Dancing Queen: Season 1 (full season)
October 25, 2018 6:45 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

"Justin Johnson has made a name for himself as drag artist Alyssa Edwards, rising to fame on "RuPaul's Drag Race." But when he's not on stage performing as Alyssa, he is an accomplished choreographer and dance teacher. This docuseries follows Justin in his hometown of Mesquite, Texas, at his highly competitive Beyond Belief Dance Company. It is there where he prepares young students for an intensely competitive season on the stage. The multihyphenate has a lot has on his plate, as he has to juggle his dance life, drag life, family life and love life." (Summary from Google)
posted by sperose (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
My wife got into this - we watched the final episode last night. I didn't see all of them, but my overall reaction was kind of, eh. He's an interesting person in a lot of ways, and I felt they did a good job of exploring what his real life is like behind the hugely flamboyant drag persona.

But I also felt the show didn't really know what it wanted to be about. It seemed to veer from (I thought) well done looks into Justin's life to crazed behind the scenes drama with all the stage moms straight out Toddlers and Tiaras, and then into something almost like a competition reality show as Justin's trimming down his elite dance company, oh no, and not all the kids will make the cut! Overall, it was kind of jarring, and made worse by the fact that it spent time on that stuff and passed over what I thought were some much more interesting issues implied by what they showed us.

What really struck me was how deeply invested all these kids were in this - why was it so damn important to them to make this dance team? What did they think this was going to lead to? Were they just going to drop it all when they grew up and go on to lead mundane lives in Mesquite Texas? Was this supposed to be their way out? How likely is that for the great majority of them?

Even more so for their mothers. There's this bunch of very driven, mostly morbidly obese women in this little nowhere town driving their kids into extreme athleticism. I had to wonder what their home lives were like. The moms, at least on camera, managed to avoid suggesting that this was about them trying to live their own shattered dreams vicariously through their kids. But it was obviously extremely important to them that their kids do well, that they get just as much attention and praise from Justin, that they make one squad or another. And they would go at it like enraged bears if they felt their child wasn't getting the best - actually driving one of the instructors away from the studio at one point. I really wanted something deeper than "I love her so much and I'll do anything for her" to explain why the stakes were so painfully high for them. Was this their hail Mary to get their daughters (or a few sons, though the show mostly ignores the boys in the group) out of Mesquite?

(And by the way, I just Googled Mesquite and apparently it's quite a different place from the impression the show wants to give of it. It's actually apparently a very populated suburb of Dallas, but watching the show I got the impression it was some backwater town in the middle of nowhere where the train doesn't stop anymore.)

Overall, not a complete waste of time, but I thought it wasn't quite sure what it wanted to accomplish, and ended up very uneven in tone. I regret the missed opportunities to dive a little deeper into the culture of this particular dance group. But I guess if it had gone into those things I wondered about, it would have been a much darker show.
posted by Naberius at 10:31 AM on October 25, 2018


I had similar feelings having just watched the first episode- I like Justin, of course, but I wasn't sure I cared about all the dancers and their mothers and that drama.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:19 AM on October 25, 2018


I gobbled this up over the weekend. On Drag Race, I've always found Alyssa to be a really compelling performer who simultaneously makes me uncomfortable because I'm never quite sure how much she's in on her own joke.

I felt like this was more of that, in every way. It's Toddlers In Tiaras and it's a staged drag number in every ep and it's the private life of someone desperately trying to keep all his families (drag, dance, biological) together and it's got talking heads from one person with two very different public personas, arguing with themself with those personas. It's So Much. But then, *he's* So Much, so maybe it's accurate.
posted by tchemgrrl at 11:15 AM on October 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've watched a few episodes and have to agree with Naberius regarding the show not knowing which story it is trying to tell. I'm going to finish watching it because I do find Alyssa endlessly amusing.
posted by Julnyes at 12:14 PM on October 29, 2018


100% agree with tchemgrrl, who said it better than I could. This show really felt like Justin Johnson and Alyssa Edwards captured in whole. It's staged, but so is Alyssa. But there are also honest parts, which is Justin. But maybe this is me projecting my limited understanding of each onto this.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:15 AM on November 1, 2018


This should have been a one time documentary instead of a reality series. The subject matter is unique enough without throwing in all the reality TV shenanigans. And, if this has more seasons, I don't think it'll be good for those little kids.
posted by riruro at 10:36 AM on December 5, 2018


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