kept her stuck in safe placements the first few weeks of the show. This was the week to finally exaggerate things – when paired with a gorgeous partner and coming off of the momentum of her adventurous Snatch Game character.
Mademoiselle Boop was my pre-season pick to take home the crown not because I loved her drag the most, but because she seemed smart, strategic, and in-line with what little I understood about Belgium’s take on drag. However, with the finale just one episode away, it feels like Couenne and Athena both represent all of that much better than Boop does. Susan has shown more weakeness than either of them, so she’s the other queen in danger next week – and Boop will need to finally show of some killer instinct to take advantage of that and make it to the finale to attempt to stage an upset against Couenne.
Eliminated in 5th Place: Peach – 2 Lip Syncs (avg. 4.20, was #5, 2, 3, 3, 8, Pre-Season #8)
Peach has always garnered her strongest notices from the judges for doing fantastical things, both in challenges and on the runway. That means a like-mother, like-daughter makeover challenge like A deux c’est mieu was never going to go well for her, because it relies on her drag aesthetic established entirely prior to the show.
Leaning on a look that referenced local folk tradition in a plain, unglitzy way didn’t help things, Nor did an a deux c’est mieu makeover that skipped out on her pencil-thin brows and hard line of cheek contour – two of the most distinct elements of Peach’s typical make-up.
I think it’s rare that we get to see a queen discover the full extent of her own power on Drag Race, and even rarer for that power to be a previously unknown talent for performance. That’s what we got from Peach, who arrived ready to be an air-headed supermodel but who quickly proved herself to be a formidable actress and comedian. Her pair of losses to Drag Couenne were so slim that I’ve been thinking of them as winning performances this entire time.
I hope that Peach finds a way to continue exploring her newfound power in the wake of her incredibly positive run on Drag Race. She is already stunningly beautiful, but she has the chance to undergo a metamorphosis into a major media darling with a long career ahead of her if she can find the right opportunities.
6th Place: Valenciaga – 3 Lip Syncs (was #6, 7, 6, 3, Pre-Season #5)
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7th Place: Mocca Bonè – 2 Lip Syncs (was #6, 5, 6, Pre-Season #6)
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8th Place: Edna Sorgelsen – 1 Lip Sync (was #4, 2, Pre-Season #4)
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