Why ‘Pose’ Deserves Better

In the era of COVID-19, it seems impossible that the Emmy awards are still set to premiere on September 20. Yet, the show must go on, and as nominations were announced this past week, people are already debating which shows and people deserved a nomination.

Fan-favorite comedies such as “The Good Place” and “Schitt’s Creek” walked away with several big-ticket nominations, and shows like “Watchmen” and “Succession” dominated the drama categories, with “Watchmen” receiving 26 total nominations.

Notable missing was the FX show “Pose,” which features the largest transgender cast to be on a scripted show. The only major nomination it received was for Billy Porter as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, who happens to be a cisgender gay man.

Billy Porter’s nomination is certainly well-deserved, but the lack of the rest of the cast is a major indication of how trans women are treated by hollywood. Star of the show Indya Moore went to Twitter to express their frustration, saying “Something about trans people not being honored on a show about trans people who created a culture to honour ourselves because the world doesn’t.” Many other fans chimed in, saying how disappointing it was that stars of the show are constantly ignored, considering how monumental the show actually is.

Not only does the show have true transgender representation, but “Pose” is one of the few pieces of media that positively portrays them as more than just that, and reveals a culture that is too often hidden from the spotlight. The show follows Blanca, played by MJ Rodriquez, a strong business woman becoming the mother of a house, a term used to describe the chosen families of the African-American and Latin American LGBTQ+ community in the ballroom culture of New York during the 1980s. Each week, houses would compete at a ball with extravagant costumes and vogueing skills to allow a community that often didn’t feel welcomed to express themselves.

Amongst the glitz and glam of the ballroom comes deep-rooted issues within the LGBTQ+ community. The beginning of the AIDS/HIV crisis, a gay teenager struggling with being disowned, a young transgender woman aspiring to be a model in an industry that ignores who she is, and the constant discrimination that they all are forced to face daily. 

It’s this dichotomy that makes “Pose” so incredible. It celebrates and uplifts these strong women and portrays them as successful and driven, but also doesn’t ignore all the extra hardships that they must endure to achieve their dreams. Even more than that, the stories of this community is treated with absolute care, with the majority of writing and directing done by other trans women of color and people who witnessed ballroom culture unfolding in real time. It is this representation and hard work that needs to be recognized by awards shows such as the Emmys, to let the rest of the world know that these stories matter, that these stories must continue to be told and are deserving of being listened to.