Tuesday, August 13, 2019

REVIEW: 'Pose' - A Trip to the Beach Includes a Wonderful and Joyous Surprise for Blanca in 'Life's a Beach'

FX's Pose - Episode 2.09 "Life's a Beach"

With Blanca reeling from an unexpected loss, Elektra organizes a girls trip to the shore.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of FX's Pose.

"Life's a Beach" was written by Janet Mock & Our Lady J and directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

The episodes that embrace a pure joyous energy are often the most moving and powerful episodes of Pose. It's just magical to see five trans women of color relaxing and having a good time together. It's meaningful for all the right reasons of visibility. It wants to be a celebration. Sure, the show understands that there is a lot of tragedy in the world. It doesn't completely ignore those emotions. Plenty of tragic and devastating things have occurred over the two seasons. This season has directly talked about trans women being killed. Candy's life was tragically cut short. Now, her appearing as a vision to several people could be seen as magical fantasy that doesn't quite fit in with everything else the show is doing. But it also highlights how she was a human being who made an impact on the world. Her friends still remember her. They are allowed to celebrate their lives and their own happiness while also reflecting on how Candy should be here celebrating alongside them. She deserved to have a future where so much was available to her. Elektra is able to treat her girls to a beach trip because of one of her dominatrix clients. She may still fear another one dying on her. And yet, this job also allows her to afford her luxurious lifestyle. She can provide for the people she cares about. She can lift spirits up when they are down. This is the exact energy that the group needed especially after Blanca learns that her nail salon has burned down. It seems all too obvious that Frederica set the fire in order to collect the insurance money. She did so knowing that Blanca may not be able to recover. This would get her out of her life for good. This is the end of their war that has been very actively pursued by both sides throughout the season. And now, it feels as if Blanca has lost everything. All of her children have moved out. She is all alone in her apartment. Her business is gone as well now. She still has the support of her friends though. Even though Angel has moved out, she will always be there for Blanca. The same is also true of Elektra. She will always see Blanca as her daughter who needs her comfort and support from time to time. It's also just empowering to see these women facing their insecurities as they head to an environment that may not be welcoming to them. And yet, they have the precise tools and confidence to handle any problems that may arise. Sure, Elektra is a terrible driver. But nothing bad happens because of that. Instead, the group is allowed to have a fun time jamming out to the radio. There are plenty of songs they love and know all the words to. It's meaningful to have Candy during that final moment too. It proves that the fun and joy that comes from this weekend doesn't have to disappear just because they return to the city. In fact, it can be the quality they embrace most often because it's good to feel hopeful and optimistic. There may be numerous people throughout the world who don't want that from these women. And yet, this show embraces their stories. It sees the importance of allowing them to feel love and security in a way that consumes them and lifts them up. Blanca can still look to the future with hope in her eyes. She can rebuild with new opportunities always presenting themselves to her. She just has to keep her options open.

Blanca is actually rewarded during this weekend trip as well. Sure, it's scary for a moment in which she is drowning in the ocean. But the lifeguard saves her. He actually turns out to be a great guy. Adrian isn't the person who typically fetishizes the trans identity. He has felt fetishized too as a black man who can fulfill a certain desire felt by the wealthy white women of this community - especially during the summer. And yet, he sees such a spark of joy with Blanca. It may be absolutely terrifying for her to go out alone with him at night. She and her friends have been trained to fear what men are capable of because so many of them refuse to understand their identity in this world. When the group is having a blast at a restaurant, one patron decides to make a big fuss about their continued presence in this space. They aren't disrupting anyone else's ability to have a good time in this establishment. But them being here makes people uncomfortable. That shouldn't be a burden they have to carry in this world. It shouldn't be their responsibility to ensure that everyone feels comfortable with their presence wherever they go. In fact, it may be on them to stand up for their rights to exist and turn the condemnation back on those who feel otherwise. Elektra is more than capable of taking this woman down. It's absolutely glorious as well. It's so ridiculously over-the-top with her needing to take a drink to rehydrate during the verbal takedown. But it's absolutely worth it because it shows that Elektra and her girls have a far better understanding of how this world works than most of the people who exist within it. Elektra is grateful that her client allows them to use his beach house for the weekend. And yet, she also sees the value in pointing out that he has the luxury to pay someone in order to feel lonely and isolated. For most people, it isn't a choice because the world refuses to see them as people of value. That's exactly who these main characters are though. Blanca has value. She deserves to be a successful mother and businesswoman. She deserves to feel love in a sexual way. Her status as a woman living with HIV/AIDS shouldn't prevent her from having a full and loving life. She may place these self-doubts on herself. And yet, she is rewarded once more for trusting her gut. That hasn't failed her so far. Her opinion is so valuable in this world. Everyone comes to her for advice on how to improve their lives based on the recent actions they have taken. Everyone sees her as the mother they can go to for whatever they may need. She will give out that support no matter what. But it's so significant to see her be free and open in a relationship in which she doesn't feel the burden of having to explain herself. She can simply exist, be seen and loved. She gets exactly that with Adrian. Again, she may have her doubts about ever seeing him again. And yet, him leaving her a message and her calling him back certainly suggests a bright future for the character who deserves it the most.