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Pose: Season 1/ Episode 1 “Pilot” [Series Premiere] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

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Pose is so wonderful that you’ll wish Ryan Murphy and co. held this for Netflix so that we could get all the episodes in one sitting.


Network
FX
CreatorRyan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals
Director(s)Ryan Murphy
Writer(s)Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals
Air Date6/3/2018
Noted Actors
BlancaMj Rodriguez
DamonRyan Jamaal Swain
AngelIndya Moore
StanEvan Peters
Pray TellBilly Porter

The Introduction

It’s 1987 and Ball culture is in full swing, Trump is the epitome of wealth and AIDS is massacring the community. Yet, also in a way, it is a wake-up call. Especially for Blanca for while AZT is on the market, as shown in many a show and movie focused on HIV/AIDS, AZT only does but so much and it can be like taking chemo for cancer – just without being seen as some sort of cure. So, with Blanca not happy in House Abundance, and surely not fond of house mother Elektra anymore, she starts her own. One which isn’t robbing museums at night or is only invested in the glamor and not the people. House Evangelista won’t be like that.

Instead, as shown with first house son Damon, it is going to push you to pursue your dreams, get an education. Even if that means Blanca acting like a real mom and having a Julliard worthy performance to make it so even when you don’t believe in yourself, someone else will off the strength of her word. Then, of course, there is Angel, Blanca’s sex working baby. Someone who has fallen for this married boy named Stan who has a family, kids and all, but is caught up in Angel. A person who he won’t openly claim yet wants just the same. Typical male.

And later on, a new boy comes along as House Evangelista tries to make a name for themselves but, HA-HA, the writing makes the house look better than it is. For while Blanca is no amateur she is not a professional. Luckily, retired performer and current Ball emcee, Pray Tell, is a friend and designer who is willing to aide her house. Also, he acts a confidant for while HIV she may have, she is not trying to make it widely known. For the stigma we have now, even with PrEP, is just the same. And no one wants to be treated or looked at more differently than they already do.

For that is what a house is for. So boys like Damon, kicked out for wanting to be a dancer and openly gay, they have a home. So girls like Angel can find love in the crowded and lonely New York City and people like Blanca can give them all they wished they had. Like all mothers do.

Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Um, how in the world, now that he somehow got into dance school, is Damon going to pay for school? Blanca is a nail technician and Angel is a sex worker who probably hangs out more than makes money.
  2. So what are the chances for Marsha P. Johnson showing up? Especially since it seems hanging around Christopher Street is a thing. Will there be conversations about Stonewall and homage?
  3. Am I the only one who thought Damon was a young Blanca?

Collected Quote(s) or .Gifs

The method might be different but the cash smells just the same

Highlights

The Soundtrack

I was born in 91 with parents born in the 60s and back so, all the 80s jams played I was unfamiliar with but everytime Google was popping up with names, I wrote them down to put into a Pandora mix. Because, even though I wasn’t alive there was this weird sense of nostalgia. Maybe it was watching everyone be free and dance to the music. Vogue and pop to the beat. Heck, maybe it even wasn’t the dancing but hearing singers who could sing and weren’t more personalities than singers.

But let’s not go there.

Angel

Angel asking when she will find a prince charming?
Indya Moore as Angel
“When am I finally gonna meet my Prince Charming?”

Though it perhaps is wrong to have favorites, for all the characters and actors are having their moment and owning it, there is something about Indya Moore that makes you want her to become an IT girl. I’m talking magazines galore, interviews, and being so famous you forgot how she first got famous. Because the personality, how adorable she is with Evan Peters, and just her presence, it makes you want more and perhaps is the sole silver lining about the season only being 8 episodes. For hopefully that means, by this time next year, after the work of Janet Mock and Laverne Cox, alongside others, Indya can get the roles and notoriety which aren’t limited to roles with a trans prefix.

Blanca

Blanca waiting for her results from a HIV test.
MJ Rodriguez as Blanca

Being as a lead, a mother, is something you sort of expect from an actor with more notoriety. You know, the Gabrielle Unions, Kerry Washingtons, and people like that. Yet, despite a filmography of fewer than 10 credits, Rodriguez makes it clear people are just catching up to her. That is wasn’t talent but opportunity and that can be seen by her building a beautiful relationship with each character that is unique in its own way. Be it the one she has with Damon, recognizing him as a boy who mirrored her story, in terms of being homeless. Taking note of Angel who is trans like her, came from the same house, but wants better – deserves better. Not just in terms of clothes and things of material nature, but a more loving environment.

And while I will admit there is something a bit camp about Blanca, between her house rules and how she went to bat for Damon, I’m sure many a future house mother are taking notes.

Pray Tell

Pray Tell, after giving advice to Blanca, talking about getting a drink.
Billy Porter as Pray Tell
“Now, Daddy needs a drink!”

Previous to Pose, Billy Porter was someone I knew by name, saw in interviews, and had his rendition of Sex in the Hell and Land of Lola, from Kinky Bootsir?source=bk&t=amaall0c 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=fd49af84abaf1688ce8a5f7d48f0e02b& cb=1528110956113 as part of my daily playlist. However, as an actor, he was a stranger to me. Yet, like Indya, I fully expect and want him to blow up. To, unlike Audra McDonald and other Broadway legends,  be able to go on stage, do a movie real quick, and get series roles like it is nothing. For as much as I love the role of Blanca, you can see that character looks to Pray Tell for guidance and Porter revels in it.

I mean, easily the role could be a comic relief and just be him throwing shade at balls and side-eyeing Blanca’s choices. However, there is also a heart to the character, the same shared sadness that because of how flamboyant he is and the cards dealt, Balls are sort of his glass ceiling. One he enjoys because of the respect, but it wasn’t the end of the line he probably was hoping for.

Criticism

Damon Did Not Deserve To Get Into That School – That Was Pure Feel Good Moment

When it comes to the arts, I recognize my understanding of styles, equipment, and training is knowledgeable at best. However, I still have the ability to think as a patron and I can tell you right now that there was nothing about Damon’s audition for Ms. St. Rogers that would mean him beating kids on a waitlist and getting into a full program. Also, him not being able to handle a deadline! Are you kidding me?

And while I appreciate Blanca going to bat for him more than his biological mother may have done but, come on. Between jumping on tables, bumping a judge, and some of his other shenanigans, that was way too amateur.

On The Fence

Damon

Damon after finding out whether he got into dance school or not.
Ryan Jamaal Swain as Damon

Don’t get me wrong, I like Damon but also I feel Damon is generic. Not necessarily bad way generic but, he represents any and all queer people who have been through what he has generic. You know, someone anyone can imprint on and it sort of bugs me. For while I can empathize with him, and understand his story, I don’t think of myself as someone who really enjoys blank canvas characters who only provide us with an easel and a frame. It makes me feel like I got to do all the work to feel and see something about the character. Which with him bringing overhyped dance performances? I can’t say he isn’t the bruise or blister of the show.

Angel and Stan

Angel and Stan laying in a bed next to one another.
Indya Moore as Angel and Evan Peters as Stan.

With Angel being my favorite, naturally, I want her to find happiness. So, of course, I’m mad she thinks she has feelings for some Park Avenue white boy, working under Donald Trump, who has a wife and family. Thus setting her up to be a secret. Heck, something beyond a secret but a fetish and something Stan seems to be ashamed of. Which is infuriating mostly because of my investment. Not because this isn’t a story to be told but urgh. That’s the power of Angel and Indya. I barely know this character but expecting the worse has me in my feelings.

First Impression: Positive (Watch This)

Alternative title card for Pose.

When it comes to shows like this, usually the praise is about how there isn’t another program like this. But, here is the thing with saying that, usually that boosts is short lived and once you get settled into the whole, “But they’re just like everyone else” the show loses its appeal. However, when it comes to Pose, I don’t feel that featuring queer and trans characters is something that is being used to stand out and peacock about. It’s central to the show but isn’t something being used as a gimmick or the kind of selling point which will be big and explosive like fireworks and then just end up bad smelling smoke.

What we are given with Pose is something which could have longevity. Something which explores the various cultures involved and, fingers crossed, maybe could address the lives of local big names. For to not have Marsha P. Johnson show up feels like a crime. Much less, somewhere down the line, address her murder and do as the show has already done, show us what happens when the party is over and you have to deal with real life.

Hence the positive label for this is perhaps one of the first Ryan Murphy series in a while that didn’t seem like it was made to peak early on and then fall off thereafter. It was made to be something that deserved seasons and shouldn’t just be a mini-series. Like most of the productions I’ve watched of his since Glee.

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Amari Allah

I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and have aimed to be that friend who loves watching various forms of media and talking about it. So, from bias, strong opinions, and a perspective you may not have thought about, you'll find that in our reviews.

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