In its final season premiere, Pose provides an empathetic and complex depiction of addiction - The A.V. Club
May 03, 2021 2 mins, 48 secs
Blanca meets Christopher’s parents, and his mother gradually makes snide comments about Blanca’s upbringing and class status.

She claims to have Christopher’s best interests in mind, but she’s dismissive of Blanca and says very hurtful things in an attempt to devalue their relationship.

Christopher and Blanca’s relationship is a welcome addition to the expansive Pose family, and the excitement her friends feel when they meet him is exactly how it feels to watch this!

Blanca invites everyone over for a “watch party” of the news, and Pose milks it for some humor—seen in Elektra’s fangirling over Simpson and Angel’s frank and hilarious ignorance about who he even is—but also uses it as a backdrop for some of the more zoomed-in interpersonal conflicts playing out in the premiere.

Lemar takes his anger out on Blanca, saying that she didn’t tell him how bad it was, and it seems like Pose is almost about to add some layers to Lemar and his behaviors by suggesting that his grandstanding has all been an act and a coping mechanism to shroud his grief about Cubby, but it never actually goes there.

I love that Pose captures queer and trans joy and does not turn its characters into trauma porn, but this overly idealized depiction of a homophobic mother being given blanket forgiveness on the brink of her son’s death doesn’t have the emotional impact that it strives for.

It’s too tidy, and it doesn’t really add depth for Cubby, who doesn’t get mentioned at all in the second episode.

But the focus on repairing Cubby and his mother’s relationship over repairing the relationship between Cubby and Lemar is a strange and distracting choice.

But the standout storyline across both episodes is hands down the messy, hard-to-watch, empathetic portrayal of Pray Tell’s alcoholism.

Pray Tell’s addiction touches every part of his life, and yet it also doesn’t wholly define him.

Right away in the first episode, Ricky and Pray Tell’s relationship seems toxic.

Ricky tries to cut Pray Tell off, and it only makes Pray Tell pour another drink.

When Ricky gives Pray Tell an ultimatum, it results in one of the most brutal scenes.

Pray Tell pushes Ricky away and simultaneously traps him.

Ricky and Pray Tell’s tumultuous relationship is a striking and honest portrayal of addiction, codependency, and enabling.

It’s impossible to detangle Pray Tell’s alcoholism from his relationship to HIV/AIDS.

Pray Tell pushes them all away in the same way he does with Ricky.

Pose doesn’t seem to be taking sides here.

What’s striking about Pray Tell’s arc across these two episodes is the amount of empathy and nuance Pose grants him.

And the people in his life try to love him, try to do whatever they can to help him, but there are no easy solutions here, and Pose makes that very clear.

She’s not being fair, but once again, Pose doesn’t condemn her but rather buries into the muck of addiction without oversimplifying things, shining a light on Angel’s paranoia and tendency to lash out at Papi without assigning moral values to those things.

Pose is a story of survival, but it so often makes space for joy, humor, and hope


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