Warning: This article contains plot spoilers for Season 1 of FX new series Pose
To be transgender in 2018 might still be difficult for some people, but to be black and transgendered at the same time might prove especially difficult in terms of gaining broader acceptance. Enter FX’s new series, Pose, which could possibly be what the black-LGBTQ community has been waiting for in terms of having its own voice represented in mainstream media. The show made history by casting real-life black-transgender actors in transgender leading roles.
Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, the masterminds behind Glee and American Horror Story, created this series along with Steven Canals, which portrays the lives of the black LGBTQ community living in the ballroom culture scene in 1987 New York City.
Entertainment Weekly reported that, in total, Pose employs over 140 transgendered cast and crew. Season 1 premiered on June 3 and will feature eight episodes in total. The series stars transgender actresses Indya Moore as Angel, Mj Rodriguez as Blanca Rodriguez, Dominique Jackson as Elektra Abundance, Angelica Ross as Candy Abundance, and Hailie Sahar as Lulu Abundance as part of its main cast.
Although the series cast is mostly made up of unknown actors, there are some very-well known actors playing significant roles as well. American Horror Story veteran Evan Peters joins the cast, playing the role of Stan Bowes, a man trying to work up the ranks during the Trump-era real-estate boom, under the leadership of his boss, Matt Bromley, played by former Dawson’s Creek star James Van Der Beek. Stan is married to Patty, played by House of Cards actress Kata Mara, and together they have two children. However, Stan embarks on an affair with Angel. Tony-winner Bill Porter also joins the main cast playing MC Pray Tell.
Described as “a cross between a fashion show and a dance contest,” Pose follows two rival houses, House of Abundance and House of Evangelista. Each house, accompanied by its own “Mother,” compete in themed, dance-musical ballroom numbers to prove who has the best talent and can strike the best pose. Elektra has House of Abundance, and Blanca, once a member of Elektra’s house, breaks away and forms House of Evangelista.
You might wonder why Murphy decided to create a show featuring primarily transgendered actors playing transgendered characters and not surprisingly, he had an amazing response.
“It’s a community that has always needed champions and advocates, and I thought now is the perfect time. I feel like if you put characters in front of viewers, even if they’re not like you, but you learn about them and you love them, it will change your worldview and lead to acceptance. I’ve seen it.”
Aside from all the costumes and musical-dance numbers, Pose also takes on the real-life issues that were happening in 1987, primarily the continual rise of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the gay community.
“Within the first six minutes, you learn that your leading lady has HIV,” Murphy tells EW. The “leading lady” Murphy is referring to is Blanca, which is ultimately the reason why she decides to leave House of Abundance to create House of Evangelista in order to leave a legacy of her own behind.
“We keep adding more and more and more trans characters because there are so many of them who want to work and are talented but can never have the opportunity, and opportunity is everything,” Murphy said. For one of the show’s main, transgendered cast members, Moore, 23, Murphy’s words could not ring more true.
“This show is my heart and my soul. This show is an evolution that I’ve lived through and that I still am going through. And it’s going to impact the world in ways that we’ve never seen before.”
Porter, 48, also agreed that Pose definitely gives the black-LGBTQ community a voice it has rarely been given the chance to have front and center.
“As a black, out gay man, I’ve never felt part of the conversation — this is going to make us part of the conversation,” he said.
There’s plenty of drama, dancing, music and rivalry in this series, but at the of the day, the main theme of the show is about embracing family and the people who truly love and care about you. This is Murphy’s most expensive series to date. It will also most likely be the last show he does with FX, as it was announced that he has signed a deal worth $300 million with popular streaming service Netflix.
Pose airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on FX.
You can watch the preview for the second episode of the series below.