Note: The headline has been adjusted since publication in light of the most recent update. -Ed.
On Tuesday, HBO Max announced that a new ballroom voguing competition series, Legendary, would be joining the forthcoming streaming platform’s slate of original content. The idea itself? Tens across the board. The cast? That’s where things get confusing.
Per the official synopsis, Legendary aims to “[highlight] modern day ball culture” with fashion and dance-based challenges. Eight houses will endure rigorous judgment for a shot at the top spot. The judges panel includes hip-hop juggernaut Megan Thee Stallion, stylist Law Roach, and ballroom icon and activist Leiomy Maldonado, who is widely known as the Wonder Woman Of Vogue. Fellow ballroom fixture Dashaun Wesley is billed as a “commentator.”
In terms of the role of Master Of Ceremonies, we’ll just defer to the actual, honest-to-goodness HBO Max press release:
HBO Max announced today that actress, activist and host Jameela Jamil will MC and judge Legendary, the 9-episode unscripted voguing competition series from Scout Productions. Additionally, the streamer comes ready to battle with a judge panel that will chant, chop and destroy each ball featuring Megan Thee Stallion, Law Roach, Leiomy Maldonado alongside a weekly rotating guest judge with commentary by Dashaun Wesley and DJ MikeQ at the turntable.
If we seem a little, uh, insistent on using the platform’s direct language, it’s because the announcement sparked a wave of understandable backlash due to the decision to center Jamil, a consistently controversial cisgender woman who has never outwardly claimed any queer identity. (Furthermore... come on, Maldonado is literally right there. ) In response to the public’s dissent, Jamil has taken to Twitter to shame
HBO Max, the direct source of the information outlets like Deadline, which made the grave mistake of reporting the exact information that was announced by the network.
Again, the situation is just a little confusing, considering that the same press release goes on to reintroduce Jamil as—very explicitly, and perhaps mistakenly—the “Master Of Ceremonies.” (The A.V. Club has reached out to HBO Max for comment and clarification.) Since the announcement, the Good Place alum has tried to distance herself from the role, insisting that she is only a judge and not the emcee. She even took a moment to respond to actress Trace Lysette, who shared that she interviewed for the role. Jamil even attempted to correct Lysette by “clarifying” that Lysette actually auditioned to be a House Mother—another bold choice.
Jamil returned to Twitter this morning to state that Wesley is the true Master Of Ceremonies. She also details that she was invited to the series by Wesley, Maldonado, and DJ Mike Q. Maldonado and Wesley expressed their support of Jamil.
In a now-deleted tweet from HBO Max’s official PR account, the platform appeared to be confirming Jamil’s emcee status as the show’s host at the time of the announcement. At this time, HBO Max has not issued a clarifying statement.
Update, 4:40 PM CST: HBO Max has responded to AVC’s request for comment with the following, statement:
“Yesterday, HBO Max was excited to announce Dashaun and Jameela’s involvement in the series LEGENDARY. For clarity, Dashaun is the series’ MC/Commentator, and Jameela heads up the panel of judges alongside Leiomy, Law, and Megan.”
In addition, Jamil has taken to Twitter to official identify as queer, stating that she previously chose not to come out in fear that she would be “accused of performative bandwagon jumping.” See the tweet below.