Dancing Queen is the new breath of fresh air on Netflix. If you don't know who Justin Johnson is, and I didn't, he is a dance school owner in Texas. He is also the drag queen known as Alyssa Edwards. Alyssa became hugely famous in the US following her appearance on RuPauls' Drag Race in season five (review here). Dancing Queen brings together Justin's life as a dance teacher at Beyond Belief and his drag world as Alyssa. It really is compelling tv.
The series is shot over eight episodes. They blend the difficulties of running a top dance school with the pressures of personal ambition and family drama. It's a heady mix that flips back and forth between the dance school, Justin's family and his drag queen persona. And that's what makes this show so good.
Justin Johnson comes across as thoroughly likeable guy who genuinely cares deeply about his dance students. Unfortunately he also has to contend with ‘Dance Moms' the likes of which we have seen in other reality shows. The majority are catty, over bearing and all trotting out the usual tropes about how much their little darlings deserve a spot on Justin's Elite Competition team. Frankly, they are hideous but the juxtaposition between them and Justin is gold. He definitely comes out of this show looking like the most patient man on the planet.
Add his own very divided family into the mix and you soon realise that life has not been very easy for Justin. His stories about growing up in Mesquite, Texas are refreshingly honest and his sibling relationships are frequently strained. But over the course of the show we see him and his sisters bond beautifully as they try to put the past behind them.
And of course there is Alyssa Edwards. Alyssa is just fabulous. She pops up throughout the show to great effect. She is fun, sassy and hilarious and ties the whole thing together very nicely. I loved the performances but even more than that, I loved the sheer joy that Justin experiences when he transforms into her.
Dancing Queen is the culmination of a life's work. Dance teacher by day, drag queen by night. The effort and dedication that he gives to every aspect of his life is palpable on the screen. This show has it all – dancing, nightmare mums, family drama, highs and lows and of course the wonderful Justin and Alyssa. If you've been missing Queer Eye (review here) then this will be the tonic you need.