Created by Ryan Murphy and produced by Janet Mock and Our Lady J, Pose is not only the most recent hit show to come out of FX, but also a cultural phenomenon that is bringing LGBTQ stories to the forefront of scripted drama television.
With only two seasons, Pose has already made us laugh and cry more times than we can count. Despite the fact that it is set in the 1980s, this series features numerous stories that are ever-present in the LGBTQ community to this day, particularly when it comes to violence against trans women. Read below to find out which are the 10 most heartbreaking moments on Pose.
NOTE: This article contains spoilers for Pose season 2 as well as referencing subjects of a sensitive nature that may be upsetting to some readers.
10 THE LOSS OF ELEKTRA’S CLIENT
After undergoing gender confirmation surgery and being kicked to the streets by her longtime ‘sugar daddy,’ Elektra was forced to find another source of income that could sustain her financially as a transgender woman with an extravagant lifestyle.
On the second episode of Pose season 2, “Worth It,” we see Elektra taking on a new career. As always, she seems very confident in her skills and establishing boundaries with demanding clients. However, on the following episode (“Butterfly/Cocoon”), Elektra steps out of her room for a minute and leaves one of her clients alone after having consumed illegal substances. To her shock, she comes back to find that he has died.
The death of Elektra’s client – as well as the aftermath that involves a very complex ‘clean-up job’ by Elektra and her fellow trans sisters – is certainly one of the most heartbreaking moments on Pose, as we watch the always confident Elektra actually find herself in deep trouble.
9 BLANCA’S NAIL SALON GETTING BOARDED UP
A recurring storyline throughout the second season of Pose is Blanca renting a retail space for her very own nail salon. Her landlord, Frederica Norman, is played by Broadway legend Patti LuPone, and their professional relationship is quite a complicated one.
All in all, fans had faith that Frederica would eventually forfeit her prejudice and appreciate Blanca for her work ethic and trustworthiness. However, Frederica stays in her ways and ends up boarding up Blanca’s nail salon anyway, essentially ignoring the verbal agreement between them for Blanca to rent the space.
Frederica’s actions against Blanca prompt the ball community to come together and protest against the real estate tycoon. In any case, this remains one of the most heartbreaking storylines in the show, as Blanca had been so excited to start her own business and have a better life.
8 LIL PAPI IS EVICTED FROM THE HOUSE OF EVANGELISTA FOR DEALING
The lovable Lil’ Papi may not have been a main character on the first season of Pose, but the growth of his character on season 2 just reinforces how difficult it was to watch Blanca evict him from the House of Evangelista for dealing. It all went down on “Pink Slip,” the seventh episode of Pose season 1.
Of course, Blanca was simply acting on the rules that she established with her family from the start. However, as seen on the later episodes of season 2, Blanca definitely seems to have certain blind spots when it comes to some of her children. Unfortunately for Lil’ Papi, it took a bit longer for Blanca to trust him again.
7 DAMON BEING THROWN OUT OF HIS PARENTS’ HOUSE
When the pilot episode first aired, we may not have been as familiar with Damon as we are now. However, it was still incredibly tough to watch a sweet, well-meaning kid be thrown away from his parents’ house due to the fact that he was gay.
The first-ever Pose episode explored a storyline that is all too familiar for many in the LGBTQ community – the disapproval of your own parents, and the very real chance of getting kicked out of your home for being who you are. In any case, the story of Damon being abandoned by his biological parents and then adopted by Blanca, who was then an up-and-coming mother in the ballroom scene, definitely set up the overall theme of Pose: you get to choose your own family.
6 ANGEL BEING ABANDONED BY STAN
Because this is a Ryan Murphy TV show, after all, fans were very excited to see Evan Peters on Pose, given that Murphy and Peters have had such a great run throughout the many seasons of American Horror Story.
Evan Peters’ character, Stan, was quite a complicated character, but an important one. After all, he encapsulated the figure of a straight, married man who struggled with a different side of his desires. While it is certainly for the best that Stan and Angel did not work out, it was undoubtedly painful to watch Angel fall for a man who was unable to accept who he really was.
On season 1 episode 7, “Pink Slip,” Stan abandoned Angel after being too overwhelmed by the ballroom scene, ultimately revealing that his self-hatred and prejudices were stronger than his feelings for her. Then, on the following episode, Stan tried to get Angel back, but it was already too late. This time, it was Angel who rejected him.
5 THE HOUSE OF EVANGELISTA FIGHT DURING DAMON’S CELEBRATORY LUNCH
The House of Evangelista may have had its issues here and there. All in all, however, Blanca kept the family together as a pretty tight group of individuals who were always able to look past their differences and come together during times of difficulty. With that said, it felt painfully hard to watch the House of Evangelista collapse on itself during what was otherwise a celebratory lunch following Damon’s graduation.
During the eighth episode of Pose season 2, “Revelations,” the House of Evangelista decided to wash all of its dirty laundry at once. It all started with Damon and Angel bickering about their career prospects, which led Damon to reveal that he had found Angel and Lil’ Papi doing illegal substances. Then, as Blanca believed Angel’s denial, Damon went off on his mother, which prompted Pray Tell to come to her defense.
It just so happens, however, that Damon knew about Pray Tell’s involvement with Ricky (Damon’s ex-boyfriend), causing yet another argument to start. Ultimately, watching these beloved characters hurt each other – and seeing Blanca kicking Pray Tell out of her house – was very painful to watch.
4 ELEKTRA FACES THE STREETS AFTER GENDER CONFIRMATION SURGERY
It was no secret that Elektra wanted to save up money to undergo gender confirmation surgery, but her ‘sugar daddy’ Dick Ford (Elektra’s primary source of income) was not so enthused about that prospect. Pose fans had hope that Elektra’s post-op experience would be a positive one, but things turned out differently for Elektra, at least for a period of time.
After undergoing gender confirmation surgery, Elektra was thrown in the streets by Dick Ford, and was subsequently rejected by other men who seemed to want from her something that she no longer had. All of this happened during “Pink Slip,” the seventh episode of season 1. Without a doubt, it was tough to watch Elektra have such a negative post-op experience, as this was supposed to be her moment to become who she had always seen herself as.
3 COSTAS’ LAST STAND
Despite only having a short run on Pose, Costas definitely played a significant role in defining who the character of Pray Tell is. Which is why, when Costas died in the “Love Is the Message” episode (season 1 episode 6), it was quite tough to watch the always strong and confident Pray Tell actually lose a loved one.
The gut-wrenching death of Costas on Pose left such a strong mark on the series that this character even came back – in ghost form, somewhat – for a cameo on season 2, supporting Pray Tell during his time at the hospital.
2 ANGEL IS EXPLOITED TO TAKE SENSITIVE PHOTOGRAPHS
Most of Angel’s season 2 storyline revolves around her aspirations to become a model. Because it is so hard for models to start their careers – particularly a trans model in the 1990s –, it came as no surprise that Angel was forced to make certain concessions in order to have her photographs taken for her portfolio. However, that didn’t make it any easier for Pose fans to watch Angel be exploited to take sensitive photographs by an photographer during “Acting Up,” the very first episode of that season.
It was also not easy to watch the consequences that followed Angel’s photoshoot, prompting Lil’ Papi to become violent and avenge his loved one.
1 THE END OF CANDY
Candy was one of the most consistently funny characters on Pose, constantly trying to prove herself to the ballroom scene and impress the ever-shady Pray Tell. However, it was exactly this incessant determination that made Candy so endearing, making her one of the most beloved characters on Pose.
There is no doubt that Candy’s last stand on season 2 episode 4 (“Never Knew Love Like This Before”) was one of the most heartbreaking moments on Pose. Truthfully, this was one of the saddest but most relevant stories that any scripted drama series explored in 2019 on television. After all, violence against trans women (particularly women of color) is still a very real problem in the United States and around the world, making this a very topical and important story for Pose to tell.
What’s more, Candy’s funeral featured one tough scene after another, as the ghost of Candy went around the room to settle matters with Pray Tell, Blanca, and even with her parents.