Tops and Bottoms: Drag Race UK Season 3 Episode 6

I can’t believe Drag Race UK got canceled.

Bottom

7. Scarlett

Boy, I’m sure glad we lost both Choriza and River so that we get even more of Scarlett Harlett performing silly faces and making grandma RuPaul cackle.

In a weird way, Scarlett and her continued existence reminds me of Eve’s over on Canada’s Drag Race, at least from a production standpoint. As characters, I think I prefer Scarlett, because while she has her insincere moments, they came from a sincere place. Scarlett is desperate for validation and is seeking it in a way only someone this immature would think it effective: being a kiss ass and intentionally hitting the same beats repeatedly. It’s annoying, but I get it far more than Eve basically being an online troll and being as oft-putting as possible. Eve comes from a place of just being a gremlin, while Scarlett comes from a place of honesty, and in theory I think Scarlett should come off better.

In practice, however, it’s all a wash because of production. After a while, I don’t care how sincere or not your annoying put upon front runner is acting, she’s becoming an albatross. Lasting longer than Charity and now Choriza and River aren’t just signs of mismanagement of the cast, but of over-reliant faith on a known lapdog. To that end, I might actually prefer Eve’s character, because that at least is largely self-fulfilling and is being countered by everyone, including judges, hating her guts. Scarlett is being rewarded for basically being the most eager to jump when asked, and it’s all coming at the expense of the rest of the season. This season’s cast has never been so dire, and Scarlett played a part in that.

Middle

6. Krystal

Did Krystal… speak this episode? Like, at all? I don’t even remember what she did for Snatch Game.

I think this kinda hits at the problem of Krystal: she just leaves no impression. It’s been a month since her last win, so the overexposure from the first two weeks has diminished, but the trade off is that now we have confirmation Krystal has zero charisma to speak of. We as a society were very harsh on Miss Fame because she was a glamour girl without a hint of irony nor comedic chops, but god I at least remember scenes with Miss Fame. I remember she liked chickens. I remember she had a mental breakdown at someone else getting a message from home. I remember her failing at a lip sync so hard to made Demi Lovato visibly cringe. Krystal gives me less than nothing. Even when Krystal doesn’t do well in a challenge, you never remember it. There’s just nothing to say about her, she’s a cipher.

5. Kitty

I feel like Kitty as Gemma Collins really does punctuate the general problems of Kitty: she’s very surface level. I mentioned last week that Kitty’s humor is extremely broad and for everyone, and part of being extremely broad is that you’re not very deep. Sure, Kitty knows all the snappy one-liners and amazing quotes Gemma Collins has gifted the world in her nine hundred years on this earth, but I don’t think Kitty gets what makes Gemma so compelling. Or at least, she doesn’t utilize it.

The humor of Gemma Collins isn’t just that she’s bratty or insane, but that she’s a personification of the human Id. People remember her iconic moments on Big Brother, like being claustrophobic (Darrin!) or the time she thought she saw a ghost or the time she faked being pregnant, but honestly, I feel these moments express a more relatable aspect of Gemma: she just wants a hug. Of course Gemma is going to through a fucking fit when asked to do the demeaning challenges on Big Brother, no one wants to do them and Gemma is speaking for everyone. Of course it’s silly to see a ghost, but the fear of the dark is primal and something we never get rid of, no matter how mature we are. The baby lie stemmed from being ignored by everyone and handling it in the worst way possible. Gemma Collins lacks rational thinking and tact, but she’s never really wrong in her statements.

I mean, I think we all wanna scream “Fuck off Gillian McKeith!”

And I just don’t think Kitty really gets that part of Gemma the way fellow spoiled brat Cheryl Hole did. Kitty knows that Gemma is funny, and probably knows why, but she never exercises that wisdom. It makes Kitty’s execution technically correct, but the humor also feels hollow and one note. Kitty’s humor lacks heart, and it’s frustrating because I feel she can go so much deeper.

4. Vanity

I think Vanity did well for her Snatch Game. And I don’t really have much else to say about her.

…And that’s weird, right? We’re now six episodes in, down to our final five, and one of our finalists, the one who lip synced twice, is still a big question mark of a character. Most of Vanity’s moments so far have been about her background, generally. We can mock this episode all day for the absolutely clumsy way she handled the sad mirror transition, but that’s basically all Vanity has given us. If Vanity is saying something on screen, it’s almost certainly about her background and the superficial facts of her upbringing. I know this probably isn’t my place to judge it, but it makes Vanity feel like a token. Talking about being the only Black Queen isn’t by itself a problem, Tayce and Asttina had a similar conversation at the start of last season about the limited number of Black gay icons from the UK. But what defines both is beyond that. Vanity hasn’t really been explored as a character beyond her sad mirror moments, which make her character feel more like a sob story than likely intended. I don’t think this is Vanity’s fault, just showing further evidence of the complete bungled handling of this entire cast.

3. Ella

Obviously, Ella deserved her win because has any impression of Nigella Lawson ever not been amazing?

Ella is probably the most defined, successful Queen left after this episode, and it’s so obvious it sorta masks the fact that she’s also not doing a lot. When one gets right down to it, Ella isn’t doing much on this season that hasn’t already been done by Jans past. Ella is a bit more positively framed than past Jans, but she’s also given more leverage than them by virtue of this undynamic cast. Ella benefits compared to Kitty and Vanity by being a very attractive, in shape White dude, but that only gets one so far. Not to wholly discredit Ella, but I don’t think she’s really put in the effort to make herself the best contestant of this final five, resting mostly on the tepid at best reception to the other four contestants.

And like with Vanity, I don’t think Ella is to blame here. Yeah, you can do UK 3 a million times and every time she is the season’s Jan, but I think Ella is trying to stir things up around her but no one wants to bite. This cast is full of a bunch of Queens who either should have already left or who don’t know what to do with a dynamic energy in the room. And Ella just can’t be that dynamic energy.

Top

2. River

Here’s the thing: in theory, River probably should have gone home. River’s Snatch Game was truly awful, and I don’t think it’s really unfair for her to leave right now, half-way in the season. This was when Tia left, after all, and thus River’s boot makes sense in theory.

But in theory is where this boot exists, because Jesus Christ this show shot itself in the foot.

I’m absolutely baffled the show decided now, when everyone is being as undynamic and boring as possible, to ditch its narrator. River Medway has been the brains of the entire season, keeping everything going mechanically via insightful confessionals and succinct rebuttals. The few times River finds herself in drama, she slams hard and fast right back, and never gets ruffled or scared. River is not the most dynamic personality ever, but she serves an extremely important role, one made more important in this season because of how inert and boring the cast in general is.

The reason Tia leaving at final 7 works better is because we had a firm grasp on who each Queen was at that point. By final 7, you knew exactly who everyone was on UK 2 and how everyone fit together. The only relatively undefined character was Ellie Diamond, but she was a meta storyline that was about to be turned on its head in two episodes. UK 2 had a cast that was defined and easy to describe. I don’t know shit about Krystal. I don’t know shit about Vanity. I don’t know shit about Kitty. I only know Ella because she’s a Jan. This cast lacks any backbone or inertia, the entire season by this point heavily banking on the brains of River and the personality of Choriza. And now they’re gone. I don’t know one interesting this about this final five, and it’s fair too late to introduce them now.

And I wanna stress, I would not be this offended on River’s behalf if the season wasn’t so lazy. River’s time had come, I am not saying the show was in the wrong with eliminating her now. But instead of seeing the inevitable boot for what it was and planning accordingly, they let the time run out on them and got caught with their pants down now that they lost the only characters left fans had connected to. It’s a terrible mismanagement of resources, and it shows a complete apathy for the product.

1. Choriza

Isn’t it great when the season randomly chucks its best character for no reason?

As much as River’s exit hurts the soul, it makes logical sense; ditching Choriza as well does not. From the beginning, Choriza May has been the breakout, most-beloved character of Drag Race UK 3, and it was never close. Choriza was never alone in terms of positive characters, but she was the most consistent and delivered more than enough content to make up for the generally drab, boring cast. I’m not going to bother selling you on Choriza everyone on the planet is on board with her, so instead I wanna talk about what we lose in the season dropping both her and River.

It’s no secret, Drag Race UK 3 has been a massive step down from UK 2. For as much a pain in the ass UK 2 had to be filming with the sudden break, the product is masterful and fun. Every single character feels purposeful and utilized, and even when the season would head in weird directions, it showed itself in retrospect that it knew what it was doing all along. UK 3 doesn’t know what it has and isn’t willing to learn. I hate the defense that the season lost itself when Victoria left, because Victoria was only one character and it ignores how plentiful the cast is. I think people speak negatively about the entire final five and I don’t think that’s fair; sure, Vanity, Ella, and Kitty don’t set our world on fire, but they would have made fantastic side-characters to a season dominated by Choriza, River, Charity, and Veronica. I know I’ve been repeatedly unfair to Scarlett and Krystal, but they are truly dead end characters who don’t offer anything remotely engaging and should have been cut awhile ago. Betting the house on Krystal or enabling Scarlett’s tryhard comedy routine shows such misplaced faith that we know Drag Race is better than. This season is so half-assed and pessimistic, it’s a season that infers we would love an Instagram Queen, a kiss-ass, and a Jan, and only be interested in them. Somehow this season saw Choriza and said she wasn’t good enough. And it’s fucking listless as it is insulting.

Fuck this season.

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