"AJ and The Queen": Netflix, RuPaul Series Proves There IS Such Thing as Too Much "Too Much" [REVIEW]

Okay, I know it's probably not a surprise that a scripted RuPaul show is cheesy beyond belief, especially when it involves a kid, but I didn't expect AJ and The Queen to be quite this over-the-top. In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, RuPaul developed a new show for Netflix that can basically be summed up plot wise as To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar – but with a single drag queen and a kid.

Now, I love drag culture. I love the camp and the sequins and the drooling over Bob Mackie and Cher and Dolly. But this just felt… like it was too much "too much" – like it was trying too hard? It pains me to say that, because I really wanted to like this series. I think I've been trying to get everyone else around here half as hyped for the show as I was – but it turned out to be a bit of a let-down.

The acting is bottom barrel Disney Channel at best – and at worst, it's wanna-be community theater levels of drama. The show is just one laugh track away from being a stereotype of itself. I get that it's kind of a new and different genre type thing, but this just felt like it didn't know where it was going.

There is a clear cut plot, yes. It's as transparent as cling wrap, sure – but the story is there and clear as a blue sky.

Side Note: Just a personal quibble, really – there's an episode set in a small little town in Tennessee called Mt. Juliet. Ask me where I live, I dare you. That's right – Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. And let me tell you – it looks absolutely nothing like the re-dressed town square set of Gilmore Girls they show it as. The fact that they keep referring to the town as a "rip-off" and the accents are as generically southern fried as they come is a little off-putting.

But personal quibbles aside, the acting is over-the-top and I'm not just talking about our queens: even the second- and third-tier characters all seem to take it to eleven then break the knob – and then use a screwdriver to crank it to like a hundred. It must be an artistic choice if every single actor in the show is taking everything this far and milking it that much. It just wasn't my cup of sequins.

aj and the queen

I love Drag Race… love all the rest of RuPaul's content, in fact… but this just felt forced and disingenuous. The story is sad but turns out sweet and sappy – so by the end of each episode and the season, you're not left feeling too sad – there's always a silver lining. It's like a kid's show but taken to the next level and rated more like a PG-13?

It may be your thing, but it just wasn't mine. If you're after fun shenanigans and a healthy dose of fully-realized drag with your drama, I recommend re-watching Drag Race and passing on AJ and The Queen. But if you're super into sitcoms as well as RuPaul and don't mind a super-cheesy show… this may be your thing?

aj and the queen

I'm not sure if Netflix was aiming for a certain demographic for this or just figured they'd throw it out there and see if it sticks, but AJ and The Queen feels like an over-the-top children's sitcom… but with adult storylines and made for adult viewers.

On second thought, just pass on the show and come visit Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. We have a Wal-Mart now, and we're less than an hour from Nashville! (Despite the fact the show says we're 6 hours from Nashville *sigh*) Just one of the many things Netflix got wrong in AJ and The Queen. Now, who's up for a Drag Race rewatch?

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Eden ArnoldAbout Eden Arnold

Having spent far too much time in front of the television growing up, Eden has lots of opinions about television (as well as movies and everything else). She puts this to good use along with her journalism degree and writing experience with by-lines over the years in many print publications, books, and online media outlets. You can find her on Twitter at @Edenhasopinions
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