Welcome to my review, recap, and power rankings of the fourth episode of Drag Race Sverige (AKA Drag Race Sweden) Season 1 – “Snatch Game,” Sweden’s first try at the iconic Drag Race improv comedy challenge. It was paired with a Mitt Liv Som Tant runway, which translates literally to “My Life as an Aunt” but in the subtitles was “My Life as a Golden Girl.”
Content warning for this episode: the “Elimination Day” workroom scene after Snatch Game and before the runway includes a graphic discussion of sexual assault and sexual violence.
I get frustrated when Drag Race is an entertaining reality show first and a serious competition second. I react negatively whenever a season trends towards making things a game of random chance.
This episode combined two elements that tend to turn me off: bringing back an eliminated queen and making a surprising elimination.
Bringing back an eliminated queen doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. It’s what gave us more of Trixie in Season 7. It created amazing dramatic tension with Latrice’s return in All Stars Season 4 and Silky’s battle to conquer lip sync island on All Stars Season 6.
It’s a mechanic best used when a season has seen some queens eliminated early who felt like they they had more to offer to the show – either as drag queens or as personalities. Even less notable returns from Carmen Carrera or Joe Black still gave us iconic Drag Race moments, because they brought back great characters.
Yet, on Sverige it has felt like all three queens left with reasonable justification: Almighty Aphroditey for being too green, Antonina Nutshell for struggling with the runways, and Endigo for struggling to show confidence while in drag. All three of them brought some amount of certain “not ready for prime time” awkwardness to the show that the other queens never displayed. That’s not a statement about the quality of their drag, just about how prepared they and their packaged seemed to be for the rigors of Drag Race.
As a result, we had a Top 6 who felt like the strongest competitors in this race. Even if the show had already accounted for a returning queen mechanism, if ever there was a time to hold that in reserve an episode longer this was it! No matter who left this episode, they would be someone who had more to show.
Instead, we have a returning queen who already feels hopelessly outmatched by the competition. She proceeded to bomb Snatch Game and the Mitt Liv Som Tant old lady runway, but she was kept by Robert Fux and the judges thanks to a desperate, over-the-top lip sync win against the show’s frontrunner.
I’m not arguing in favor of protecting an early front-runner who makes a stumble – that winds up just as frustrating as an unfair early elimination! However, as a viewer I feel like I’ve lost the chance to see more of the best drag Sweden has to offer.
That outcome detracts from what was a solid, entertaining first Snatch Game from Sweden! Not only did several queens deliver comedic performances, but Robert Fux was a delightful host who upheld his end of the absurd game of improv with both the queens and the Snatch Game “contestants.”
Of course, the unusual developments of this episode shook up my power rankings from last week’s design challenge. With our front-running no longer in the race it’s not only a toss-up for who will come out on top, but there’s a sudden chance for a safe queen to sneak her way into the top three of the season.
(Want to watch Drag Race Sverige outside of Sweden? For most of the world, it’s available as part with a Wow Presents Plus subscription as soon as the episode is done airing.)
Läsare, start your engines. Och må den bästa Drag Queen vinna!
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.
Drag Race Sverige Season 1, Episode 4 – “Snatch Game” & Mitt Liv Som Tant runway Power Rankings
Before we dissect Snatch Game impersonations and Mitt Liv Som Tant runways, let’s take a moment to appreciate this total SHOOT of a look from Robert Fux.
Whoever is styling Robert for the runway should get snapped up by the other European franchises, because he has delivered four outstanding looks in a row – and this is the best one yet. I am absolutely salivating over the pearls-on-paisley-on-buckles-on-bows details of this pastel look, right down to its unlikely lime boots. I. Am. Obsessed.
#1. Elecktra – 1 win, 1 lip sync (was #4, 1, 4, Pre-Season #6)
After a brief stumble in last week’s design challenge, Elecktra is back to being the queen to beat this season. I got the sense that the judges could barely resist rewarding her for a relentlessly witty Snatch Game… even if she did wear slippers on the runway.
Elecktra played Anna Anka in Snatch Game, a Swedish model and reality star. Anka often dispenses blunt opinions in a clipped, matter-of-fact way with a toothy smile. I don’t think Elecktra necessarily perfected her look. (Specifically, Anka always wears her hair pushed back.) However, Elecktra nailed her vocal mannerisms and made her amusing. I feel like I knew exactly what to expect from Anka from watching Elecktra’s Snatch Game and it matched up well with the clips I sought out after the show.
I think Elecktra went a little too far into “realness” for her Mitt Liv Som Tant runway. She wanted to give an accurate illusion of her grandmother both dressed to impressed and dressed for comfort thanks to a reveal to a dressing gown. If either of the two looks read as more of a “dragged up” look then the other one being plainer would have had more impact. Imagine if she removed this fur coat look and the dressing gown beneath was detailed with crystal embellishments. That would have been funny and unexpected.
That runway choice represents Elecktra’s one weakness in this competition: sometimes it feels like she is completing the assignment without bringing any additional whimsy to it. That’s why her campy talent show was such a smash hit! It showed off her imagination and her silliness.
With Imaa Queen out of the way, no one else in the competition has the high marks of Elecktra now that we’re at the halfway point. Yet, everyone else has done at least one more shocking thing than she has. This season is too short to waste any more time on making safe choices. Elecktra needs to surprise the judges again to maintain her momentum.
#2. Admira Thunderpussy – 1 win (was #6, 4, 3, Pre-Season #1)
Admira Thunderpussy finally broke through the pack with a win in Snatch Game. It makes sense to me that she scored a victory for a challenge where she has to think on her feet, as her dry wit in confessionals has been a delight all season long.
Admira portrayed a late-in-life Anita Eckberg in Snatch Game. Eckberg was a film actress and former Miss Sweden known as “The Marilyn of Paramount.” Many classic film buffs would recognize her from Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. Even earlier in life she was known for her spicy opinions, which continued into her old age.
Admira plays her a lot more cantankerous than I can find in any clips, but when has that ever been a bad thing on Snatch Game?! It’s a recognizable caricature of a woman who aged out of her “sex goddess” status but refused to make herself invisible.
Admira turned in an equally-charming Mitt Liv Som Tant runway as an aging showgirl who uses her walker to tote around milk and biscuits. I think the clear differentiator between this and other runway looks she also clearly pulled out of her existing wardrobe is that she gave this one a character. As fun as it is to see Admira serving pure glamour, she’s even better when she’s funny. We can see more of her personality in her humor. More than that, Admira is such a compelling character that we all want to be in on a joke with her.
I’ve seen a lot of fans of this season who are sure Admira is the queen to beat. I remain unconvinced. Right now she feels like an Alyssa Edwards to me – by far the best character of the season, but too caught up in her own world when it comes to challenges and runways. Remember, judges don’t see confessionals! Drag Race loves a self-obsessed queen, but I think Admira still needs to show the judges more if she wants to out-maneuver Elecktra.
#3. Santana Sexmachine (was #5, 3, 2, Pre-Season #3)
This episode should’ve been a big win for Santana Sexmachine and her flair for the dramatic, but she was surprisingly literal in both Snatch Game and on the runway.
Santana brought Gunilla Persson to Snatch Game. Persson is a former fashion model turned TV personality. She’s in a similar category to Anna Anka, and has appeared on some of the same shows! However, Persson is a different character – more notable for a blithe tendency towards absurd moments that makes it hard to tell if she is playing things up for the camera. Santana played Persson slightly more towards the elderly cougar side of things, but she captured her tendency toward hyperbole.
I thought Santana had one of the weakest of the Mitt Liv Som Tant runways. It was just some unevenly applied age prosthetics and a slinky dress. I was surprised at how literal her take on the theme was after a string of highly-imaginative runways.
No one in this cast stands to benefit more from Imaa Queen’s departure than Santana Sexmachine. Despite another safe placement, she now feels back in solid contention for a finale spot she previously seemed to be locked out of. Still, she’ll need a win – and fast!
#4. Vanity Vain – 1 win, 1 lip sync (was #2, 7, 6 Pre-Season #2)
Vanity Vain avoided total disaster in Snatch Game, but the judges weren’t impressed with her impression beyond the false teeth. I was certain that impersonation would be the forté of a queen who insists that “drag is talent.”
Vanity played Anna Book in Snatch Game. Book is a Swedish pop singer and Eurovision hopeful who has never made it to the main competition. Robert Fux and the judges seemed to feel there was a lot more to play about Book than her weepy tendency. I found it hard to get a read on her from watching untranslated videos, but I was getting a robotic Stepford Wife from Vanity when Book seems to be more about being painfully earnest.
Vanity had one of my favorite of all of the “My Life as a Golden Girl” runways. I think this smart plaid suit with a glistening plastic face is an accurate send-up of a beautiful woman with a major addition to minor cosmetic procedures. This felt very Joan Rivers to me. It existed in the realm of fashion enough to make sense as a drag look while still reading as Mitt Liv Som Tant.
With Ima Queen out the race, there’s room for Vanity to find her way to the finale – I’d say that Santana is just barely ahead of her in strength at the moment. However, after failing to show off a talent in impersonation or comedy, I’m not sure what other win Vanity could snag with just three competitive episodes remaining that are likely to include singing and comedy.
#5. Fontana (was #3, 5, 5, Pre-Season #4)
Even if Fontana’s Britney Spears mildly amusing (and I thought it was), she showed a lack of nerve and imagination in not picking a character where she could show off her firecracker personality.
There were elements of Fontana’s Britney Spears that worked well. I enjoyed how she played with Britney’s tendency towards the post-verbal, and she managed to highlight Britney’s unpredictability without feeling like she was punching down. However, it was not a strong likeness and it felt as though it lacked a perspective. You don’t have to do a version of Tatianna’s perfect blankness to play a good Britney, but you do need to decide who she is, and I don’t know that Fontana captured that.
I loved that Fontana took her “My Life as a Golden Girl” runway to a fantastical place – portraying her silver years as turning her into an actual robot. The look was inventive enough to keep Fontana out of the bottom despite her weak Snatch Game. However, I think the concept was confusing because the only literal Mitt Liv Som Tant aspect of the look was Fontana’s cane. I think if some other aspect of her outfit sold the idea that she was old in addition to being robotic this could’ve been a bigger hit, but beyond the cane it was mostly just a fancy silver body suit with thigh-high books.
I have been surprised at how tentative Fontana has seemed all season. She has all of the skills it takes to do well on Drag Race – especially when it comes to make-up! Yet, it feels like she doesn’t have the nerve it takes to show the judges she is ready for superstardom. I’d love to see her finally score a win, especially if there is a singing or songwriting challenge coming up! However, it feels like she might be one of the next queens sent to lip sync based on her current trajectory.
#8. Antonina Nutshell – 1 elimination, (was #N/A, Elim, 8, Pre-Season #7)
Atonina Nutshell slayed in the library mini-challenge only to struggle in Snatch Game and come up short (literally) on the runway.
Antonina Nutshell played Sandra Dahlberg in Snatch Game. Dalberg is a Swedish singer who seems to have a knack for making fun of herself (I think – there’s no translations on her videos!). Antonina vaguely captured that, but it wasn’t a strong likeness nor did it feel like she had a consistent perspective across her answers.
On the runway, Antonina wore another too-short dress for her Mitt Liv Som Tant look. I actually love her hair and make-up in this look, which effectively merged old-lady with drag. However, I don’t know what this outfit was supposed to communicate. Nothing about it seemed to be particularly “old lady.” It was just a dress she happened to be wearing while in old lady make-up.
We’ve had many returning queens across the many Drag Race franchises, but usually when they are outmatched by the remaining competition they quickly make their second sashay without a delay. Keeping Antonina in the competition for another week when she seems so thoroughly unprepared for the runway feels like it is bordering on cruelty. However, I suspect she has the power to be a convincing singer or comedy actress, so we could see her outlast another queen who slips up next episode.
Eliminated in 7th Place: Imaa Queen – 1 win (was #1, 2, 1, Pre-Season #5)
Imaa Queen will go down as one of the most shocking early eliminations in 15 years of Drag Race alongside the likes of Pangina and Lady Boom Boom. She was the front-runner with the best track record (Win-High-High) and the best runway of the night. While she doubtlessly missed the mark with her chipper take on Carola in the Snatch Game, her lip sync to “Kitty Girl” was strong enough that there was a case to make to keep her over Antonina.
Eliminating such a visionary, surprising queen for a bad Snatch Game performance seems like a waste. Snatch Game is a singularly challenging task, and failing there doesn’t meant a queen will necessarily struggle with further performance challenges. As a viewer, I feel robbed of seeing how this spectacular look queen would fare in a singing or acting challenge.
Even if Imaa Queen never fully shed her reserved personality on the show, I think her fashion spoke for itself. It’s so rare to see a drag queen who is not only fashionable, but who has aesthetic that is wholly her own. I started the season wondering if she could really repeat her looks with the short time queens are given to get ready in the workroom, and I ended it completely in awe of how much she was able to achieve in that time compared to every other queen across the franchises.
Imaa joked that haute couture and avant-garde are often opposite ends of the spectrum from each other, but I truly fell like her looks combine both sensibilities. She left me with an insatiable need to know what her next look will be, whether that’s on or off the show.