Episode 1 of AJ And The Queen begins with AJ narrating our tale, as slow-mo shots of money raining down from the sky backdrop Ruby Red. Although the spotlight is shining down on Ruby right now, AJ is quick to inform us that he’s the real star of the show. While AJ cons people outside, Ruby Red informs his fellow drag acts backstage that this is his last performance.
Backstage, Tony confronts Ruby over her comments made about his club, before she spills some exposition about her history and how long she’s been working in the industry. With a lot of money under her belt, Tony vow to never allow her to return, leaving the girls in the back to soak in this triumphant atmosphere for now.
Afterward, Ruby (or Robert as his off-stage name would suggest) goes out for dinner where he shares a joint credit card with his partner, Hector Ramirez. He tells Robert they’ve got to be careful and only use the cards for work. Called away on business, he leaves Robert to head home where he spots AJ sitting outside asking for money. After some back and forth, he decides against giving the child anything thanks to his attitude. Subsequently, he hauls his suitcase upstairs alone where one of his drag friends, Louis, surprises him with a cake and a toast of champagne.
The next day Robert heads to the bar he and Hector are planning to renovate but he’s is nowhere to be seen. As he sits Louis down, Robert tells him that he’ll be performing twice on Saturdays but these dreams are cut short as the lease-owner arrives. It’s here Robert learns that his card has been declined, prompting him to head straight into the station where it’s revealed he’s been conned.
With things looking bleak, Robert heads back empty-handed as AJ eavesdrops and listens in the hallway. With Robert down in the dumps and feeling sorry for himself, Louis does his best to cheer him up, including giving him some classic Ruby Red boots and a dance number. Only, AJ smashing the glass and taking the rest of his money sends him flying upstairs and pounding on the door. After breaking his way in, AJ begins crying in the bathroom begging for his help. Eventually Robert caves and decides to do just that.
With one final shot at fame, Robert decides to go for the Miss Drag USA prize but before he gets there, phones Child Protective Services for AJ. As he leaves the room to phone them, AJ slips away from Louis and escapes out the window.
In the morning, Robert says goodbye to Louis and leaves in his RV. As he does, the gravity of the situation weighs down on him, causing him to cry and stop the RV in the middle of the freeway. As it turns out, AJ has actually been hiding out and he’s actually a she! She implores him to take her to Texas and after some temper tantrums and back and forth, he caves and decides to take her to her Grandfather’s farm.
“Poor Ruby, she had no idea what was coming next” is the ominous note that leaves the episode on a light cliffhanger and what a dramatic opener that was! There’s a good range of humour here and as a scene-setter, AJ And The Queen does well to do just that in this opening episode.
If you’re not sold on the humour, it’s unlikely you’ll take to the rest of the season but even here, there’s some really memorable jokes to savour. From the police officers gushing over Hector’s good looks or the Viola Davis joke preceding this, AJ And The Queen does well with its humour to keep things funny, leaving things wide open going forward.
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