AJ and the Queen

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
AJ and the Queen TV Poster Image
Language and mature humor in charming drag comedy.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Positive messages of inclusivity and open-mindedness are sent by Ruby's colorful circle of friends and contemporaries, who cheerfully accept all types of people, including young AJ. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are sitcommy and unrealistic, but both AJ and Ruby/Robert are given dignity: "Just because I'm a gorgeous woman doesn't mean I'm not a man," says Robert evenly when told to "act like a man," and the show takes AJ's near-orphan plight seriously. The cast is diverse in terms of age, race, ethnicity, physical ability, and gender and sexual identity. Robert's best friend, Louis, is blind, and the pair joke about it cheerfully but Louis is also presented as attractive, competent, and as successful as any other character. Expect some regressive messages about body type -- Robert delights in being called "too thin" -- and sex work, with a lot of uncomplimentary things said about "hookers" and "strippers." 

Violence

Characters brandish guns, shoot objects, and threaten others with them (but the threat never seems realistic). One character holds "illegal pumping parties," filling in body parts with silicone or motor oil to make men look more feminine; we see Ruby accepting such a syringe in the cheek. A young character cries piteously for her missing mother, and being hungry. 

Sex

Expect same- and opposite-sex kissing, flirting, and dating, as well as mature humor about sex work (AJ says her mom is probably "in a car somewhere with her head in a stranger's lap) and scenes in which sex workers ask men on the street if they want a "date" or a "girlfriend." Jokes can be ribald: "It's kinda tight but I'm going to try to fit it in," says Robert about a parking space whereupon his friend sniggers suggestively he's heard that before. 

Language

Cursing and language is frequent, and 10-year-old AJ curses often, and bitterly: "ass," "a--hole," "s--t," men call each other "bitch" frequently as a playful insult, and AJ calls Ruby/Robert that rudely. There are references to "hookers" being "worse than rats," and AJ says to Robert "Jesus Christ, you're gay," whereupon Robert replies "Thank you." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many scenes take place in bars with adults drinking; 10-year-old AJ also tries to order a beer (and is rebuffed). A minor (not positive) character says he's going to go to an AA meeting and then "go sell coke." 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that AJ and the Queen is a buddy road comedy about a down-and-out drag queen Ruby Red (RuPaul) and the 10-year-old neighbor who tags along on a cross-country drag show tour in order to hitch a ride to Texas. Main character Ruby (also known as Robert) is a gay man who dresses as a woman for performances in gay bars so expect a focus on LGBTQ issues and characters, as well as same- (and some opposite-) sex kissing and romance. A main character is a sex worker and we see her asking men on the street if they want a "girlfriend" or a "date." Humor can be edgy, with jokes about sexuality, body parts, "tucking," and other aspects of drag culture. Ruby and others send positive messages about acceptance, living proudly and authentically, and tolerance, but there is some insulting language about sex workers. Language can be mature, with young AJ on the business end of curses like "bitch," "a--hole," "ass," "s--t," "hell." Villains brandish guns and chase Robert, but the threat never seems realistic. Many scenes are set in bars with adults drinking and AJ tries to order a beer, but is rebuffed. The cast is diverse in terms of age, race, ethnicity, physical ability, and gender and sexual identity, and though the action can be silly and full of hijinks, underdogs are given dignity and their problems treated seriously. 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byWiktoria W. January 23, 2020
Parent Written byTami L. January 20, 2020

For older teens and adults

My 12 yo wanted to watch this show based on the Netflix previews. I watched it first and she will will not be watching anytime soon. It’s a multi-part series. W... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCvr January 25, 2020
I am 13 and I loved it!!! There was some cursing but, it was soo good!!

What's the story?

Written and created by RuPaul and Sex and the City's Michael Patrick King, AJ AND THE QUEEN focuses on an unlikely friendship that blossoms between drag queen Ruby Red (RuPaul) and 10-year-old AJ (Izzy G.) who's just been evicted from the apartment where drug-addicted mom Brianna (Katerina Tannenbaum) hasn't been home in a month. Meanwhile, Ruby (a.k.a. Robert) is having problems too, as a mountain of saved-up cash and a dream of owning a drag club evaporated along with duplicitous ex Damien (Josh Segarra). Now Ruby has to head out on a tour of drag clubs to make enough money just to make ends meet, while AJ tags along to get a ride to family in Texas. 

Is it any good?

As sweet/tart, charmingly acerbic, and frequently bonkers as its star, this throwback to 1980s unlikely-buddy comedies is predictable, preachy, and surprisingly delightful. RuPaul isn't above lecturing the audience, and a few of AJ and the Queen's plotlines are absolutely ludicrous (c'mon, Ru's being stalked by baddies that include an eyepatch-wearing villainess called Lady Danger?), but the chemistry between Ru's Ruby and the foul-mouthed 10-year-old stowaway AJ is so perfect that even cynical viewers may find their emotions stirring. Izzy G. can really act -- the moments when her tough-kid armor falls away and she cries about her tough life like the grade schooler she is are positively heartrending -- and watching a supportive relationship grow between her and Ruby is affecting. 

Of course, there's at least one full-length flawless lip-synch moment in each episode, and one should definitely question Ruby's judgment for blithely ferrying a child across state lines, but a comedy that plays out in tawdry dressing rooms and gay bars and different towns connected by long highways navigated in an RV festooned with wigs is fun. Ridiculous fun with heart, Michael Patrick King, we may forgive you for Sex and the City 2 after all. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about stereotypes. Do the contestants in this show reinforce or undermine stereotypes typically associated with the LGBTQ community? How are other communities stereotyped, both in the media and out of it? 

  • RuPaul, the star of AJ and the Queen, is also one of the creators and co-writes episodes. Does this surprise you? Do creators who appear in their creations usually write themselves starring roles? 

  • What other movies or shows have you seen about the LGBTQ community? How does this one compare? Which is your favorite?

  • Why are parents often absent in stories about teens and young children? What types of storytelling would the presence of parents inhibit? What types of dilemmas do children and teens find themselves in when they must act as their own authority?

TV details

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