Sunday, June 6, 2021

REVIEW: 'Pose' - Blanca and Pray Tell Celebrate the Importance and the Resiliency of the Ballroom Community in 'Series Finale'

FX's Pose - Episode 3.07 "Series Finale"

When Blanca discovers an HIV clinical trial is denying access to people of color, she joins ACT UP in an effort to get Pray Tell the medication.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series finale of FX's Pose.

"Series Finale" was written by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals, Janet Mock & Our Lady J and directed by Steven Canals

On June 5, 1981, the first reported cases of HIV/AIDS were documented in the United States. This weekend commemorates the 40th anniversary of the beginning of this pandemic. Over the decades, thousands of lives have been lost. The first effective treatment against the virus was produced in 1996. This disease is no longer a death sentence. So many men and women feared that their lives would be cut short and the federal government didn't care. For years, our nation's leaders were silent on the subject. Their silence equaled death. New treatments have been made over the years. The issues that defined this era in the past are still relevant today. The preventive drugs are only available for those who can afford it. The healthcare industry is still allowed to set the price as high as they want. Moreover, Black and Brown people are disproportionately those who test positive each year. These stories cannot be ignored. This show broke ground with the most trans characters played by trans actors on television. It detailed the lives of people whose stories have never been told authentically in the medium. This final season has offered a lot of joyful moments to embrace and cheer. The core arc of the season though was Pray Tell dying. He received the diagnosis and his condition kept worsening. He was preparing for the end. He was resigned to be yet another statistic in this pandemic. He would add his block to the AIDS Quilt that documents so many lives that were taken far too soon. He is given a brief reprieve though. He and Blanca are accepted into the clinical trial offering the effective treatment to the world. Before that point, their health would simply fluctuate. They were prepared to be knocked down by pneumonia or some other health complication at any given moment. As such, they were inspired to live in the moment. They didn't want to have any regrets. That's not how they chose to live. Their lives are a celebration. They proudly declare that when they make their grand return to the ballroom stage. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Diana Ross is a bold and efficient statement of all that their lives entail. It cherishes their relationship while highlighting the vibrant community around them. It's Christopher's first time at a ball too. He doesn't plan on walking any time soon. However, it's absolutely invigorating. Unfortunately, Pray knows that this is his big sendoff. He chose to give his pills to Ricky. His body was able to last a little while longer without the meds. It gave out after awhile though. It's brutal and devastating from the moment Ricky discovers the body to Ricky crying in Blanca's arms to Blanca's emotional sit down with Pray's mother to Blanca delivering Pray's final wishes. Pray had all of these details planned out. The audience was aware of that too. The show delivers on it here. It's emotionally wrenching. So much of the show's heart came from Pray Tell. He dies. This is the end of his story. However, he serves as an inspiration to so many in his community as well. His impact and memory lives on.

Blanca is celebrated with the title of Legendary House Mother. She lives to receive that honor. It comes after she gives an impassioned speech about the importance of the ballroom community. She and her girls cannot turn their backs on this sacred space simply because they have achieved their dreams. Elektra continues to expand her business and thrive in her relationship with the mob. Lulu is finally hired as a tax accountant. Angel is thriving as a mother. Blanca has graduated and become a nurse. She is now the one delivering test results to those fearing the worst. The news she gives isn't as bleak as what she, Pray and Ricky received all those years ago. She can offer hope. She provides guidance to people whose complete worlds have been shattered. She is informed by the relationships of the past. The same magic cannot be recaptured and ignited anew. However, the world is brighter because of the fierce action taken by those who refused to be silence. Blanca, Judy and Christopher fight the hospital administration to ensure patients of color are accepted into the clinical trials for the new drugs. They know that the results are tainted if the study doesn't have a broad collection of backgrounds. The survivor's guilt felt by those left behind can be unbearable too. These drugs aren't solely designed for those in the hospital thinking it's the end. They can help ensure Blanca never has to go through that experience again. Death is a part of life. And yet, this community has been to far too many funerals. These stories cannot be forgotten. It took years of activism to ensure the spotlight remained on this issue. It's horrifying to think that Pray's ashes will be used as a vicious sign of protest. Ricky looks to Blanca's leadership in that moment. She is given the freedom to do whatever she wants with the remainder of him after she honors his wish to fill lockets for his loved ones. She has a little piece left. And yes, she does affirm that speaking out in this way was central to his essence. He would be right there in the Act Up meetings alongside his friends. A piece of him is given away to someone who doesn't care about the significance of this sacrifice. It's insanely personal though. Blanca looks to Pray for inspiration in everything she does. She welcomes more people to ballroom. Ricky takes up the mantle of house father. Lemar is out there competing as well. A crop of new faces represent the House of Evangelista. They take home a trophy. This community is about more than the competition though. It's about lifting each other up. This is a place to embolden one's dreams. People may refer to Blanca as a legendary grandmother now. However, she continues to be of service to her community. She can never turn her back on what life has given to her. She is happy and fulfilled. She has a man who loves her fully. She and Christopher remain solid for years. He sees her and beams with joy. Blanca hears Pray's voice. She passes that wisdom to those who need to hear it. The viewer should embrace that same lesson. Hard times may always come in life. No one can be in denial about that. But the happiness must be embraced and celebrated as well. The world recognizes these stories. They are worth sharing again and again. Work must still be done to create a better world. One that better serves all in need. The community is also strong enough to protect those who are powerless and in need of a home. This show brings that sense of family to the forefront. Now, it's our duty to continue that legacy and live confidently as one's true self. Let's reflect on the past, embrace the present and fight for the future.