Hello, I am Eric Rezsnyak, and I am dead wrong.
And frankly, I’ve never been more delighted to be incorrect.
A week ago I was blathering on about how the winner of Drag Race UK Series 2 HAD to be Bimini Bon Boulash, who absolutely smashed the back half of this competition with four wins in five challenges. Like, OBVI. And then we got to the big moment and the crown went to…Lawrence Chaney, the big gal from Glasgow who dominated the first half of the competition and clawed her way to the final episode. I was gagged. I was gooped. I was…satisfied.
Please understand, I would have been equally happy for a Bimini win. I think many of us went into the finale on Team Tender Lentils, and if the frankly horrifying internet reaction to Lawrence’s win is any indication, that was true well outside our humble viewer pool. But I hope all Bimini fans understand that even though Bim didn’t win the crown, they basically won the crowd. They are arguably the hottest queen in the UK right now. Bimini now has that Big “Robbed Queen” Energy that has propelled the likes of Raven, Shangela, Katya, and Shea Coulee to megastardom. Bimini is going to be just fine, no matter what. She’s going to be great, in fact.
That said, I don’t actually think Bimini was robbed. I always add the caveat that the editors can craft the narrative to play out however they like. But from what we saw, I don’t think Bimini won any part of that finale. I thought the lyrics in the rumix to “Little Bit of Love” were overwritten and borderline clunky. The performance was fine but bordered on manic. The final runway, a bridal look, was striking, but I agreed with the judges that the exposed panty took me out of the fantasy. And in the final lipsynch to Elton Johns’ “I’m Still Standing,” Bimini was projecting a weirdly hostile energy. That’s a triumphant song about surviving adversity — and certainly the queens of UK2 know all about that. It may have been a deliberate choice on Bimini’s part to appear, well, still ANGRY, but I don’t know if it was the RIGHT choice.
Regardless, I suspect Lawrence was going to take that win no matter what. Bluntly, Lawrence is a better fit for the prize, the WoW Presents Plus solo show. Bimini is brilliant, gorgeous, funny, sexy, political, subversive — all qualities I love. Will that translate easily to a web series? I’m not sure. Lawrence is bold, brassy, charismatic, campy. That basically produces itself. Additionally, if the BBC has any say on the winner — honestly not sure on that front — I can see them wanting to give the win to someone outside England. It’s Drag Race United Kingdom, not Drag Race London, and a Scotland victory instead of a second English one goes a long way toward cementing that. (That said, a bit of inside info: the cast for UK3, which just wrapped filming this week, is almost entirely England based, so…maybe they genuinely don’t care about that.)
None of this should diminish Lawrence winning on Lawrence’s own merits. Many people, myself included, went into the finale claiming that Bimini had a clearly superior track record. In hindsight, I’m not sure that’s true. You have to split this season into two halves, pre-COVID lockdown and post-lockdown. Before they were sent home, Lawrence had a HIGH, LOW, WIN, WIN, and even that Low wasn’t a total failure — everyone did well in “RATS: The Rusical.” Bimini, meanwhile, had BOTTOM 2, SAFE, SAFE, SAFE. You could argue that Bimini deserved High for the talk-show challenge — I would — but her runway was comparatively weak, and she flat-out failed the runway in Episode 2. After shutdown, Bimini came back with nipples blazing, scoring WIN, WIN, SAFE, WIN, WIN — incredible, although she was very lucky to be SAFE in the design challenge. Lawrence came in with WIN, BOTTOM 2, SAFE, SAFE, SAFE/HIGH. Yes, Bimini has one more WIN over Lawrence, but I think their track records were closer than we thought — recency bias and overall trajectory played a factor here — and I don’t think either one of them necessarily smashed the challenges in the finale, nor did they fail. In many ways it was a toss up.
There were, of course, two other finalists in Ellie Diamond and Tayce. I hope that Ellie is very proud of her run. There’s clearly a lot of talent there, and I think Ellie gave everything she could. She looked absolutely gorgeous on that final runway, in a Glinda the Good Witch-inspired dress. But 4th Place is honestly the best she could have hoped for in this season, at this stage of her career. Tayce is another matter. She came in a clear frontrunner, but I don’t think Tayce really showed up to the competition until that final rumix challenge. Her verse was hot, she looked incredible, and she threw herself into that performance — seriously, she literally hurled herself to the floor at one point. That is the Tayce I think most of her fans were expecting to see all along. I would be curious to hear what Tayce thinks went wrong here, given some time to reflect. I do think she has all the elements of the Next Drag Superstar. I think she just needs to figure out how to turn that potential into reality.
I don’t know about you, but the moment of the night for me was when all the eliminated queens — even infamous quitter Ginny Lemon and the sadly medically discharged Veronica Green! — came out to back up the Final 4 during the “Little Bit of Love” number. I may or may not have gasped. I found it quite emotional, knowing what these queens went through to get to the end of this season. I’m sure most of them wondered if this season would ever actually reach its conclusion, much less air. Because of the COVID shutdown, a queen DQ’d due to illness, and plenty of drama, they experienced a more harrowing Drag Race process than any other cast, with the possible exception of Season 12.
I do think, ultimately, you have to think of COVID almost as the 13th queen of this season. Miss Corona Virus significantly altered the course of this competition in numerous ways. Consider the What If scenarios here:
-If Veronica had not contracted the virus and been disqualified, where does she end up? I cannot believe she goes home before F6, based on the E1-4 track record and the subsequent challenges (song and dance, Snatch Game, design — all in Veronica’s wheelhouse)
-If Veronica doesn’t get DQ’d, do we even have a returning queen challenge?
-If we don’t have a returning queen, who goes home at RuRuVision? Sister Sister? Tia Kofi? Ellie Diamond?
-My gut tells me that if Veronica is still in play later in the series, the queens that end up going sooner are Sister Sister, who definitely overstayed, and probably Ellie. Does this mean A’Whora makes it to F4? If so, does A’Whora actually have a shot to win? Her track record was certainly better than Tayce’s.
-If there’s no 7-month break between Episode 4 and 5, does Bimini significantly overhaul her approach to the competition? Or does she stay middle of the pack? She said herself in the finale, she had a lot of time to process her performance and psych herself up during lockdown. Certainly her runways had a massive glow-up post-lockdown.
-If there’s no 7-month break between Episode 4 and 5, does Lawrence lose his momentum? Does he get into his head as badly as he clearly did in the back half? Or does Lawrence continue to dominate the way he did early on? It’s pretty clear that lockdown hit Lawrence hard, and I think you see the mental toll in the back half of this season.
-If Ellie is taken out before the comedy challenge, and there’s no rundown shenanigans that lead to Lawrence and A’Whora “attacking” (I’m using that term SUPER loosely here) Ellie, does the fandom turn on Lawrence in particular? Because if you are not aware of this, Lawrence has been absolutely savaged by “fans” of this show on social media over the Ellie encounter, and I think that’s feeding heavily into the anti-Lawrence sentiment that has erupted again since the crowning.
Speaking of which: I certainly hope nobody reading this has taken part in that shit. Now, listen: I certainly have said unkind things about certain queens on these shows (*cough* Kandy Muse *cough*). But have I ever directly reached out to any of them via social media and spewed that garbage directly onto them? No ma’am. Everyone is entitled to their wrong opinions. That’s literally the mantra of the Great Pop Culture Debate. But nobody is entitled to be aggressively awful to people online. Lawrence deserves nothing but well wishes on his crown — his WELL DESERVED crown, in my opinion. You can love and support Bimini and still love and support Lawrence (and Tayce, and Ellie). Or you can just not say shit at all and keep that negativity to yourself. I will also offer this thought: I don’t think Lawrence would be receiving half the hate he’s experiencing if he didn’t have the audacity to be a proud performer of size. This fandom — like many fandoms — has a horrible history of disproportionate hate being directed to performers of color, and I also think it’s true for performers of size. We need to do better as a community.
So that’s it for UK2! Personally, I loved the season. What do YOU think? I thought UK1 was very strong, and would be very hard to beat. I was “whelmed” by the promo photos for this season, but within 5 minutes of the premiere starting I was immediately invested in these queens. (BTW, that was all Lawerence, who immediately drew me in — that’s star quality.) UK2 has raised an already high bar, and I look forward to see what the gals in UK3 do with it.
And how did you do in our viewer pool? CLICK HERE for the final scores! How did we come up with those Toots & Boots? Check out the final edition of Bird Watch, featuring the return of Karissa Kloss, bringing the season full circle. We critiqued the final runways of all 12 queens, so points for everyone!
But ultimately, there can only be one winner. CONDRAGULATIONS JOEY ARMON! He did a great job with his picks this season and ended with a commanding lead. And what did Joey win? The UK prize package — which is on its way in the mail right now — includes:
-a “UK Hun?” beanie
-a Shade button
-a box of DRUK tea
-a UK2 exclusive RuPeter Badge
Are you jealous of Joey’s swag? Make sure you’ve registered for our Down Under pool for a shot at our Aussie/Kiwi prize package, also TBD. We still don’t know when the season will premiere, but better sign up now before you forget! We’re also going to make it much easier for you all, including trying to do away with the weekly polls. More details on that as we nail it down.
THANK YOU ALL for participating in our little viewer pool. We’ve had a lot of fun and we hope you did too. I want to give a big thank you to Michael Schwarz, our Data Maven, for handling all of the scorekeeping and poll hounding, to Curtis Creekmore, for handling all of our Bird Watch videos, and all of our guest judges. You’re all wonderful and you are my Top Toots of the season.
One final plug: Season 3 of the Great Pop Culture Debate podcast debuts Monday, March 22! The GPCD crew is super excited about sharing this season, and we hope that you give it a listen. Topics include Best “Clue” Movie Quote, Best Movie Musical, and for you “Drag Race” fans, Best “Drag Race” Runway Look (Season 1-Season 6). If you haven’t yet, please Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Audible, Google Podcasts, or wherever else you listen to podcasts of a moderate quality. If you’re not really a “podcast person,” all of our episodes will also now go live day and date over on YouTube, so you can listen to them there (also please Subscribe to that channel, if you haven’t already).
And if you enjoy what we do, please consider supporting us on Patreon. We genuinely enjoy doing all of this, but it IS a lot of work (and money), and support at any level helps us keep it going. Plus, we’ve made some changes for Season 3 that give Patreons even more important perks, so if you enjoyed the podcast before, you’ll DEFINITELY want to make sure you’re supporting us now.
And with that, I have just one thing to say: BING BANG BONG!