“10’s, 10’s, 10’s across the board!”
From the voguing to the extravagant outfits and glamour, POSE hands down is one of the most important shows on television right now. It’s an accurate depiction of what the LGBT history was built on sees the lives of several young queer and transgender people living in New York City compete in the ballroom scene whilst tackling real-life struggles of homophobia, love, relationships, abuse and HIV. Shaping up to be one of the biggest and brightest shows to debut this year, POSE really captures the true essence of what New York City’s ballroom scene was like in the late 80’s. Debuting in June which is ‘Pride Month’, POSE has seized the hearts of people all over the world, educating the minds of both young-and-old, male-and-female on what the LGBT community especially what transgender people experience. Featuring the largest and most diverse cast of both trans and black actors in series regular roles that television has seen in a while, POSE feels like an act of revolution.
The show follows Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista (played by MJ Rodriguez), a trans-woman raised in the House of Abundance by her drag mother Elektra Abundance (played by Dominique Jackson). When Blanca is diagnosed as HIV-positive, she chooses to leave the House of Abundance and form her own house called House of Evangelista. Adopting Damon Richards, a homeless dancer abandoned by his family for being gay, becomes the first member Blanca recruits into House Evangelista, they embark on a journey together of love, success and most importantly family. Competing in ballrooms earning them trophies and stature amongst the scene. Along the way, we are introduced to Pray Tell (played by Billy Porter), the emcee of the balls in New York and a good friend of Blanca’s often helping design looks for “house” for the balls.
The one brilliant thing about POSE is how it aims to capture the true diversity of New York City in the 80’s. Exploring the struggles of both the rich and poor lives, POSE’s most captivating story is the subplot involving Angel Evangelista (played by Indya Moore), a trans woman sex worker and former member of House Abundance who leaves to join Blanca’s house and Stan Bowes (played by Evan Peters), the new employee at Trump Towers whose love for Angel affects his work and relationship with his wife Patty (played by Kate Mara).
It’s clear that Murphy’s main inspiration for POSE came from the iconic 1990 documentary Paris is Burning. A documentary filmed during the mid-to-late 1980’s that followed the lives of drag queens and transgender people living in New York City surrounding their house culture whilst touching on issues they faced from poverty to racism featuring in-depth conversations with some of the ball culture elites at the time like Willi Ninja, Dorian Corey and Pepper LaBeija. Paying homage to Paris Is Burning, some of its most memorable and iconic scenes have been recreated for the show bring a true sense of reality on screen.
With Hollywood continuing to isolate equality, this show came at a really important time for the transgender community considering the recent controversy surrounding Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson when it was announced that she was cast to play transgender man and prostitution ring leader Dante “Tex” Gill in film Rub & Tug. After receiving backlash for accepting the role, Johansson pulled out of the movie giving a statement to the LGBT website ‘Out.com’ saying “she will no longer be part of the film in light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting”. Many still criticized her response to the backlash she received by deeming it insensitive to the LGBT community.
Earlier this month, stars of FX’s new hit show Indya Moore and MJ Rodriguez did an interview about POSE on MTV News discussing cis actors portraying trans characters and opened with a strong statement – “Gender is a social construct but so is race and that still doesn’t make it okay for white women to play Asian women, still doesn’t make it okay for cis people to play trans people”. Indya Moore continues to say “it’s not like your doing us a favor, it’s like you’re flicking the nose essentially at an entire demographic of people that are telling you we are not okay with this and we’re more than capable of not only telling our own stories but telling stories in general”.
With POSE being renewed for a second season, it’s clear that future for trans actors is looking bright.