A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Legendary is a competition series featuring teams from the underground ballroom scene competing for cash and status. Themes associated with the LGBTQ+ community (coming out, family rejection, etc.) are present, as are narratives related to growing up poor, enduring physical abuse, and the death of parents. The word "bitch" and crude sexual references (like "p---y") are used as part of the ball community’s vernacular, and stronger curses (like "f--k" and "s--t") are used less frequently. Performances feature tight, skin-revealing clothing, and sexualized movements, but are presented in self-empowering ways.There’s some argumentative behavior, but it doesn’t detract from the positive messages the series sends about mentorship, acceptance, and embracing difference.
What's the story?
LEGENDARY is a reality competition series featuring voguing dance teams, also known as "houses," facing off for cash, a trophy, and superior status. Hosted by MC Dashaun Wesley, eight different houses from the underground ballroom scene compete in a variety of performances that combine dance, lip-synching, and modeling. They are judged by renowned vogue dancer and activist Leiomy Maldonado, stylist Law Roach, actress Jameela Jamil, and rapper Megan Thee Stallion. The balls are extravagant and the dancers are fierce, but they’re all leaving it out on the floor to achieve mega status.
Is it any good?
This lively competition show features different houses trying to impress with over-the-top, glitzy performances. It also uses the opportunity to showcase the overall underground ballroom scene, the history of which goes back to early 20th century LGBT counterculture. Legendary reveals how Black and Latinx transgender women have made it into what it is today, and points to the fact that many mainstream dance trends (including Madonna’s voguing) are inspired by this movement. But it also shows the cultural significance of the houses themselves, which are tight-knit, social group families that serve as the dancers’ support network, especially when their real families are not able or willing to be there.
For those unfamiliar with urban ball room dance (and ball culture), chances are it'll take an episode or two to fully understand what judges are looking for, in addition to learning the vernacular associated with the scene. Others may be surprised by the ball community’s willingness to embrace everyone, regardless of gender, sexuality, size, or race. Despite some arguing and traditional house rivalries during the competition, this overall message of acceptance is never overshadowed. As a result, Legendary is a positive, vibrant, and high-spirited contest that is both fun and inspiring.
Talk to your kids about ...
Famlies can talk about how Legendary portrays the ballroom competition style. What kinds of things do the judges look for in each performance? Which of the houses do you think is the strongest?
How has ball culture evolved over the past century? Does it only include people in drag? In what ways does this underground culture influence mainstream popular dance and music?
What other types of dance are you familiar with? How are these the same -- and different -- from the ballroom scene?
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