The Reel Review
Divas are doing battle on the runway – voguing, serving looks and throwing shade – in this HBO Max reality competition featuring eight vogue houses, competing in weekly dance challenges to win a $100,000 grand prize and the ultimate drag ball title… legendary. In each episode, one house wins and another is eliminated among the initial line-up of vogue houses: Balmain, Ebony, Escada, Gucci, Lanvin, Ninja, St. Laurent, and West.
Featuring an energetic, charismatic emcee Dashaun Wesley (Pose, Magic Mike XXL), DJ Mikeq, and a fierce panel of judges – Leiomy Maldonado, Jameela Jamil, Megan Thee Stallion, Law Roach and a different guest judge each episode – Legendary‘s ten, hour-long episodes feature contestants competing to snatch trophies in a slew of categories (best hair spin, best face, and best synchronized vogue are only a few), as immortalized in the famed 1990 LGBTQ documentary, Paris is Burning. Two of the competing vogue houses, Ninja and St. Laurent, were actually featured in the film.
The production techniques have a messy, raw energy reminiscent of the 1980s underground drag balls, and the stronger vogue houses turn out some sickening looks. Of the judges, Leiomy Maldonado (Pose), the transgender Afro-Puerto Rican dancer dubbed the Wonder Woman of Vogue, is THE one that most leaves us gagging, with her flawless performances and spot-on critiques, countered by frustratingly mercurial Law Roach, who often misses the mark, cutting houses for no apparent reason. (Oh, the shade.) Legendary, you get 10s, 10s, 10s across the board.
• Leiomy Maldonado choreographed and appeared in Willow Smith’s 2010 “Whip My Hair” music video. Her signature hair flip, The Leiomy Lolly, has been adopted by entertainers such as Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Brittany Spears. In addition to being choreographer of the ballroom scenes in Pose, she appears in the Season One finale as the character Florida.
• Vogue houses exist in 15 American cities, mostly in the Northeast. Houses are led by “fathers” or “mothers” who provide leadership guidance for their “children.” Historically, four categories of gender are recognized within houses: butch queens, femme queens, butches and women.
• During a competition, houses are judged on vogue skills, costumes, appearance and attitude. Voguing consists of five elements: duckwalk, catwalk, hands, floor work and spins and dips.