When push comes to shove on reality television, producing a passable series can often come down to a single character. Season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race was a low after Season 6’s high, due to everything being just so underwhelming by comparison. The underdog role was flat, the winner was barely received, and the “bitch” edit was handed out even lazier than usual. This wasn’t going to be a season highly remembered by anyone. In fact, if anyone was going to remember the season, it was only going to be for Katya.
Due to the fanbase’s insatiable desire to compare every drag queen to a past one, Katya was seen as a knockoff of Willam Beli from the moment the cast video came out, if only due to one similar pose and the fact they were white blonde drag queens. As such, it threw nearly everyone for a loop when a loud kossack-wearing Russian-speaking thirty-two-year-old wandered in and started spouting surrealist humour from the word Go. Thus began the saga of Katya, who not only became the fan favourite of the season but the go-to narrator for whichever editor oversaw the season, because whatever happened throughout the show it was imperative that Katya had a word in on it.
Katya’s is a humour not easily replicated, because it’s just so easy to classify it as randomness. Whenever she put together a look, it would be accompanied by a bizarre story description, like the time she tried describing her “ugliest look” look involving Raggedy Anne, a meth lab, and a porn shoot. Or when she described the staple Snatch Game as jumping through hoops of fire in frog outfits. Or when she described her dance style as “pounding her vagina into the floor until the building collapsed”. It was the staple of Katya’s time on the show and it was as lovable as it was completely incomprehensible.
Alongside her unique humour, Katya also had the sense of open vulnerability to her that many queens past present and future lacked – she was open about her struggles in life, her past drug addictions, and her long quest to being able to love herself. She contrasted her surrealism and her Russian persona with frank, honest discussions with her castmates about their struggles in life, love and drag. There was a reason she earned the fan favourite title of Miss Congeniality, and not just because of a lack of other contenders.
On top of all of her lovable character traits, Katya just brought something unique to the show. She had a daring sense of humour that she didn’t care if nobody got. She had a hand on the pulse of pop culture, and knew references well beyond the scope of possibly even RuPaul herself – who else would dress up the way Katya did for a prison shoot? Who else would reference Sharknado in their deathly runway? Queens in Season 8 will be hard pressed to match up with the extent that Katya pressed the boundaries of humour and drag in her season, in the way that made her a standout not only of her season and of all of the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise, but of all of reality television in 2015.