Anyone watching "Pose" on FX?

It’s a pretty cool show. The documentary “Paris is Burning” serves as a useful introduction, if you have a chance to see it.

The synopsis: It follows the day and night life of black and Puerto Rican gay and transgendered folks who are hooked into the 1980s ball scene of NYC. (For the completely unintiatied, the vogue dance made popular by Madonna was born from this scene.) The main character is a newly minted “house mother”–a “house” being a self-selected assemblage of runaways and cast-offs who are "adopted by a mother figure who is called Mother. Over each episode, the importance of the house mother becomes clearer and clearer. She doesn’t just provide material support (providing shelter for the family, all of whom have been abandoned by their biological families), but she helps usher the newly transitioned person she takes under her wing into her womanhood–helping her with her style and giving her the self-confidence she needs to go out into the world (via the vehicle of the competitive ball scene).

The show contrasts the diva Elektra against the saint Blanca, the new house mother who feels the clock running out on her life and who wants to leave a legacy before she checks out. Elektra is definitely the kind of villain who is fun to hate. She fulfills every stereotype of the petty, theatrical drag queen, but then you get to learn about her more and you realize there’s a real person under all that (wonderfully applied) make-up. Blanca will never be as glam as Elektra, but it doesn’t matter because she is a FAR better mother. There is love in her house, while Elektra’s is full of (entertaining) snark and cattiness. And also low-level criminal activity.

All the main characters who are transgendered are played by transgendered actresses. This blew me away, not gonna lie. The show definitely highlights the pain of not being able to pass and the vacillating awe and jealousy at those who can. And also the privilege of those who can. Elektra uses her high-class beauty to intimidate her rivals. The ball itself exacerbates the pain, since transgendered participants will often compete on “realness”, getting “read” if they dare to compete if they look like dudes in drag. It is interesting how the ball scene both creates a sense of belongingness–giving society’s cast-offs a safe place to be themselves–while also entrenching the bigotry that transgendered folks (MtF, at least) face when they are unable to pass. Pray Tell–the ball MC–issues such scathing commentary that I don’t know how anyone has the guts to step out under those spotlights. But it’s almost like a rite of initiation–a “coming out” ball, of sorts. Once you do it enough times, you get the confidence you need to do the damn thing in the greater world. I love it.

I can’t be the only one here binge-watching this show, right?

I loved it! I watched it when it originally aired (the season finale was on 7/22).

Scenes dealing with the AIDS crisis frequently made me cry. I went to a pride festival while the show was airing, and when my friend and I were near the main stage we heard a drag queen announce that she’d been performing for 40 years. Both of us were struck by the reality that there aren’t many old drag queens around, and I wondered aloud about how the gay community might look today if so many people didn’t die in the 80s/90s.

Anyway, I found the show highly entertaining and more compelling than I expected, especially since I’d already watched Paris is Burning. The characters were complex and well-drawn, and I wound up caring about them. Even Elektra. :wink:

The only parts that bothered me were the scenes with Damon’s dancing. I found his acceptance into the school – with little-to-no formal training – and his “featured dancer” scenes to be so unbelievable that the whole storyline took me out of the show whenever it came up. Don’t get me wrong, the actor dances waaaay better than I do, but during his audition all I could think was “he’d never even make it to academy week on So You Think You Can Dance!” LOL!

Damon seems like an okay dancer in the studio scenes. Not awesome, but not terrible. But I agree that his audition sucked! I just knew he wasn’t going to get accepted and the show would be about him finding another way to make it big.

I cried during the season finale. All the happy endings were a contrived, but my heart was still tugged in all the right places. I feel guilty because I like Elektra more than I like Blanca. And I love Blanca. But Elektra’s less predictable, which makes her more interesting. Like, her going gaga over Al B Sure was hilarious. Blanca just doesn’t make me laugh as much. The whole season, I kept waiting for an Elektra flashback so that we could better understand where her meanness comes from. Maybe that will come in season 2.

I turned a coworker onto this show and for the past week we’ve been pretending that she’s my “mother”. We have yet to nail down a good name for our house, though.