A new trailer for AJ and the Queen, a new Netflix series starring RuPaul was released last night. The premise of the show, according to its Netflix description:
“While traveling across the country in a run-down RV, drag queen Ruby Red discovers an unlikely sidekick in AJ: a tough-talking 10-year-old stowaway. Ruby Red is played by RuPaul, and AJ is played by Izzy G.”
From the trailer, Ruby Red is all set to start her own business when her boyfriend (played by Josh Segarra from Arrow, Orange is the New Black, and The Other Two) steals her money and leaves her high and dry. To earn some cash, she road-trips across the country and performs, with the help of AJ. The relationship between the two is vague right now, with the trailer only acknowledging that AJ’s mother is going through hardship.
I’m surprisingly excited about this series – more excited than I thought I would be. There’s a great cast lineup that features several of the queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race. Prior to the trailer’s release, EW exclusively revealed 22 queens that would have supporting roles in the show. They’re actually missing a few, including Miss Fame, Trixie, and Bob the Drag Queen, as far as I can tell from the trailer. But it’s going to be a drag-packed cast, along with other great cast members like Tia Carrere.
Most importantly, the rapport between Izzy G and RuPaul looks strong, which is a good sign if their relationship is to be the crux of the show. Although RuPaul is playing a queen called Ruby Red, it’s basically just RuPaul playing RuPaul, complete with the advice-giving and “mother’s wisdom” that we know her for on Drag Race. But that works for this relationship too, especially if the show narrative will focus on important lessons that drag culture can teach people, especially younger people, about acceptance and self-love.
One thing that I noticed on my tenth viewing of this trailer (I had to watch it so many times just to identify all the queens) is that the show doesn’t gender AJ at all. AJ’s clothes, demeanor, and even name are all pretty gender neutral. Even the press releases and premise descriptions for the show don’t identify AJ as a boy or a girl.
Drag is all about the deconstruction of gender and gender roles, but as I’ve written about before, RuPaul has also received a lot of criticism for his views and words about trans contestants on the show. It would be fascinating for AJ and the Queen to explore non-binary or even ambiguous gender in a child, especially in a show about drag. Maybe we can finally stop the trend of gender reveals. Image-wise, it would also be a great step forward for RuPaul. If this is the case, then AJ and the Queen might be an even bigger show than I first thought.
AJ and the Queen premieres on January 10 on Netflix.