Pose: Season 2, Episode 1 “Acting Up” [Season Premiere] – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)

Blanca and Pray Tell at Hart Island.

The ladies of Pose return, and with the AIDS crisis in full effect, those who aren’t about the community and taking advantage of “Vogue” giving spotlight are called out.

The ladies of Pose return, and with the AIDS crisis in full effect, those who aren’t about the community and taking advantage of “Vogue” giving spotlight are called out.

Director(s) Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Writer(s) Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals
Air Date 6/11/2019

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Someone Must Speak For The Dead: Judy, Pray Tell, Blanca

Before the drama of learning Blanca now has AIDS status, we’re reminded of more than 800 bodies which might be buried on Hart Island. A place where, going by the rude attendant, dead bodies which were infected by AIDS were quarantined to a separate area. Also, for the living, you could find yourself going to three or more funerals a week. Knowing 100s of people who are dying, and wondering if you are next. Making it so morose humor, like Judy has, might be the only silver lining of living.

It Can’t All Be Sacrifice: Angel, Lil Papi, Blanca

But, as long established, Blanca isn’t going to leave this world without her children being set for life. This episode her focus is on Angel and making her a model. For with Madonna’s “Vogue” taking the world by storm, she wants Angel to ride the wave and use her beauty to become something beyond a pretty face at the balls. She wants her to be in Vogue, on the runway, and unfortunately, it doesn’t come quick nor easy.

Sadly, a photographer nearly derails that plan by taking advantage of the vulnerable Angel. However, he gets his ass whipped for doing so. But, thankfully, while a pervert, he is a good photographer and in a model search competition, Angel gets to the semifinals.

Not All Queer Folk Are Kin Folk: Pray Tell, Elektra, Blanca, Candy, Lulu

Pray Tell going off and speaking to the children.

Thanks to Judy taking him to an activist meeting, Pray Tell gets fired up about the community speaking out. I’m talking him getting as vocal, and nasty, as when he had a drinking problem. Luckily, this time, he has a funnel for his anger, but when it comes to the ball, he takes aim at nearly everyone he doesn’t like, and not a single one appreciates. Most of all Elektra, since you know the balls are her life. It’s the one place she is respected, the only place she can be outspoken and not put in her place, so Pray Tell publicly embarrassing her for not showing up was a major blow.

Hence why, first chance she gets, she flips out at Blanca’s home and storms out. After all, she was a mother before Blanca, and while she was humbled by hard times, she has apparently bounced back. So, with that in mind, she bites the hand that fed her and heads over to the ones, Candy and Lulu, who abandoned her behind the first chance they had.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Was Angel set up so that she’d “Pay her dues?”


Before The Drama, Let’s Remind You This Is Real

While we all love a good keke, Pray Tell going off on people and Elektra’s antics, you have to appreciate the show, primarily through Blanca, and Pray Tell to a point, showing the laughs is to get through the pain. At that time, there was no PrEP, gay people were still demonized, and as Pray Tell said, all moments when it seemed they would be mainstream were a phase. Disco came and went, and while “Vogue” created interest, it was Madonna’s platform that just so happened to have a few gay men on it. For those men, yeah they may have opportunity but for the average gay or trans person? What does Madonna do for them? Give some false hope like Blanca has? If you are Pray Tell’s age, between cynicism or knowing better, you know to set your expectations low.

Let’s Call Mother Of The Year Already

Though Blanca’s optimism is sometimes so off the charts you wish someone like her was in your life, you have to admire her place in everyone’s life. She is the one pushing these kids to dream, to make it so those dreams come to fruition and present the idea of them being gay or trans is but an adjective. It isn’t something which sets their destiny or should deter them. If anything, it has allowed them to tap into a world which will help them succeed. Making it so, in a way, she presents them a reason to take some pride in who they are. Despite so much of the world saying they should be ashamed.

Angel striking a pose.

Elektra & Judy, A Distraction From The Pain

With all that said, I’m glad Elektra and Judy provide some jokes to keep this from becoming too serious. Heaven knows both of their interactions with Pray Tell show you why that man is so needed in this series. He’ll take you from nearly bawling to dying of laughter thanks to Judy and Elektra.

But, honing in on Elektra specifically, I love to hate her on a Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones level – and she never killed anyone.

On The Fence

So, We Going To Catch Up On What Happened The Past Years?

From two children in Blanca’s house who we barely know, or remember, to Elektra reverting back to her old self, there is a need to question what is going on here? Two years have passed and so comes the question if we’ll have enough time to know what, if anything, has changed? That is beyond Angel and Lil Papi having something going on. Damon apparently not doing much with his life, and Ricky on one tour after another.

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  1. I watched Paris Is Burning. (It is on Netflix.) I really enjoyed it, so thanks for the recommendation! Just a few things that I wanted to share with you from the movie – Afterwards, I went to Vevo and watched Madonna’s Vogue video. I swear that is Willi Ninja as one of the voguers(sp) in her video. Also, you know how Angel went to a modeling competition run by Ms. Ford? In the movie, one of the women (I’m sorry, I forgot who) went to a modeling competition run by Eileen Ford, who runs one of the top modeling agencies in NYC and was interviewed in the movie and has red hair like Ms. Ford in Pose (I was wondering if they were the same person, until I saw the movie 🙂 Except in the movie there were wall-to-wall people at the competition and in Pose there were like only 10 people there. And then in the first season of Pose, some of the other houses mentioned were actually real houses taken from the movie. It was all really cool!

    1. They pay homage to Paris Is Burning quite a lot and I’d submit it was probably a huge inspiration for how the show was written.

  2. I read an article somewhere that mentioned Paris Is Burning. I’ll have to see if it’s on Netflix. And I’ve seen Janet Mock’s name in the credits for each show. I think she’s a producer, too. I didn’t know she wrote a book. Thanks for the tips!

  3. If you’re looking to learn more I’d recommend Paris Is Burning to learn about how ball culture was in that time period followed by Sara Jordenö’s Kiki.

    I’d throw in Janet Mock’s first book “Redefining Realness” if you want a literary breakdown of terms, history, and her story as a trans woman – Mock is also one of the writers/ directors of the show.

  4. Hi! I’m so glad to see you recap this show (as well as The Good Doctor)! Despite my total ignorance about this world, I really enjoy this show! And I certainly am learning a lot. It seemed this episode was one lesson after another disguised as a riveting drama with a few laughs and whatever one would call Elektra’s dress thrown in.

    The first lesson, that of Hart Island, was a gut punch. I thought your screen shot was the most powerful image of the whole episode! And that’s including the activist rally and the church scene. But Pray Tell and Blanca praying in front of the cross surrounded by hundreds of rocks on this remote island – Wow!

    I agree that I’d like to know what happened in the past two years, especially to Elektra. Flashbacks would be fun to see, and would bring some levity to balance out the gut punches and lessons, especially if the rest of this season’s shows are like this one. Not that I’m complaining, because this was a very well done episode!

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