Pride 2020

You Need to Watch 'Pose' Season 2 on Netflix

One of the best and most essential shows on TV is now fully available on Netflix.

pose
FX

Since it started in 2018, Pose has established itself as one of the most necessary, beautiful, joyous, yet tragic shows on television. Now that the second season is on Netflix, you owe it to yourself to watch it.

Pose comes from the Ryan Murphy content machine, but it feels like an outlier in the prolific producer's oeuvre. That's largely because Murphy is not the driving creative force behind the FX series. The concept of delving into drag ball culture in the late 1980s and early 1990s came from co-creator Steven Canals. Pose was certainly not the first piece of media to chronicle this world largely populated by Black and Latinx LGBTQIA+ people, but it centered in an unprecedented way for a major piece of prestige programming, paving the way for the likes of Legendary, HBO Max's new ballroom competition show.

The first season of Pose introduces audiences to the protagonist Blanca (Mj Rodriguez), an idealistic young woman who leaves her "mother" Elektra's (Dominique Jackson) domineering shadow to create the House of Evangelista, where she takes in the likes of Angel (Indya Moore), Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain), and Lil Papi (Angel Bismark Curiel). Whereas Elektra aimed to win, Blanca aimed to parent. (And she still ended up winning Mother of the Year.) The glorious and glamorous drama at the balls unfolds against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis -- Blanca and emcee Pray Tell (Billy Porter) both learn of their HIV-positive status early on in the narrative. 

The second season jumps ahead in time to 1990, coinciding with the release of Madonna's "Vogue," which appropriates the ball scene. Some characters like Blanca see its popularity as a way to make the leap into the mainstream, while Pray Tell is more skeptical of how lasting the impact will be. The season finds Blanca starting a nail salon which pits her up against Patti LuPone as Frederica Norman, as a viciously prejudiced landlord who also at one point sings Sondheim. Angel gets modeling jobs. Elektra works as a dominatrix. There's horrible tragedy and a trip to the Hamptons.   

At this point, it's unclear when Pose will return. Production on the third season shut down in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. But Murphy revealed in an Instagram post that Blanca is going to be working as an HIV/AIDS counselor at a hospital in the upcoming episodes, and the show donated props to Mount Sinai Hospital's COVID-19 battle. 

Pose is essential viewing at any time period, but now, it's more vital than ever -- as people around the country protest in support of Black Lives Matter, there have been calls to not forget that Black Trans Lives Matter as well. Too few TV shows affirm that; Pose does. 

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.