What’s remarkable about the glorious LGBTQ Fantastic Pose – which returns for its third and final season on Sunday – isn’t just its groundbreaking status in portraying LGBTQ culture or addressing a period and culture. rarely seen in the media. It is that, for three seasons, he never derailed and will close his family drama on his own terms.
Knowing how and when to end a streak isn’t as easy as it sounds. Cancellations happen from above in a network before a show’s story arcs end or money hangs in front of talents begging them to keep going and do one more season as they go. really shouldn’t. The temptation had to be to direct an inventive show like “Pose” – a critically successful starring the largest ensemble of trans and queer-colored actors ever assembled – as long as the fandom was tuned in.
But when a show goes on too long, the characters become static. Although fans can’t complain about five or seven seasons of emcee Pray Tell (Billy Porter) dominating the ballroom or mother figure Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) forever leading her children to compete on the dance floor. for trophies against various antagonistic houses – and why would they? – “Pose” was always there to offer more than that.
The series has always reserved its heaviest plots for Pray Tell, who, along with Blanca, was diagnosed with HIV early in the series.
Even with its hopeful and positive bent, “Pose” was a story about the height of the HIV / AIDS crisis and the community response. The first season began in 1987; season two advanced to 1990. Although the HIV / AIDS epidemic has never gone away and there is still no cure, in 1997, the immediate crisis in the United States and the United States. LGBTQ community had slowed down considerably due to the effectiveness of public health messages, the capacity for screening and the use of antiretroviral therapy – and, tragically but most importantly, the huge death toll at this point. The scene that “Pose” portrayed didn’t end, but it had changed dramatically by then, creating a natural end point for seeing these characters.
So the third season begins in 1994 and with the end of the series in sight, arcs of important characters are brought to heartwarming new places. There is a surprisingly domestic life for Blanca, whose new boyfriend, Christopher (Jeremy Pope), is a doctor at the hospital where she now works in the AIDS ward. Angel (Indya Moore) and Papi (Angel Bismark Curiel) try to balance their future with her thriving modeling career.
Meanwhile, Elektra (Dominique Jackson) finally became a true businesswoman in New York City after then-mayor Rudy Giuliani’s “quality of life” raids ended her domineering gig. (Along with her transformation comes a flashback to the House of Abundance origin story and an appearance by her mother, Tasha, played by Noma Dumezweni.)
With the end of the series in sight, many important character arcs are brought to heartwarming new places.
The series, however, has always reserved its heaviest storylines for Pray Tell, who, along with Blanca, was diagnosed with HIV early in the series. His infection has now turned into AIDS in its own right, giving the show a chance to dramatize the multiple known characteristics of the various degenerative diseases that can accompany it. It’s a tour de force for Porter, who has already won the lead actor Emmy for his portrayal of Pray Tell. From emotional moments with family to theater scenes in the hospital, he can do it all – including a showcase highlight where he returns home to make peace with the family and the culture that made him what he is.
But even as the series revel in its tastiest moments, it’s hard to avoid noticing that, of all of creator Ryan Murphy’s projects, “Pose” is his biggest hit.
It has become a hallmark of Murphy’s career that none of his projects manage to be a long-term success. “Glee,” the show that made him such a household name, was already an overblown disaster by the time it reached season two, and it was only downhill from there. “American Horror Story” and “American Crime Story” both started out as cultural moments in their first seasons, and while the former has kept itself afloat with annual reinventions, the latter has struggled to get the seasons off the ground. following. (The third season is only finally being filmed.)
At least the “American Story” collections have managed multiple seasons; shows like “Feud” remain in limbo, and that doesn’t even dive into Netflix’s high-profile car crash series, from “Hollywood” to poorly rated “Ratched” to the disastrous “The Politician.”
When Netflix hired Murphy from FX for $ 300 million, “Pose” was only weeks away from its debut in the first season; it wasn’t hard to see why they were interested. “Pose” was exactly the type of series Netflix expected from it, just as a hit the size of “Bridgerton” was what they were looking for from Shonda Rhimes – groundbreaking, of course, but more importantly, heartwarming and joyful, the type of series It works as a once-a-week post, but can also be marathoned as a pick-me-up on repeat views.
So far, he has done nothing else for them.
This may be because Netflix doesn’t provide the kind of railing that a cable channel like FX did. The trick to “Pose” is that it’s not really revolutionary once you look past the cast list. This is a remarkably old-fashioned television compared to most “prestige” television series: there are no anti-heroes and there are no heavy special effects sequences. Even the episodes themselves are each built around the traditional issues that TV (or at least soap opera) families have – an ex who shows up at the wrong time to threaten someone’s trip to the altar, the someone’s dramatic secret suddenly comes back just as success is at hand.
This is, of course, part of the point: the story of the LGBTQ community is no different than the story of any other community we see on television, whether it’s Norman Lear or “Sex and” the City ”. That structure and message helped “Pose” stay focused for three seasons until a triumphant finale under the direction of Steven Canals, who has quietly led this project since Murphy turned his full attention to Netflix.
Still, the show opened the door for more LGBTQ stories, whether written as soap operas or not. Even though the likes of “Pose” never return, its category is (and always will be) legendary.