'Finding Magic Mike' : Everything to Know About the Sexy (and Sweet!) New Show

The new HBO Max show follows 10 "normal" guys trying to find their own Magic Mike mojo and win a cash prize

Finding Magic Mike
Photo: HBO Max

In the mood for a little eye candy, sexy dancing and a bunch of attractive men being vulnerable and talking about their feelings? HBO Max's new series Finding Magic Mike is a pre-holiday treat packing more than meets the eye.

The seven-episode series follows 10 normal guys (i.e. non-professional dancers or strippers), narrowed down from an initial pool of 50, who have "lost their magic" and are looking to find it — along with a $100,000 prize and the opportunity to perform in the Magic Mike Live stage show in Las Vegas. Each episode centers around the contestants rehearsing increasingly challenging choreography, culminating in one big performance at the end of each episode.

In addition to a few expected elements like visible abs and a familiar Magic Mike face or two, the show also features impactful emotional moments you don't always see coming. Ahead of its streaming debut tomorrow (Dec. 16), here is everything to know about Finding Magic Mike.

Which Magic Mike alums are involved?

Actor Adam Rodriguez (a.k.a. Tito from the movies) appears in the show as a mentor and tells PEOPLE he jumped at the opportunity to be involved because of the positive experience he had working with his fellow cast members, who have since become forever friends.

"The opportunity to really take the experience I had and help guide these guys who were courageous enough to show up excited me," he says. "You say Magic Mike, you have people at 'Hello' because they correctly assume they're going to get eye candy and sex appeal. Which, you do, but I just don't think people see the heart that's coming with it, and that's the beauty of it. That's the surprise that I can't wait for people to see."

Although star Channing Tatum does not appear in the show, he is shown in a few clips from the movies along with other cast members. The actor serves as an executive producer, along with Magic Mike director Steven Soderbergh; Magic Mike XXL director Gregory Jacobs; and Reid Carolin, who wrote the first two films.

Finding Magic Mike
Show mentors: Vincent Marini, Adam Rodriguez, Alison Faulk and Luke Broadlick. HBO Max

Two other Magic Mike franchise VIPs who also appear are choreographers Alison Faulk and Luke Broadlick, who serve as mentors and choreographers.

"We came to this with the intention [we always have] of putting on the best performance out there," says Broadlick. "But for the TV show, we tailored it for the guys and for their abilities. Because we weren't looking for professional dancers."

Adds Faulk: "And I think additionally for the TV show, each week we had a theme or a goal they're working towards, so we also had that in mind each week."

Meet the aspiring Mikes

Finding Magic Mike
Show mentors: Vincent Marini, Adam Rodriguez, Alison Faulk, Luke Broadlick. HBO Max

The show begins with 50 contestants flown in from all over the U.S. and then narrows the pool down to 10 who all have different work/life backgrounds. PEOPLE spoke with two of the finalists, Johnny and Nate, for their perspective on the experience.

"I thought it was going to be more like stripping and trying to gain your confidence in stripping with a woman in a seat, not understanding that this is professional dancing," says Nate. "[Choreographers] Allison and Luke are amazing. All those guys are just amazing. I didn't know it was going to be such a dance-heavy competition. And I loved it. Everything was done very tastefully."

How do their families feel about the show?

"Oh, my God. Well, my mother, my family, they're very conservative," says Johnny. "We're from North Carolina, so you already know. But they're very supportive, and it's a tasteful, positive experience. So, if anything, it's given me the motivation just to keep doing it."

"Yeah, I have the same answer," says Nate. "My family's not 100%. They're very conservative, but also supportive. They're happy that I found something that I actually really enjoy doing, and I would love to continue it."

Finding Magic Mike

Masculinity under a Mike-roscope

"I wanted to talk about what it means to be a man today, not what it means to take your clothes off," says Alycia Rossiter, showrunner and executive producer. "And I think part of what it takes to be a man is to own some sexiness. And we were definitely focusing on sexy, but you're not going to feel sexy unless you feel good. And this was about making them feel good."

Rossiter says she was pleasantly surprised by the humor as well as the humility the guys brought to the show.

"We weren't casting for funny, we were casting for men who had lost their magic. So I was expecting them to be vulnerable and I was expecting them to need our help and hoping that they would work really hard, but the fact that they found humor in every situation helped us make a great show," she says. "It helped us bond, helped them to fall in love with each other and us."

Finding Magic Mike

Rodriguez says he was charmed by the fact that the guys bonded so well, which reminded him of his own Magic Mike experiences.

"There were so many similarities. I think anytime you put a group of people, and let's use men in this case, because that was the experience that I've had on both [movies], is that a brotherhood gets formed," he explains. "You're up for challenges. You are put in positions where you're being vulnerable and have to expose yourself literally and figuratively. And I think that when you do that amongst the group, you just very naturally form bonds very quickly."

He continues: "And you can see in the show, I mean these guys become friends really quickly. They really form just a love for each other that you can see, and it makes it hard when people have to go home."

Finding Magic Mike

Finding sex appeal in vulnerability

Contestants Johnny and Nate admit that the show challenged them to face their insecurities in different ways and also helped them expand their own internalized definitions of "sexy."

"Honestly, I kind of felt insecure taking my shirt off just because I'm not huge," says Johnny. "In my mind, I'm always thinking as a stripper, women want to see big men, and that was my perception going into the show. 'Oh, they want me to be big and buff,' and it's not like that for women. It's more mental. But yeah, [I had] to get over that hump of taking the shirt off every day."

"For me, I'm a very shy individual," says Nate. "So, making a connection with somebody in front of you and having to strip off all these layers, that was very difficult."

One great lesson learned when it comes to this type of performance is a fun one: "It's all about what women want," says Johnny. "That's what I learned from the show. They don't want what men want. Men like to go straight for it sometimes. Women like to process, [enjoy] foreplay."

Finding Magic Mike

Mastering the right moves

A common refrain heard from all the contestants in the show, during their rehearsals and dance training is: "It's harder than it looks." And yet, everyone involved was impressed with how well the big dance numbers came together in the end.

"I never believed that these guys were going to be as good as they end up being," admits executive producer Vincent Marini. "I used to say, 'There's no way these guys are going to be able to pull this off,' and somehow we got them there and they did an incredible job."

Adds Rossiter: "Vincent is a great skeptic because he never believed it but then he would say, 'We have to push them harder. We have to make them try. We have to make them tempted to fail, but we have to make them try.' And then they wouldn't always fail, and then he was the most amazed."

"I was amazed!" says Marini.

Bonus future features

Choreographers Faulk and Broadlick challenged all of the guys to master steps they'd never considered or attempted — including several now-classic Magic Mike moves like the dolphin dive and "old faithfuls," which are a pelvic roll/crawl combo.

"It's the standard like crawling through on the floor. It's in everything that we do," says Broadlick. "Channing coined that one. He literally goes, like we were [rehearsing], 'Oh, throw a couple Old Faithfuls in there.' So you see them in everything that we do, and if you do it right—"

"It's effective," quips Faulk.

For anyone interested in or tempted to try the dolphin kick and old faithfuls featured in the series, Faulk and Broadlick have you covered, with a few tutorial videos.

"They're coming!" promises Faulk. "When we were doing the show, a bunch of the crew and staff would start learning the dances, and they were like, 'Oh, I want to dance.' We were kind of like, 'Oh, wouldn't it be fun to shoot a tutorial of us teaching the dances from the show?' So we're putting it out when the show comes out. You can find us."

Adds Broadlick: "We've got little tidbits for everybody."

The first season of Finding Magic Mike is available to stream Dec. 16 on HBO Max.

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