Katy Keene’s Spider Woman Gets Tangled In Its Own Web

Ginger Lopez, a drag queen wearing a long, black, curled fall and heavy make-up, specifically on his right eye, looks into the camera. She wears a black, body-hugging alter dress with a blue scarf. She stands before a white spider web pattern projected onto a wall.

In Katy Keene chapter seven, Katy’s big opportunity to step out as a designer may come at the price of her princely indiscretion being exposed; Pepper tries to cozy up to the Cabot siblings for moolah for Jorge’s show; Josie is frustrated that her EP has gotten her nowhere, and Jorge teams up with Pepper to turn his  less-than-desirable slot at Molly’s Crisis into a must-view moment by putting on a one-queen version of the Broadway show, “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”

Katy Keene
“Chapter Seven: Kiss of the Spider Woman”

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (writer), Greg Smith (director)
Lucy Hale, Ashleigh Murray, Camille Hyde, Jonny Beauchamp, Julia Chan, Lucien Laviscount, Zane Holtz, Katherine LaNasa, Nathan Lee Graham (cast)
Based on Archie Comics
March 19, 2020

In the wake of the Ms. Washington Heights Drag Pageant fiasco, Jorge has applied himself to putting on a “one queen show” presentation of Kiss of the Spider Woman, the perfect vehicle for both his Broadway and drag ambitions, as well as a tribute to his (mostly) Latinx inspirations (“Chita, Conchita, and Vanessa…Williams”).  Pepper and François involve themselves, with Pepper vowing to pull in investors for the Pepper Plant through the show before it transfers to Molly’s Crisis, where Jorge plans to use it to maintain his visibility in the drag world and improve his new performance slot. Jorge performs the show solo, half in drag, but that doesn’t draw a single investor.

To cage the money they need, Pepper approaches the Cabots, playing them against one another by lying to Xandra that Alex invested in it, and to Alex that Xandra said asking him to invest was a waste of time. Xandra presses Pepper to agree that if the show ever transfers to Broadway she’ll play the Spider Woman — Alex, in turn,  demands Josie play the role before the transfer. Pepper naturally agrees to the deal because she’s Pepper. Jorge is furious, as he sees the project as both a way to introduce Ginger to his dad and guild his ambitions. In the aftermath he worries that performing as Ginger in front of his father will meet with his father’s disapproval.

Meanwhile, Katy instantly balks and says no when forced to give Patricia an answer about designing her dress in front of a phalanx of Lacy’s employees, including Gloria and Errol himself. When Errol comes to her apartment door and says he wants to call the wedding off to date her, she’s horrified. Caught between ambition and her own sense of guilt, Jorge suggests she manipulate Patricia via her design work, but her moral compass assaults her. Ultimately, Katy must seek another potential lover’s help to fix things.

Josie is frustrated with Alex’s wimpy promotion for her EP. The listening party has brought nothing to her doorstep but crickets so far. Thus when Alex tells her the talent booker at the The Apollo wants to use her, she jumps on the opportunity. Unfortunately, they think she needs more seasoning, which leads her to accept the Spider Woman role, even though she hates hurting Jorge. The two of them join together to create a new act, but even as Jorge gets closer to familial acceptance, outside forces continue to loom large and threatening over his life.

Katy keene, a brunette woman, wears a dark pink blouse and pink short overalls. Beside her stands Jorge Lopez, a man wearing a leopard print dolman, a broad-brimmed black hat and sunglasses. Beside Jorge stands Josie McCoy, an african american woman in a dark purple jacket and blue jeans. All three are dancing and clowning in the opulent, chandelier -filled showroom of the Lacy's department store.

“Kiss of the Spider Woman” leans heavily on the metaphorical content this episode. The apartment is inundated by a symbolic influx of spiders, which Jorge considers good luck charms and his parents consider a nuisance.  There are multiple reworks of “Spider Woman” numbers, which are barely more forgivable than such musical digressions in other episodes due to the general theatrical nature of the episode.

As we get deeper into the season, Katy‘s more fantastical fittings (like those musical numbers) stand at sharp contrast with its moments of realism. When the show’s at its best, it knows how to blend these two facets. At its worst, we segue from a happy musical number in which Pepper seduces Didi to the metaphorical dark side to an earnest scene where Jorge worries to his mother that his father won’t accept Ginger.

Josie’s plot is the weakest one this episode; acting more as an assistant for Jorge’s character development, she does get to prove herself a worthwhile talent, and Murray glows in a shared performance with Beauchamp.

With this episode, Jorge finally comes out to his father about Ginger, but the episode also indulges his worst tendencies: his desire to be center stage and his tendency to make a situation entirely about himself. Eventually he shares with Josie, but it takes awhile to get there. And it was disappointing that François had less than nothing to do with the plot after declaring himself Jorge’s drag mother last episode.

Katy keene, a brunette woman, wears a dark pink blouse and pink short overalls, tries a dance step beside Francoise, an African American man wearing a purple jacket and ascot, puce shirt and blue pants. They stand before a fancy elevator in the Lacy's Department store lobby

Katy, meanwhile, keeps ping-ponging between following her ambition and doing foolish things which embattle her career. While the plot is very show-typical, I still can’t buy how quickly she developed feelings of any sort for Errol after spending weeks encouraging his relationship with Patricia.

And lastly, Pepper felt almost superfluous to the plot this week, though she did get a musical number and a moment to wheel and deal.

But “Kiss of the Spider Woman” is worth a watch if only for the inventive and showy musical numbers contained within it that — for once — work perfectly. Murray and Beauchamp’s duet and a number set in the Lacy’s lobby both stand out as highlights. The rest of the plots, though, don’t have the special spark that helped make Katy so interesting in its first few weeks of life.