FX’s Pose changed television forever. Now, as it airs its third and final season Steven Canals, Angelica Ross, and Indya Moore reflect on the lasting impact it’s had on culture, society, and our lives.
When an iconic television show ends — think A Different World, Scandal, or The Wire — a small hole is often left in the television landscape. But as the third and final season of the Steven Canals-created, Ryan Murphy-produced Pose takes its final bow, it’ll leave behind a crater-sized cavity that will be felt for years to come.
Simply put, no show to date has done for Black and brown queer and trans visibility and opportunity what Pose has done since its 2018 debut. Picking up a mantle largely abandoned on television since Patrik-Ian Polk’s Noah’s Arc, the series changed a game that often minimized the stories of the sassy gay best friend or nameless sex worker on the margins of white, cis, and straight narratives. When the glitter settles and tears have dried, countless words will be used to describe the impact of a scripted show that centered the experiences of the Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ people who made up and make up New York’s ballroom scene.
For example, “industry-defining.” Even before the first episode aired, with the casting of Mj Rodriguez, Dominique Jackson, Indya Moore, Hailie Sahar, and Angelica Ross (the largest cast of trans series regulars ever), Pose proved that trans actors could and should be hired to play trans characters.
Or “authentic,” to describe the necessary utility of writers Our Lady J and Janet Mock, along with ballroom experts Jack Gucci, Twiggy Pucci Garçon, Hector Xtravaganza, Leiomy Maldonado, and more who served as consultants, collaborators, and extras, in ensuring that what made it to screen accurately reflected the real world the show was based on.
Or “historic,” to highlight the show’s award-laden run, which included an Emmy Award for Billy Porter, making him the first out Black gay man to win Best Actor; an Emmy nomination for Best Drama that made Mock, Our Lady J, and Silas Howard the first transgender producers nominated for the Television Academy’s top prize; and a 2018 Peabody Award. The show also led to Mock being the first out trans woman with a major studio deal with Netflix, Ross the first trans actress to have two series regular roles (with Pose and American Horror Story: 1984), and Moore the first trans person to cover Elle magazine.
Still, no matter the terms we’ll use to try and give such a legendary show and its creators the flowers they’re due, it is those closest to the production that will serve as proof of its impact. In honor of the series’ end, we highlight three of them — Canals, Ross, and Moore — who, in their own words, discuss how Pose changed their lives.