Tops and Bottoms: Drag Race UK, Episode 3

Honorary bottom placement goes to this creature.

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The cameo no one fucking wanted.

Bottom

8-7. Baga and Vivienne

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I’m lumping these two together because they forecast a troubling trend that I assumed Drag Race had long abandoned: the terrible “popular girls” alliance. In a very Heathers-like fashion, Baga and Vivienne have used their clout as producer favorites to be the villains of the season, and much like in Season 3, they’re villains who should be a lot better than they are. I love a good, bitchy villain, as my shrine to Gia Gunn no doubt made obvious, but cliques like this don’t trend well because of how obvious they’re played up. We’re clearly suppose to love to hate Vivienne and Baga, but that only works if the villains are charming or particularly sadistic. These losers are just boring.

As much as I deride the Raven cameo, because Raven is the pinnacle of how you can be a talentless, jealous nobody and still be more famous than the winner based on your skin color, it is quite symbolic: Raven comes in on a hood of a car, to which Baga and Vivienne are seen playing in. Raven and her group were the original, unfun group of villains, and Vivienne and Baga are the next generation. The torch has been past, and no one fills that spot better.

Middle

6. Sum Ting

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Sum Ting has been fading more and more into the background, which tells me her time is limited. The show seems content to using Sum Ting just for her sad backstory before jettisoning her off as soon as possible. Hell, this episode she’s not used at all for who she is, but rather as an example of what happens when you don’t take all-knowing RuPaul’s advice: you get a shitty runway look (a notion made moot by the fact that her look was better than Baga, but whatever).

5. Blu

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While Sum Ting vanishes into the background, Blu has slowly but surely been making a name for herself on her best quality: she’s kind of an asshole. Compared to the villain clique mentioned above, Blu is a lot less forced with her delivery and yet a lot more vicious. I am less endeared by pouty, after-the-fact confessionals with “she’s not talented. :/” and way more endeared by in-the-moment “wow, so nice for you to show what you’re actually good at. :)” It’s not much, and Blu is still otherwise a pretty boring character, but this is the step in the right direction.

4. Vinegar

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So, is Vinegar the most blatant case of tokenism Drag Race has had?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Vinegar herself is boring or lame as a person, but this episode really said to me that Vinegar was only here because we couldn’t have nine White contestants and Sum Ting. I was already side-eyeing the show for making the character spot of both non-Caucasian contestants about the color of their skin, and to see them both in the bottom and having underwhelming edits does not speak well to the intentions of whoever is editing this.

Because when I say Tokenism, I don’t just mean that Vinegar is the only contestant of Barbadian descent; I mean she’s that, and has an inoffensive, no content edit. Even with someone like Mercedes, who had her share of token Muslim character moments, the show also allowed her to become the seasonal meme Queen. Vinegar’s edit is just so weak, and is a big Choice in a season full of big Choices.

Top

3. Crystal

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Holy hell, thanks for finally showing up, Crystal.

We finally learned what niche Crystal fills this season: the quirky, ART Queen who delivers “out-of-the-box” looks to the judges, in a way that is just too edgy for the other Queens to understand. This rotted, overused, and often boring character archetype is the very same that catapulted Sasha Velour’s mediocre ass into a win, meaning I hate it on sheer principle. But even ignoring that, these types of characters don’t work for me because of how evident they’re manufactured. Drag Race doesn’t want an actual weird person to do well on the show (if they did, Scaredy would still be here), they want an edgeless poser who pretends to be deep and meaningful with their looks so young fans feel incredibly smart and superior for rooting for them. It’s a trope as tired as it is cynical, and one not inherently made better by grouping her with the new stank popular girl alliance. so why on earth do I like Crystal?

Simple. Because she’s hilariously miscast.

Crystal is presented with all the hallmarks of the token “quirky” one, but it’s obvious that this role doesn’t fit her. Her confessionals, even the one about not shaving her chest and armpits, aren’t pointed essays about what art means and how no one understands her, but just shrugs about how she does drag. She doesn’t spend endless minutes talking about what her brand means to her on a personal level, but instead pole dances so aggressively that her left testicle pops out. And while Baga and Vivienne are sitting next to her, being catty and unoriginal, Crystal is just being quietly polite. The show is trying to frame her as a cross of some Velour style pioneer and Sonique-style minion, but instead she’s more “What if Joslyn Fox had a vocal fry.” She’s just a vaguely positive, random nobody in the background, and the show trying to make her something she’s not shows further how much of a clusterfuck this season is.

2. Divina

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My growing suspicions of Divina being the winner of the season feel all but validated this week, and honestly, I kinda dig it.

With the rise of Vivienne and Baga as the villains, Divina is showing herself as a loud counter to them, and it’s very much appreciated. After Episode 1, Divina’s showing has been very sweet and well paced, making obvious she lasts a long time, but it does so in a hushed and more knowledgeable position. Unlike said villains, Divina speaks from confidence and poise, helped considerably that she totally fucking nailed this runway challenge.

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Top 10 Drag Race looks ever.

Divina gives me a lot of Bianca vibes, but less put upon. And she is seemingly our only hope for Drag Race UK to have a satisfying ending.

1. Cheryl

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Look, I know her bottom placement was to ridicule her more, but Cheryl did not deserve to be in the bottom. Like, at all.

Cheryl is easily the most complex character in this season, and I love every second of it. It’s weird to call Cheryl a “hero,” especially after last episode made her out as some Laganja-style tryhard, but there’s such earnestness and charm to Cheryl. You want to see Cheryl do well, because everyone is shitting on her and making her feel bad for no reason. She’s effortlessly endearing as she tries so hard to look good and do well in challenges and told she’s garbage by everyone, all while delivering boastful confessionals in an Essex, upper-middle-class ascent. While someone like Scaredy is weird just because she’s a weird person, Cheryl is weird because she’s a normal if rather vapid, well-meaning but ill-equipped person who has been made an honorary hero by everyone else being either awful, quite, or the winner.

And I love her for it.

Next Time on RuPaul’s Drag Race!!!!!

Baga and Vivienne drive off a canyon to certain death.

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They will not be missed.

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