Jun 11, 2024 - Culture

Why you should watch HBO's "Ren Faire"

man riding a horse

Huzzah! At the festival. Photo: Chen Chen/Xinhua via Getty Images

HBO's "Ren Faire" is the story of Southeast Texas royal drama.

Why it matters: The three-part docuseries is a wild but very real look into the Houston-area Texas Renaissance Festival's recent succession crisis.

What it's about: The series follows 86-year-old festival owner and playboy hopeful George Coulam, lovingly called King George by his subordinates, who in 2021 decided it was time to pass the scepter.

  • The series follows three frontrunners: Jeff Baldwin, who rose through the ranks from entertainer to general manager; Louie Migliaccio, the festival's renowned kettle corn hawker with deep pockets; and Darla Smith, a vendor coordinator who thinks she can do better than them.

The intrigue: Coulam's indecision on the future of the festival is juxtaposed with his detail-oriented end-of-life plans, including finding love before death.

The big picture: The Texas Renaissance Festival, founded in 1974, opens its 50th season in October.

  • The eight-week-long festival boasts that it's the largest and most acclaimed in the United States with onsite campgrounds, nearly two dozen stages for music and dancing, and hundreds of shops.
  • Last year, there were more than 500,000 attendees, according to the festival website.

💭 Jay's thought bubble: Having gone to the festival since my formative years, I've always known its importance to the region.

  • But HBO's look into the festival's origin shows it was one of the first to ever do it, with influence reaching across the globe.
  • And watching King George grapple with letting go — all while trying to woo a partner — makes it well worth the watch.

How to watch: All three episodes are streaming on Max.

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