TV REVIEW: AJ and the Queen – Season 1

Ruby Red/Robert Lee (RuPaul Charles) is a legendary New York drag performer who has been saving his entire life to open his own club. On the eve of signing the lease to his club, Robert discovers that his boyfriend of five months, Damien (Josh Segarra) has stolen all his money and vanished.

Now Robert will have to tuck his tail between his legs, get in his RV and go on a cross country tour to try and scrape together enough time to survive. What he didn’t count on was his ten year old neighbour, AJ (Izzy G) stowing away. AJ’s addict mother has vanished in the face of eviction and AJ wants to make her way to her Pop Pop’s home in Texas in the hope of finding a new life.

Now the two reluctant companions will have to make their way across the USA from one gig to another on their way to the Miss Drag USA pageant in Texas. If that wasn’t enough of a challenge, Damien is on their tail, furious that the police are now looking for him. And along for the ride is Lady Danger (Tia Carrere), Damien’s fellow con artist, a provider of dodgy cosmetic procedures to the drag community.

Of course I started watching this because I am a huge fan of RuPaul and of DragRace. It took me a little while to warm up because the first couple of episodes seemed a bit hammy and over the top. I kept watching because once the relationship between Robert and AJ built, it became so charming and hilarious that I couldn’t wait for the next episode. As the two rub off on each other, they start to influence each other and it’s great to watch. Robert’s parental side comes out and AJ’s softer side as well as an innate ability to read people comes to the surface.

Throughout the series RuPaul reminds everyone why she is thought of as the ultimate drag mother. She does so many incredible performances and costume changes throughout. There are also cameos from famous queens in every episode. Those who are naturally good actresses really add to the show and it’s great seeing them. Others are probably there only for fan service but in most cases their appearances are pleasantly brief.

The best part of this show was seeing the character development as Robert processed his grief and disappointment and also moved past his pride to rely on the support of his community. I thought the way AJ’s mother, Brianna’s (Katerina Tannenbaum) story line is handled is very sensitive and appropriate. She could easily have become a pariah but instead she is treated with kindness.

Outside the personal and physical journeys though it is also seriously, seriously hilarious. I cried laughing at the antics Robert’s best friend, Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley)/Cocoa Butter in almost every episode. I feel like Louis and I absolutely would be best friends in real life although we would struggle to share cake. Damien and Lady Danger are just as funny. Tia Carrere (best known for being Wayne’s hot girlfriend in Wayne’s World) is obviously loving playing such a OTT character and has thrown herself wholeheartedly into it.

The final, super emotional episode ends on a cliffhanger so I am really hoping there will be a second season. I won’t pretend that this story isn’t fairly predictable and sometimes silly but I enjoyed it so wholeheartedly that it didn’t really matter.

Recommended for both fans and non-fans!

3.5/5

6 Comments

  1. I don’t mind watching drag performers, but my wife finds them creepy. She is afraid of clowns too, and puts them both in the same category.
    As we usually watch TV together in the evenings, I doubt I will ever see this.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. That’s really interesting because I find clowns and dolls very creepy but I LOVE drag.

  2. I have no interest in this… I love drag queens but I don’t like RuPaul…

    1. Really? I love her so much!

  3. Sounds like a heartwarming story. I’ll have to look for it. Thanks Abbi!

    1. It really is. You’ll find it on Netflix.

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