GPCD Fan Pool: Drag Race Espana S1, E3 & E4

June 21, 2021

First, huge apologies for not getting the Episode 3 blog out prior to Episode 4 airing. Juggling two Drag Race franchises airing back to back over the weekend, especially now that quarantine is over, has been nearly impossible.

Second, let’s do a real quick recap of the important elements of E3: a fun/silly soccer mini-challenge, repeated gratuitous shots of the Pit Crew member in the blue undies (not complaining), the MoCaTriz (in the English subtitles “Triple Threat”) modeling/lipsynching/improv challenge, the “my roots” runway, and most importantly, Inti’s decision to leave the competition after being, in their opinion, judged unfairly for the entire competition up to that point.

We can never really know what happens when they’re filming these shows. The editors are very selective in what they choose to share with the viewers — and not share — all to construct the narrative they want. Was Inti really judged “unfairly”? Not from what I saw. In Episode 1 Inti was safe, and not judged at all. In Episode 2 they were in the Bottom 3, which was possibly debatable, but certainly not a huge shock given how well most of them did. And in Episode 3 Inti was hands down one of the worst in the improv challenge, and was criticized on the runway mostly for the boots, not for the concept or execution of the roots look (which was, in my opinion, gorgeous and intriguing). Inti’s reaction to the criticisms on the runway made it very clear that they are not actually interested in receiving criticism/feedback. That’s difficult considering this is, you know, a competition where you are judged every week. The judges’ comments were actually mostly supportive. But Inti didn’t seem interested in hearing them.

My take: Inti is an artist, and puts everything they have into their looks and performances. So if those aren’t universally praised, it’s taken very, very personally. It’s easy to generalize this as a Gen Z problem, but certainly this has been an issue much longer than the current generation coming up. I think Inti is a fascinating drag performer, but probably not a good fit for a competition — especially not a competition this stacked with strong queens. I was sorry to see her tap out like that, but I thought Supremme DeLuxe handled it beautifully. She seemed genuinely concerned for Inti and tried to assure Inti that the judges were critiquing them fairly, but Inti was done. And so, they left. We then got a solo lipsynch by Dovima Nurmi, which was both bizarre and kind of awesome. I know we’re not supposed to like Dovima, but she has really impressed me the past few weeks. That attitude of hers isn’t for show, and I think she is one of the most gorgeous queens I’ve ever seen on Drag Race. It’s funny that the other girls keep telling her that she sucks, because I think she keeps getting better and better.

On to Episode 4. A LOT HAPPENED THIS EPISODE! My god, they are cramming like 3 seasons into these eight episodes. We got the Reading mini challenge, Espana’s first Snatch Game, and the runway was a BALL in which each queen had to serve three looks: nasty girl, executive realness, and jet-set Marbella. Being painfully white, my assumption on the last one was that it’s a resort town in Spain where rich and tacky people go. So, think Trump land in Florida, for an American counterpart.

The reading challenge was solid. The queens you expected to do well, did (Pupi Poisson has really grown on me the past two episodes, and I thought she clobbered this — and won the challenge), while the ones you would expect to struggle also lived up to expectations (poor Hugaceo Crujiente, you are an adorable marshmallow). Some of the reads were funny even when translated to English, which is not always true on the foreign-language Drag Race series.

And then it was time for Snatch Game! Minor drama as both Killer Queen and Dovima wanted to perform as the Duchess of Alba. Dovima was having absolutely none of that shit and shut down negotiations, basically telling Killer she could do whatever she wanted, but she was doing the Duchess. (This led to several of the other queens saying they were ALSO doing the Duchess, and it made me wonder: wouldn’t it be wild if every queen in a season decided to impersonate the SAME star on Snatch Game? I would love to see that chaos.)

I will be honest with you, I didn’t know the majority of the people selected by the queens. That’s as it SHOULD be. Espana has done a great job being true to its local culture, instead of just parroting American shit. That doesn’t always happen on the international spinoffs. On Thailand, American celebrities were used in Snatch Game. In Down Under, we had Dolly Parton. On UK1, the winner did the US President, for god’s sake. But here, these were largely Spanish people famous in Spain…and also Mona Lisa (or, Giaconda), as disastrously selected by Hugaceo Crujiente.

Even though I didn’t “know” most of the stars, the queens overall did a good job bringing them to life in a way that was entertaining even for the ingorami, like myself. I have no idea who Sagittaria was supposed to be (Encarnita?), but holy shit, was she funny. I have no concept of Karina, impersonated by Pupi Poisson, but that was non-stop hilarity. I picked up that the person Killer Queen switched to, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, is a batshit crazy Spanish politician, but it was kind of irrelevant, because that performance was amazing even if you had no clue who that was (I did not). Overall I thought it was a strong Snatch Game, only briefly going off the rails as Carmen Farala’s confrontational character (Dakota?) got into it with Dovima’s Duchess and Pupi’s Karina. That veered too close to American S4 Snatch Game for my tastes, but Supremme brought things back on track nicely.

The ball on the runway was, frankly, the least successful element of the episode. I think the problem here were the categories, not the queens. The three categories were a little pedestrian for my liking, and didn’t really give the queens a lot of room for interpretation. I thought Carmen and Sagittaria looked consistently great (they always do), I continue to have serious issues with Killer Queen’s taste level but I appreciate that she told a story (very smart), I thought Pupi was a MESS up until the reveal for her third look, which wowwed the judges, Hugaceo did Hugaceo and barely adhered to the briefs, and Arantxa tried her hardest, bless her heart.

Ultimately Killer won the episode — I was shocked it did not go to Pupi, and many of the other queens were as well (Pupi certainly was!) — and the bottom two ended up Hugaceo, who had an absolutely awful episode, and Arantxa, who was by her own admission struggling to find the headspace to compete. The two of them did better than expected in a lipsynch to Byad Gal’s “Pussy,” and I’m so glad this show introduced me to this track. Consider that saved on my Spotify.

Hugaceo dodged a bullet, and Arantxa was eliminated. I’ll be sad to see her go. She seems absolutely delightful, and her approach to drag — this super young, very casual, Disney Channel ingenue thing — may not be the most attention grabbing, but it’s actually quite subversive. But like with Inti, the problem is that Arantxa was competing with some very, very strong queens this season.

That was the main thing I kept thinking throughout this episode: this is a great cast. They really do have every base covered. Pupi is giving you comedy and camp. Killer is giving you drama (Killer is emerging as an unexpected juggernaut, and the others should be worried). Hugaceo is giving you art. Carmen is giving you MODEL. Dovima is giving you ice bitch. And Sagittaria is honestly giving you all of it — a Jill of all trades. It’s a great cast, and I think any number of them would fare well in an All Stars season.

Next: it’s an acting challenge that seems to be based around a telenovela? And someone seriously bombs on the runway…

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