POSE Season 2: Gearing up for The Realness Behind the Reel

With pride month full-steam ahead, FX’s Epic-ballroom culture musical-drama series will return on June 11 for 10 episodes. V rehashes the 80s show turned 90s-super sized drama ahead of the premiere.

Even if you’re the most introverted and landlocked person, indulging in a sizzling summer beach read, or rather, screen read, is guaranteed. Pose will return for its 2nd season June 11th at 10 pm on FX. In spite of the politically charged channel’s less than favorable leanings toward the LGBTQIA+ community, the series Pose will be entering its second season with 10 episodes – a feat for any TV series just having finished their pilot showing. Clearly, steaming off from the slumber-inducing sun calls for a socio-cultural, loaded show off that educates as much as it entertains.

Pose trailblazes across TV genre twofold, with not only critically acclaimed the longest-running cast of transgender artists that include: Dominique Jackson, Indya Moore, Mj Rodriguez, Angelica Ross, and Hailie Sahar. Dyllón Burnside, Angel Bismark Curiel, Tony Award® winner and Golden Globe® nominated Billy Porter, and Ryan Jamaal Swain are also geared up for the next season. A more sexually diverse cast for a scripted series shouldn’t be so jarring, but its coming out in 2018, so to speak, is jarring in spite of the return of an updated Queer Eye. Who knew a fictional series could spar more debate than reality television?

Season 1 left off with an episode entitled, “Mother Of The Year,” and no, this is not about a mother who accepts the sexuality of her trans child. We’re talking about HIV-diagnosed Blanca Rodriguez, played by MJ Rodriguez. Sharing her character’s namesake infuses the character with a dose of proxy-reality that quells the artificiality of a historical fiction genre. It’s not just role-play. 

Blanca acts as a Facts of Life host-mother in her self-realized halfway house for LGBTQ youth disowned by their families, known as The House of Evangelista. Blanca is post-break up with Elektra and played by Dominique Jackson who founded rivaling House of Abundance. Blanca, who handpicks the inhabitants of the home, cultivates the concept of children and legacy. Electra, however, resorts to a “pay your way” stance that often times include degradation.

Religious undertones of the schism and Evangelista house name are playful allusions to persecution that predates eventual public exposure such that Pose fast-forwards from to 1990 when the underground dance ballroom culture bears all, as if tanning out on the sand on a nude beach in Europe. In the season 2 teaser, says, “I’m figuring out how to stay positive,” while performing Vogue choreography inspired by Madonna before the screen flashes in caps lock- “PRAY TELL.” Amen.

But as sisters, Candy and Lulu, said in their own teaser, “We are ahead of our time”: for 1990 New York City that is. It has been a hot minute since HIV/AIDS was a topic of serious exploration. The ballroom was their way to defeat the affects of what the aforementioned disease, sin-tainted by its most common means of transmission (sex and drugs), was referred to as “the plague” in one season 2 trailer by Pray Tell who is played by Billy Porter.

In another teaser, female nurse, Judy, played by Sandra Bernhard, tells Blanca, “You’re in denial for what HIV is doing to your body.” In another clip, nurse Judy hands over to the actress a pharmaceuticals vial with pills before hugging her, before she says, “All I have are my children.” As Candy and Lulu remark- “girl power” – another postmodern and very current motif.

Our Lady J, classical musician and producer of POSE, one of the first trans television screenwriters, has also tested positive for HIV for over a decade. She spoke to Deadline about the show’s tactful absence of the clinical and mortality aspect of the disease and instead the focus on discussion of its repercussions on the human psyche – enraptured in activism and the very human desire to leave an imprint and a legacy. “It’s what is it like to live with HIV. What is it like to be stigmatized by the disease? What is the human aspect of that? Through these characters, we were able to do that. It’s not just about the struggle, it’s about the choice to live,” she said.

It’s worth noting that a majority of the cast had never entertained the idea of a television or acting career. And that in itself speaks volumes. Indya Moore who plays sex worker, Angel, seems to abandon her neediness for a significant other and instead, takes on the role of apprentice to mama bear, Blanca, preparing to step up to the task of matriarch when the time comes – an artful capturing of AIDS-related demise. Recently on the cover of Elle, the Bronx native, 24-year-old Moore takes us on a trip to Rite-Aid to pick up her supply of hormone therapy, uncovered though she is insured under her mother’s health plan. Her suspected love interest, Lil Papi, forges his was back to home to Evangelista in season 2. A part from these details – we’re left wondering what the season will bring coinciding with Pride month.

What we can say for sure? Lights, Camera, Action: Get posed and ready for yet another addition to the TV renaissance resurgence, because season 3 doesn’t seem too far around the corner. The narratives are still being lived – both in reel and real-time.

* Correction: On June 6, 2019, this article was corrected with Our Lady J’s health status of HIV+. An earlier version of this article, on June 5, 2019, mistakenly read that Our Lady J had AIDS.

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