Welcome to my review and power rankings of the first episode of Drag Race España Season 3 – “Spain Is Different.” This tourism slogan title applied to all three aspects of this episode – a farmyard mini-challenge, a talent show, and a runway meant to show off an aspect of Spanish cultural identity.
Over the course of its first two season, Drag Race España distinguished itself as a fan-favorite franchise and a certified ratings hit in Spain. Part of that is down to the over-the-top performances of its competitors. We’ve seen some of the most glamourous drag out of all of Drag Race from España, but also some of the most fantastical costumes and jaw-dropping talents.
This Season 3 premiere felt a bit small compared to España’s well-earned reputation as the juggernaut of the international Drag Race franchises. I think that may have been an intentional – or, at least, the result of intentional choices in casting. The cast of queens this year is heavy with comedic queens. I’d say as many of nine of them have a comedic bent to their drag, even if they also serve fashion and face.
That was reflected in the interminably long barn animal mini-challenge that kicked off the episode. Between the selection of the animal identities and the subsequent photoshoot, it felt like it went on forever while producing only one memorable moment. Both the queens themselves and the editors seemed confused about if the challenge was about shooting the best photo or being the silliest queen on the farm.
Perhaps the show is chasing the idea of having someone like Season 2 competitor Samantha Ballentines as a winner since she plays well across other Spanish-language media. Ballentines had the star-power of a practiced comedian, but often proved ill-prepared for runways and lip syncs. Many of this year’s queens feel like they are in a similar mold, but with slightly stronger fashion instincts.
However, can a cast full of funny queens defeat a core of stunning fashion queens who are ready to make a statement with their drag? The Talent Show was a fascinating proving ground for this question. We saw several character queens stumble and several fashionable queens were fierce, but three queens in particular distinguished themselves as crossover talents who can compete on both sides.
Even if this episode didn’t feel as massive as prior España seasons, it maintained the show’s track record of incisive, fair-minded judging. Supremme De Luxe has a reputation with fans as the best of all the franchise hosts because she is warm and caring towards her contestants while remaining razor-sharp when it comes to her wit and her critiques. Her fellow judges Ana Locking, Javier Calvo, and Javier Ambrossi have similar temperaments, and that was on full display this episode.
There are several remarkable queens in this cast who surprised me with their talents and “Spain is Different” runways in this episode, which allowed a few of them to climb much higher than I had them in my pre-season Meet The Queens rankings. We also had a first elimination of a queen I thought might be a frontrunner, though clearly I had my signals crossed. I’m intensely curious to see if the crowd of early frontrunners who emerged from this talent show will maintain their dominance all season, as was the case on the just-concluded Season 15.
(Want to watch Drag Race España outside of Spain? For most of the world, it’s available as part with a Wow Presents Plus subscription as soon as the episode is done airing.)
Lectores, start your engines. Y que gane la mejor drag queen!
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