The unlikely yet intriguing combination of the extravagance of high-fashion drag, the comfort and colloquialisms of down-south Texas and the cutthroat intensity of the youth dance world all combine in Netflix’s newest reality show Dancing Queen.
Starring Alyssa Edwards, the fan-favorite drag queen of RuPaul’s Drag Race season five and RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars season two, the show is a tug-of-war between trying to emulate Drag Race and other cult classic reality show Dance Moms.
With her signature tongue pops and pristine dance skills, Edwards is loud and lovable. After just an episode, the viewer is already unsurprised that Edwards would do something like roll up to a gay club in a horse-drawn carriage.
The show also provides fans of Edwards glimpses of his out-of-drag identity, Justin Johnson. He traverses the competitive dance world as he owns and runs the Beyond Belief Dance Studio.
Any die-hard Drag Race fan is familiar with Edwards’ over-the-top personality, so it’s no surprise to see her on Dancing Queen spouting a new series of deadpan quips (she’s a Christian Mingle type of person, not a Grindr one). Johnson is not far off from his drag persona from not only the fun-loving attitude, but also in the quest for stardom and thirst for perfection.
Though Dancing Queen is entertaining to the Edwards fans of the world, it feels hard to grasp on to the show’s concept otherwise. Though Johnson and his alter ego provide sufficient humor, attitude and screencaps to be used in memes later on, the supporting characters of the show fail to stand out.
The other staff members of Johnson’s dance studio are nice enough, but you barely remember their names. The kids that belong to the dance studio are cute, but they barely have enough screen time for you to form a lasting connection. The dance moms are bitchy, but that’s it. With Johnson the only character able to land a punchline, it’s hard for any of the others to ever take off.
Editing in some parts is also rather clunky, with long portions of dialogue being played over a different video segment for several seconds too long. A little more time put in to sand these edges would’ve made the final product less sloppy.
After a while, you’re almost waiting for Johnson to be off the screen. Even though you admire him for all that he has accomplished, all he talks about is himself. Even in a group bonding event with some of the dance moms around a campfire, he asks them to answer questions about how they feel about them. The borderline narcissistic attitude can be a tad off-putting when it’s so nonstop.
Through all the eye shadow, sweat and pixie dust, Dancing Queen is a force of its own. There’s no other TV personality like Alyssa Edwards, but after a while, it feels like you’ve had enough of her.