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Bimini Bon Boulash as Katie Price, Snatch Game
Bimini Bon Boulash as Katie Price, Drag Race UK’s Snatch Gamecourtesy of BBC3

Amid trolling and tragic lip sync choices, Drag Race UK’s champions emerge

For a show designed to uplift and celebrate difference and quirks, we’ve seem the toxicity of reality TV fandom rear its ugly head more and more in recent weeks of Drag Race

As we move into week eight of Drag Race UK, it is becoming ever clearer who the final queens fighting for the crown will be. Sister Sister and Tia Kofi’s days were always numbered, and Ellie Diamond is a dead queen walking. This is a double episode review of episodes six and seven – if you’re wondering why these columns seem to be so staggered recently, I have a good excuse: believe it or not, my implants were also held at gunpoint in South Africa. 

The first thing I should confess is that I am a Drag Race heretic, in that I’ve never fully bought into the received wisdom that Snatch Game is the best maxi challenge of the show. In general, Snatch Game is a eight minute cringe fest we only collectively remember as being good because of a handful of iconic performances throughout drag race herstory (in Drag Race UK season one, that was The Vivienne as Donald Trump). The same was true this year, with choices of impersonations ranging from Psychic Sally Morgan to Mel B, dance instructor Louis Spence, and Vicki Pollard from Little Britain. Sorry? Did I fall asleep and wake up inside the pages of Heat magazine in 2006? I was as baffled and confused by the choices as I was by Gemma Collins’ heavily sedated cameo, in which she seemed confused by the concept not only of the game but of RuPaul and even television itself. Frankly, Bimini’s Katie Price was the only top tier performance because of the warmth, wit, and humour she brought to it. The Pricey is easy to mock and deride with cheap shots and mean spirit, so Bimini’s intelligent balance of tribute and teasing was a pleasure to watch. It’s clear why she’s become such a fan favourite this season.

Before her departure, Sister Sister spoke out in the media about the hideous abuse and harassment she’s been receiving during her time on the show. A’Whora, too, has spoken about receiving death threats. “Some of the hate I have had to read about myself has been shocking and incredibly painful. I want to thank everyone who has sent love and support, it means the world to me right now,” Sister Sister wrote for The Guardian last week

There is a toxicity to reality television online fandom generally and these issues aren’t unique to Drag Race UK, but it is regrettable for a show designed to uplift and celebrate difference, idiosyncrasy, and quirks. As comedy queen Lawrence Chaney explained in episode seven: “Words do hurt, what hurts even more is when you see people and they start laughing at you for no reason.” Lawrence went on to explain how their drag journey has been augmented by experiences of bullying: “The way I was treated at school is the reason my drag character exists, I’m here on RuPaul to be the superstar that I am, the one that they tried to stop me from me being”. Recycling abuse, then, should have no place in Drag Race fandom. You can like or dislike queens without character assassination or shredding their appearance apart on social media. 

“What the hell is up with these lip sync songs? Why haven’t I seen Tayce dancing to ‘Scandalous’ by Mis-Teeq? Couldn’t Tia have bowed out to a Sugababes classic? It’s simply not good enough, friends”

Now I’ve done my preaching, it’s time to ask the question everyone has been asking: what the hell is up with these lip sync songs? Jess Glynne? I don’t think. I appreciate the commitment to showcasing British pop, but where are the Girls Aloud bops? Why haven’t I seen Tayce dancing to “Scandalous” by Mis-Teeq? Couldn’t Tia have bowed out to a Sugababes classic? It’s simply not good enough, friends. 

The runway looks continue to inspire audiences the same way that a hit of poppers on the dance floor inspires twinks. Sister Sister’s final runway look last week was serving us ‘northern France First World War graveyard if you were on shrooms’, and A’Whora not only dressed as a clap for the NHS using blue bin bags, but she also stole Sister Sister’s signature blue mouth makeup – a subtle diss which went above the judges’ heads. Both of these followed on from Bimini’s look as a prehistoric bacterium in week six, which levelled things up a few millennia. This show may be completely dissociative, but these queens are so iconic I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. 

Drag Race UK airs every Thursday on BBC iPlayer