“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Episode 1409 Recap: Language, A Work in Progress

This is a recap of Rupaul’s Drag Race episode 1409. Spoilers below.

There are fewer cis men on this season of Drag Race than any other. When the season began, we knew five of the queens were trans. Since then another has come out and two of the original five have announced their medical transitions. So, of course, this week is all about cis men.

But first! We begin in the aftermath of the trans woman vs. trans woman lip sync that sent Kerri Colby home. Jasmine says the win is bittersweet, because Kerri represents everything she wants to be. Meanwhile, Bosco is everything Daya wants to be as she manages to be her Gemini self to DeJa without coming off aggressive — Daya can’t even bask in her win without grating.

It’s a new day in the workroom and the queens are happy! Seriously! They’re so cute as they skip in together! The mini challenge is photo bombing photos of famous men and it’s fun in the mildly amusing quick drag mini challenge sort of way. Willow wins $2,500 for a photo bomb of Jake Gyllenhaal with a look she credits to gymnast Mary Lou Retton.

The main challenge this week is faux Drag Con panels focusing on the topic of Men. In recent years, Ru will make choices that feel like little rebellions. Sure, last year had the first transmasculine queen. Sure, this year has two trans women with new ones popping up every day. But Ru is going to now do the TicTac lunch twice. Ru is going to have the queens discuss men and we will have dick jokes. I’m not even sure it’s conscious. It just feels like the sad grasp of an outdated worldview.

Because Willow won, she gets to pick her team. Daya may be the bitch of the group but when it comes to strategy, I really think Willow is the most competitive. She picks DeJa first, which seems like an odd choice until you realize she specifically wanted her as their moderator. She also picks Angeria and Lady Camden. Instead of picking the obvious choices, Willow gets three queens who are smart but who have very different energies than her. She really sets her team and herself up for success.

This means the other team is Daya, Bosco, Jasmine, and Jorgeous. Daya is not happy about this. She gets even more agitated when Jasmine says that she wants to be the moderator. Bosco also says she wants to moderate and Daya pushes hard for that to happen.

As the groups start to discuss their potential topics, DeJa says that men are more than penises, a comment we will address later. Then Ru talks to their group. She calls out Camden for being tentative, which is a fair critique, but also Camden is dressed like a cute little sailor and I was distracted by that. DeJa reveals that her father left when she was 14, and since her mother had bipolar and schizophrenia that she wasn’t managing, DeJa ended up being separated from her siblings and placed with a guardian who became her father figure.

Ru then makes her way to the other group where she asks if they’re in relationships. Daya says she’s been in a relationship for five years and Ru asks if that’s with Satan, proving that when she drops the shtick Ru can still be really funny! She then asks why Jasmine and Daya don’t get along and Jasmine is predictably lighthearted about it while Daya is predictably bitchy.

It’s the day of the panels and Jasmine knows her team doesn’t have confidence in her. But she’s being very sweet and says she’s just trying to be there for her team and take critiques. While they’re all getting ready, Camden talks about looking like her mother in drag — they show a picture and she really does — and then Angeria tells Willow that she appreciates how she manages to be both quiet and present. All the queens are joking with each other and the room really has the nicest energy! I love this season!

Ru comes out on the runway in a stunning silver dress. She then asks what the judges favorite things about men are and Nicole Byer says “dick” multiple times. We will address this later!

It’s time for the panels! Willow’s team goes first with a panel titled “Men, A Work in Progress” and they are so good. DeJa is a great moderator, Willow is a star, and Angeria and Camden do a solid job. Willow talks about wanting a feminine man and Angeria says that she’s called a drag lesbian because she likes to date other queens. Camden says her crush is Blake Lively when she meant to say Blake Shelton, which provided some good laughs and provided me two seconds of immense excitement.

Willow manages to take a panel on the binary topic of men and pivot it to be about fatherhood and patriarchy — all while telling jokes about being an anarchist and still being a virgin because she only does anal. It’s such an impressive performance that balances humor and intelligence. Willow was already my favorite but after this week I’m rooting for her 100%.

Bosco’s team is not as strong — except for Bosco herself. Bosco does a great job moderating, in the sense that she has a really comfortable energy and a lot of great jokes. But the panel in general isn’t very deep. Jasmine struggles to find a balance between talking too much on the first question and barely at all through the rest. Jorgeous stumbles over her words and it throws her. And Daya is fine, but she’s just very shallow.

At one point Bosco calls Daya their resident “dick dog” and now we will, finally, talk about this. Over the years, I’ve accepted that I have a different relationship to discussing penises or “dick” than straight trans women and trans women who have had bottom surgery. In my world, the majority of the people who have penises are women and the majority of dicks are silicon. I understand that’s not the case for a lot of queer people and even a lot of trans people. I can only express my personal feelings on the topic.

DeJa’s comment made me cringe even though she’s non-binary because she said penises instead of dicks and because it was in the context of discussing men. Maybe that feels arbitrary! But it’s just how I feel. Bosco’s comment made me cringe because it was on a TV show watched by a lot of casually transphobic people, but otherwise I didn’t care. The word dick just feels different to me when said by a trans person! Like a straight trans woman friend telling me she has a dick appointment — meaning a hook up, not a surgery — and then me saying I do too when my hook up was literally with a cis woman. There’s a playfulness to it! We can do that! Nicole Byer cannot. I have written about this extensively so I’ll leave it to you to click if you don’t understand why and want to learn more.

The runway this week is shoulder pads! And DeJa has accepted the assignment. She comes out in a look even David Byrne would find daunting. Some other standouts are Lady Camden dressed as the Nutcracker, Willow light on the shoulder pads but still incredible in what she calls menswear from the year 2079, and Bosco as neon Blade Runner which involves a little pair of underwear — swoon.

Angeria and Camden are safe. DeJa, Willow, and Bosco are top. Jorgeous, Jasmine, and Daya are bottom. But Michelle was so harsh on Willow — as usual — and so generous to Daya — as usual — that I was confused. It wasn’t until the judges were discussing privately, and Ru says dismissively that Daya was just okay, that I realized she was the other bottom queen.

Bosco wins. I love Bosco! You know I love Bosco. This win still bummed me out. Bosco was really funny and definitely gets extra points for being the standout on the weaker team. But Willow was the standout on the stronger team! Willow took a challenge that made me roll my eyes and gave it real substance. And her runway was better.

Daya is safe which means it’s a Jasmine and Jorgeous lip sync to “Something’s Got a Hold On Me” by Etta James. These baby queens may need to work on their panel skills but their lip syncing is POLISHED. This is such a good lip sync! They’re both so high energy and a few times respond to one another and it’s just so impressive and so fun. On the one hand, Jasmine has been in the bottom so much, it was probably her time to go. But, on the other hand, how could you send her home after that? So Ru doesn’t! Just two weeks after having no bottom queens, Ru does a double save.

I’m not sure what this means for the show’s schedule especially with the magic chocolate bar still floating around. I think it means you’ll be getting Saturday morning recaps from me for the rest of our lives.

Teleport Us to Mars!! Here Are Some Random Thoughts:

+ If you’re cis, I don’t want your opinion. But if you’re trans, I’d love to know how the penis and dick comments land for you.

+ When Bosco tells DeJa that the safe queens thought she was in the bottom, DeJa calls her a two-faced Gemini. It is really fun when Bosco’s Gemini-ness comes out and this episode was full of it!

+ I appreciated the nuance in the first panel with Camden talking about how she kept herself closeted out of fear of her dad’s reaction, only for him to be accepting, while Willow and DeJa emphasize that it’s a parent’s responsibility to make a child feel like it’s safe to come out.

+ Bosco references Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo with their panel titled “Welcome to Men 2: Electric Boogaloo” and Ru loves it. Ru loves it so much maybe that’s what got her the win.

+ Jasmine says her type is a gamer. She is such a stereotype of a certain kind of trans woman except with added dancing skills and I love all of that for her.

+ During Untucked, we see more clips of Willow from the panel and it made me even more certain that she should’ve won.

+ Angeria’s parents give her a very sweet video message. The parent messages are so much better when they’re from parents who were already loving instead of parents who just want to be on TV!

+ There’s another really sweet moment in Untucked when Willow gushes over Nicole Byer.

+ Queen I’m rooting for: Willow Willow Willow

+ Queen I have the biggest crush on: Bosco

+ Queen I want to sashay: Daya


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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is an LA-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. Her writing can be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Thrillist, I Heart Female Directors, and, of course, Autostraddle. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about trans lesbians. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @draw_gregory.

Drew Burnett has written 308 articles for us.

6 Comments

  1. I thought the dick comments were especially grating from the judges’ panel, considering that I’ve always heard their jokes are a mixture of spontaneous ones and ones provided by the show’s team. Obviously Ru is the main influence on the show’s direction and ~flavor~ but there are any number of people coming up with challenge concepts, editing footage, etc. who imho really need to step it up to meet the level of the contestants for character and humor.

  2. you have all the best takes i am so grateful you commit them to writing for us!! willow blew everyone out of the water for me for all the reasons you said and i love bosco as well and i also feel disappointed by her win. and confused that i’ve only seen folks wishing for deja’s win this week and not hers. i also cringed a lot at the dick of it all. im not quite fin reading and bout to fall sleep but wanted to share my enthusiastic appreciation of u

  3. It’s been 84 episodes, we haven’t even gotten to Snatch Game, and there’s still a Wonka bar waiting to be opened. Someone should have gone home last week. I am rooting for Willow to win the season, I wish she and Bosco could have tied. Bosco was unassailable even with the bottom three as her teammates, so her win made sense.

  4. WILLOW!! Is there anything she can’t do?? I was glad she got her props but I was also pissed she didn’t win. Especially because it looks like from the promo next week she might get the Bad At Snatch Game edit.

    • They’ve used her a few times to be “bad at the next episodes” in the promos.
      Examples: flip flops on the runway, child’s nightmare big arms for the design challenge
      I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up being good

  5. I feel v similarly about the dick situation. Like, I feel like I don’t want to constrict or control other people’s positive personal connections between men and penises, like go off, but I think what I would’ve liked is a recognition from someone in the cast that “man” and “penis” aren’t always connected concepts.

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