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Review: 10! 10! 10s Across the Board for HBO Max' 'Legendary'

by JC Alvarez
Wednesday May 27, 2020

10! 10! 10s across the board!

That certainly is the hope for the producers behind the reality competition series "Legendary," set to make its indelible impression on the subscriber audience tuning into HBO Max. The newest, and by far most competitive, of the digital entertainment platforms, this is Warner Brothers Studio's foray into the broadening field. The catalog of offerings will include everything from the comedic series "Friends," to the blockbuster DC Comics feature films, with loads more in between.

As part of its slew of original programming, HBO Max is hoping to reel in as diverse a demographic as possible, and "Legendary" is banking on an often disenfranchised group and an art form that had been relegated to the underground but has many times been appropriated by the mainstream. It's fitting that at the 30th anniversary of the chart-topping track "Vogue" by Madonna, the dance form that reigned in the balls of New York City, is about to go global in a fashion befitting the digital age.

In the premiere episode, the stage is set and representative houses are established, competing for the honor of Legendary "Superior House." Before the scrutiny of the most prolific judges of the art, including stylist to pop-icons Law Roach, actress and LGBTQ ally Jameela Jamil, dancer and "vogue' legend Leiomy Maldonado, and rap star Megan Thee Stallion, these houses are demanded to put on their fiercest performances and prove they are stars. The runway is set, the gauntlet is thrown, and $100,000 in cash prize (along with bragging rights) awaits the winner.

Voguing has come a long way in recent years, as has the spotlight been turned on the subculture that ruled the NYC club scene of the late 1980s into the '90s. These "houses" became sources of salvation, safety and acceptance for LGBTQ young people during the height of the AIDS crisis. Many sought shelter in these houses and found celebrity as music producers tailored the House Garage sound to service the balls.

For many who have participated in or attended a ball, this particular appropriation of the art may leave a questionable taste in your mouth, especially since the format opens it up and turns voguing into something that everyone is going to want to do, but haven't we all been voguing since 1990? With a competition series for basically anything and everything on the market, isn't it time that these artists get their moment in the sun? With now HBO Max pointing the light on them, their platform has increased exponentially!

"Legendary" introduces the established Houses of today, including the iconic Houses of Escada, Ebony, and Ninja, and some others that have risen to the top. The competition series will turn its lens upon these, and upon some eccentric personalities who are seeking to make their own dent on the pop-culture spectrum, but are motivated by only one thing (besides celebrity): To help their house come out on top. While they must possess stamina and skills, they must also step up to high standards, especially if they expect to become legendary.

"Legendary" is now available on HBO Max.

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".

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