21st Jan2020

‘AJ and the Queen’ Season 1 Review (Netflix)

by Rhys Payne

Stars: RuPaul, Izzy G., Michael-Leon Wooley, Josh Segarra, Katerina Tannenbaum, Tia Carrere, Matthew Wilkas, Jo Farkas, Shawana Carter | Created by Michael Patrick King, RuPaul

aj-queen-poster

As an avid fan of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, I was tremendously excited when it was announced that RuPaul would be staring in a new Netflix show titled AJ and the Queen and it certainly didn’t disappoint. This series follows a down on his kick drag performer Robert who performs as Ruby Red (played by Ru Paul Charles) as he somehow ends up with a ten-year-old stowaway as he tours America trying to rebuild his life.

As you can imagine, AJ and the Queen is a show that contains a lot of Drag Queens – which is fantastic for representation and empowerment for viewers and encourages them to live their best life. It is an incredible thing that drag has made it into a mainstream show especially when you consider that it is not a drag-focused show (such as Drag Race) but instead it is just an aspect of these characters lives, people simply shown to be normal everyday folk who partake in drag rather than just being drag queens. It shows both the male side and female side of drag which again helps to portray these drag queens as ordinary people which can only benefit the community as a whole. The majority of the drag queens on this are alumni from drag race (including Latrice Royale, Trinity the Tuck, Porkchop, Manila Luzon etc.) so if you enjoy drag race you will get an extra kick out of seeing some familiar faces in the show.

AJ and the Queen also contains many references and hidden jokes that relate to the drag race girls so this is an added layer of entertainment for those who are familiar with these stars. Clearly, the star of this show was Ru Paul himself as he is a focal character in the show. I never realised how incredible a performer Ru is as I only knew him from Drag Race where he is a judge. The actual outfits that appear in this show are incredible and it truly showcases every drag queen especially Ru – one costume in particular that stands out is the look inspired by Sandy from Grease which was absolutely stunning.

This is a show that on the outside is campy and loads of fun. It has some very hilarious scenes that were great to watch, for example, there is a scene in which Robert is enlisted to help with a production of Grease and becomes very annoyed when the performers say there are little costumes and no wigs. In fact, this entire episode is one of the greatest of the series, as it is not only hilarious at times but also includes two of the most important lessons this series portrays. The first of which is an incredibly moving and emotional scene in which Robert talks to his friend about how people often tell him he is too much and comes on too strong. This conversation develops and eventually, it is said that if people think you are too much then that’s their problem and it has nothing to do with you so you need to live your life rather than worrying what other people think of you. The second occurs in a scene where Robert informs a parent that if they need to accept and embrace there child for who they are otherwise the child won’t be themselves and this is obviously very damaging for a child. These two lessons are extremely important and emotional and it was fantastic to see them included in this series.

Technically speaking AJ and the Queen opens in a very dark and mysterious manner which is not what you would expect from the series. It definitely helps to grab the audience’s attention in the opening minutes and keeps them on the edge of their seat. What is clever about AJ and the Queen is that later in the series the show references back to these scenes which makes for a very enjoyable watch for the audience. A highlight for me personally in this show is a scene which takes place in a hospital and jumps back and forth in time. Normally going forwards and backwards in time can be really difficult to produce well and the audience often gets confused and frustrated but this show was able to produce effortless transitions which were beautiful to witness.

One of Roberts longest friend is called Louis, who performs as cocoa butter, and is played by Micheal-Leon Woolley who was incredible. In AJ and the Queen Louis is a blind drag queen who delivers many hilarious jokes and one-liners. This character is hilariously funny but is also incredibly serious when they need to be and Micheal-Leon looked comfortable in both aspects of the character. He is always there when Robert needs him and is constant support and friend throughout which was really nice to watch. Towards the beginning of this series Louis graces the viewers with an amazing rendition of “I will survive” by Gloria Gaynor which fitted the narrative itself perfectly but also match the campy and fun nature of the overall show so this was the perfect song choice from a creative perspective.

The most amazing performance in this entire series was from the young Izzy G who plays Amber-Jasmine (AJ) in this show. She is an incredible actress who is clearly destined for fantastic things in the future if I were you I would keep an eye out of Izzy in the future as she clearly has in incredible future lined up for herself. She was able to perfectly balance the angry, troubled little girl towards the beginning of the series alongside the soft and innocence of the character. As the series progresses who can clearly see the Bond between Izzy and Ru developing outside of the show and they worked together excellently throughout.

It is clear that Netflix is planning on a second series of AJ and the Queen, which I am insanely excited about however I believe the actual end of the series did fall slightly flat from the rest of the incredible scenes in this show. I would encourage fans of Drag Race to watch this show as it celebrates everything people love about drag!

One Response to “‘AJ and the Queen’ Season 1 Review (Netflix)”

  • Linda Tipping

    I absolutely loved this show and laughed every episode. Rupaul you are such a lovely person, and the role of Amber Jasmine was hilarious as well I loved Louis, he cracked me up. Such a fun show to watch. For every drag queen, just how do you ladies walk in those shoes, as a woman I look like Benny Hill in drag trying to wear them. Gotta hand it to you, ladies you make it look so effortless!