I saw many viewers — myself included — heading into Episode 3 with a sense of…obligation, frankly. We were all so excited for Season 13, just as we were for a new year. But as with the show, as in 2021 itself, the multiple twists of the first few weeks, the fact that there have been no eliminations (on the show or in the White House), and especially the fact that the queens are, by and large, not performing particularly strongly (see also: the Senate) have left many people already bored and irritated. To add insult to injury, they started airing UK2 this week, and those queens walked into the work room with an almost palpable electricity. The queens from the Episode 2 challenge were found wanting.
So I’m happy to say that Episode 3 was an improvement. It’s still not great, and I would say still not as good as Season 12’s split premieres. But it was better, and I will take that. I can only speak for myself here, but I think it comes down to personality and attitude. The queens in Episode 2 may be the stronger queens in the competition (I’m not even convinced of that, frankly), but the queens in Episode 3 were far more likable. It was hubris vs. humble, and everyone loves an underdog.
The best part of the split premieres has been really getting to know these queens, and all six of the Pork Chop Bunch got some great characterization this episode. I thought the verses on the whole were better than the Winners Circle — but that isn’t saying much — and a few of these “losing” queens showed that they are absolutely not to be discounted.
My quick takes on the Pork Chop 6:
Denali: Denali barely lost the Episode 1 lipsynch, and you could tell how much that upset her. I think she’s a fierce performer and in my opinion delivered the best verse and performance of this group, possibly of the entire Season 13 cast (Tina’s is also up there for me). I still really struggle with her fashion. I appreciate that she is drawn to unique silhouettes and materials. I just don’t think they work with her tiny body — they swallow her. But Denali is a powerhouse and I’m intrigued to see if she can lift herself out of the rut this dumb format twist has shoved her into.
Joey Jay: I find Joey so likable. It’s not only because he’s very attractive both in and out of drag — but certainly, that helps. I dig the self-aware, self-deprecating sense of humor. The styling choice to not wear wigs because he wants to “see himself in the mirror” is so interesting, and I suspect there’s more to unpack there. Joey is also a terrific live performer, but the verse was awfully weak. Gorgeous mug, great personality, strong dancer, but not sure if he’s got the grit for this.
Kahmora Hall: What an interesting episode for Kahmora. On the one hand, she admitted she struggles to get ready in any kind of acceptable time frame, and she was easily the worst in the verse and performance. (I can’t recall a thing she said in her verse, truthfully.) But I thought her runway look was the first thing she’s worn that had some character to it, and I really got her personality this episode. You can see how badly she wants to do well, and you can see how much she loves this art form (it broke my heart hearing her talk about how her boyfriend is unsupportive of her drag). I came to like Kahmora much more this episode, but she is in danger, girl.
Rose: We are three episodes in and Rose has already taken me on a journey. She has a quintessential New York City vibe to her, where she accepts that the cards have been stacked against her, but fuck it, she’s still going to push through and do her thing. I respect that. We got to hear a bit of her voice in her verse, which was solid (the voice was actually very good). I’ve seen some people refer to her as a bitch, but I don’t get that at all. It’s just New York — you have to have drive if you want to make it in this town, and she has that in spades. I remain very split on her fashion, I either love it (the mini challenge looks were sublime) or I hate it (that mainstage “sheer” look was not it for me, at all).
Tamisha Iman: Tamisha is my unexpected gem of the season. We’ve had drag moms on this show, obviously, but Tamisha really feels like a mother to me. Listening to her talk about her literally iconic daughter, the late great Tandi Iman Dupree (here’s the full video they referenced on the show — watch it, know your herstory), was so moving. And Tamisha herself is just LOVELY. I feel like they’re giving her a storyline of taking a back seat so others can shine, or perhaps waiting just a little too late to show up to the Race, but I hope not. She is the soul of this season and I love her for it.
Utica Queen: Utica surprised me by sharing her faith this episode. That’s a storyline I’ve never seen on this show. I will confess that I am not gagging over the fashions she is serving up onscreen so far, and I consider Utica a kooky look queen, so that’s a problem. I think she just came out so hard with those impeccable promo looks that what she’s served on the actual show pales in comparison. Still, I find her interesting, and I think the paint is always creative. But I don’t feel like she’s living up to potential just yet.
So, what are your thoughts on the Season 13 queens? Drop a comment here or on the Facebook pool group.
Speaking of pools, HERE IS THE UPDATED SCOREBOARD! See how you’re stacking up so far. And MAKE SURE TO GET IN YOUR EPISODE 4 PICKS! Those are due by Thursday night and you can pick up some easy points. Thank you to Michael Schwarz, our data master, for all his hard work on this.
Want to see how we can up witht he toots, boots, etc.? Make sure you watch Photo Finish, our video series edited by Curtis Creekmore (thank you, Curtis!). This week I’m joined by special guest judge Kai Nessett-Chin! Watch now: