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Watching AJ and the Queen feels akin to pulling a VHS from the comedy rack at a Blockbuster in 1996

  • "It’s a fish-out-of-water tale like My Cousin Vinny, a road movie like To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (in which RuPaul acted), an odd-couple comedy like Twins, and a precocious-kid caper like Home Alone," Spencer Kornhaber says of RuPaul's Netflix comedy. "To be sure, it’s also a Netflix TV show, which means its episodes bloat to an hour long, with no scene economical enough that you’d miss its gist by waxing your eyebrows during it. But the writing and performances are harsh in a way that once felt like the essence of slapstick and now feels unsuited for easy streaming. Characters are always screeching at one another, or inflicting pointless cruelty, or adopting puppies they can’t care for. For a show so uplifting, it’s weirdly stressful. What’s most retro, in this moment, is the story it tries to tell. Drag may be a subversive art form, but RuPaul rejects the sense of grievance that defines much of LGBTQ politics. If the individualistic 'self-esteem' movement of the ’80s and ’90s has been replaced on the left by calls for 'self-care' couched in terms of political and social oppression, AJ and the Queen wants to rewind. It portrays America as a fundamentally okay place, and the achievement of self-love as simply an internal matter. Cops, doctors, and social workers all do their jobs with sensitivity and humor. Intolerance presents only minor obstacles, surmountable by charm and persuasion. Even the homophobic protesters at a drag convention are humanized and laughed along with. One of the season’s best gags is about how catchy their chants are." ALSO: AJ and the Queen is a happy, important mess.

    TOPICS: AJ and the Queen, Netflix, RuPaul Charles