This episode for me had a lot of the same highs and flaws as episode one. Ru and her queens (this time including the lovely Jinkx Monsoon) were a joy and the storyline set at the Pittsburgh club itself would have been enough for me.
The show’s best moments are in the club where Ruby meets with old friends and a frenemy. Their history, culminating in the most hilariously bizarre performance of ‘Proud Mary’ ever, moving into their subsequent making up was lovely and something that deserved more attention. It had that lovely sense of: “we may fight, but when you are down or in trouble I will protect you” that is so strong in drag family.
Sadly most of the episode revolved around AJ screaming and demanding.
Her part is very odd. So far, once again, she just does nothing but insult Ruby and the other queens, she is still stealing things and at one point even threatens poor Ruby into taking her to Texas. Then when she is called out or Ruby asks questions she starts to act the victim, poor girl she has been through so much …
But apparently this is acceptable and Ruby goes out of her way to please the little madame. Most people do. AJ is supposed to be this very special being for some reason and everyone treat her with such delicacy.
A long part of the episode was all about AJ’s gender identity. She dresses and acts like a boy because, she claims, people “leave boys alone”.
Sorry but what? This was a shocker to me. Claiming boys do not get abused or experience other forms of violence in any way is just not on. It is especially odd that this comes from the maker of Drag Race where the contestants often discuss all the terrible things they experienced as a child/teen. This often includes abuse.
What is worse is that even though the show and Ru wanted to make this lovely statement of not putting gender in boxes and living life as you are, it is not a good message for female to male transgenders.
It kind of states that any girl wanting to be a boy is damaged or probably had no good female role models. We are told that AJ has never seen any other example of womanhood than a hooker and a stripper. She has a mobile, access to the internet but no, that is all she knows. Okay, girl.
Thankfully Ruby spends the rest of the episode educating her, almost willing AJ to become a girl again to the point of performing a show in her honour all about how important being a women is.
The thing is, Netflix has so many strong feminist shows, it would have been great if this show could have focused on the strong LGBTQ+ message instead for a change. Why could AJ not simply identify as a boy? Such a wasted opportunity.
With all this going on you’d almost forget that Ruby is still in great danger: her criminal ex revealed to be called Damien and his boss Lady Danger are hot on their tracks. Seeing the hell Ruby is going through seems to soften AJ somewhat near the end of the episode. Hope this lasts.
Then one very important question that needs asking: why has Ruby never digitalised her Oprah tapes?