Pose will be the last show for FX that Ryan Murphy develops before leaving for Netflix this coming July. Murphy has been with FOX as a writer and producer for 15 years, and during that time he has slowly built up a cultural cache with them. But even as FOX trusted him to push boundaries with each new show, fans were still stunned when the network announced Pose, which will make LGBTQ history when it arrives in June. But first, the network has brought us the Pose trailer, reminding us that not only will the series make history, it's going to be a wild, Murphy-style ride as well.
For those who missed the original announcement at the end of last year, Pose is a "dance musical" series which stars James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek), Kate Mara (House of Cards), and Evan Peters (American Horror Story) as the top-billed actors. But the real history being made is that it is a story set in 1980s New York, juxtaposing "the luxury Trump-era universe, the downtown social and literary scene and the ball culture world."
To that end, and to be accurate, the show will "feature the largest cast of transgender actors in series regular roles and the largest recurring LGBTQ cast ever for a scripted television series." The five transgender actors are MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Hailie Sahar and Angelica Ross. Each one plays an authentic transgender character.
Here's the trailer.
The trailer presents the series as one would a documentary. The style of it heavily recalls the groundbreaking 1990 documentary film Paris is Burning, which chronicled the end of the "Golden Age" of New York City drag balls. (For those who have not put two and two together, that's "ball culture" being referred to in the synopsis of the show, not "ballroom dancing.")
For comparison, here's a part of the trailer for Paris Is Burning.
The choice not to feature any of the top-billed actors in the trailer at all is amazing, but also helps audiences understand where the heart of the show lies. For those curious how they fit in, here's the synopsis of their characters via TVLine:
Peters and Mara play New Jersey couple Stan and Patty, who get sucked into the glamour and intrigue of New York City in the 1980s. Van Der Beek portrays Stan’s financial kingpin boss Matt.
That the focus of the trailer is wholly on the ballroom scene is not unexpected. Whereas most people have an idea of the upper class of New York City in the late 1980s and can probably imagine what a literal social scene in New York is like in any era, the ballroom culture is the least-explored, and where the show is making history.
Moreover, most audiences, unless they've seen Paris Is Burning or lived through the culture themselves, will only have the vaguest idea of what they are about to experience. What they do know is mostly filtered through the lens of MTV and Madonna of the 1991 era, when she celebrated the culture (some would say she appropriated the culture) in her song "Vogue" and the accompanying music video.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ryan Murphy is extraordinarily proud of the opportunity the show presents.
The show is about the search for being authentic, about creating opportunities. We're past an era of straight men playing these roles. It's time to think differently and offer more opportunities to people who want to work. Many of this cast have never been in front of the camera before.
The first season of the series will be comprised of eight episodes. Pose debuts on FX on Sunday, June 3, 2018 at 9 p.m. ET.