The emergence of HBO Max has us glued to the TV. Their latest show about the ballroom scene is serving looks, shade, and professional voguing. What more can you want.
What feels like a vastly underrated show at the moment is the cultural Ballroom phenomenon "Legendary." HBO has taken groups of the best aspects of the Ballroom scene and amplified them with met-ball level looks, celebrity judges, and fierce voguing movies from some of the most iconic Houses of the scene. The Houses of Escada, Ebony, Ninja, Gucci, West, St. Laurent, Lanvin, and Balmain all battle it out on stage (and behind the scenes) for the grand prize of $100,000, a massive trophy, and the rights to "Superior House" of Ballroom.
Having emerged in the underground scene of Harlem, New York City, the vibrancy of Black and Latinx LGBTQ art, activism, and culture was established. It is no surprise that it birthed the art of "vogue" which is a highly stylized form of dance inspired by the poses models would take on the covers of fashion magazine. It is structured in a way to draw lines and angles with the body in the form of dance and quickly found its place in ballroom scene. Soon "vogue battles" became a sport that allowed for the formation of "Houses" which were groups that were part competitive team and part chosen family. Most house names draw inspiration from high fashion companies (Balenciaga, Gucci, St Laurent, etc.) and created lanes of other types of competition segments that members could compete in. Members who compete are judged on a 1-10 scale with 10 being the best and can participate in different categories such as "body", "face", "runway", and more. Since its origins it has inspired so much of modern day culture in ways you wouldn't begin to expect. We see its influence in other popular forms of media such as RuPaul's Drag Race, Pop, Hip Hop, on Pose (the FX Drama series), and so on. Fans are excited to finally see Ballroom get the mainstream attention its always deserved.
The HBO show has taken this iconic culture and gave it a massive budget because the animated stage, costumes, make up, props, and judge panel are literally to die for. Hosted by MC Dashaun Wesley, with beats by DJ MikeQ, each new episode finds the family units facing off in fashion and dance challenges that culminate in nightly "Superior House" designations, while judges Law Roach, Jameela Jamil, Leiomy Maldonado, and Megan Thee Stallion determine who has what it takes to move forward, and who gets chopped. Special guest judges are also brought on each episode and range from Kelly Osborne to Tamar Braxton to Winnie Harlow. Despite the evidently huge budget and million dollar looks, there are still some serious season one vibes and kinks they need to work out but none the less the show is incredible. One of the best descriptions of the show and culture were described best by special guest judge Kelly Osbourne who said,
The thing about ballroom that I love the most. It's where the world goes when you want to see what true beauty is.