Tops and Bottoms: Season 13, Episode 2

I can’t believe the show was lucky enough to have Werq The World, the official Drag Race bus and truck tour, sponsor their main challenge. God, what a fucking get.

Bottom

7. Tina

As if you could miss her…

Look, I don’t mind someone coming in with a plan on how they’re going to present themselves on Drag Race. We’re 13 regular seasons in, and most if not all Queens come in with not just a pre-planned character, but some a pre-planned arc. Drag Race isn’t just a reality show for these Queens, but also a business venture, and they have to be prepared to come in with certain goals in mind if they really want to make bank. A plan. A cunning way to show production how unique yet relatable they are.

Or you know, they can just be Tina Burner and get credit for one outfit that wasn’t red and yellow. 

I’m unsure what I despise most: the fact that Tina’s paradigm shift happened this early, the fact that it was simply not dressing like Ronald McDonald, or the fact that the show absolutely bought it. This is part of why I can’t stand this specific type of comedy queen: it’s laziness. In a way, someone like Tina has it better off than someone “resting on pretty,” because Tina’s drag starts at the bottom rung and she can progressively make it better. It’s easy for Tina to show growth to the judges because she intentionally wore her worst look first and would be excused for it because she’s an alleged New York legend and honestly? Fuck off with this hand-holding shit. 

Like I said, I wouldn’t mind this if Tina was actually charismatic and could carry a scene or was even crafty with her presentation, but she’s super not. The five total minutes of screen time REDACTED got last season had more nuance than Tina. I get someone playing the meta to be popular, but can you not be so half-assed about it?

Middle

6. Gottmik

I’m… hesitant with Gottmik. 

Gottmik really won me over last week with her effortlessness and lack of caring. A sharp contrast to the screeching Utica, Gottmik’s seemingly ambivalence to the shocking twist, knowing damn well they would never boot her early, was fun, if a bit shallow. And I was hoping we would get something similar in her first proper episode.

And… I don’t know what the fuck we got.

Obviously, the show had to touch on her gender identity, it’s the main reason why she was cast. And I’m not mad at her for choosing to focus her first real episode on that, if anything I’m glad that we can get it out in the air so early and we can judge Gottmik at baseline. But the way it’s brought up, and the execution of the reveal, feels… dicey. I’m not saying Gottmik doesn’t struggle with her gender identity and doesn’t have weird thoughts about being a trans man who does drag. That I believe is something she legitimately goes through. It’s how both she and the show present it. Gottmik’s angst comes from performing lyrics that heavily allude to her identity, but they’re lyrics she wrote and are feelings she wants to get out. Personally, in my opinion, it comes off like Gottmik is pulling a stunt, both establishing her own unique struggles and making herself a sympathetic character. Not to say these feelings aren’t sincere, but the presentation is kinda staged. I don’t hate it, especially because it gets it out of the way early so that Gottmik can have a chance to be better defined later in the season. I wouldn’t even comment on it if we got other things from her this episode. But this was the only thing we say, and I leave Gottmik feeling optimistic but still unsure of her potential.

Top

5. Olivia

So last week, I made a comment about how Olivia has a lot of potential as a breakout star, and I would like to be paid now for my prediction because I was right on the money. Even this early on, Olivia has all the trappings of a stellar growth arc: she’s young, insanely likably, is clearly talented. Plus she’s cute out of drag, that’s going to add dividends to the show. The show clearly knows she’s great as well, and while I mostly side-eye anyone the show picks as a favorite and spoon feeds me like I’m an idiot (as stated above with Tina), I totally buy Olivia.

My only complaint, and one that might be false later, is that Olivia is kinda basic. Olivia’s best traits are her youth and her beauty, but her taste is pretty predictable and basic, in comparison to the Queens ranked above her. Plus, one of her best features, pissing off the established Queens by her mere existence, was absent here and lowers her stock compared to others. However, I’m feeling generous with Olivia this episode, especially after giving a good premiere, so I’ll just be optimistic.

4. Kandy

I love a bad fashion moment and dear god this lamé mess is up there. I actually like the swimsuit, but that cover is awful. Also, don’t stare at where the headband and wig meet for too long because you’ll realize it’s resting like 5 inches away from the crown of her head. 

And really, that’s kinda the story of Kandy in episode 2: just half-hearted failure. After succeeding against the bona fide threat that was Joey last episode, Kandy is filled with confidence and gumption that she really can’t match. Like Rosé last week, Kandy perfectly sets herself up by touching on all the reasons she’s going to fail. She chastises Elliott as being a loser and a possible spy (oh we’ll get to that!) before landing herself squarely in the bottom, and mentions how important your lyrics have to be in your own song because they will hunt you for the rest of your life, just as she comes in and no one understands her.

(Is this true, by the way? How often do a contestant’s songs and lyrics follow them off show? Roxxxy “I’m Here To Make It Clear!” Andrews is the obvious example, but is she it?)

This lacks a lot of the dramatic falls and sense of entitlement that went with Rosé, sadly, with Kandy reacting to her performance in pity as oppose to fury at the injustice. But it still works and it remains to be seen how it will be paid off later.

3. Symone

And the opposite end of fashion, this boxing look is slamming. And then her fashion show runways were *chef’s kiss*.

I don’t have a lot to say about Symone this week, other than gushing about these looks which I could do all day. But my lack of anything to say isn’t because I hate Symone, far from it, but because of her simplicity. She’s effortlessly effervescent, instantly likable and endearing. You totally buy her win, and unlike Olivia, her uniqueness stands out from the get-go. I mentioned before that I fully expect Olivia to be a big deal once the season concludes, and I maintain that belief, but I really hope it’s not at the expense of Symone. Drag Race tends to oversimplify who they think can and should be breakout stars, and invest in these characters accordingly. And if I have to pick anyone to be a big deal, I pick Symone over Olivia any day.

God that boxing look is amazing.

2. Lala Ri

This gold look fucking slaps.

Lala Ri could read a phone book and make it interesting. She’s charismatic and looks lovely. She’s a surprisingly unique view of Drag, a Queen with a different but beautiful paint, and with buckets of personality. I don’t watch Drag Race a lot for the Drag, I’m here for the reality show bullshit that is as healthy for me as a Quarter Pounder with crack. But in terms of talented Queens, Lala Ri is someone I want to see perform.

And it’s so frustrating that the show is sleeping on her.

I am fearful she’s going to leave early, and that sucks. Lala Ri is full of charm and personality, but it’s not sticking. Whether it’s the show or her or anything else, she’s just not making a strong mark. And her lack of confessionals is noticeable, so much that her single one during the practice session gave me cognitive dissonance. I really hope she doesn’t leave soon, because while the cast is actually pretty strong, Lala Ri is special.

1. Elliott

I was pretty low on Elliott from just a first viewing. I didn’t get what her role was supposed to be, why her input mattered. I felt like I was watching a complete idiot trying to exist on my screen, and I didn’t get what her appeal was.

And then two friends separately compared her to Aiden Zhane and Derrick Barry and it instantly clicked.

Much like Derrick, Elliott is a clueless, flashy Vegas showgirl who has a specific style. Clearly a lot of time and money went into her looks, and she has some talents, but it’s clear even this early on her existence rubs people the wrong way. It was amazing watching the other Queens refer to Elliott as a spy or implying she’s a plant, when in reality she’s a clueless idiot who no one likes. Much like Aiden Zhane, this knack of pissing everyone off is infectious when you realize it’s purely unintentional. She’s just a hoe in the corner eating peanut butter crackers and people seethe at her existence. Season 12 is wonky as hell, but man the show peaked with Aiden, a character so great she gave that season’s second best character her most iconic moment.

I quote this every day.

I didn’t cover Season 12, so I haven’t been able to show my unbridled love of Aiden, aka the gay aura of Asa Butterfield extracted and made human who works during the day as an IHOP fry cook and moonlights as a shoddy Drag Queen who pisses off fake bitches from Montreal. And with Derrick leaving criminally early in All Stars 5, I didn’t get a chance to experience many hours of her either. So I’m excited for Elliott. There’s a real good chance Elliott could end up not being great, but I have faith in this egotistical, lovable himbo. Elliott, a catalystic instigator who tries so hard and yet not at all. Elliott, a clueless valley girl whose confessional look is 50% silicon, 50% Sears blazer. Elliott, my unconventional yet potential break-out favorite.

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