Where to Watch: FX, Amazon (paid), Youtube (paid)
Release Date: Spring/Summer 2021
Genre: Dating Drama
this post contains spoilers for all three seasons of Pose
I started watching Pose from the beginning about two months ago and couldn’t stop. The first two seasons are on Netflix, and when I hit the end and realized that the third one wasn’t out yet– and wasn’t expected to be until APRIL 2022– I had to buy it. At this point, it was a few days after Christmas and I was bored and dying to know what happened to all of my favorite characters. I bought the season for $15 on Amazon assuming that if the first two seasons were that good, then the 3rd (and final) season would be worth it.
I was right and wrong.
In the 7 episode season, there were 3 episodes that really let me down, which is a considerable amount. 2 of these are the first two of the season, so if you started it and debated giving up, keep going. A lot of the excitement and joy that the first two seasons brought seemed to be gone. The first two seasons, even when it was dark as shit and made me cry every ten minutes, had an emphasis on family that made me feel warm and accepted. The show brought me comfort and a sense of community, even if that community wasn’t necessarily my own. The dynamics between the characters just felt off this season in a way that I can’t really explain.
A part of this might be because Damon was written out of the show in the first episode. The actor who played him had a real life family emergency that caused him to depart from the show, but a lot was missing without his vibrancy as a character. I also don’t really understand the way they chose to write him out. I don’t remember Damon ever having a problem with drinking, and yet now we open the season with him being a Buddhist recovered alcoholic, who then relapses and leaves to go live with his cousin to recover. A cousin who for some reason would not take him in when he was literally homeless, but does now. It doesn’t make any sense when they could have just sent him off to go dance in Europe again.
Pray Tell’s plot is hard to watch. He starts off a raging alcoholic, which makes sense for his character, but then fights with the whole family about recovery, recovers, and then immediately starts dying of cancer/AIDS. Pray goes home to his blood family and attempts a reconciliation, and we get a whole episode of Pray in his hometown. This wasn’t my favorite episode, but it was very powerful and focused a lot on the role the church plays in giving kids an unaccepting community to grow up in. Also importantly, this season took place in 1994, which led to many people thinking that all of our HIV positive characters would be given the cure. These people were half right, because Blanca and Pray Tell get on a trial of the drug despite the racism in the medical community. Unfortunately, at the same time Pray finds out that Ricky (who broke up with Pray after he couldn’t control his alcoholism) is starting to show signs. Pray Tell ends up dying in his sleep, as he wanted, and we end up finding out that he was giving his drugs to Ricky.
Ricky, who had assumed that Pray was only giving him extras that he’d stolen, was understandably devastated but went on to live a fulfilling life. At the end, we find out that he becomes a house father to the new house of Evangelista children.
The other characters have more satisfactory ends to their plotlines. Angel and Papi seem to have lost a bit of their spark, but they end up getting married despite the fact that Papi has a surprise child that he didn’t know about. Their wedding is truly the best episode in the entire series so far. The magic and happiness is there, and it brings all of the characters together, which is where the show is at its best. Angel and Papi get to have their perfect little family, defying the odds, and I’m truly so happy for them to get to experience that.
Elektra ends up running a very successful phone sex business that she proceeded to make even more popular by aligning with the mafia to support and protect her. Along the way, she finally got rid of the dead body in her trunk, with the help of Blanca, Papi, Ricky, and Blanca’s Boyfriend!! This was another one of the cute, wholesome, family focused episodes that I loved. We also heard a lot more of Elektra’s backstory, and understood better why Blanca is so loyal to her mother.
As I mentioned earlier, Blanca got a boyfriend! Christopher is a straight cis doctor man who Blanca met during her time working as a nurse’s aid. Christopher didn’t care that Blanca was trans, and when his family didn’t accept her, he eventually stood up to them and chose Blanca first. He accepted her ballroom family and became a part of it and I loved it. I’m so happy that Blanca finally got her happily ever after.
Other characters, such as Nurse Judie, Lamar, Cubbie, and Lulu all had character arcs, some good and some bad, but none important enough to really write about. Lulu’s arc was confusing. She became a crack addict for most of the season, and losing her energy hurt the show.
Overall, I think this season was definitely good enough to watch, but it lacked the consistent high quality of the first two seasons. It was still more than half good, and it brought me to tears and laughter more times than I can count, but it was missing something. Maybe it was the fact that in 1994, most of the characters had outgrown walking the balls. Maybe it was the fact that some of our key characters were missing or handicapped by drugs. Or maybe it was the fact that I didn’t want such a spectacular show to end, so I was approaching it more critically than I had in the past.
It would be unfair to state all of my criticisms without saying that this was one of the best shows I’ve ever watched. The third season was held to an impossible standard because the first two were so beautiful. If you are in search of incredible diverse representation of black transgender women and black gay men in the nyc ballroom scene, you need to watch this show. If you aren’t looking for any of those things but love the pettiness of family drama mixed with real life grit and issues approached with nuance, you need to watch this show. Pose is incredible, the actors and directors are incredible, and you should watch. End of Message.