RuPaul Charles helped transform drag from underground performance art to a pop-culture phenomenon. Charles has teamed up with Sex And The City executive producer Michael Patrick King to co-create the Netflix comedy AJ And The Queen, and the pair keeps the narrative simple, invoking tales of intergenerational friendship.
The show AJ And The Queen is based on Robert (Charles) is an ageing drag performer, who has adopted the stage name of Ruby Red, who has spent years working to save enough money to open his own club (proposed name: Queens In Queens). But after his bank account and his heart both get trampled by con artist Hector (Josh Segarra), he’s desperate for money and still in possession of his vintage RV, so he sets out on a cross-country tour from New York City to Dallas to try and recover his losses. The complication is that AJ (Izzy G.), the 10-year-old daughter of his drug-addicted neighbour, decides to invite herself on the trip. With her mother proving unreliable, AJ wants to move in with her grandfather in Texas, and Robert reluctantly lets her join him, even while Hector and his accomplice Lady Danger (Tia Carrere) are trying to chase him down.
It comes across as teen-leaning drama, though at times it feels aimed at a much younger audience. There is plenty of fodder for lovers of risque humour, too, particularly from Michael Leon Woolley as Ruby Red’s flatmate and best friend Louis. One of the most frustrating things about Netflix is that it will stretch a story far beyond a timeframe that suits it. AJ and the Queen might have been a lovely film, sweet and snappy and just on the right side of unique, but at 10 episodes, the premise grows strained and the pace is all over the place. By the time we reach the finale, the last minutes are so rushed, the audiences are left wondering if it is really the ending. AJ and the Queen have its moments, but it ends up being a drag. (no puns intended)