Less 'yas queen' and more 'please stop'.
AJ and the Queen was meant to be the highlight of the month; however, it has casted a dim light on the already cloudy start to the year. The show would be better suited if its audience was leaning towards young teenagers/pre-teens, but with the constant foul language its hard to imagine this was meant to be a children’s show. The show is very long winded and would have been better suited as a film as the story line seems to ‘drag’ for a solid 10 hours; 10 hours I wish I could take back. The best part of the show was the cameos of drag race royalty like Katya, Latrice Royale, etc, however even this star-studded cast could not save the train wreck of this show.
RuPaul plays a drag queen named ‘Ruby Red’ from Atlanta, this is similar to RuPaul who moved to Atlanta when he was 15 years old. This only goes to prove that RuPaul is doing what he does best – playing RuPaul. He does try to demonstrate his dancing, lip-syncing and acting ability, however, RuPaul just goes to show he is nowhere near the same level as the contestants on his show. Though, we should give him some credit as he is approaching his 60s. The other main character of the show was AJ or Amber Jasmine, a child who was evicted from her home and sent to foster care as her mum had a severe drug addiction. AJ is a child we are meant to feel sympathy for, but instead, she was incredibly annoying and plain rude. Her story was meant to evoke some emotion but for most, all it did was evoke hatred, as she is a brat. I truly found it difficult to finish the show due to the child’s attitude and constant whining, comments like “I’m a little white girl you are a big black man” when Ruby Red refused to take her to Texas just made audiences feel uncomfortable and uneasy. Throughout AJ used this threat repeatedly to get what she wanted though she knew the consequences.
Drug addiction became a recurring theme in the show as AJ’s mother was a drug addict and was selling herself on the streets to make money for drugs and rent. The way in which the show dealt with the issue of drugs was extremely questionable. It’s important to understand that addiction is not a choice and it is never the person’s fault or choice if they become addicted to drugs, however, the show makes it seem that drug addiction is a choice. This can be seen when Ruby Red says “she’s a junkie why is she suddenly not high?” this also makes it seem that addiction is the end-all, though this can be said in a protective manner it was honestly quite disgusting especially to those who are or know someone who is suffering. The constant demonization of a woman, who obviously has some issues, for her drug addiction provides a bigger stigma to the issue and creates a storyline that almost reverses the way society is trying to tackle issues such as addiction.
One of the only redeeming qualities of the show is its message and approach to LGBT+ issues, the best example of this can be seen in episode 6 when Ruby Red talks to a father, from a typical redneck background, about his son, Brick, being into drag. The father does not initially accept it, however Ruby Red compares drag to guns. The father would not be able to live without guns as it’s a part of his life and something that makes him feel safe, he compared this to drag which for Brick made him feel safe. This comparison is important for children and parents who are trying to understand LGBT+ or drag. The show also talks regularly on gender issues and promotes self-expression, which is important for the youth of today. Quotes like “Cher isn’t white! She is everything” is the epitome of gay culture and bringing this into the mainstream only shines a brighter light on queer culture.
Overall, the show would have been better suited as a show for 12-15-year olds as shown in its LGBT+ message and the happy endings of each episode. Its heavy themes show it was not for this audience and begs the question of, is it only likeable because of the representation of drag? Though I can appreciate the way it approached LGBT+ issues this was not enough to redeem the show, and as someone who is part of the LGBT+ community I wanted to love the show, but I could not like it just because it featured a heavily queer narrative. There are better shows out there that have a much more diverse cast and present and educate the public on issues regarding the gay community in a better way, such as Pose.
AJ and the Queen is available to watch now on Netflix.