Ryan Murphy’s hit US drama Pose is headed over the pond, after the BBC snapped it up in a deal with FX. Centring on the underground LGBT culture of voguing and house systems that became widespread in the 1980s, the series features larger-than-life characters and a killer soundtrack, while balancing humour with the cruel reality of the AIDS crisis.
Here’s everything you need to know about Pose.
When is Pose airing on the BBC?
Pose is set to air from Thursday 21st March at 9pm on BBC2. It will run for eight episodes.
What’s Pose about?
Set in New York during the late 1980s, the series follows several “Houses” — alternate families, mostly made up of Black and Latino gay and transgender youths, who are looked after by the house “mother” — that compete in the underground ball scene, which sees house families go up against one another to win prizes. Competitors usually “vogue” (a kind of stylised dancing that Madonna sang about in her hit single Vogue) and wear drag.
The first episode begins with an eyecatching opening scene, where the House of Abundance (led by house Queen Bee, Elektra) steals a museum’s royal costume collection for a ball contest themed ‘Royalty’.
The show spotlights Blanca, a transgender woman who is secretly HIV-positive and breaks away from her overbearing house mother, Elektra, deciding to set up her own house: the House of Evangelista.
We also follow Stan Bowes, a straight-laced, married businessman who wins a coveted job at Trump Tower, but who falls in love with Angel, a trans woman who joins Blanca’s house.
What is “voguing”?
Back in 2016, a video of performers “voguing” as part of vigil to mark the mass shooting at gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida, went viral. More than anything, the video spoke to the dance form’s roots in LGBTQ resistance.
For most people, their point of reference is Madonna’s 1990 Vogue video, which shows the performer throwing disjointed, angular shapes.
But the dance form actually first sprang up decades earlier, with its roots in 1960s New York, when drag performers (mostly Black and Latino) would “walk”, mimicking runway shows.
The ballroom scene offered safe spaces, a chance for trans youth to become catwalks models for the night, while the “Houses” that sprang up became safety nets for LGBTQ homeless and victims of the AIDS crisis.
Is there a trailer for Pose?
You’re in luck — you can watch the trailer below here.
Who is in the cast of Pose?
The show features the largest transgender cast ever for a scripted series, with many of the lead roles played by trans women. MJ Rodriguez plays Blanca, a new house mother, while Indya Moore, a transgender model who has appeared in ads for Dior and Gucci, plays Angel, a trans woman working as a sex worker.
Media personality Dominique Jackson, known for her appearances on US reality show Strut, plays Elektra, the house mother of the House of Abundance. Billy Porter plays MC Pray Tell, who oversees the dance showdowns and helps dress the contestants. X-Men’s Evan Peters plays Stan, a businessman who works at Trump Tower, while House of Cards star Kate Mara plays Patty, Stan’s wife.
How did the 1980s AIDS crisis affect New York’s LGBTQ community?
During the 1980s, HIV and AIDs were little understood, and for a period during 1982 the HIV virus was incorrectly labelled “Gay Related Immune Deficiency”.
There was minimal government support for those impacted by the HIV epidemic that swept 1980s New York (the city was more affected than any other in the US), while gay and bisexual men, African Americans and Latinos were disproportionately affected by the virus. Homophobia and discrimination were rife at the time, and HIV was referred to by some as the “gay plague”.