FX might have just scored one of its biggest gems ever with the upcoming series, Pose, a 1980s television drama (heavy on the drama) which centers on the New York City ball scene. It’s a time when both visibility and acceptance for the LGBTQ community were disappointingly low, shunning an entire group of people and banishing them to forgotten corners of society.
Pose lends itself to the same glamorously raw energy that was captured in the 1991 documentary film, Paris Is Burning. Both educate a contemporary audience of the hurdles that left the queer community downtrodden, more specifically black and Latinx queer people.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is covered, down to the insufficient access to health care, counseling and other resources that left queer people of color (QPoC) outcasted.
From a social standpoint, the stigmas that came with HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases strengthened homophobic and transphobic views and heightened the attacks on the LGBTQ community. What Pose executes beautifully is displaying how they collectively rise above the adversity, transforming the forgotten corners they’ve been banished to an entire world in which they have a chance to exist freely.
That world is the ballroom, and actors Indya Moore, Angelica Ross, MJ Rodriguez, Ryan Jamaal Swain, Dominique Jackson, Hailie Sahar and Billy Porter amplified the fierce gravitas of this world through their groundbreaking performances.
The ballroom is no place for the fainthearted. It is as competitive as it is illustrious. It is where icons are both birthed and laid to rest. Adversity is left at the door, and all that is left is the instinct to do whatever it takes to be number one. The ball scenes in Pose capture its true essence, and that of the entire underground subculture.
Categories from “butch queen realness,” “femme queen realness,” “royalty,” and “European runway,” for example, all thoroughly examine participants’ general ability to cloak themselves and fit in with the outside world.
Another remarkable aspect of Pose is the dynamic between characters as they find their places within their cohorts. “Houses,” as they are called, are quite literally chosen families. They’re made up of talented and driven queer individuals who’ve been cast out by their biological families. Pose illustrates the beauty in selected families. Though not exempt from their unique trials and tribulations, there’s a unity that exists that we sometimes don’t find in the families in which we’re born.
Pose is colorful, crazy, dazzling, dark, and daring. It captures the real life of queer outcasts and pays homage to ballroom icons like Hector Xtravaganza, Sol Williams and Michael Roberson. Behind the scenes are more notable queer talent including Steven Canals and author/activist Janet Mock.
It sets the largest transgender cast ever for a scripted series. It has all the workings of a television show that rightfully goes against the grain of typical televised content and dares to be different. Please believe the hype.
Pose airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on FX.