Kia ora and welcome to my review and power rankings for the first episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under Season 2 – “Grand Opening” – featuring drag queens from Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand!
Drag Race almost always starts out with a look challenge on the first episode. Sometimes that involves a minor “ball” challenge of showing multiple looks on the runway. Other times, as in this episode, it involves a design challenge with a theme and/or using unconventional materials.
This design challenge theme let everyone down – both queens and viewers. The Down Under queens were supposedly offered some native bush of Aotearoa and Australia, but it looks like they only scored a minor assortment of leaves. And… recyclable materials? Including bike tires and a used mattress?
Sure, those things can be recycled, but that’s not the first pile of stuff I think of when I hear “sustainability.” I’d expect much more paper and plastic.
Altogether, the theme didn’t feel especially green in a natural way or green in a sustainable way. This stuff was uncommonly difficult to work with, even for an unconventional materials challenge. Also, by telling the queens the theme was nature and then throwing in the recyclable trash as an afterthought, it felt to me like they were being discouraged to use it for the majority of their looks lest they get a “this really isn’t the theme” comment on the runway.
That’s the show’s prerogative, but for a version of the franchise that might’ve had the most-hated first season of all time I’d think production would be keen to show all of queens in the best possible light for this Season 2 debut. Even the best of their outfits were a bit of a sad trombone compared to most unconventional materials challenges, save for a particular standout.
At least the mini-challenge photo-shoot felt a little more culturally relevant. Sausage Sizzles are enough of a Kiwi staple that even a ovo-lacto-pescatarian shut-in like me has been to a few. They’re the standard fundraiser fodder in New Zealand – effectively, the Kiwi equivalent of selling Girl Scout Cookies or having a bake sale. You run into them at school events, community fundraisers, and even sometimes randomly outside of a grocery store.
And, yes, they sometimes really do just hand over a sausage wrapped in a piece of white bread. The mini-challenge worked because it was something commonly understood by the queens and Ru didn’t need too much specific cultural humor to make and appreciate sausage jokes.
(She missed a The Warehouse joke on the runway – I’m surprised the editors let the free advertising slip through!)
If you want to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under Season 2 outside of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada you can sign up for WowPresentsPlus to watch the many worldwide Drag Race franchises for $4.99 a month or $50 a year. (Note that if you’re in the home country of a franchise you will need to use a VPN to “visit” another country to see that content.)
My initial Power Ranking is completely backwards from my pre-season ranking. Bottoms are at the the top and tops are at the bottom! That includes some controversial choices – like listing a pair of bottom queens above a pair of safe ones. HOW COULD I? You’ll have to read on to see if agree on my thoughts on the power of the edit to say things on RuPaul’s behalf.
Readers, start your engines… and may the best (antipodean) drag queen win! Leave me a comment below if you’d rank the queens differently than I did – I’d love to know your thoughts.