AJ and the Queen Season 1 is a crowd-pleaser for RuPaul’s fans but even non-fans can take courage from a wonderful story about companionship.
This review of Netflix Series AJ and the Queen Season 1 contains no spoilers.
RuPaul‘s first fictional Netflix series is the first surprise of 2020 as the famed drag queen shoots his shot with AJ and the Queen — a story about a drag queen and an unlikely sidekick. RuPaul plays Ruby Red; a tired performer that finally has the chance to break the chains of a routine nightclub and build her own drag business. Unfortunately, due to certain circumstances and despite the mental toughness of saving up, it does not work out.
Ruby Red is then introduced to her sidekick AJ.
It’s worth noting that AJ and the Queen Season 1barely tests RuPaul’s range, especially when the story involves him acting a drag queen; you could argue that RuPaul technically does not have to act, but it’s admissible that his performance is endearing and scoped in such a way that RuPaul is constantly in the limelight — a position he is used to — so it works. This is not the same as comedian Sacha Baron Cohen taking on Netflix’s The Spy but AJ and the Queen proves that RuPaul works well in well-written storytelling.
His character Ruby Red is absorbing and straight to the point; her acquaintances are easily engaging making the down-in-the-dumps story feel light and hopeful. The introduction to AJ is an observed spin of the story; a troubled kid who is a survivor. Both characters are similar but polar opposites at the same time. The on-screen chemistry between both characters works.
AJ and the Queen bases itself on a prolonged road trip, with Ruby Red desperate to earn cash after her recent misfortunes. AJ is desperate to go to Texas, but Ruby Red wants to make a living. Each chapter is titled with the new location as both characters navigate the world in different ways. The story initially pits them against each other, both shaking their fists at the universe due to their bad luck, but the narrative finds ways for both characters to find common ground. There are expected themes regarding “owning your identity” and taking on demons of your past.
But overall, the companionship and togetherness of the two lead characters is the main selling point.
RuPaul evidently takes center stage in AJ and the Queen but it is worth noting that despite a star gracing each chapter, that props have to be sent Izzy G.‘s way. The young actress takes on the character with such flair and seriousness; a young girl character that presents herself as a boy (vocally and appearance-wise). Izzy G. manages to own her character in such a way that you become transfixed on AJ’s body language and evolution of their character development. RuPaul is the show’s main event, but Izzy G is a very close co-main.
I’m sure plenty of RuPaul fans cannot wait to start pressing play and I can only see this Netflix series as a win for them.