After 3 years of heart-tugging minutes and jaw-dropping appearances, Pose has actually ended its bejeweled run. The groundbreaking FX period drama, from Steven Canals, Ryan Murphy, and Brad Falchuk, focused on the trans women of color and queer individuals of color who made New York City’s ball culture. With the biggest trans cast of any TV drama, Pose earned an Emmy election for Outstanding Drama Series, and Billy Porter (who plays the wonderfully acerbic Pray Tell) ended up being the first truly gay Black guy to be chosen for and win in an Emmy lead acting category.
The multi-hyphenate, who has been cultivating this story since 2004, wants his life-affirming show to foster just as much neighborhood off-screen. Canals constantly meant to structure the total story with three seasons: a beginning, a middle, and an end. It began taking shape right at the beginning of breaking the third season.
Canals understood from the start of the series, quite literally in that first 45-minute meeting that he had with Murphy, when he pitched the series to him, they knew that the program would end with the release of the cocktail and HIV/AIDS no longer being a death sentence. That was constantly what the story, what the program had to do with. That was truly what was grounding their narrative, then they just filled the program with queers and trans individuals who happened to likewise be members of the ballroom neighborhood.
But the reality is that the program for Canals was constantly an investigation into the HIV/AIDS epidemic through the lens of these black, brown, queer, and trans individuals.
They are at the end. Canals does not understand if it makes sense for them to discover a way to stretch the story out when the end is so clearly in sight. And so they extremely rapidly understood precisely what that final episode was going to be and where they were going to leave all of their characters.
Canals believes what they were attempting to state to their audience by the time they get to the end of the episode is that these characters’ journeys will never ever end, and their message and their lives continue to live on. At the end of the episode, Blanca is talking to Swan on the street and giving her guidance. This might be something that is purposefully left open for interpretation, however towards ending that Pray was sharing the trial meds with Ricky.
The finale brings the bigger story to an end. The special story that they leaned into in this last episode, which Canals has never talked about it publicly till now, is the love story between Pray Tell and Blanca. And that story is a love story that is a romantic drama about two pals.
It has constantly been a love story in between Pray Tell and Blanca, and that is really the story and the journey that they honor in their finale.
The truth is that this program was revealed and they started working on it four years earlier, and they have now had three full seasons on tv. Therefore to think that in the three seasons that they have aired there has not been development in that way. That they have not seen not just other programs where trans individuals and even queer people of color are centered and are the lead characters and not the side character or a supporting character, but the program is literally about them.
That they have not seen particularly more trans content creators emerge, pitching, offering, and producing their own series, makes Canals seem like there is still work to be done. There is a lot to miss. He will undoubtedly miss the cast and the team.
Canals dealt with them from the start, from the very first season, and there are folks who actually have ended up being family. However he knows that he will be able to see all of these people. They are all linked, so it is not like they will never see each other again.
Ideally they will have the ability to interact once again in the future.
Canals believes the thing that he will miss out on the most is spending time with the characters. The audience has just recognized Blanca, Elektra, and Pray for 3 seasons, however he created the original kernel of a concept of a young boy called Damon relocating to New York in 2004, and he did not compose it up until 2014 – the end of 2013, beginning of 2014. Therefore it has been a lot longer journey for him with these characters and with this world and with this story than anyone else.
And to have had the last three seasons, or more specifically, given that Canals met Murphy in 2016, the last five years have been invested only ever sitting down and being in conversation with these characters. That is the thing that he will miss the most. It is like a break up. It is the end of a relationship.
Whose story is not being told? Whose story requires to be told? That Canals can make a truly intentional decision about where to put his energies and whose story to help bring to the screen. Off-screen, the show also shows that idea of looking out for future generations and caring for each other, due to the fact that it has been a platform for trans skill, for queer talent, for Brown and black entertainers.
It has demonstrated how effective these stories can be when they are made by those really exact same individuals, and why they cannot go back to the way things were previously.
The truth is Canals wishes that things were moving quicker. Present is the only show on tv that has not one but three LGBT characters who are likewise coping with HIV that came out of the GLAAD’s Where Are We On TELEVISION report this previous year. And the truth is that on Sunday, when the program ends, that representation will no longer exist.
Pose is the only drama series that not just centers but is specifically about trans individuals. The program has always been about Blanca. Blanca is the lead. Blanca is the protagonist. Blanca is the person whose story they have always tracked since the start.
Canals’ intent was definitely for the audience to feel that Pray Tell made a sacrifice, which he did. Pray understood the threat in making the decision to share meds with Ricky. The place where he leaves things a little more gray for the audience is the concern of whether or not Pray was actually ready to go.
This series is truly trying to convey through that the methods which people have actually constantly shown up for one another, and the truths of what it implied to be a person of color who also was LGBTQ+ at that time, in the middle of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, when it was at a fever pitch in the mid-90s.
There was no access to treatment, no interventions from federal government. They all had to show up for each other. The biggest lesson and takeaway from Pray’s choice to share his medications with Ricky is that they have constantly been there for each other.
Canals actually feels like his job as a storyteller is just to be a channel to tell those characters’ stories. While his name may be on the screen or on the page after “Written by,” the truth is the characters are truly composing their stories. And so it is unfortunate to him that he will not get to spend time with Blanca any longer, that he will not get to be in discussion with her and get to tell her story.