“The Category Is… Mexico City” Season 1 Review: Revry’s Original Offers an Authentic Look at Ballroom Culture

The Category Is... Mexico City review
The Category Is… Mexico City (Image: PR)

Revry has released the first season of The Category Is… Mexico City on the queer-centric streaming service. The show offers an authentic look at the voguing and ballroom culture in, you guessed it, Mexico City.

I was provided a free screener of The Category Is… Mexico City for review. The opinions are my own.

For those who have watched Ryan Murphy’s Pose or the documentary Paris Is Burning, they would know the historic origin of voguing and ballroom culture to provide safe spaces to queer black and Latinx individuals. Over the years, it gained traction in mainstream U.S. media. So, of course, the culture spread to other countries, too, with the said country’s queer individuals creating spaces for themselves.

The Category Is has been promoted as an anthology series that will focus on ballroom culture in different cities around the globe. The first season is set in Mexico City. It features the ‘House of Mamis’ and takes us through how it was recently formed and the members it has. 

I liked getting introduced to the cast. The family members fall all over the queer spectrum and that’s some great representation to see. The show does a good job of sticking to the narrative it wants to share. There’s no forced drama (thankfully). The narrative focuses on the concept of found family and what the members of the ‘House of Mamis’ had to (and still) go through in life because of the society they live in.

There’s a lot of pain everyone has experienced, and that’s why the support they get from a loving family can’t be stressed enough.

Over the course of the 6 episodes (approximately 7 minutes each),  series creators Ocean Vashti Jude and Lauren E. Zubia Casalda address gender identity, being trans, Drag Queens, and a lot more.

I appreciated getting to learn about the stories of queer individuals belonging to other cultures and countries.

According to the creators:

Voguing is something in U.S that feels exciting and something to marvel, but voguing at its core has always been raw and about family. We traveled to Mexico City to film a voguing house that goes by the name of House of Mamis. It was inevitable that we would tell this story about these beautiful humans. We both are Latinx filmmakers who have always been othered, yet we have a strong love for the Latina Mother and what she represents in a household. So immediately, when we were invited into their spaces (the subculture), we were welcomed by the glue of the house, House Mother Mendoza, who has the holiness of a saint but the presence of a warrior. Crammed into a tiny apartment were 7-8 Mamis. Some painting their nails others smoking by the window and a few preparing food for the house. It a cozy ecosystem.

It is quickly apparent that Mexico City is truly a queer epicenter and I use that word specifically. In the states voguing is a sport, it is lucrative and sadly it is very binary. Young lgbtq folx leave their small towns and come to Mexico City to join houses and live authentically. People don’t make a living off voguing and drag, but they are seen here. Sometimes in the most brilliant spaces like museums and opera houses. Places that once held the attention of kings and queens now gives space to trans women and gay boys that love a good heel. Our mission as filmmakers with this series is to show people an unflinching look at how a group of very different people can come together and save each other, nurture each others’ talents and present them with something they never had, all while being authentic – that is family. Mexico City on the surface is very traditional and a proud place, but if you go looking down the smaller streets, you will find a familiar beat and extravagant dancing and mind blowing energy with faces of glitter welcoming you into some kind of paradise.

A second season of The Category Is in currently in development. It’s planned to be released sometime in 2021.

Considering how enjoyable the first season is, I’m looking forward to seeing this series continue. I hope this show also goes back to already featured houses to give us a follow-up. I would like to see Mendoza, the house mother, again.

And yes, I hope the episodes are longer. Addressing topics such as gender identity, trans experiences, and more is important when it comes to queer representation in media. Allowing people more time to talk can aid with diving deeper into such narratives. 

While the impact of Pose can’t be stressed enough, the show is scripted and has fictional characters (inspired by real-life events). Content like The Category Is builds on that to offer a more authentic take on queer culture.

The Category Is… Mexico City is currently available on Revry.

You should consider checking it out.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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