“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Episode 1603 Recap: Mommy Issues

Finally some drama! After years of camaraderie — with maybe a villain or two — Drag Race has finally gathered together a collection of bitches. Thank God because Untucked was getting boring.

It’s the first post-premiere episode, which means our week two queens and week one queens are meeting. While I maintain that Jane is a bit too eager to embrace bitchiness without backing it up with wit and talent, her assessment of the week one queens was extremely accurate. Mostly that she says she’s a Morphine stan — they kind of have the same mom — and an Amanda hater — she doesn’t know her just based on vibes.

Meanwhile, Plasma flops even harder at bitchiness saying she knows Sapphira sang bass which feels kind of racist and kind of transphobic. Take a lesson from Jane: Don’t punch down identity-wise, do punch down talent-wise.

But Sapphira can’t be bothered, because along with Jane, she’s been gifted immunity potion for her win in the premiere. Ru explains they can use this potion for themself or for somebody else and that more rules will be explained later.

This episode is a ball! The mother of all balls! Look one is Mother Goose (an outfit inspired by a nursery rhyme), look two is Signifanct Mother (an outfit inspired by a famous mom), and look three is Call Me Mother/Father Eleganza (an outfit made by the queens out of menswear).

Another white twink makes the mistake of coming for Sapphira. She’s working on a denim gown which Dawn sarcastically calls groundbreaking. “You can be groundbreaking, I’ll just be stunning,” Sapphira fires back solidifying herself as one of my favorites of the season.

My other favorite Morphine has a little back and forth with fellow Miami queen Mhi’ya. Even after admitting she doesn’t sew — on season 16?? come on, babe! — she says she doesn’t expect much from Morphine because she only cares about being pretty. (It’s working!) Morphine meanwhile tells Ru she doesn’t know Mhi’ya, but she knows of her. “I’ve seen her perform a couple of times. I’ve given her a dollar,” she adds, a smirk on her pretty face.

Ru keeps things light(?) talking to Q about her grandma teaching her to sew but then disowning her. And then she tells Amanda she looks prettier without makeup. I agree?? Out of drag, I’m like oh Amanda you seem nice, you look pretty, I don’t hate you. It’s just her drag! But Ru picked her so I’m not sure why she gets to act surprised.

They’re doing rate-a-queen again, but this time someone is going home. Also they get to pick the top three and bottom three but Ru gets to pick the winner and which queens are lip syncing. Ever the chaos demon, Ru also leaves the results from the premieres.

Group 1:

  1. Sapphira
  2. Q
  3. Dawn
  4. Mirage
  5. Morphine
  6. Xunami
  7. Amanda

Group 2:

  1. Jane
  2. Geneva
  3. Nymphia
  4. Plasma
  5. Mhi’ya
  6. Hershii
  7. Megami

Morphine is mad that she’s ranked 5th and I’m mad on her behalf!

With talent and charm, Nymphia is the star of this episode. Not only are her looks great — more on that later — but while others are stressing she has time to flutter around the workroom being funny and chaotic. Morphine teaches her to say dirty things in Spanish to which she proudly declares herself trilingual.

The guest judge this week is Isaac Mizrahi along with Michelle and Carson. Without Ross and his botox, this panel is OLD. Good for them! I kind of like the vibe of elders dolling out advice and judgment to baby queens. Feels less absurd than last season when legend Sasha Colby was receiving critiques from peers.

There are a lot of looks this week so I’m just going to highlight some of them. For Mother Goose, Geneva is dressed as Miss Moffat which she describes as 1800s whore but feels more like 1980s sleeping bag. Jane is Pussycat by Fire but looks more like Rum Tum Tugger. The obvious standouts are Q with Man on the Moon, Nymphia with Little Boy Blue (she looks like Orlando!), and, my personal fave, Sapphira as Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater.

The weakest category of the night is Significant Mother. Some of the looks were good, but none wowed me. I did appreciate the sentiment of Nymphia’s Angelina wedding look — personal notes and drawings on the back included. And Geneva dressed as Salma Hayek at the Magic Mike’s Last Dance premiere is an excuse for me to say that movie is very underrated.

The deconstructed menswear looks were much better. Even Mirage who was struggling the whole episode really managed to pull off something that was at least really hot. Morphine is also hot in a denim bodysuit with a witch hat which admittedly has little clarity of vision but is, again, very hot. The obvious standouts are Q with her sculpted collar and Nymphia with her windblown tie look. Outfits like these are why the balls are my favorite episodes.

It’s rate-a-queen and Jane puts Nymphia first to atone for her sins. The final tops are Q, Nymphia, and Sapphira, and the bottoms are Mhi’ya, Geneva, and Hershii. These feel correct.

If I’d been participating in Ru’s version of The Circle, my ranking would have been:

  1. Nymphia
  2. Q
  3. Sapphira
  4. Dawn
  5. Morphine
  6. Xunami
  7. Mirage
  8. Jane
  9. Plasma
  10. Hershii
  11. Geneva
  12. Mhi’ya
  13. Amanda

Nymphia wins making Q runner-up for the second week in a row. But, to be honest, there was no way Nymphia couldn’t win.

Mhi’ya is declared safe — Ru and the producers definitely want to see if they can get a quiet queen comes out of her shell storyline — which means it’s Geneva and Hershii lip syncing to “Maybe You’re the Problem” by Ava Max.

It’s not a great lip sync, but Geneva wins. It feels inevitable but I’m still sad! Hershii was so nice! Alas even Miss Congeniality needs to know how to sew.

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

+ Once again wishing Jane was a bit better at creating drama. During Untucked, she insults Amanda, but there’s no shade to it! It’s just blunt.

+ Hershii worrying that going home means she won’t get more work and won’t be able to provide for her kids broke my heart.

+ Morphine calls Nymphia’s final look one of the best in Drag Race history and I have to agree.

+ Geneva saying she was only in the bottom because the queens were being shady has kind of turned me against her forever. I don’t like when queens lack total self-awareness! Also if that were true, Ru would’ve made her safe instead of having her lip sync.

+ Queen I’m rooting for: Nymphia, Q, Sapphira, and Morphine

+ Queen I’m horniest for: Morphine, my Instagram handle is my full name @drewburnettgregory

+ Queen I want to go home: Amanda, Mhi’ya, Geneva — let’s get some double eliminations started.

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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 546 articles for us.


  1. Amanda seems very sweet and although i recognizee she’s one of the weakest queens, I do hope she gets to stick around a bit for her personality. Too many snide queens for my taste this year.

    • I also found the meanness offputting. I really enjoyed the covid years when the drama was kept to a minimum. Right now it feels like production told then to be MEAN. I always enjoy when queens are friends, sewing dresses together. That is not boring to me!
      Meanness between queens, like girls being mean to each other, both being suppressed groups, breaks my heart. I can’t watch it for sport. Reminds me of the lobster cage scene from the l word, i.e. an effect of patriarchy.

      • Yeah, I couldn’t disagree more with Drew’s enthusiasm for Plane. Even if we’re looking back to last season, Mistress and Luxx’s reads were iconic. Every time PJ tries it there’s zero substance, just nasty ass bitchiness. If you wanna cook up reads and drama, then feed us good, not this cruel gruel! It just stinks of wanting more screen time, wanting that attention and that PJ is another classic wannabe Regina George. How many times do we have to say being nasty is NOT a good thing to base your whole personalty around, and every single interaction with PJ – in the werkroom or confessionals – that’s what she’s coming across as. And that’s HER CHOICE to be acting like this; she’s a whole grown adult. As other queens on SM pointed out, this smacks of queens who barge into dressing rooms, act a bitch the whole time, then get upset when they’re not booked or asked back.
        Do I live for Amanda’s drag? No! But there’s a difference between unprompted saying “fuck your drag” and something like Sapphira did, which was *encourage* Amanda to take on the critiques, practice and apply!

        • I’m not enthusiastic about Jane!! I agree her reads are bad and while I do welcome drama, I wish she knew how to do it in a way that was funny/clever. Also I think Jane’s drag is way too mediocre for her to be critiquing anyone else.

          I just agree with her about stanning Morphine and disliking Amanda’s drag. lol

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