Pose has elevated the stories of black trans women in ways that no other network television show ever has. The FX series, which was just nominated for seven Emmy awards including outstanding drama series and outstanding lead actor in a drama series for Billy Porter’s performance, tells the story of New York’s 1980s and ‘90s LGBTQ ballroom subculture. It was initially thought up as a television adaption of the 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning by Ryan Murphy, co-creator of shows like Glee, American Horror Story, American Crime Story, and Nip/Tuck. So when Murphy read a script for Pose written by then-UCLA graduate student Steven Canals, he agreed to sign on to the project. “I had met with 150 executives: There was no single person who said they wanted to buy it or develop it,” Canals said in an interview with GQ.
Since its premiere, Pose has consistently made television history both in front of and behind the camera, proving that mega-executives can make successful shows that open doors for people who’ve been denied opportunities in Hollywood. Murphy made it clear from the beginning that he intended to step aside as a creator to make space for queer people of color, specifically trans women, to tell their own stories. Pose writer/director/producer and transgender rights activist Janet Mock was brought on as one of the chief architects of the show, eventually cementing her place in television history as the first trans woman of color to write, produce, and direct a network TV episode. “It’s about a resilient community that has been here for decades, right? We’ve always been here,” she said during an interview, explaining why she believes the show is revolutionary. “To show that part of ourselves is important, and I think it could only happen on a series where we’re centered. We’re not the sidekicks. We’re not on the margins looking in. We are the inside.”
At its best, Pose is pure joy. In honor of its groundbreaking first season, here are the most memorable scenes of Pose FX Season One.