RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 16, Episode 4 gave us another rendition of RDR Live – their spoof on Saturday Night Live – with with an all-time great “Night of 1,000 Chers” runway branded as “Everything Every-Cher All At Once.” The combo led to some great television, a shocking win, and some shake-ups in the power ranking!
This episode emphasized our tightly-grouped trio of front-runners, but it also allowed several queens from the middle of the pack to make a case for why they should stick around until the back half of the season. There was no “I was rooting for us” levels of disastrous performances here, although one queen in particular completely missed the reference of her skit.
RDR Live is actually an interesting bit of illusion. Because it is satirizing Saturday Night Live, it’s easy to think of it as an improv challenge where queens have some control over their fate. However, it’s really just a scripted comedy acting challenge like Daytona Wind, which means certain roles are locked in as mediocre or even risky based on the script.
(Here’s another interesting tidbit to mull over: These queens may have shot this “RDR Live” challenge without even seeing the All Stars Season 8 version, which aired around the same time this cast was sequestered. Of course, you don’t have to see a spoof of SNL to know how to play a spoof of SNL, but it meant that they were choosing roles without any intel of how Ru and the judges reacted to similar choices from another cast of queens.)
The result was the three front-runner queens making wise choices and doing well for themselves, one upstart taking a risk and paying it off big-time, and a handful of potential cannon fodder queens doing their best to break out of the pack of early-outs.
That yielded a Bottom Two that surprised me with a shocking elimination that I claimed would be impossible in my Power Rankings of the Mother of All Balls last week. Not only was this episode’s “Sashay Away” a shocker, but it also slightly jostled our pack of front-runners with a potential new narrative.
Readers, start your engines. And, may the best drag queen win!