Tops and Bottoms: Drag Race UK Season 3 Episode 3

Welp, this boot order confirms we’re in the worst timeline.

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10. Scarlett

Narrator: No one calls her Boxxxy Mandrews

We’re at the point in UK3 where we now have a firm grasp on every character. We’re at the end of the first act, a third of the Queens are gone, and everyone has sort of established who they are. While a lot of my articles early on are scattershot and I contradict myself as Queens start to find their places, I am now confident in my opinions on everyone in the final 8.

And I have no qualms saying that Scarlett fucking sucks.

If that video hasn’t clued you in yet, Scarlett just reeks of unfun desperation. Unlike Veronica, who is similarly desperate but deploys it with absolutely sincerity, every line uttered by Scarlett is disingenuous and tacky. I don’t know if her angle is to cynically be a production favorite by quoting past contestants and screaming corny confessionals, or if this is actually how Scarlett thinks will help her stand out more as a contestant. All I know is that it’s transparently put on and frustrating. It just reeks of cowardice on Scarlett’s part, that she’s so unsure of her real personality, what she can deliver, and has to resort with bottom of the barrel references to Queens from nearly a decade ago in the show’s canon.

The most generous interpretation is that Scarlett isn’t that amazing to begin with, and that she’s still finding herself as a person. My question, then, is why is she here? She’s not cast filler, this win confirms that. Clearly the show sees something in what Scarlett gives: maybe they saw a more charismatic, less fearful personality in her audition tape, or maybe they knew Scarlett would stay in line and be a malleable character. Whatever the case is, Scarlett’s casting feels like a waste, and my worry is the show will invest heavily in her despite that. 

9. Krystal

Unlike most of the rest of this cast, I’m proud I clocked Krystal early as an attempt at a new Violet. And sadly, I also correctly clocked that she would be terrible at it.

Not to repeat myself too much, but Krystal gives me a whole lot of nothing with her character, and I mean that literally. Krystal is arguably the main character of the season, despite barely being a character. She’s always around, always present, but it’s her presence that lacks substance. She’s pure styrofoam, here to take up space in a season and very little else. There are White Noise ASMR videos that have more dynamic plots than what Krystal brings.

Like with Scarlett, I chalk this up to her not knowing her own power and being too immature to harness it. I get that from a personal stand point, but making two people with this huge hang-up for a reality show your front runners is a lot of misplaced faith.

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8. Kitty

Kitty is clearly some sort of front runner, but to what end I’m unsure. Of the eight left, her position in the season is the least defined and most in flux. I get the feeling Kitty is being slept on by production (that Miss Congeniality quote was fire), but it remains to be seen what happens next.

7. Ella

Ella’s Jan status was obvious from the get go, there’s little denying that. There’s something about her entire presentation that just radiates that very specific Jan energy that has become seemingly inescapable. It’s become so inescapable, in fact, that it raises a more specific question: is Ella a Denali or a Rosé?

With the meteoric rise in the number of Jans post-Season 12 and especially post-Lemon, there’s a greater need to seperate them into two categories to guess how they will function in the plot. The first, “The Denali,” is more in line with the classic set-up: an overeager Musical Theater BFA who fails to impress the judges and goes down as an alleged robbed goddess. The other, “The Rosé,” is the new counter to that. These Jans are instead treated with a lot more care by the show and typically get the end game placements they feel they deserve. It’s difficult to really say if they classify as a Jan, as part of being a Jan is the abundance of failure, but it’s evident that these types are only better positioned due to the show realizing their popularity and willing to let a few of them slide into the finale.

Of the two, Ella is the most like the latter. She’s had her general minor freak outs, typically punctuated by her clenching in a confessional, but the producers clear like her a lot and I can totally see her making it to the finale. Is this a good or bad thing, I’m unsure: I’m generally burnt out on Jans to begin with and I found both Rosé and Lemon very frustrating by season’s end. But for now, I’ll just keep my eye on Ella as she progresses.

6. Vanity

Vanity’s character is a bit more murky than Ella’s, but I mostly blame the judges on that. We’ve seen shades of Vanity’s character pop up across the franchise, but they’re much more inconsistent: the judges just don’t see who she is as a person, and are penalizing her for it. This complaint has always read as unfair and confusing to me, particular because of how unhelpful it is. It’s one thing to say that someone is overdressing or that the clothes wear them (my personal biggest complaint about Krystal), but that’s not what they’re saying. What it sounds like, to me, is that the judges have wrote Vanity off a while ago and have little vested interest in knowing who she is as a person. Which sucks, because as much as this show is clearly pre-planned to a degree, you can at least be more specific in judging her.

The sad part is, like I said, there’s no way Vanity can fight this actively. Probably the most famous example of this particular critique was Bendelacreme in Season 6, and she “showed her real self” by dressing as a fucking bug. Until Vanity finds her “real self” by, I don’t know, dressing as a potted fern, expect her to throw every single thing at the wall until the judges finally give her some credit.

5. River

So here’s the thing: River is our season’s narrator. She’s just facing tough competition in that department.

River Medway was almost certainly cast to be this season’s Joslyn Fox or Tia Kofi: a likable audience surrogate who narrates the season, often with amazing quotes that become remembered even after the season ends. The problem is… well, trying to follow up Tia Kofi. I’ll go on record and say Tia Kofi is one of my favorite Drag Race contestants ever, and anyone who immediately follows her will be judged unfairly critically because of that. I don’t want to give the wrong impression: I like River, and I think she serves her spot well. I especially like that moment where she tells Krystal to fuck off when she asks for specific design ideas, setting up the boot of the episode well. It’s really River’s real fun moment, one that’s both bitchy and foreshadowing, it just comes really late at episode 3. River can have good moments, she just doesn’t the chops to really live up to the 6’6″ shadow Tia casts.

But who knows. It’s the dawn of a new era, we’ll see where River goes next week.

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4. Victoria

This fucking sucks, and yet it’s almost symbolic.

It’s hard to see Victoria go both so early and in such an unfair way. The show in general has been awful to her, using her as a token first and not utilizing her to her fullest while they still had her. And because of that, knowing we lose someone like Victoria so early after not getting a whole lot out of her makes the future of UK3 uncertain at best. Victoria deserved better, and I’m almost glad the show lost her this early so it might learn to stop wasting talent on the table.

But in a way, isn’t this kind of perfect?

Victoria has been the show’s safety net for its first two episodes. The season’s treatment of her has been patronizing, but shes still delivered good moments despite all of that. Victoria was the most consistent characters of the season, delivering great moments even when the show was being bad to her. And now, the show has lost that net. If the season is ever going to recover from losing Victoria, it has to invest in its characters intelligently. The first arc has been dire overall, especially last episode, and now it’s time to nut up or shut up, and finally comment to your cast. Victoria and Veronica are no longer here to do fun stuff uninhibited, show. Now you have to put in the resources to make it great.

3. Charity

If Vanity is getting crapped on by the judges, then Charity is justified in filing a lawsuit.

Now like I said before, this episode was the end of the first act of UK3, and the question became, “what thread do we follow up after this episode?” UK3 has lacked a big story so far, and losing two of its central characters implied it lacked momentum. Where could a season with this low of drama go?

And then the judges were unfair to Charity and she took it out on Krystal, giving balance to the world.

Now I’m not saying that this is going to cause some weird Charity vs Krystal storyline, which I don’t even think would be great. What I am saying is that the show is really starting to set in where people are placed, and some are clearly pissed at the hand they’ve been dealt. Charity can not fathom why the judges don’t like her (nor can I), and is seething in frustration as Krystal gets Top 3 three times in a row being the best mannequin the franchise ever cast. It’s a potential sign of what’s to come, that there’s still gas in this season. And, even though it took awhile for everyone to get going, some of them are primed and ready to go.

2. Choriza

I would like to nominate Choriza May for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Short for this inspired video.

Choriza May is one of a kind. I don’t think I really need to sell you on Choriza because, given my general impression from the fans, everyone on the planet is on board with her as not just great but the best character of UK3. What I want to talk about it what Choriza does so well that not a lot of contestants have: Choriza is fucking quick. The best Drag Race moments are verbal spars that reveal who is the quickest and more creative in the room, and Choriza is unmatched in this cast, especially with Victoria’s exit. It sounds weird to say that Choriza is unafraid to be funny, because she’s not really the butt of jokes, but the point is that insulting Choriza doesn’t faze her like it does the less secure Queens of the competition. Choriza doesn’t pretend she’s perfect, and she knows her limits. It’s a refreshingly honest self-assurdness that isn’t really anywhere else in this final 8.

And yeah, her amazing description of her outfit on the runway is a part of that. It’s not as iconic as Kennedy going on about a Long Night of Hooking, because that’s a moment worthy of being sent to space to represent the best of humanity. But it comes from Choriza realizing she may be in the bottom for her look, and owning it. It’s a silly story, and she delivers it with such conviction that is infectious. This is what makes Choriza special, and why I don’t think this second arc is completely rudder-less.

1. Veronica

My sweet, awkward angel.

Back in UK2, I was eternally unsure about Veronica as a character. I liked her fine, but her presence is a weird footnote of that season: someone clearly set up to do really well but had no real reach with the other Queens or the audience. What would happen if COVID-19 wasn’t a thing or if she didn’t get sick will be one of the big What Ifs? that will be brought up with her character, but not for that season as a whole. I hate to say it, but Veronica leaving was the best thing to happen to Drag Race UK, as it allowed the rise of Bimini Bon Boulash, who might go down as the biggest deal the UK branch ever produces. So with that in mind, I didn’t know what to expect from Veronica in UK3. Would she be treated differently, or will she be lavished with a generous edit like so many other revolving door returnees?

Turns out they just exposed her as the big nerd that she is.

What makes Veronica great in UK3 is that, with the show now fully recognizing who she is, they gave us a goofy yet earnest and complete edit of her. Veronica in UK2 is fine, you can piece together who she is pretty easily. But UK3 really let Veronica pick up the torch and run rampant through the werkroom, letting her be her weird, socially awkward misfit self. Veronica this season is unflinchingly confident, despite the fact that’s she’s doing something stupid. I bet money she thought she was getting an insta-finalist spot. Instead, she confidently walked into every brick wall imaginable and let everyone else pass her by. Her basically making Krystal’s outfit for her is the symbol of her entire arc: actively harming her chances by being such a dweeb.

Veronica’s UK3 is not really flashy, but it’s necessary. In a season where people are still trying to find their bearings, seeing someone so overconfident in themselves contrasts and compliments this cast. We needed the self-assurdness of Veronica and Victoria for the first arc of UK3. Now it’s up to the eight Queens left to get us home.

2 responses to “Tops and Bottoms: Drag Race UK Season 3 Episode 3

  1. This season is such a letdown after S2. At least Veronica outsold this season and gave so much more this season. Everything else has been worse though.

    Like

    • I mean, it was going to be hard for any season to follow up the insane popularity of UK2, and like there’s quite a bit of UK3 I still really like. The problems of UK3 are not UK specific: they’re the exact same problems that hurt Season 13 of Drag Race US. The show has a very loose, very flawed view of what fans are going to adore and force them regardless of chemistry or actual impact

      Like

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