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S01.E01 Pilot


Lady Calypso
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In 1987 New York, Blanca Rodriguez pursues her dream of becoming a house mother after receiving a devastating medical diagnosis. Alongside the members of her newly formed House of Evangelista, Blanca competes in the House Ballroom scene against her former mother and recent rival, Elektra Abundance. Meanwhile, Damon Richards moves to New York City with aspirations of joining a dance company. Written by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals; directed by Ryan Murphy.

 

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(edited)

I love the story and the dialogue. I was jamming to the 80s music which was on point. I wonder if the same person who did the People vs. OJ Simpson did this score. However, the acting was mediocre to poor for most of it and I thought that it fell apart at the end when Blanca took Damon to the school. The only scenes that I found convincing were Blanca and Damon at the diner, Angel and Evan Peters' character, and Pray with everyone. I love Pray and the actor, Billy Porter is the most talented actor in the cast. I did some research and found out that Billy Porter won a Tony. I am sticking with the show for him.

Edited by SimoneS
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I like Blanca,Damon, and Angel already.

80's music always makes me smile and I got Flashdance vibes when Damon had his audition.

I like Evan Peters in general but Stan don't know if I like him yet. He and Angel have chemistry but still he is married with two little kids so messy situation.

Dawson doing coke still better then watching him cry lol.

Felt bad when Angel got turned down for the job interview.

Sorry Blanca is sick.  

I enjoyed it enough to check out the next few episodes.

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Yes, I forgot to mention the dance audition.  I know very little about dance but I thought he was just all over the place, with some good moves in between some really off kilter ones.  I think the lady just liked his life story and probably saw some potential in him.  

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12 minutes ago, Deni said:

I like this show so far. I didn’t think that Damon’s dance audition would have been good enough for him to get in. Maybe the lady just liked his life story, and didn’t want to him to experience more grief.

I liked the whole show and yeah some of the acting was a little meh (Damon's dad was spectacularly bad for such a short scene) but I agree, less of Damon's dancing please. I wasn't feeling that audition despite loving the music.

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At least the music is good so there's that. 

 

I know that Ryan's mandate is to get as many LGBT actors/crew involved which I applaud.  But it became painfully obvious who are actors and who are there to "fill in" for said mandate.  I'm also astounded that the recaps I read were loving Damon's dance because I saw a lot of flailing about even after he finally got it together.  (Aside from that duck walk.  My knees hurt LOOKING at that.)  

That said, I think Blanca is fabulous, Billy Porter rules and Dawson works at Trump Tower snorting coke.  It's enough to be on the DVR playlist for now. 

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One thing about Ryan Murphy productions is that the music is always on point for the era. He does a great job of recreating the feeling of an era.

Some of the acting is atrocious (especially that father...yikes) but MJ Rodriguez is likeable enough as the lead so I'll stick with it.

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13 hours ago, Deni said:

I like this show so far. I didn’t think that Damon’s dance audition would have been good enough for him to get in. Maybe the lady just liked his life story, and didn’t want to him to experience more grief.

 

I so agree with Damon's dance audition. He wasn't spectacular and just did some minor voguing and got on top of the table. The lady felt empathetic towards his situation and saw how he felt towards the end and gave him a chance. Maybe he will step it up with the classes. Overall, Good for him for gettuing in and Blance gets major kudos for believing in him.

Edited by latincoffee
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With regard to Damon enrolling in the school: I thought it was interesting that it was just assumed he'd receive a complete scholarship with no discussion of how missing the application deadline also meant that all scholarships had been disbursed. (Unless this is  a tuition-free dance school?)

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(edited)

The dancing audition looked like a lip sync - I wouldn't think you would mouth the words to the song being played during an audition and dance like you're at home by yourself some random afternoon while looking in a mirror.

Edited by beartrash
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Thank God I’m not the only person who thought that Damon's dance wasn't that impressive, especially for what looks like a ballet program. He had some good moves, but it mostly just looked like any person dancing around their living room. I guess the dance teacher liked his life story, and his clear passion, and she can work with that? I did love the flashdance nature of it. 

I liked it this. The soundtrack was awesome, and I like the main characters pretty well, especially Blanca and Angel. Some of the minor roles are spotty (Damon's parents were pretty awkward), but the leads all seem quite good, and they are clearly embracing that 80s style Ryan Murphy stuff. Also loved seeing James Van Der Beek as the coke snorting executive, complete with comically over sized 80s cell phone.

Edited by tennisgurl
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I only caught the last 45 minutes or so of this, but I was intrigued enough to come back. Plus, Billy Porter! I'll be tuning in. But agree on the dance audition - Flashdance with 80% less actual dance content!

Also...delicate question on trans/gender issues (I hang out with a lot of drag queens so wasn't sure and missed the beginning so forgive any insensitivity):

The balls performers are not drag queens, correct (or at least not all of them)?

Is Angel a woman from birth?

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Another thing that I love is the reaction of the crowds during the balls, the hand gestures or whatever they're called.   Yes, I'm now practicing in front of a mirror. 

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6 hours ago, pasdetrois said:

Pretty horrible acting all around with the exception of Angel and Pray Tell. Music and costumes were fun, but production values seem low. Doubt I'll watch the entire thing.

Yeah, the acting was ...not great. But not surprising in all, it appears that none of the actors have any real acting credits prior to this.  Billy Porter, of course, is a Tony award winner with an MFA in drama.  So of course he stands out.  And of course Kate Mara and Evan Peters are professional actors.  But I think those are the only three.  The rest... the print is probably still wet on their SAG cards.

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1 hour ago, Kelloggirl said:

I only caught the last 45 minutes or so of this, but I was intrigued enough to come back. Plus, Billy Porter! I'll be tuning in. But agree on the dance audition - Flashdance with 80% less actual dance content!

Also...delicate question on trans/gender issues (I hang out with a lot of drag queens so wasn't sure and missed the beginning so forgive any insensitivity):

The balls performers are not drag queens, correct (or at least not all of them)?

Is Angel a woman from birth?

Angel is trans as well. In the scene with Evan at the motel...she took off her pants and looked down and made of comment regarding "it" being small and Evan replied with "it's not so small" so that was a good indicator. 

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8 hours ago, Chaos Theory said:

I wanted to like this show and I am a huge fan of Ryan Murphy but half way though I got bored and turned it off.    

Ditto. I tried but my mind kept wandering, just seemed like too many stereotypes and the acting was just overall fairly weak,  and I ended up turning it off. Oh well, onto Succession to see if that catches my interest. 

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4 hours ago, ItCouldBeWorse said:

With regard to Damon enrolling in the school: I thought it was interesting that it was just assumed he'd receive a complete scholarship with no discussion of how missing the application deadline also meant that all scholarships had been disbursed. (Unless this is  a tuition-free dance school?)

It was the New School, which has definitely had periods when it was free or courses would be heavily subsidized. It started as a think-tank gathering of the minds type university. My mom actually got her degree from there. They like to think of themselves as fostering and nurturing unique talents. Parson's is one of their schools as is what used to be the Actor's Studio.

I don't think they ever had a dance program.

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4 hours ago, DearEvette said:

Yeah, the acting was ...not great. But not surprising in all, it appears that none of the actors have any real acting credits prior to this.  Billy Porter, of course, is a Tony award winner with an MFA in drama.  So of course he stands out.  And of course Kate Mara and Evan Peters are professional actors.  But I think those are the only three.  The rest... the print is probably still wet on their SAG cards.

I kind of liked the fact that a lot of them didn't seem to be actors.  I think the three you mentioned who are actors are enough for me to carry the show. 

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11 hours ago, Chaos Theory said:

I wanted to like this show and I am a huge fan of Ryan Murphy but half way though I got bored and turned it off.    

Agree. I watched it until the end, but I doubt this will be must see TV like his other shows. I think it's not holding my attention because I'm not at all familiar with the 1980's NYC "underground" scene. That along with the bad acting isn't capturing me like OJ, Andrew Cunanan, Joan/Bette even Scream Queens.

I like the ball announcer, the white kid and the prostitute's storyline. I liked the 17 year old dancer up until his audition. He was horrible and his acceptance into the school based on that totally took me out.

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5 hours ago, DearEvette said:

Yeah, the acting was ...not great. But not surprising in all, it appears that none of the actors have any real acting credits prior to this.  Billy Porter, of course, is a Tony award winner with an MFA in drama.  So of course he stands out.  And of course Kate Mara and Evan Peters are professional actors.  But I think those are the only three.  The rest... the print is probably still wet on their SAG cards.

You forgot James Van Der Beek and Charlayne Woodard (the dance teacher on here who will always be Aunt Janice from Fresh Prince to me). But you're right, these don't seem to be actors with prior credits, but that might be more about opportunity and roles being available and a real possibility to them I'd think.

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(edited)

This show's storyline did not immediately grab me the way I wanted it to. I was not feeling the over-the-topness of Mother and just all of what she was bringing with her general superior attitude rubbed me the wrong way. But the music did grab me and I was very into that, so I'm serious when I say the exceptional show soundtrack led me to give this a chance when I was ready to bail about 20 minutes in on the actual story. The music gave the premiere a rhythm and pace that I loved and eventually, when Blanca took over, when Damon was introduced, when we learned more about Angel, that got me to liking what this show might be.

Also, I love Billy Porter. Been a fan since I saw him for the first time in 1994 or 1995 when he was in the Grease revival on Broadway and he stole the show as Teen Angel and his "Beauty School Drop Out," still have that Playbill with his signature. I love that he's getting a wider audience. I don't care if it's a scene of his empty living room while he takes a shower in the next room, I hope he's given the opportunity to sing uninterrupted on here at least once. So, I might not be completely objective about him. But, I really loved Pray Tell and maybe it is my bias, but he was probably my favorite part of the premiere, and definitely had the funniest line to me. But I think it might be more that I definitely didn't think the show was going to give him this nuanced of a character. Based on the commercials I saw, I was expecting them to make him funny, but much more one-dimensional, so I was pleasantly surprised by the rest we got to see of him.

So,  I didn't love every single thing after I began rooting for that trio and got to see the expanded role of Pray Tell and I'm still scratching my head over praise for that dance, but I certainly liked it a lot, and plan to keep watching to hopefully see them realize a few of their dreams.

Edited by JasmineFlower
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 Ok I've followed ball culture since the late 80's - Ryan Murphy did you just finish Paris is Burning and that was  your pilot script? AND Pray would have slayed as a house mother. I was happy to see House of Pendavis mentioned and that a member from Xtravaganza is playing a judge and contributed on the crew. They need some House of Ninja to bring the balls  up to vogue speed.

Edited because I'm an idiot and there are trans actors here...

Finally, Damon - more flash dance, less prance! Sigh. 

I'll watch for Pray alone.  

I'll keep watching...

Edited by hatchetgirl
Because i was wrong
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(edited)

Was the audition filmed at the same location as Flashdance?

That man did not know that Angel was trans when Angel first walked up to his car, correct?

And Blanca was joking about Linda Evangelista stealing Blanca’s look, right?

eta: I rewatched the Flashdance audition. They are not the same location.

Edited by hoodooznoodooz
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It doesn't seem to be the new "prestige drama" even tho it's coming from FX. But it's an endearing and heartwarming story, with relatable and likeable characters. And it's making history!

The show might have a few flaws, and the acting might not be the best. But it's something it can improve as the show goes on and the actors start to know more the characters and feel more confortable in their shoes. And get experience. 

I applaude FX for giving this much, much needed opportunity for the LGBTQ community, especially trans people of color, to be well represented on screen.

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I liked it.  Maybe it's because I'm a child of the late 80's but I felt connected to it even though I have no connection with this particular scene.  It was perhaps one of the most earnest things Ryan Murphy has done but I think I'll stay until he does his patented off the wall craziness.  Some of the acting was iffy--like the woman from the House of Abundance.  But one of the benefits of hiring transgender actresses is they could rely on their authenticity where perhaps their skills were lacking.  The actress playing Angel had real spark, though, and I'll be curious to watch her develop.  It has been a while but I used to watch soaps so I probably have a higher tolerance for watching actors learn on the job as long as they're not relied on to stretch too far.

On 6/4/2018 at 11:09 AM, ItCouldBeWorse said:

With regard to Damon enrolling in the school: I thought it was interesting that it was just assumed he'd receive a complete scholarship with no discussion of how missing the application deadline also meant that all scholarships had been disbursed. (Unless this is  a tuition-free dance school?)

I could be wrong but I was starting to get the sense that Blanca might have had some money since she could afford the apartment and said everyone living with her had to go to school.  But maybe I was too wrapped in the practicalities.

 

On 6/4/2018 at 10:28 PM, hoodooznoodooz said:

Was the audition filmed at the same location as Flashdance?

I don't think so but that scene did give me Flashdance vibes.  I wasn't impressed with the audition either.  I do think the show spent too much time on his audition.  I gather they were hoping for a YouTube-able moment but this wasn't it. 

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That man did not know that Angel was trans when Angel first walked up to his car, correct?

I think he knew.  I think he's a man who is attracted to transgender women.  The first thing he wanted her to do was take off her skirt and panties and if he were expecting to see something other than a penis there, he was very sanguine about it.  That led me to believe he knew what he was going for.

Edited by Irlandesa
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6 hours ago, Irlandesa said:

I could be wrong but I was starting to get the sense that Blanca might have had some money since she could afford the apartment and said everyone living with her had to go to school.  But maybe I was too wrapped in the practicalities.

They showed a scene of her as a manicurist, so I doubt it, but I don't know how she affords that apartment, although I assume Angel contributes something since she moved in.

6 hours ago, Irlandesa said:

I think he knew.  I think he's a man who is attracted to transgender women.  The first thing he wanted her to do was take off her skirt and panties and if he were expecting to see something other than a penis there, he was very sanguine about it.  That led me to believe he knew what he was going for.

I agree.  He didn't know exactly what he'd see, but that's what he was looking for.

Edited by ItCouldBeWorse
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I had so much second-hand embarrassment during Damon's Flashdance-Meets-Footloose audition scene, I had to fast forward through it after about a minute. Even then I found the whole thing cringe inducing. 

As a fan of Paris is Burning (a film I saw on opening weekend way back when), I'll keep watching. I don't think this show will have the same emotional impact on me (because it's a Ryan Murphy production and, in the end, they always find a way to disappoint) but I love the idea of it and I loved the music they played last night—especially Captain Sensible's Wot. 

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On the one hand, the ball culture from the 80s is so specific that the show couldn't help but feel derivative of Paris is Burning because what you saw there is what walking a ball was like.  The show couldn't deviate too much from that.  On the other hand, it feels like it cribbed a little too hard from Paris is Burning.  Did we really have to have Pray say '10s across the board' in just the inflection of the original?  It felt like a steal not an homage.  Also Angel's character (with her 'what I want' speech) was giving me big Venus Xtravaganza vibes.  But I do admit she is simply stunning to look at, like a cross between Amandla Sternberg and Zendaya.

And it wasn't just Paris Is Burning that the show felt like it just stepped into.  Instead of seeming to present what life like was in the 80s, it felt like it was giving us what life was like in the 80s as seen through movies.  James Van Der Beek's character felt like he had wandered off the set of Wall Street as an understudy to Gordon Gecko's character and  the insertion of Trump felt too meta and again not nearly as clever as I think they were going for.  And Damon's cringey audition was just a Flashdance call back.

I want to keep up with this and hope that it settles into itself.  I really want the actor who plays Electra Abundance to improve.  I thought she overacted a bit, emphasized words in all the wrong places and her speech was too inflected to sound natural.  And yet, she has such charisma and presence (and fantastic cheekbones).  The ending of the opening scene where she put on her game face and pranced up to the police with her hands held out was fantastic.  Just the right amount of theatre and pagentry, that her audience in that ball would have reacted just the way they did.

I liked Blanca and felt she came off as more natural.  I do wish the show had built up to the schism in the House of Abundance rather than just having Blanca leave and Electra come off as Mother that is less 'Mom' and more Mommy Dearest.  It would have been nice for us to see the nurturing side of Electra instead of the ego/bitchy side and therefore make Blanca immediately more sympathetic and Electra less so.  But then again Ryan Murphy and 'nuance' are not friends.

The music selection was straight up FIRE though!

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9 hours ago, Irlandesa said:

I think he knew.  I think he's a man who is attracted to transgender women.  The first thing he wanted her to do was take off her skirt and panties and if he were expecting to see something other than a penis there, he was very sanguine about it.  That led me to believe he knew what he was going for.

 

9 hours ago, ItCouldBeWorse said:

I agree.  He didn't know exactly what he'd see, but that's what he was looking for.

 

7 hours ago, JasmineFlower said:

Oh, he absolutely knew. I highly doubt I'm going out on a limb here by saying that I assume that the "Pier" they've referred to many times so far is "Chelsea Pier" which is in the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan that sits next to the Meatpacking District. It could be one of the numbered piers that are lesser known, but they are all around the same area. With gentrification, it's not like it used to be so this only rings true if you know Manhattan from before and certainly applies to the late 80s when this takes place, but it used to be much much more gritty and very known to be an area with trans hookers. VERY well known. You did not need to be in the know to be aware of this. Like I knew this in my teens visiting my cousin in the city. You didn't go to the area near Chelsea Pier and the Meatpacking District looking for a hooker and not know who you were likely encounter. So, he knew, and he found who he was looking for. 

Thank you! I can’t believe that I am as naive as I was when I was 18. 

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(edited)
3 hours ago, Giant Misfit said:

I had so much second-hand embarrassment during Damon's Flashdance-Meets-Footloose audition scene, I had to fast forward through it after about a minute. Even then I found the whole thing cringe inducing. 

Yeah, I'm still thinking about that, lol.  But then I began to wonder if he was supposed to dance that badly, and then in later episodes we see how much he's improved?  I hope so.

Edited by Ohwell
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I kinda loved it. My memory of this era was that it was cold, mean, money-obsessed....sort of like now. That something so witty, creative and life-affirming was going on under the surface gives me a little hope.

My quarrel with Ryan Murphy is that he seems to lose interest in his projects after a season or two. The first season and a half of Glee was fun, then it became lazy and sloppy. His limited series have been much better because they seem better suited for his attention span. We'll see how this turns out.

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(edited)
7 hours ago, Mumbles said:

I kinda loved it. My memory of this era was that it was cold, mean, money-obsessed....sort of like now. That something so witty, creative and life-affirming was going on under the surface gives me a little hope.

Same.

Even though the first episode felt lifted from Paris Is Burning (which I loved).

I'll stick around for the rest of this series.

Edited by Surrealist
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The first episode felt so lifted from Paris is Burning that I am legit in fear for Angel's life. The fact that I really only know Ryan Murphy via American Horror Story doesn't help. Also, her yearning for love and acceptance and whatever is possibly building between her and Evan Peters (what the hell is his character name? I really only know him as X-Men Quicksilver) is clearly not going to end in anything but tragedy. He already has too much to lose and it's not going to get any easier for him to 'leave it all behind' if that's even what he wants to do. If he wants to be like Van der Beek's douchenozzle executive he's going to wind up as the guy who throws people away very easily. And none of that bodes well for Angel. She's going to get her heart broken... at least. And that makes me so sad because I'm pretty invested in the House of Evangelista already. Most especially Blanca and Angel. Blanca is proactive, though, I love that. Angel isn't there yet.

And I'm waiting to see what the boys of Evangelista will do.

Also, Electra is like a mix of the most fabulous Disney villains. She's all Cruelle DeVille and Lady Tremaine and Maleficent and I am here for it. "I'm going to eat you like an after dinner Rolaids." 

Pray Tell is the glue that holds it all together. Billy Porter is tremendous.

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I'm 99% sure of something but haven't see anyone here mention it. I think that the music Evan Peters and his wife were dancing to was orchestration from the Taxi Driver soundtrack. 

If so, there's an interesting parallel regarding a conflicted man getting emotionally involved with a prostitute.

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(edited)

Several people mentioned Paris is Burning to I looked it up, only to realize that I watched it many years ago which is why this show seemed so familiar, especially the voguing. It has been a long time and I can barely remember it, but I will do a rewatch since it is on Netflix.

The ratings weren't good for Pose; 0.2 ratings in adults 18-49; 688,000 viewers. It won't help that Claws returns next week on the same day at the same time.

http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/daily-ratings/sunday-cable-ratings-june-3-2018/

Edited by SimoneS
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3 hours ago, Dandesun said:

The fact that I really only know Ryan Murphy via American Horror Story doesn't help. Also, her yearning for love and acceptance and whatever is possibly building between her and Evan Peters (what the hell is his character name? I really only know him as X-Men Quicksilver) is clearly not going to end in anything but tragedy. He already has too much to lose and it's not going to get any easier for him to 'leave it all behind' if that's even what he wants to do. I

Stan lol. Evan got his role in X-Men because of American Horror Story. Singer liked his work on it called him on the phone and just gave him the role.

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As a child of the 80s, the music was FIERCE. That Kate Bush song always gives me chills.

I though the acting was actually pretty good overall and wonder if some of the weak spots were more due to the stereotypical feel-good storylines and therefore dialogue (as much being HIV+ in the 80s could be described as "feel good"). Though I know why it was done, I was still surprised and a little disappointed that the three white actors were credited first, over the characters of Blanca, Angel, and the dancer kid.

I have to think the somewhat mediocre performances at the dance school audition and ball challenge are both dramatic set-ups for future victories. RM's usual gorgeous visuals are still in full effect, and I will definitely stick around!

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3 hours ago, SimoneS said:

The ratings weren't good for Pose; 0.2 ratings in adults 18-49; 688,000 viewers. It won't help that Claws returns next week on the same day at the same time.

http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/daily-ratings/sunday-cable-ratings-june-3-2018/

I'm worried. The show is not eligible for this year's Emmy, right? If so, that was another bad move. Pose at least got critical acclaim. If they got a few noms in the musical/comedy category, it'd certainly help. And there are other ways they can make money with it. There is certainly an audience for it.

This show is too historical to end with only one season.

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