‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK’ Season 5, Episode 1 power ranking: The new crew

Who will be the fifth winner of the British spinoff?

Welcome to RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Power Rankings! Every week, we’ll debrief the week’s new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, Season 4, to determine which queens are riding high, and which need she-mergency care. No elimination in this premiere gives us a bit longer to get to know each of these queens, while queens who thought they were safe are suddenly surprised by technically being in the bottom five.

(Editor’s note: Crystal Lubrikant, a queen cast on this season, is being all but entirely edited out of the episodes, and was not featured in pre-season marketing materials. Because she is clearly not eligible for the crown, we will omit her from this season’s rankings.)

10. DeDeLicious

DeDe’s got the biggest legacy coming into this competition as Krystal Versace’s drag sister, as well as a friend from their preteen years. So it’s somewhat surprising that, if there were an elimination in this episode, I think she’s the one who would have gone home. Losing her wig during the club dance portion was not ideal, although I appreciate that she sold it well with the split. More worrying to me is how much DeDe’s mug ages her. At 20, she’s the youngest queen this season, but she’s painting like a much more mature queen. If she were leaning into that as a brand of sorts, I could see some comedy in it. But as it stands, I think the panel—especially Krystal’s biggest fan, RuPaul—will start to question her about it soon.

9. Banksie

Colour me intrigued by Banksie’s overall vibe. The seven-foot-tall supermodel thing is a fun gimmick, and like guest judge Kristen McMenamy, she’s certainly not a model afraid of embracing the weird. She’s got a connection to last season’s runner-up, Cheddar Gorgeous (“technically my drag nonconforming parent”), but I get the sense Banksie is not quite as fully baked as a drag persona as Cheddar is. Big red flag: the judges did not seem to like that Banksie couldn’t walk in her graffiti dress. If she indulges in too much unwearable art and not enough fashion drag, I can see the panel getting frustrated.

8. Tomara Thomas

Tomara is giving me Jonbers Blonde: I’m not sure how well she’s going to do in the competition, but I think she’s going to be a major character and presence in the confessional chair. Her mug and hair looked great in her eleganza look, but no one paid attention to any of that because the wings on her look were non-functional. And to be frank, the rest of the look wasn’t much to write home about even if the wings did work. I think she’d have landed in the bottom next to DeDe, but I do believe she’d have stayed. Still, not the greatest first outing for Tomara.

 

7. Kate Butch

I like Kate! She’s fun in her talking heads, I like that she fashions herself a stand-up comedian, and her eleganza look stood out from the crowd. I think she’s correct that Michelle Visage—and, by extension, RuPaul—didn’t love it, though. There were just a few too many concepts going on, and while it worked for me, I could see it being divisive. Something to keep an eye on here: Kate’s favourite Ru Girl is Ginny Lemon, who Ru seemed pretty displeased with after she quit in Season 2. If Kate pulls similar antics as Ginny did, she might find herself on the host’s bad side.

6. Miss Naomi Carter

I really like Naomi! Like Tomara, she noted that her drag scene back home is basically dead—lot of smaller-town queens this season, it seems. Naomi’s Diana Ross–inspired eleganza look was perhaps playing to the host a bit too hard (Ru likes when the queens know their references, but can sometimes look askance at direct appeals), and I didn’t love the blue coat paired with it. But her face, hair and dress were all stunners. I’m guessing she just missed the top five, and if the judges didn’t want to make a point with the next queen on this list, I think Naomi would’ve been in the top instead.

5. Alexis Saint-Pete

I actually like Alexis a lot. She’s got a more sensitive, quirky energy than I expected when she first entered the werk room. I felt for her when she admitted she let DeDe’s overtures about them being in the bottom get to her, so I’m glad she got the confidence boost of being in the top. That said: come now, judges. Alexis was in the top because it was more dramatically interesting for Alexis to be in the top. Her top coming nearly fully apart during the club dance challenge should’ve been enough to land her in the safe queens’ cohort. Michelle even clocked her for wearing too-similar outfits across the board. But the Polish queen leaning into her roots for the eleganza category did catch Ru’s eye, so there’s that. Still, this placement is a reach.

4. Ginger Johnson

Already I see Ginger settling in as one of our main narrators. She not only got a lot of talking heads, but her appearances in the confessional chair were less about others and more about her framing her own journey. We got to hear about her anxieties around performing sober during the club challenge, which made her stunning flower-power dress for the eleganza category feel like a real comeback. Like Alexis, I’m not sure she deserved the high placement—in a regular episode, I’m certain the upcoming three would be our tops. But unlike Alexis, considering what a favourable edit Ginger got otherwise, I’ve got a feeling she’s destined for great things this season.

3. Michael Marouli

There seemed to be some strange feelings about Michael when she first entered the werk room: she fashioned herself a notable legend, but then admitted she didn’t think the other queens knew who she was. She also reminded me a lot of The Vivienne in her opening look, although Michelle went for a more cutting comparison by calling her a Lady Gaga tribute act. She ultimately landed a place in the top with her spiky, glittery eleganza look, which was a real elevation from what she had previously presented. I loved the rainbow-streaked wig in particular. A good first impression, but I’m not head over heels for Michael just yet.

2. Cara Melle

Man, I felt for Cara in that final lip sync. You could just tell she wanted to tear her dress off and dance the hell out of the song. Regardless, she kept up well, and nearly capped off an incredibly strong introduction episode with a win. Cara is our second trans woman to compete on Drag Race UK, and the first American to do so. I imagine she feels a lot of pressure to deliver, to prove that as an expatriate, she has something valuable to offer to the world of British drag. And I believe she does! Despite the lip sync, based on her fantastic looks, terrific club runway presentation and general charisma throughout the episode, she’d have taken the win for me this week.

1. Vicki Vivacious

Congrats to Vicki for snatching the first win of the season! The first victory has propelled some queens to the crown in the past (The Vivienne, Krystal Versace), while for others it’s been less portentous (Asttina Mandella, Black Peppa). We’ll have to see how this turns out for Vicki, but it’s certainly not the worst thing to have the first RuPeter Badge under your belt. I’d not personally have given it to her—her royal guard look is just a bit too expected for me, especially with all the talk about her support of the armed forces—but considering this one came down to the lip sync, I understand it. Hopefully it’s the boost she needs (she seemed a bit nervous, no?) to keep up the momentum. It’s a long race ahead of her, and us!

Kevin O’Keeffe is a writer, host, instructor, and RuPaul’s Drag Race herstorian living in Los Angeles, California. His favourite pastime is watching a perfect lip sync.

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Drag Race, Culture, Analysis, Drag

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