Before you watch Pose, you should know that it will be impossible to remain seated throughout the show. You will be almost certainly moved to get up out of your chair and wiggle a little (or more likely, a lot).
After all, the climax of the series premiere involves one of the characters, Damon, improvising to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, a scene that is guaranteed to bring you so much joy you might even put it in your top ten best moments of 2018.
Pose depicts a flamboyant world of excess, replete with over-the-top costumes, makeup, hairstyles and, most importantly, attitude. Set in 80s New York against the backdrop of the AIDS epidemic and omnipresent real estate tycoon, Donald Trump, Pose shines a light on the gay and transgender communities. It specifically shows the culture of drag balls, chronicling the sagas and individual crises of this marginalised group, many of whom endured abuse at home before ultimately facing rejection by their families after coming out. Homophobia aside, Pose is a story we’ve seen many times: misunderstood artists who move from a small town to New York City and, against the odds, try to make it.
Created by powerhouse showrunner Ryan Murphy with longtime collaborator Brad Falchuk (Glee, American Horror Story, American Crime Story) and Steven Canals, the show boasts the largest ever cast of transgender actors and the largest array of LGBTQ talent to appear in a scripted series.
“I have loved this world and I love the community now more than ever. It’s time to showcase this community because our world is under attack, particularly with this president,” says Murphy. “It was the most fun I’ve had but also the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
And in a case of art imitating life, Murphy has also given these relatively unknown performers the same opportunity. There are some names too – Evan Peters (American Horror Story), Kate Mara (House of Cards) and James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek) are some of the stars. Not to mention the women who strut their stuff, the major players including MJ Rodriguez, Domonique Jackson, and Indya Moore.
Tony Award-winning actor, Terry Porter (Kinky Boots) also plays an integral role, especially written for him, as Pray Tell, the balls’ MC and umpire of sorts between the dueling gangs of posers.
Porter says, “I started coming to New York City in ‘87, moved in ‘90 and I lived through the AIDS crisis. I did a lot of Broadway shows so I was ball-culture adjacent.
Pose addresses a timely subject matter in the current climate of #metoo and Time’s Up, and Porter is not exempt from the realities of abuse from those in a position of power. “Of course I’ve dealt with harassment,” he says matter-of-factly. “Kevin Spacey put his hand on my ass in the elevator once. I told him to get his hand off my ass or I’d punch him in the face.”