Thank your deity of choice for streaming video — it's given fans at home so many options for how to fill their evenings, weekends, and procrastination bouts. Added to the mix in 2020 is Netflix's newest show, AJ And The Queen, which is about a drag queen named Ruby (RuPaul Charles) and the unlikely friend — a 10-year-old kid named AJ — she meets on the road when her RV breaks down. And while AJ And The Queen isn't exactly based on a true story, it takes some inspiration from some real-life drag gospel.
In an interview with Variety, Charles said that he and co-creator Michael Patrick King — you might remember him as the creator of a little show called Sex And The City — both loved Sullivan's Travels, a 1941 film in which a wealthy film producer disguises himself as a homeless person and goes on the road to learn about the real world. In his travels, he befriends a "femme fatale" sort of character, and they create an important bond. In AJ And The Queen, the roles are a little different: Ruby is that femme fatale, and the homeless director is the young girl, AJ. They also found inspo, according to Charles, in films like To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar (which he was actually in) and Thelma & Louise.
This show is a spectacle in the best way. And the gorgeous drag queen garb may be glam, but according to King, he and Charles worked hard to ensure that the gravitas of the series and its heavy-ish theme balanced with the sheen of the lights and performances. “When you wind up and get to the last episode, you see the most emotional scene is through drag. I guess the spirit is bigger than the makeup,” King told Variety.
AJ And The Queen features almost two dozen former RuPaul's Drag Race contestants, making it prime viewing for fans of the long-running competition series. Ru likes to keep it in the family, as fans well know. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Charles said that though the emerging audience for RuPaul's Drag Race is “13-year-old suburban white girls," he stressed that the show is not for children — AJ & The Queen's darker themes are strictly for adults. Charles says he wanted to challenge himself with the series by actually diving into the tough stuff. "It was something I was eager to explore. To prove to myself that I’m not dead inside,” he told the mag. “I proved to myself that I could pull those emotions up. It’s intoxicating.”