(CNN)The second season of the groundbreaking FX drama "Pose" takes place in 1990, but too many of its themes are painfully familiar in 2019.
'Pose' has a potent message: don't wait, just live
Transgender people are more visible than we have ever been, but that visibility can make us vulnerable to outside attack. A show like "Pose," with its LGBTQ cast (featuring more transgender actors as series regulars than any scripted show in history), is an undeniable sign of progress. But it's also a reminder that too little has changed since the time period it depicts.
Transgender women are still disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS. Our community continues to face widespread employment discrimination, poverty and harassment. "Pose" continues to tackle these topics with sensitivity in its new slate of episodes. But what makes this series so powerful is its unapologetic depiction of transgender joy.
The loving looks between MJ Rodriguez's Blanca, who is the show's protagonist and mother figure, and Billy Porter's Pray Tell. The amusing antics of House of Ferocity co-mothers Candy (Angelica Ross) and Lulu (Hallie Sahar). The breathtaking beauty of Indya Moore's aptly named Angel, who has more love in her heart than the world will ever give to her. Porter in particular has been a breakout star, making fashion and political statements on the red carpet at the Tonys, Oscars and Met Gala. All of these characters are back in the second season of "Pose" — and they still form the sweet beating heart of the show amid more serious subject matter.
As the AIDS crisis surges, "Pose" swings back and forth between funerals and celebrations, protests and pleasures, abuses and absurdities. That might sound like tonal whiplash, but it's not. The series is actually an authentic portrayal of both the 1980s and 1990s social practice of forming "Houses" as alternative urban family structures and, more broadly, of LGBTQ resilience. When our community is under attack, we fight back, and we still find time to dance. (In this case, the stars of "Pose" are often dancing to Madonna's then-ubiquitous song "Vogue," which introduced the aesthetics of ball culture to a more mainstream — and much whiter — audience.)
The poignant mix of death and dance in "Pose" arrives at a timely moment. It has arguably never been more important for us to see transgender characters on TV finding happiness wherever they can against a backdrop of