Fans of FX’s retro ballroom drama “Pose” may be waiting months for the next season, but HBO Max is offering a flashy vogueing fix with a new reality competition.
HBO Max, a new streaming service from the subscription cable channel, debuted on Wednesday, May 27 with “Legendary,” a contemporary look at the fashion and performance phenomenon that got its start more than four decades ago in the black and Hispanic LGBT communities of New York City.
The format is similar to the competitions depicted in Ryan Murphy’s award-winning drama: Five-member gender-bending dance teams, all named after famous fashion design houses, take to the runway and strut their stuff to the theme of the night.
In the premiere episode, viewers are introduced to the various houses, their mothers or fathers and children, through documentary film-quality vignettes. The stories are moving, some sad tales of rejection from family and friends, while others are triumphant testaments to courage and tenacity, every bit as compelling as the FX show’s fictional characters. The veteran “Queer Eye” creative team approaches the project with nuance and sensitivity and incredible attention to detail as the action moves to the packed ballroom.
Each of the houses — Balmain, Ebony, Escada, Gucci, Lanvin, Ninja, West and St. Laurent — then subject themselves to the watchful eye of MC Dashaun Wesley and the shade of the celebrity judges — Jameela Jamil, Law Roach, Leiomy Maldonado and Megan Thee Stallion.
No one is sent home on the opening night, but the competition immediately heats up in the second episode as the houses finally compete in categories. The “Once Upon a Time” Ball challenges contestants with “The Rapunzel Effect,” voguing with hair whips; “Mirror, Mirror,” a “face” challenge; and “Three Fab Mice,” the perfect runway walk.
Judges appropriately use magic wands to award perfect 10s or chop contestants and, if this episode is any indication, Law Roach is positioned as the harsh-tongued “Simon Cowell” of the judging panel. While MC Dashaun Wesley is no Pray Tell (although he has appeared in “Pose” season 2), he does offer authentic commentary throughout the performances.
Like most reality competition programs, it’s hard to pick the eventual winners from the crowded early field, but if the first two episodes are any indication, it’s going to be a riveting race to the end of the runway.
Weekly episodes of “Legendary” are available on HBO Max. For more information or to subscribe, go to HBOMax.com.