‘Pose’ Producers Talk Season 2, Madonna & Exploring HIV/AIDS Epidemic – The Contenders Emmys

“It really came from, as someone who previously in another life worked in higher education, assessing the television landscape and asking myself that question, ‘who are we not seeing represented on television?’ We weren’t seeing black and brown people who also happen to be queer and trans,” Pose co-creator Steven Canals said at Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys on Sunday.

Canals was joined producers and writers Janet Mock and Our Lady J to speak about the history-making FX series.


The first to feature a largely transgender series-regular cast as well as being the largest LGBTQ cast ever for a scripted show, Pose is set in the 1980s and looks at the juxtaposition of several segments of life and society in New York: the rise of the Trump-era luxury universe, the downtown social and literary scene and the ball culture world.

“It’s about telling the truth and giving people a chance to see the humanity in the truth and the realness through storytelling,” said Mock. “What’s so special about Pose and the team that Ryan Murphy has assembled, and as well as Steven and Brad Falchuk, [is that] they brought on people who live the experience.”

Like Mock, many of the cast and crew members had little to no experience in the television realm.

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“It shows in the exhibition of the fact that despite it never being done before, it’s possible,” Mock said. “If you give people a seat at the table, if you empower them to use their voices and experiences, then that is more than enough.”

Madonna in 1990 Shutterstock

As previously reported, Season 2 will pick up in 1990, on the day Madonna’s single “Vogue” was released. “We talk about ‘Vogue’ and Madonna and how that shined a spotlight on the ballroom community and what were some of the exciting parts that came out of it but also some of the challenges as well,” Canals said.

The series will continue to explore the HIV epidemic “leading to Act Up, which was omnipresent in New York in the ’90s,” Canals added. “We will be addressing HIV/AIDS activism and access to medical care.”

On how the show is tackling the HIV/AIDS storylines, Lady J –has been living with HIV for over a decade — said: “One thing that I feel like we successful did, that I haven’t seen before, is to bring HIV-positive stories to the screen, where they don’t drop dead at the end of the episode. It’s what is it like to live with HIV. What is it like to be stigmatized by the disease? What is the human aspect of that? Through these characters, we were able to do that. … It’s not just about the struggle, it’s about the choice to live.”

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