“Pose”: Sad, Involving, Exuberant

A few quick thoughts about the pilot episode of “Pose,” the new F/X series from Ryan Murphy about the trans ball scene in NYC in the 1980s. (It premieres Sunday on F/X.) First, the quibbles: the program doesn’t have the gritty feel of the city during that decade. I’m not sure this is the fault of the creators. With all its new glass-and-steel, New York may no longer be “capturable” in that era: too much has been erased. Murphy and his editors have trouble filming dance scenes. To do so well is extremely challenging: focus too much on the body parts and the big picture is lost.

Keep the camera at a remove and the audience may be kept at a remove, too. The assets of “Pose” far outweigh its debits. Murphy and his producers — Steven Canals, Brad Falchuk — have done a tremendous job at casting: Indya Moore, Angel Bismark Curiel, Ryan Jamaal Swain, and Billy Porter are at once snappy and heartbreaking. Watching their marginalized dreams blossom is affirming. The pilot episode, which premieres June 3, doesn’t try to recreate Jennie Livingston’s influential documentary on the subject, “Paris Is Burning.” The music pops and percolates, and, for those of us who lived through the era, is a bittersweet reminder of what we experienced. I sometimes feel as if Murphy is working his way through my youth and young adulthood, sometimes literally: briefly, I was a character in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” “Versace” was a downer and a disappointment. The character of Andrew Cunanan was not compelling enough to make me interested in his trajectory or, worse, those of his victims. And there was a dearth of glam. Well, glam of a much more alive sort is present in “Rise.” Kudos to Murphy and his many talented collaborators for bringing these stories to a large audience.

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