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The show’s attention to detail included hiring trans women and gay men of color to portray ballroom culture in the early days of AIDS

by Chris Ejike

Pose is a drama series that is set in 1980s New York City. Broadly, the series focuses on the ballroom culture that existed within the LGBTQ community during this time. It is a multi-faceted series that touches on creating family, survival, advocacy, love, hope, and loss. The plot is framed against the rising HIV epidemic that affects this community all too hard. Through celebrations and unions, the show also deals with the grueling losses of members of the community as they struggle with shame and bigotry. We see how the people claimed by this disease were subjected to discrimination and hatred both before and after their deaths. The pain of constant loss moves the community in the show toward advocacy, forcing the public to pay attention to HIV. The theme of togetherness is ultimately amplified, as they come together to engage in civil unrest, in hopes of bringing justice to those lost, and preventing other from enduring the same fate.

What I appreciated most about the show was how it unapologetically displays unsung history. Hearing these fictional characters’ stories, and knowing that it is rooted in someone’s real truth, often moved me to tears. It is evident that the creators of the show thought about every detail, and the actors and actresses reflect that. Pose is the first television show to almost entirely display a cast of trans women and gay men of color, so it also gave a voice to individuals who are disproportionately denied opportunities in movies and TV. Pose lifted its actresses to national attention — such as MJ Rodriguez, who plays the main character and became the first openly trans woman to receive a Golden Globe. Ultimately, this show allows its audience to grapple with the lived experiences of those within these identities, both historically and currently.

Watch the show here