Producer Ryan Murphy and the creative team behind Pose put an exclamation mark at the end of FX’s day at TCA summer press tour with a panel taking stock of the show’s pioneering first season and its direction from here.
Writers are beginning work next month on the second season of Pose, which broke ground by featuring transgender writers, producers and lead actors. Season 2, slated for 2019, will jump ahead to 1989 from Season 1’s end in 1988 and culminate in March 1990. That was when Madonna’s hit song “Vogue” popularized the concept of “vogueing” that had been a dominant feature of gay clubs in the 1980s.
Murphy said his Madonna tribute episode of Glee planted a seed of a relationship that he hopes to nurture with the pop superstar. The outreach to her may involve music rights but may not involve casting.
“I think the thing about this show thus far is the casting that we’ve done, we haven’t tried to do too much of my typical stunt casting and I don’t think we will,” he said. “But I always love to talk to Madonna. I don’t know how she’d feel about playing 1990 Madonna.”
That period was also the time of the HIV/AIDS crisis, when drugs aimed at fighting the disease had not yet been perfected. “It was a very emotional writers room,” Murphy said. “Always a lot of laughs and a lot of tears and a lot of that made it into the show. … That tone of facing hardship and persevering is the theme of the show.”
Producer, director and writer Janet Mock was asked about the recent storm of criticism that faced Scarlett Johansson last month. She first came aboard and then dropped out of the film Rub & Tug, in which she had intended to play a trans role.
Pose, Mock said, proves “a series can cast five trans women” and that “trans people can play trans people on screen.” She added, “You don’t need a star name. … If cis people can play trans folk, it should be vice versa.”
Billy Porter, who plays Pray Tell on the show, said reaction by viewers has overwhelmed the creative team. “There’s a healing that has taken place,” he said. “I had a lot of friends I haven’t heard from in decades call me. … It’s cathartic. They said, ‘I didn’t know that I needed to let go.'”
He added, “Somebody said to me, ‘I’ve had survivor’s guilt.’ … We survived a plague.”