Dancing Queen

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Dancing Queen TV Poster Image
Campy reality features dance, drag, positive themes.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Being proud of who you are and embracing what makes you unique are strong themes. The positive role dance can play in one's life, and the importance of good sportsmanship is also discussed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Justin Johnson tries to instill a strong work ethic and healthy sense of self-esteem in his dancers. Mothers are often competitive and judgmental towards each other, other children, and some instructors. Dancers of all genders are welcomed at the studio. 

Violence

Arguments break out among the mothers. Gun shops visible; quips about getting shot are frequent. 

Sex

Tight, stomach revealing dance wear is worn. Alyssa Edwards wears tightfitting clothes; modeling shoots show men in bare torsos, and tight underwear. There’s some campy innuendo, and references like “t-tty” are sometimes used. 

Language

Contains words like "hell," "damn," "bitch," "bulls--t;" sometimes the f-word is bleeped. Epithets like “poor white trash” are occasionally used. 

Consumerism

Logos for the studio, Marik and Richard fashion designers, Mercedes-Benz, Red Bull, etc. are prominently visible.  

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of adult drinking at social gatherings, clubs, etc. A family member's heroin addiction is discussed. Smoking is occasionally visible. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dancing Queen is a reality series that features dance competitions and drag performances. It features fussy dance moms, a few obnoxious children, and lots of discussions about adult-oriented issues ranging from dating and relationships to heroine addiction. There’s some campy sexual innuendo, and cursing is frequent. Drinking, smoking, and logos for Mercedes-Benz, Beyond Belief Dance Studios, Red Bull, and others are visible. All this being said, it also contains strong, positive messages about the beneficial role dance plays in people’s lives, the importance of self-acceptance, embracing difference, and the value of family and friendship.

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What's the story?

DANCING QUEEN is a reality series about the world of Justin Johnson, former RuPaul's Drag Race contestant and the owner of Beyond Belief Dance Studios, in Mesquite, Texas, where he coaches top competitive dance teams. When he’s not choreographing moves or dealing with difficult dance mothers, he becomes his alter ego: Alyssa, a charismatic and empowered drag queen who performs around the world. Now Justin is starting an elite traveling dance company to represent the best the studio has to offer. It’s a lot of work, especially when the mothers have their claws out, and the dancers don’t always perform as well as they can. Thankfully, Justin and Alyssa have a close circle of friends to to help them de-stress and have some fun. 

Is it any good?

This fun reality series combines the drama of Dance Moms and a milder version of the campiness in RuPaul’s Drag Race to create an entertaining viewer experience. Justin Johnson shares lots of intimate details about his life, and uses his platform to highlight the importance of self-acceptance, and how dance can serve to help people express who they are with movement. Meanwhile, alter ego Alyssa offers her funny commentary about what's happening. Throughout it all, subtle parallels are drawn between the drag world and the dance world in which they operate. 

Dance enthusiasts will enjoy the featured excerpts of some of the more outstanding students’ performances, while folks who like the behind-the-scenes drama of the competitive dance scene won’t be disappointed. But what sets Dancing Queen aside is how it balances the traditional reality scenes of self-reflection in Justin’s life with that of Alyssa Edwards, who dons spectacular outfits, makes frequent cabaret appearances, and stars in her own music video-like features in each episode. It’s a fun show with a lot of heart, and is as unique as its two main cast members.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the cultural significance of drag. Why is the makeup and costuming so dramatic, and the performances so campy? 

  • What are some of the different ways Dancing Queen addresses the issue of self-empowerment and self-acceptance? Are they all offered within the context of gender and sexuality? 

TV details

For kids who love reality TV

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