God I can’t even say this is the worst final 5 of 2021.
Thanks Season 13.
In theory, I think I should be at peace with Scarlett’s elimination because it was a built up story with a natural conclusion. The nuts and bolts of this storyline are fine, and check out when looking at it factually. But in practice, the elimination of Scarlett is not a sigh of relief but a guttural breathe of exacerbation.
Scarlett feels… inappropriate. She has no business still being in the competition, and all of her moments feel particularly cringey and ill-fitting. While the rest of the UK3 final 5 have the problem have being half-baked characters, Scarlett is overdone and overwrought, the show inexplicably going to her for any semblance of story. It’s baffling how much screen time Scarlett is given considering that it’s still framed insanely negatively. I’m at a loss at what Scarlett was supposed to be, because the show is both extremely negative to Scarlett but also indulges her bullshit. The show frames all of her naive confessionals, her insipid overreacting, and her whiny temper tantrums as just as annoying for the contestants as it is for the audience, but the show eggs it the fuck on, mostly via it’s seniel host.
And this could have worked if the show used Scarlett strategically, but Jesus fuck it didn’t. Scarlett should have been eliminated back at Final 8, as her tantrum during Untucked and the exacerbated looks from everyone else were the clearest sign to production that no one else wants her there. Scarlett’s end is stillborn and delayed, lasting just long enough to piss everyone off. And again, I ask to what end. Scarlett makes zero sense to me as a fifth placer, and shows a staggeringly lack of nuance from production to read the fucking room.
To be honest, I was this close to putting Ella in the bottom this week. I’ve been fine on Ella in general as just the season’s token Jan, but the direction her edit has gone is worrying.
Straight up, Ella is Rosé.
Ella and Rosé fill very similar roles in their seasons: the put upon “everyman.” They’re the ones who are in the right and will openly complain about it the whole time. To which, the edit will validate their position, and like… that misses the whole point. Jans aren’t supposed to be right. They’re supposed to be good-natured but delusional and insecure. Casting these BFAs in Musical Theater as heroic audience surrogates who end up on top isn’t just lame, but it shows the direction Drag Race is taking Drag.
I’m not saying this is the first time the franchise has had sympathetic surrogate, but the insidious aspect about Ella and Rosé is that this edit is ignorant of who they are. Let’s not minse words here, one of the key features of a Jan is being the product of affluence, whether that be being a rich kid, coming from an established Haus with money to burn, or anything and everything inbetween. The entire point of Jan, thus, is a validation that money can’t buy charisma, uniqueness, nerve, or talent. Jan finishes behind the far poorer Heidi N Closet, loses the Madonna challenge because her understanding of her is comically basic and textbook, and lacks wisdom and self-awareness. Jan is, basically, how the world sees young theater kids: screeching, cringey tryhards who have zero understanding of art beyond surface level. And Jan sees herself a hero, another part of her delusion, not getting why the show was not on her side.
And Ella Vaday is that, but taken at face value.
I don’t think I hate Ella, at least as much as I hate Rosé by the end of Season 13, but I think that’s from lack of caring. I think I’d be more upset is Ella existed in a good cast and stole time from them, but this is UK3, a cast that was DOA and only got worse from there. To be clear, I don’t begrudge someone like Ella for what they have, but for something Ella doesn’t have: intuition. Ella is hitting the same specific beats as Rosé, and it’s just getting predictable.
Okay, it’s time to say it, the treatment of Vanity is extremely racist.
I don’t think Vanity is all that compelling a character. She seems nice, but the problem is that Vanity isn’t given much of an identity. Part of that is Vanity just not being that dynamic a person, but there’s a bigger issue we’re dealing with. So far, Vanity has had a number of personal moments, but they’ve all felt very disconnected: being the only Black contestant, hiding her queerness from her peers, her boyfriend’s dick, etc. These moments don’t mean much but they aren’t special or unique to Vanuty, and feel tacked on. These aren’t the kind of moments you give contestants you want to push; they’re moments to you slap on a token contestant.
Maybe it’s not my place to call this, but the treatment of Vanity has felt extremely tokenized. Nearly every single story beat Vanity is put through is Black Queen 101, up to and including the judges not liking her runways and her being the seasonal lip sync assassin. None of these are inherently bad traits, even combined, but they’re literally all the show gives Vanity to work with. This feels like a massive regression after UK2 made Tayce, Tia, and Asttina so well-defined and nuanced. The treatment of Vanity by comparison is shoddy and disrespectful, and while I don’t think Vanity is robbed in any way, it’s gross the show would her reduce her this callously. Maybe this is projection, but Vanity having all of these stereotypical “Black Queen on Drag Race” moments and nothing else can’t be a coincidence.
Yep, no one is a Top this week. First time that’s ever happened. So congrats, Kitty, on the barely earned win.
Out of the four left, I guess I want Kitty to win the most, but that’s mostly out of process of elimination. Krystal gave us next to nothing in the early season, even as she wins twice, and every since has given even less. Ella being taken so seriously by the show just smacks too much of the lamest aspects of Rosé. And… let’s be real, as if Vanity is ever winning. Kitty at least feels like a winner. I’m not always fond of her broad comedy, but I at least get what people see in Kitty. There’s this Ginger-like quality to her that, even if it’s not very telegenic, checks out for being a good entertainer and someone you don’t mind seeing do well. Kitty is… fine.
And you know what? Fuck that.
Fuck this season. Fuck this ending. We lost Choriza and River and are now staring at a final 4 where the best winner choice is a bargain brand Ginger Minj? Fuck that. At least Season 13 has Kandy giving a meta commentary on the season being shit. At least Down Under was shit enough to have off season intrigued. UK3 doesn’t even have that. It’s too boring! I don’t give a shit about anyone in this final 4!
So fuck it. I’m done. This will be my last episodic recap of UK3. I’ll give my final thoughts later in the year, but for now the book is closed on UK3. I just… can’t watch this.
Fuck this season.