You don’t have to be a RuPaul’s Drag Race fanatic to enjoy The Trixie & Katya Show (10 p.m. Wednesdays, VICELAND), but you might become one after watching their weird, wonderful talk show fit for the social media age.
Drag queens Trixie Mattel (government name: Brian Firkus) and Katya Zamolodchikova (Brian McCook) first came into the spotlight as contestants on the seventh season of RuPaul’s award-winning competition reality show. With their own individual brands of self-deprecating humor, quick quips and ridiculous references, Trixie and Katya quickly became fan favorites, though neither won the crown. Although firmly planted in the drag realm, they both delivered comedy that could transcend niche audiences — so it’s great to see them doing just that on their own cable TV show.
Each episode of Trixie & Katya, which debuted in November, finds the queens deep-diving into a certain subject — hooking up, death, spirituality, porn — or, as Katya so eloquently explains, “On this show we take a single topic and explore it inside and out, like a handsy funeral director giving the most inappropriate autopsy.” (She’s a quote goldmine.)
Segments include “Male Bag” (rude comments from “fans” on their social media pages), “Asking for a Friend” (advice questions), “Men on the Street” (in which our stars are out of drag and quizzing random people on their knowledge of the topic) and the onomatopoeic “Thwoorp,” Katya’s take on “Grinds my Gears,” punctuated with the flick of a hand fan. Each episode ends with their final thoughts of the week, “Things That Make Us Go Unhhh.”
There’s something very fresh and modern about the show. It’s not that it’s high-tech — nearly all of the show is filmed in front of a green screen, with superimposed graphics, stock images and text popping in and out erratically — but it’s got this fast-paced meme-like vibe you’d find on YouTube. Of course, the show is based on their popular web series, UNHhhh, and while there are tweaks to this adaptation, it transitions perfectly to TV.
Despite the Russian-inspired moniker, Katya is originally from Massachusetts. On Drag Race, she came to be known for her hilariously oddball costumes (inspired by everything from synchronized swimmers to Abraham Lincoln to Twin Peaks), her impressions of Björk and Suze Orman and her candidness about her experiences with addiction and depression. She went on to compete in RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2.
Trixie stands out for her heavy-handed makeup application (which is really saying something when you’re talking about drag queens) that can best be described as Barbie on acid. She didn’t make quite as big of a splash on Drag Race — her more subtle one-liners begged for an instant-replay — and she played up her rough upbringing to comedic effect (her abusive stepfather called her Trixie when she was acting “too feminine” as a kid. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons!) She’s also been cast in All Stars 3, coming later on VH1.
Together, Trixie and Katya are an uproarious duo. The two have the banter of best friends who can at once egg each other on while viciously calling each other out (in drag terms, that’s called a “read”). It’s clearly mostly improv, which makes their raunchy, rapid-fire remarks even more funny and impressive.
While Trixie and Katya offer perspectives as gay men and drag queens, they delve into topics everyone can relate to, and their jokes land for anyone with a sense of humor (so long as it’s of the dark and dirty variety). They’re quick-witted comics armed with an arsenal of pop culture references — they just happen to be wearing wigs, dresses and a Sephora counter’s worth of makeup while they do it.
The show is perfectly on-brand for the off-kilter VICELAND, which features the fantastic nightly talk show Desus & Mero, the entertaining Untitled Action Bronson Project and Most Expensivest, 2 Chainz’s take on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, in its current lineup.
Trixie & Katya breaks for the holidays before picking back up in its usual spot on Jan. 24. Catch up on past episodes on demand or at viceland.com and peep all of their original web content on YouTube.
Contact Jac Kern: twitter.com@jackern