‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK’ S3E1 Recap: Fancy A Scone?
Chorzia May: the greatest drag name ever?
And we’re off! For all of the talk of Drag Race fatigue, these past three weeks without an (English language) version of the show airing have felt like a much longer break. Remodelled, remastered and ready for action.
Twelve new queens! Well, eleven: Veronica Green is the first to enter the werkroom, after contracting COVID just before S2 resumed filming last year. Great to see her back — as we saw in the COVID special, she fell into a pretty deep depression during that first lockdown leg, and then to not be able to come back to the show? Heartbreaking.
On another note, it’s such an added stress — she’s already spent money and time on S2 looks, and now had to start again to hit the prompts. S3 filmed in March, too, just after S2 finished airing (!!!): Veronica’s got all the expectations she’s ‘upped’ her drag but has had no time or resources to really do so. Love her a lot, but I wonder whether they could have held her for S4 instead. Lot of pressure in a difficult time.
Same goes for River Medway, one of the season’s early standouts (despite landing in the bottom three), a charming 22-year-old whose mother died of COVID just a fortnight before she got the call to be on the show.
She seemed to have her head screwed on right and was witty and present all episode, but God, what timing: so many feelings for someone to go through, all at once. (All these queens have probably had a rough year, really: always worth remembering while watching.)
The other big talking point this season is Victoria Scone, Drag Race‘s first AFAB (‘assigned female at birth’) queen: that’s to say, she is a queer cis woman. As all the queens say as she enters, this is history (for the show).
Between Victoria, GottMik and Kylie, Drag Race has really clarified this year that any and all genders can do drag. If we’re being cynical (hi!), the change was motivated largely by bad press: even so, it’ll genuinely going to change people’s perspectives on both drag and how dumb gender restrictions are. While trans and AFAB are performing across our bars, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily respected by audiences (or even other queens, considering how easily queer men can slip into misogyny). Drag Race, for better or worse, has enough power to shift that.
Since Ru’s been shouting ‘we’re all born naked and the rest is drag’ for more than a decade now, it’s nice of the show to catch up — and especially with Victoria, who is immediately my front-runner for the season. Effortlessly funny! Warm! Witty!
Queer women also have such limited opportunities to be fun on TV and film: instead, they tend to be yearning and stuck in the 19th century. Hot, but pretty much every queer woman I know is incredibly funny, kind and smart (before you say anything, yes, I know some shit ones too!!). Nice to see that on Drag Race, and as we saw this episode, Victoria’s presence only opened the show up to new conversations.
UK3 is also fairly representative geographically: previous seasons have been pretty London-centric, but these queens come from all over the kingdom. While we’re on representation, this cast is about as white as Down Under, which is a shame.
There’s even a Scarlett, too (our third of the year) and an Elektra, a 5’2 short king who somehow ends up in the bottom. Nobody tell Jaboukie, otherwise he’ll organise a pro-short king protest (I am an ally, but I’ll be busy that day).
Here Is A Sub-Heading Just To Break Up The Article, Not Really Any Shift In What I’m Writing About
Lots to get through in a premiere. This cast is filled with huge personalities: it’s hard to pick favourites just yet, but alongside Victoria, I instantly fell in love with Choriza May. Perfect drag name (has she asked Theresa how she feels about it?), excellent style (that hand-painted “art” look!), and an incredibly incendiary intro: “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful, hate me because I’m an immigrant”.
Kitty Scott Claus, Ella Vaday and Scarlett were all great, but as of episode one, sit in a similar space of ‘campy white British queen’. Excited to see more (and obsessed with Scarlett’s accent).
Charity is another front-runner for me, too: as someone of Marrickville experience, I am a sucker for an edgy queer with dumb, shitty tattoos. Awaiting the inevitable ‘but can she do glamour’ storyline, but confident she’ll pass through. Top three boy boss slay vibes for sure.
This year, we have two 19-year-olds, Anubis and Krystal. As someone of ‘has aged into late 20something during the pandemic’, I am aware that my feelings about them are wrapped up in resentment: how dare they be so confidently queer at a young age!
Trying to put that aside, neither really stood out to me. Anubis is a more interesting queen to me, as she’s going for something unique even if I agreed she was the one to go home this episode.
Krystal is technically amazing, but as of episode one (and I hope I’m proven wrong), I can’t connect. Reminiscent of Violet or Aquaria, though I think both of those queens had a strong presence off the bat on their seasons that established they were more than just someone who loved to turn looks and stunt pretty.
To be fair though, this week was essentially just a runway: turning looks and stunting pretty was the brief, and Krystal, clearly, ‘understood the assignment’.
Vanity was probably the only queen that didn’t make much of an impression so far, with probably the smallest screen-time. What I saw, I liked (well, not this entrance look, but the rest of it!).
I Was Quite Drunk When I First Watched This Episode And The ‘My Favourite Things’ Runway Really Confused Me
As is now custom
, this week’s maxi challenge is two category runway: first, the classic ‘hometown look’, and then the wildly vague ‘my favourite thing’.
(We also have a mini-challenge of dirty charades, Ru’s favourite game in the world. As an aside, where is What’s The T? I miss hearing her and Michelle talk about LA traffic, mispronouncing names, and play charades.)
Victoria and Krystal are our top two this week: Victoria, if you couldn’t tell by now, was my pick for the win this week, but they give it to Krystal after the two lip-sync for the win to ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’ (also questionable, but whatever!).
Victoria’s looks were OTT, colourful, filled with character: at risk of sounding like Michelle, I didn’t learn anything about Krystal from her looks.
The other obvious top was Charity, whose Pennywise and Rose-monster looks were just so detailed, so well-done! It’s bold to give a murderous clown a mere safe, but vengeance is a dish best served next week on the runway. I doubt Charity is going anywhere anytime soon.
I barely remembered Scarlett’s looks, but she is a charismatic performer so I don’t begrudge she’s in the top three. Even if her ‘music’ look is pretty simplistic, she sells it.
I was really surprised to see Elektra in the bottom. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a Fifth Harmony ‘Work From Home’ look (complete with not knowing how to use tools), but her miner runway did the job, and making your favourite thing ‘my birthday’ is incredibly funny (very Jordan Firstman).
I probably would have put Kitty in the bottom instead of Elektra, if only because her ABBA look was straight out of a bag(atha). Everyone else I lump into the safe category, but God bless Choriza’s art look, Vanity’s tulle with Black postcodes, and Veronica’s gaymer representation. She’s such a dork, love her.
After Krystal and Victoria lip-sync, Elektra and Anubis fight for their spots to a Fifth Harmony song. The curse of representing Brighton Pier strikes again, and Anubis sashays away (does this mean Elektra is this season’s Bimini?).
Next week is a dancing challenge/parody of Peleton bikes, that famously UK trend.
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK S3 is available on Stan, with episodes arriving each Friday 6am AEST.
Jared Richards is Junkee’s Drag Race recapper, and a freelance critic who has written for The Guardian, The Monthly, NME and more. He’s on Twitter @jrdjms