As 'Pose' is renewed for a second season, a look at how the series broke new grounds
'Pose' is unlike anything we have witnessed on TV and as we rejoice the announcement of second season, we look back at the history season one made
Bold colors, blinding glitters, and walk categories aren't ending anytime soon. FX has ordered a second season for Ryan Murphy's critically-acclaimed drama series 'Pose.'
The show set in the backdrop of '80s ballroom culture not only explores New York's drag community but also throws light on the burgeoning Trump era (it was Ronald Reagan's time, but the signs were there), besides establishing itself as a historic show.
Followers of the show know the importance the show wields for basic understanding of the transgender community and drag culture before the time of RuPaul's Drag Race. But that is not all; besides resonating with the current political milieu and portraying intricate aspects of human emotions, the show has made history in many aspects.
Even before the show aired, its announcement itself declared a television event unlike anything we have witnessed before: over 150 cast and crew members were recruited for the show, making history with the largest number of transgender actors hired in roles for a scripted series.
The ensemble, after six months of nationwide search, included five transgender actors as the main leads. Among the history-making actors are MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Hailie Sahar and Angelica Ross, who all star as authentic transgender characters.
And now, just after the show's recent episode, Janet Mock has become the first transgender woman of color to write and direct an episode on television. The show's sixth episode 'Love is the Message' which aired on July 8, was her directorial debut. Mock, a trans activist and author, took to Instagram to explain her journey, highlighting how nervous she was helming the work generally reserved for white men; but a gentle encouragement from Ryan Murphy helped her take a seat behind the camera and make the historic one-hour show.
Mock wrote, "Don't let the smile fool you: I was nervous af about doing something I had never done before, a job that seemed to be reserved for white men, a position in the industry that rarely invited women and/or people of color to sit in the director's chair. I doubted whether I had the skills and experience to be a director. But I was pushed by @mrrpmurphy who told me I could ("you're naturally bossy...like me") and used his Half Initiative to make it happen."
This was taken under the amber light of the #posefx ballroom on my first shoot as a Director. Don’t let the smile fool you: I was nervous af about doing something I had never done before, a job that seemed to be reserved for white men, a position in the industry that rarely invited women and/or people of color to sit in the director’s chair. I doubted whether I had the skills and experience to be a director. But I was pushed by @mrrpmurphy who told me I could (“you’re naturally bossy...like me”) and used his Half Initiative to make it happen. But still I had to talk myself through self-doubt (like so many “firsts” have done before me) by saying, “You wrote this script. You know these characters. You helped shape them, make them, move them. You got this, and your whole life as a black trans girl with all your experiences have prepared you for so many unknowns — from being the first in your family to go to college, to get a masters, to work as a journalist, to leave the safety of telling others stories to actually tell your own story, to write two memoirs that centered #girlslikeus, to be the first trans woman of color to be hired in a writer’s room...and yes, the first to write and direct an episode of television. You can do this, will do this and are deserving.” I couldn’t do it alone — no director can. I thank my mentors @mrrpmurphy & @gwynethhorderpayton for pushing, nurturing and supporting me, my DP @simondennis_dop for making it all seem so easy, my first AD Deanna Leslie Kelly, my production designer @jame03, HMU @wigorama @barryleemoe @sherrilaurence, @eriberryk and @tanasepopa for being architects, my editor Shelly Westerman, the marvelous @alexisvmw, my ❤️ @svcanals and the entire crew and the cast especially @theebillyporter, @katemara, @indyamoore, @mjrodriguez7, @evanpeters, and our guest star @johnnysibilly who gave all of themselves to episode 6. LOVE IS THE MESSAGE — and there was no way to write, prep and shoot this script without that LOVE. I hope you enjoy “Love Is the Message” tonight on @fxnetworks. @poseonfx airs at 9PM.
'Love is the Message' features the painful journey of an AIDS patient in the '80s, but also portrays the bitter-sweet taste of love. The episode was praised by many critics. You can read Meaww's review here.
In a recent interview, Mock cited that she will be working more with Murphy and fans may get to see more of her ground-breaking work, especially on a show like 'Pose.'
The relevance of the moment can be gauged by the fact that many celebrities have been tweeting about it. And why shouldn't Hollywood be talking about it? Finally transgender people are getting to tell their stories in their own way.
Omg this episode of @PoseOnFX has me crying tears of love, compassion and hope! What a beautiful and powerful episode! @JohnnySibilly & @theebillyporter Can we just give y’all the Emmy now! #PromiseMe #POSEFX— Karamo Brown (@KaramoBrown) July 9, 2018
Besides, Ryan Murphy, the uber-producer and a million dollar man of Hollywood, has pledged all profits from the show to trans and LGBTQ charitable organizations. “These groups do amazing work and need our support,” he tweeted on May 9. “Every day for the next 14 days I will highlight a group I’m supporting, and encourage you to do the same!”
I am donating 100 percent of my profits from my new FX show POSE towards trans and LGBTQ charitable organizations. These groups do amazing work and need our support. Every day for the next 14 days I will highlight a group I'm supporting, and encourage you to do the same!— Ryan Murphy (@MrRPMurphy) May 9, 2018
The successful show has extended the list of charities it is donating all its profits to. The musical-dance series is the highlight of Murphy's career, according to him. The TV powerhouse said in an interview that his experience on creating the show has been “joyous and amazing” and “without question been the highlight of my career”. When the maker of massive TV hits like 'Glee,' 'Feud,' and 'American Horror Story,' says that this is his major show, we all have to agree.
The LGBTQ+ inclusive drama has not only made history but continues to achieve one milestones after another. Even the ballroom judges that you see in the show are all famous figures from the ballroom scene in New York. Murphy said in the interview, "The first thing that I did is meet with three of the survivors of Paris Is Burning, who are judges in every episode of Pose. They're always there. I just wanted to meet them and let them know that I wanted to not take their story but make them a part of the show and pay them for their time and their energies, and they were very moved by that."
The 52-year-old believes that he is an advocate of the community, and a show or a representation isn't enough. That is the reason why he hired all those who auditioned for the show, gave off his profits and continues to bring the community forward. His Half Initiative, that even Mock mentioned in the caption of her Insta post, aims to create a more inclusive team, both behind and in front of the camera.
According to the initiative's website, the program means that "every director on every Ryan Murphy Television production mentors emerging women and minority directors through pre-production and post-production along with offering a significant stipend for their commitment." Murphy even aims to give scholarships to young aspirants from the community.
For the younger generation, Murphy is also serving a history lesson with the storyline in 'Pose.' In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he mentioned that a lot of the younger generation don't realize how devastating AIDS was to their community, and he's trying to educate them about it.
"We have very little history. All of the men who would probably be our mentors were taken away at the prime of their life. ... What I’m trying to do with a lot of my work is leave a living history and educate people."