Pose 2×1 Review: Acting Up
The Season Two premiere of Pose offered a highly emotional and politically charged episode with ‘Acting Up.’ The series continued its trend of making sure to showcase how tough life is for its marginalized characters as well as the hope they hold so tightly.
Ryan Murphy and the team seem to have learned from the first season of Pose. In my opinion, ‘Acting Up’ gave me more drama, more emotions, more hope, and more danger. Furthermore, actors from the first season (Evan Peters, Kate Mara, and James Van Der Beek) were nowhere to be seen in the premiere. I’m not against Peters and Mara returning, but for at least a few more episodes, I would like the show to continue focusing on its colored queer cast.
The second season gave us a two year (or something) time jump to enter 1990 and the time of Madonna’s hit song ‘Vogue.’ Blanca (MJ Rodriguez), being a character who is always filled with hope, immediately thinks of the song as a sign that time is changing for the better.
I liked Blanca’s enthusiasm, but I also couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. Even today, homophobia (and especially transphobia) exists. So, you already knew whatever Blanca was dreaming of wasn’t going to come true, at least, not in the way she pictured.
‘Acting Up’ did a good job of showing how marginalized communities felt validated when they think they’re being seen by the privileged. Madonna introduced voguing to the world, and many people embraced it. However, when you look at the actual people the song’s inspiration came from, their life didn’t magically become easier overnight. You could, in a sense, even say Madonna appropriated their culture and gained more popularity because of it while the queer community was left behind.
With Blanca riding on the so-called ‘Vogue’ wave, the LGBTQ+ community was still fighting the HIV/AIDs epidemic. ‘Acting Up’ had almost every character take a political stand. Pray Tell (Billy Porter) joined the (real-life) advocacy group AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, aka ACT UP.
The premiere showed Pray Tell transform into a preacher of sorts for his community. I loved the scene where he read Elektra (Dominique Jackson) for not caring about her queer brothers and sisters.
I’m here for Pray Tell fighting the good fight. The opening scenes of the episode also helped explain his transformation. Yes, they can all have fun and live in a different reality during ballroom competitions. However, it was crucial for them to support each other to fight HIV/AIDs because the government wasn’t doing anything.
The episode ending with the words “Silence = Death” helped make sense of why certain characters had to act the way they did.
As for the rest of the cast, Blanca urged Angel (Indya Moore) to enter the modeling world. You could tell it wasn’t going to be a nice experience for her, and it wasn’t. But again, if there’s one thing Pose has a whole lot of, it’s hope!
Also, I’m am team Angel and Lil Papi finally getting together!
Damon didn’t get much to do in the premiere. Maybe that will change as the series progresses? Let’s see.
Pose airs on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX. Go watch and support it!
Farid has a Masters in Psychology and an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Arousing the Legacy, Missing in Somerville, The Game Master of Somerville, and The Escaped Murderer of Somerville. He gives us insight on comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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