‘Pose’ on FX: Season 3 Review

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There aren’t many shows like Pose. That’s true in a practical sense, as Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Steven Canals’ drama broke records by casting the most trans actors in a scripted drama to date. It’s also true in a social sense, as Pose remains one of the few award-winning and mainstream shows to explore ballroom culture, let alone what love looks like between two Black men. But it’s also true in an emotional sense. And thankfully, one of the most uplifting, loving, and accepting fairy tales ends not with a pat on the back, but with a celebration of life itself.

If Season 2 was a dive into the early ’90s, Season 3 is an ode to the mid-’90s. This season follows a slightly different format than others. For the most part, the first two seasons of Pose progressed chronologically. You could expect the drama from one episode to carry over into the next. That’s not the case this time around. Some episodes pick up days after their previous installment. Some take place months, or even years down the line. At times it can be a bit jarring. Suddenly, the House of Evangelista jumps from being ballroom mainstays to largely absent legends. Characters who barely dabble with drugs have full-blown addictions. But this season has so much heart, these little logical leaps can be forgiven. If anything, they add to the ethereal feeling of the series’ conclusion.

Pose has always shined a spotlight on the most disenfranchised groups in America. Its characters have been diagnosed with HIV, and have lost countless friends and chosen family members to that dreadful disease. They have faced discrimination and outright hatred over their sexualities, genders, and race. They’ve been forced to sell their bodies to make ends meet and abandon loved ones for their own survival. Pose‘s final season explores all of these dark struggles. Most importantly its nuanced, insightful, and deeply necessary reflection on the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues, ending in a way that’s sure to elicit tears from even the most stone-faced fans.

Pose Season 3
Photo: FX

But even when Pose is at its darkest, its light is always brighter. By the final episode, every character we’ve come to love finds their happy ending, albeit in some unexpected ways. For Elektra (Dominique Jackson) that means success. Angel (Indya Moore), one of the most compelling diehard romantics of our time, finds love. Lil Papi (Angel Bismark Curiel) learns what it truly means to be a man. Ricky (Dyllón Burnside) discovers a future that’s worth the fight. As for Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) and Pray Tell (Billy Porter), these two best friends finally see the benefits of what they’ve both worked so hard to build: a family. In almost every case these victories feel over-the-top and unrealistic. But that’s always been the point.

As Pose understands all too well, life is hard enough for people who look like its characters. The hatred people of color, specifically people of color who are also part of the LGBTQ+ community, face on a daily basis is suffocating. Why add to that pain, when you can instead offer a message of love? Why not create a new fairy tale?

Pose Season 3
Photo: FX

Pose saw how horrible and cruel this world was and instead gave us Blanca, a woman who always followed her big heart and changed life for the better. In this role Rodriguez has changed what the term “mother” means and has given a warming performance that should be studied for years to come. It gave us Angel, the purest version of our base need to be love and to love another person. It gave Elektra, a complex woman who proved that motherhood and sacrifice takes many surprising forms. It gave us Pray Tell, a mistreated and abused man who walked the path of bitterness and love and proved the latter was better. Pose also gave us Billy Porter, an acting force and real-life embodiment of Pray Tell’s truth who has been ignored by Hollywood for far too long and proves to this industry on a daily basis it has so much more to learn. That’s deeply beautiful.

Television, by its very nature, is a medium that prioritizes suffering. You need characters to struggle because you need a challenge to create more episodes. Yet instead of leaning into this narrative necessity, Pose responded with a warm hug. That’s what Pose has truly given us: a new way to handle the relentless traumas life throws at us, one that prioritizes acceptance and understanding over causing more pain. Pose was never about who we are. It was about who we should be. We should all try to be a bit more like this intensely loving show.

The first two episodes of Pose Season 3 premiere on FX Sunday, May 2 at 10/9c p.m. New episodes will premiere Sundays.

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Source : ‘Pose’ on FX: Season 3 Review