POSE is one of those hidden gems that drops on your screen out of nowhere and you are glad it did.
POSE is the brand new show, from mega producer and show runner Ryan Murphy (Glee, AM Horror Story, Scream Queens). It chronicles the lives of several transgender and members of the LGBQT community in the 80’s, and their struggle to fit into society’s modern world. But the battle for the respect isn’t only duked in the streets of New York but also on the glittering floor of the one and only balls!
Ryan Murphy was greatly inspired by the sub-culture balls that is prevalent in the transgender community. It was from watching Paris is Burning documentary (still on Netflix – watch it!) that POSE was born!
TW: Discussion of the 80’s AIDS epidemic
Balls are of the utmost importance because it is there where you can dress to be whoever you want to be, royalty, body, butch, whatever one fancies. But it isn’t all glitz and glams that makes POSE sparkle as Ryan Murphy uses the show as a platform to speak about the deadly AIDS epidemic that was running rampant in the 80’s amongst the LGBQT community at that time…and unfortunately still today.
The show begins with the wonderful and legacy House of Abundance run by Mother Elecktra! Elektra is a fierce queen who doesn’t shy away from shading her peasant children. A house, in the transgender community, is started by a member who decides to rent a place in NYC and open her home to younger children involved in the community who would otherwise be starving and homeless. The person who starts the home, House Mother, chooses the name and the family members who are apart of the home. The contingency of being apart of the family is having to participate in a ball in some form of fashion, sewing, creating, and walking if need be.
Elecktra is a demanding mother quick to rip the throats out of anyone who dares cross her. So when Blanca, a child of abundance, has enough of being ridiculed and shaded, she decides to break away and begin her own house, the House of Evangelista!
Meanwhile, in Pennaslavania, Damon a young gay black man, is beaten and kicked out by his parents for being caught dancing in ballet class and coming out as gay. When not sleeping on the park benches in NYC, Damon dances to a beat box trying to earn some coins.
On another side of town in NYC we have Stan Bowes, played by Murphy’s right hand man Evan Peters, who lands at a job at an firm at a high rise. After his interview Stan doesn’t go celebrate with his wife and kids, instead he picks up Angel, another child of abundance and the two got to a hotel room to “celebrate.” After a ball gone wrong Angel lands in the graceful arms of Blanca, and she and Damon become the first children of the House of Evangelista!
Blanca takes to doing exactly what she set out to do as a mother which is to inspire, nature, and actually mother her children. She sets her rules through tough love but it is truly to ensure Angel and Damon’s well being. Blanca’s desire to create a legacy house and name is more than wanting to rub Elektra’s nose in defeat. Soon into the first episode we learn that Blanca has aids. Its this focal point that Ryan Murphy helps us see through the glittering world and make believe of the balls and the true hard lives and sacrifices that happen in the transgender community simply to live.
The AIDS epidemic ran rampant in the 80’s causing fear, destruction of families and communities, and destroying lives. The belief that being gay essentially guarantees you AIDS is a complete and debunked myth, but unfortunately AIDS are still one of the prevalent causes of death of POC men in the LGBQT community today. This is more or so due to the livelihoods that members of the community have to participate in than a “gay gene.
These characters have to prostitute, sell drugs, or perform at show world where men put in coins and the girls dance behind a screen. Only Blanca has a true legitmate job as a nail technician as even the infamous Queen Elektra has to sell her body for her longstanding, white, sugar daddy. The lack of equality and legitmate jobs forces members in the show to resort to not the best means. Although AIDS is the main culprit of lives of many in the show Murphy a great job of showing other critical struggles inside the community through the lives of other characters.
Pray Tell who is the audacious host of the balls and friend to Blanca. Papi, a Latino young man whose trying to find his way, and Ricky another black lost youth who attaches to Damon are just to name a few. Stan Bowes represents the struggle to keep yourself closeted and not have the opportunity to be who you are. He breaks down in the show as he was forced to be this epitome straight white men with 2.5 kids and Kate Mara as your wife (she literally plays his wife). He wraps Angel into his self destructive demise as he lures her by her own desires, to have an apartment in uptown and be a true kept woman. They play house for awhile on the show but they quickly find out that all that glitters isn’t gold.
We see the fight to be accepted within your own community, accepted by ones family, and the most important fight to become a true woman through sex change. Many characters speak about their desire to change to feel whole as who they are and they face severe backlash sometimes from members in their own community. We see the betrayal of members in both houses as the fight to survive and stay on top.
Finally, we see the battle that every minority shares whether involved in the LGBQT community or not…the battle to fight against inequality and set the deserving standard of oneself. Each of these characters in these show the tireless struggle of losing people they love and losing themselves to the snatching grip of oppression in patriarchal America. As the battle for “Mother of Year” approaches and the season finale happens it all comes to a head for every involved person in the show. But at the end of it all majority of the members are left standing ready to continue the fight, who exactly you’ll have to tune into see.
I’ve been a causal enjoyer of all Ryan Muprhy shows but this one I feel has impacted my life in more ways than one. I not only empathize with the characters in the show but I was deeply inspired by the drive to fight for your dreams and not let any obstacles stand in your way. To stick up for yourself despite the naysays whether their in your own community or not. To define who you are as woman by what you deserve and setting your own rules for how to live your life. To help, be kind, and inspire others instead of judging and laughing at their own demise…even if that person was your enemy. But, the major lesson I learned and what I feel Murphy wanted us to learn as well is to not fear the unknown. Whatever it is that is inhibiting you, the fear you may have a disease, the fear someone may have betrayed you, embarking on something for failure, find out about it, shed light on it, so you can conquer that fear and live the life you are suppose too. So if you’re looking for your next TV show binge don’t be afraid to give this one a try.
Get ready to WORK, LIVE, POSE!