New York City -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Pittsburgh -| Review Score – 3/5
Columbus -| Review Score – 3/5
Louisville -| Review Score – 3/5
Mt. Juliet -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Little Rock -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Jackson -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Baton Rouge -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Fort Worth -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Dallas -| Review Score – 3/5
AJ And The Queen will undoubtedly divide opinion among the masses. On the one hand, this 10 episode dramedy feels a little overlong and doesn’t always nail its jokes, succumbing to the dreaded Netflix effect of spreading itself too thin. The character arcs are predictably basic and there’s a specific sense of humour that not everyone will take to. However, if you can get past some early season exposition and a couple of flat jokes along the way, AJ And The Queen is an enjoyable comedic drama, one with some strong, important themes at its core and some genuinely funny jokes that had me laughing out loud.
Split across 10 episodes, AJ And The Queen feels like it should be positioned as half-hour bites of comedy but instead finds itself with each episode clocking in at a little over 50 minutes. The basic story begins with an introduction to our characters, with drag-performer Robert finding his life turned upside down when his fiance Hector scams him and runs off with his life-savings. As Robert clings to the last bills from that night’s performance, evicted neighbour AJ makes his presence felt that night, stealing his money and hiding out in Robert’s RV as he prepares to hit the road.
What follows from here is a journey of discovery as more of AJ’s past come to light and Robert comes to terms with what’s happened in his life thanks to his alter-ego drag act, Ruby Rose. With plenty of dancing, singing and jokes peppered throughout, most of the episodes follow the same structure, with the RV rolling into a different city and a thin veil of plot tying everything together. Of course, in true Netflix style this one does end on a cliffhanger but there’s still some nice moments in the finale that make the ride worth it.
As mentioned before, AJ And The Queen is a show that’ll almost certainly divide people. On the one hand, the aforementioned length of the series lets this one down and some of the sub-plots, especially the one following our antagonists of the series, does little to really add much depth to this comedy. Despite that, there is some nice material here and the themes that tie everything together are strong enough to keep this one engaging. From embracing your own body and image through to not judging a book by its cover, AJ And The Queen’s themes are simple but well-executed across the episodes, allowing this one to really revel in its own ideas.
The relationship between AJ and Robert is one built on respect and love, with the back-end of this series finally seeing some decent pay-off to this. I have to admit, early on I really wasn’t sold on AJ, with constant temper tantrums and scams failing to gel that well with Robert’s heartbreak. However, as the series progresses this does become a lot more tolerable and both characters really grow into their roles.
Is AJ And The Queen going to be the best comedy of the year? No. However, it is an enjoyable ride while it lasts and with some decent jokes peppered throughout, there’s enough here to make it worth watching for RuPaul alone who works well alongside Izzy G. At times the episodic format means this one sags in the middle, but the final few episodes are pretty good and reward your patience. AJ And The Queen is a fun little road-trip and there’s some important themes here that are worth exploring too. It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly not a complete drag as AJ And The Queen competently struts its stuff on the catwalk, turning enough heads to make it worth the investment if you can take to the overlong structure.
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Verdict - 6/10