Aug 18, 2018

[TV] Pose: Season 1 Review

Our love for RuPaul's Drag Race eventually got us to watch the documentary film Paris Is Burning, which tried to capture the spirit of the ball scene on the time. And watching that feature gave us a better appreciation for which elements of the balls made it into the show and sort of better contextualized RuPaul.

Pose was a surprise as it was a major television series that also tried to capture the feels of this period. Beyond that, the show was promoted to have a strong focus on the transgender side to the balls and also promised to cast transgender actors to fulfill the roles of their transgender characters,

I wasn't quite sure how this was going to go because with the creative team behind the show. They've made same great stuff or at least shows that start strong but don't always end well. So what was this show going to be like?

Synopsis: Pose is an American drama television series created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals for FX. The series has the largest ever cast of transgender actors with over 50 transgender characters. The show has already been confirmed for a second season.

Blanca (MJ Rodriguez) is diagnosed as having HIV and this prompts her to finally leave the House of Abundance and start her own house - this eventually becoming the House of Evangelista. Among the first members of her new house are Angel (Indya Moore), another transgender woman from the House of Abundance, and eventually Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain), a young gay dancer who has had to leave home. Beyond preparing for the balls, Blanca takes them in and tries to make her House truly feel like a family.

And thus she gets Damon to apply for the New School of Dance and manages to get him accepted. Elsewhere Angel, who is also a sex worker, meets Stan (Evan Peters), a married man who just started working at the Trump Tower and is eager to rise up the ranks. But for some reason he has been drawn to Angel. And at the balls, Blanca and her new house find themselves to be the subject of the ire of the House of Abundance, particularly its matriarch Elektra (Dominique Jackson).

What I Liked: First, super amazing talent gathered for this show. I swear everyone is interesting and talented and fully committed to their respective roles and the end result is pretty amazing. You feel every scene because of the vitality and vibrance they bring to every moment and you can tell that the show means a lot to the team involved in the show. That sort of passion really sings through and adds a special dimension to the performances.

And the overall plotting of the story for this season is quite, well, brilliant. It would have been easy enough to just make this a simple as Blanca versus Elektra, but it's more than that. Elektra is still her "mother" within the ball scene as she was part of her house once upon a time.And the complexity of that relationship partly defines the character arcs in this season and eventually the characters themselves.

What Could Have Been Better: I can appreciate that the show may be a little jarring when you first dive in. It's not automatically a bad thing when a show doesn't hold you hand and introduce you to its world in a clear fashion, but that can be a challenge for some, especially people not familiar with the ball scene setting. And it's never fully explained over the course of the season - it's just there and you have them competing for trophies week after week.

The Evan Peters story arc is fairly interesting but seems to want to wrap up pretty early in the show. I know he's one of those recurring talents who have appeared in various shows from this creative team, but I'm not all that supportive of his arc continuing on in the next season. I really feel the story is done and Angel needs to move on and do better. But we'll see how things go.

TL;DR: Pose is an amazing show with a strong message delivered by some excellent talent. It's an emotional powerhouse and one of the most unique things we've seen on television in a long time. And so of course this debut season has to get a full 5 fabulous ball outfits out of a possible 5.

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