Soon-to-launch streaming service HBO Max has dropped the teaser trailer for its new, much-anticipated ballroom competition, Legendary.
As the name suggests, the show has been inspired by the underground balls that originated largely in New York City in the 1980s and early 90s. This period of queer history has been recently explored in the hit TV drama, Pose. A documentary filmed in the late-80s, Paris is Burning, captured many of the characters associated with the NYC ballroom scene.
Balls saw members of competing ‘houses’ – primarily drawn from black and Latinx LGBTQ communities – compete against one another. They often wore self-created outfits and showed off their ‘voguing’: dance moves to ape the poses one might strike if gracing the cover of a magazine.
The scene has seen a resurgence in recent years.
HBO Max is part of the Warner Media group. The streamer is set to launch May, 27, and it yesterday revealed further details of its launch shows and dropped trailers. This includes Legendary.
“Pulling directly from the underground ballroom community, voguing teams (aka “houses”) must compete in unbelievable balls and showcase sickening fashion in order to achieve ‘legendary’ status,” said HBO Max in a press statement about Legendary.
“The cast includes MC Dashaun Wesley and DJ MikeQ as well as celebrity judges Law Roach, Jameela Jamil, Leiomy Maldonado, and Megan Thee Stallion.”
Executive producers of the show include David Collins, Rob Eric and Michael Williams, who have all been involved with Queer Eye.
When news first emerged several weeks ago about Jameela Jamil’s participation, some criticized her casting, pointing to the fact ballroom culture is inherently LGBTQ-related, and questioning whether Jamil was an appropriate choice for judge. This prompted the actress and activist, who starred in NBC comedy The Good Place, to come out on social media as queer.
Jamil said she had not previously clarified her sexuality before, “because I was scared of the pain of being accused of performative bandwagon jumping, over something that caused me a lot of confusion, fear and turmoil when I was a kid.”
She went on to say, “I know that my being queer doesn’t qualify me as ballroom. But I have privilege and power and a large following to bring to this show … sometimes it takes those with more power to help a show get off the ground so we can elevate marginalized stars that deserve the limelight and give them a chance.”
Besides Legendary, HBO Max will launch with Anna Kendrick comedy, Love Life, and Sesame Street spinoff, The Not Too Late Show with Elmo. One of its most eagerly-awaited shows will be a Friends unscripted cast reunion special, although no date has yet been released for when that will air.