If you’ve not yet jumped on the fabulous bandwagon that is Pose, we are here to help.
The series, from Glee and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy along with Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals, is a dazzling — and often heartbreaking series — that explores and celebrates the underground ballroom scene of New York in the 1980s.
Balls were, and continue to be, a place where members of the LGBTQIA community — predominantly African-American and Latinx — could convene to unapologetically be themselves as they walked in various categories in order to win prizes at the events. The underground ball scene is actually where the term “voguing” originated, before being made internationally known thanks to Madonna’s 1990 hit.
The ballroom scene even inspired the one and only RuPaul’s Drag Race, which has gone on to become the most awarded reality TV show of all time.
These balls were not just about performance, however, with the events representing the only place where marginalised members of the LGBTQIA community could truly feel at home, and the “Houses” they competed in often serving as a family for young members who had been shunned by their biological families.
Pose explores all of these themes through the lens of the HIV/AIDS crisis which tore through the LGBTQIA community in the 1980s and into the 1990s.
The series has been lauded for its groundbreaking on and offscreen representation and features the largest cast of transgender actors ever to appear as series regulars on a scripted show, including Indya Moore as Angel, MJ Rodriguez as Blanca Rodriguez, Dominique Jackson as Elektra Abundance, Hailie Sahar as LuluAbundance, and Angelica Ross as Candy Abundance.
Elsewhere, Billy Porter — who plays HIV positive ball host Pray Tell — became the first openly gay man to win the lead actor Emmy in 2019 thanks to his performance in the series, while screenwriter and producer Janet Mock became the first trans woman of colour hired as a writer on a TV series, as well as the first transgender woman of colour to write and direct a TV episode.
Oh, and if that isn’t enough to get you excited about this beautiful and important series, it also made history in 2019 by becoming the first TV series with a mostly trans cast to be nominated in any category at the Golden Globes.
At the time, Porter — who recently opened up about his HIV diagnosis after keeping it a secret for 14 years — said, “I lived through the HIV/AIDS crisis. So, Ryan and the rest of the team entrusted me with telling a very specific story.
“It was ugly, and it was scary. Many of my friends didn’t make it. As a survivor of that era, I feel honoured to tell this story. Everyone I lost, I felt their spirits with me the entire way.”
If you’re now sufficiently inspired to watch Pose, in all of its inclusive glory, you can watch the first two seasons in their entirety on Binge now and catch new episodes of the third and final season each week on the streaming platform.