Pose: Never knew love like this before
July 11, 2019 7:10 AM - Season 2, Episode 4 - Subscribe

"In “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” Pose held up a mirror to the continued violence perpetrated against transgender women of color in our society and asked us not to look away."


- them.
"Since murder is the reality for so many trans women — particularly those involved in sex work — it’s only fair that Pose would eventually reckon with it in a major way. But just as it’s done since its first season, the show continues to use traumatic plot developments to make profound statements. Rather than ending Candy’s arc with a disturbing close-up of her battered body, Ryan Murphy and the Pose creative team — utilizing the medium of television to right some of the wrongs frequently experienced by Candy’s real-world counterparts — instead chose to give her the opportunity to say goodbye to her loved ones."

- Billboard
"In “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” Pose held up a mirror to the continued violence perpetrated against transgender women of color in our society and asked us not to look away."

- AV Club
"It’s a devastating loss for the characters of Pose, made even more devastating by the fact that it’s an epidemic that persists. Angel is distraught throughout the episode and notes right away that it’s only May and already eleven girls have been killed. Decades later, and already at least eleven Black trans women have been killed in 2019. Pose is fiercely committed to portraying the lived experiences of queer and trans people of color, and that includes the reality of violence, loss, and grief."

- Vox
"Beyond its flash and sizzle, Pose is also a poignant drama about a found family of people who’ve come together to support each other in a world that otherwise might not care. It is frequently moving, often beautiful, and sometimes corny. But it is a show where the lives of trans people of color are shown to matter. And in its latest episode, Pose killed off one of its characters, a black trans woman on the extreme edges of its story. Is her death an exploitative example of every story about black trans women becoming a story about violence at its core? Or is it a necessary depiction of the world as it is? Or is it both?"

Commentary and Interviews
- Esquire
"For thirty days a year, corporate brands voice their support for LGBTQ people. Publications push out stories about brave gay and lesbian and trans people. Straight people rally at parades with signs and rainbow headbands with fists thrust into the air. Pose's powerful fourth episode dares to ask if anyone cares once those days are up. After all, much like Pose, the story continues once the show is over. Are you still watching?"

- Out: Angelica Ross Opens Up About That Explosive Episode of Pose

I would definitely imagine in a different world for Candy in the same way I imagine that for trans women of color. I had plans for Candy to not only pull her look together, but to pull her life together with the connections at her retail job or develop her career like I did by starting at the beauty counters. So, I saw that there might've been an opportunity for Candy to live her dreams too, just like Angel was able to live hers. But when it comes to statistics, not just with HIV, but with trying to make it as a trans woman, one of us has got to go. It's sad the way that it is, but I kind of took that responsibility on willingly and said, “If this is to be what it is, I will make this the most glorious episode.”

- Shondaland: Angelica Ross Opens Up About Her Powerful 'Pose' Episode
KT: Looking at the first three episodes of this season, you could sense that Candy was evolving, which was clearly intentional, right?

AR: Exactly. And I couldn't tell anyone in the cast either that she was going to die either! So I was playing Candy in those earlier episodes with this fever pitch, as if she knew that death was around the corner. And it took a toll on me.

One day the press was on set, and Candy was dressed up as Madonna, and in between takes, I went to the bathroom and just broke down in tears. Mind you, those scenes weren't at all emotional. It was just knowing what was coming down for Candy, holding all that in and knowing I would be saying goodbye to a cast and crew I had been building a relationship with for over a year.

- NY Times interview with Ryan Murphy, Janet Mock, and Angelica Ross

ANGELICA ROSS As we were acting, I felt like everyone crying in the pews, and everyone that was just crying along, was crying because every single word felt like words you’ve heard before. And that everything Candy was saying to her parents was everything you wish you had the opportunity to say. And so I was riding this wave of shared experience. I could feel it in the room. There were so many times where I had to excuse myself because I was trying to keep myself in ready mode.

When the parents came in [to the funeral home], I almost started crying, seeing them looking around the space. Because I just thought about my parents not knowing anything about the L.G.B.T.Q. community, nothing, especially back in the early ’90s. So all of this context was flying at me on set and it was just there to use. I didn’t rehearse any of those scenes.

- Tine: "The Tears were Real." Ryan Murphy and Janet Mock on Pose's Most Emotional Episode Yet
Janet Mock: “Why Candy?” was a fight we had in the writers’ room. None of us wanted to give up any of these five trans women who are at the center of our show. So we had a difficult conversation. We had to lose someone who was beloved so that everyone could truly go through the grieving process. And Candy is our most rambunctious, aggressive fighter of a character. She’s the one who takes risks. She’s the one who storms the ballroom floor with a hammer. A lot of people’s first reaction when they see Candy in that closet is: “It’s not real. This show doesn’t do that.” But it’s like, “No, we’re going there and you have to watch and you have to deal. Because that’s what people deal with every day when they lose their trans sisters.”

- EW: Angelica Ross discusses Candy's fate on Pose: "I was devastated."
I honestly feel like the phoenix that is sort of rising out of Candy’s ashes. I am Candy. Candy is me, and so the reality is that walking out of my house today, the possibility is that my story could end the same way. My story can end in violence, too. But to see the possibility which I think that people are going to get to see because I’m already working on some amazing projects is that they’re going to see a black trans woman get her life. I feel like in the same similar ways that Candy got her life in the afterlife, you just want to think that somewhere they’re living their life.

- Twitter thread from Indya Moore (Angel)
I didn't watch episode 4 with y'all, bc it was triggering and way to close to home for triggering layers of reasons. It was the day we filmed it we found that muhlaysia Brooker was murdered. Angelica was the first trans body I ever seen in a casket. Layleen Polonco was the second. During set we cried, were angry and tried to maintaining, "professionality", stay focused on the job... but Seeing Angelica in the casket, crying was too close to home. Her tears mirrored our black trans ancestors before they were murdered.The spiritual, emotional & psychological LABOR Angelica held for this scene, I hope is noticed. This scene was so close to home for all of us, the monthly string of trans murders already had me emotionally distraught and broke into my work.
posted by ChuraChura (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Candy's death was pretty well foreshadowed/spoiled beforehand so I was ... as prepared as I could be. I cried through the whole episode. It was heavyhanded, but I appreciate that the funeral home/ballroom scenes tried to take care of the audience and help us process this and that Janet Mock and Murphy apparently never even considered showing any of the actual violence. Reading Angelica and Indya's reactions, watching the episode, I was thinking I hope they took care of the actresses through shooting this, too.

Have been seeing that Candy's storyline is based on Venus Xtravanganza, like Elektra's man in the suitcase is based on Dorian Corey and Angel this season possibly on Octavia St. Laurent.

I liked Blanca supporting Candy in the opening ballroom scene, because season one was hard with Blanca's desire for the community to be kind to each other next to the obviously meant to be satisfying tear downs of Candy and Lulu. And it was beautiful that her moment with Candy was just...solemn humming together, holding hands, like a motherly comfort for Candy as much as it was for her.
posted by gaybobbie at 11:49 AM on July 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is the second time we've seen Blanca face down some extremely harsh trans-bashing on the show with dignity and grace. (First time was at her own mother's funeral, and now from Candy's parents.)

I do appreciate that they don't shy away from showing this, but it's painful to watch. And I can't imagine that it's easy for these actors to hear the same words they've likely had used against them in real life while calmly acting through each scene. Praying they at least have some mental health professionals available to deal with hearing what must be some very triggering shit during the course of their workdays.

This is an important show, and yeah, it's hella corny sometimes. You put in all the entertaining reasons to watch (great soundtrack, eye-catching costumes, beautiful actors), then you sneak in the hard-hitting issues and hope to God America keeps tuning in. Get people to connect with and relate to these characters.

As many times as Ryan Murphy's gone off the rails with his shows, this one seems slightly more reined in and consistent. It's been spottier this season than the first one, but the writing team is literally just re-telling stories that have already happened IRL.

That said, I'm really sorry to see Candy/Angelica go. I hope I get to see her again in future roles! It made sense and was somewhat foreshadowed; I just hate to see any trans woman have a good, high-profile role like that snatched away so soon.

Poor Lulu has to care for a whole house now as a single mother. I honestly get so stressed worrying about all these young people having enough money for rent and food, it feels too real!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 4:44 PM on July 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

I hope I get to see her again in future roles!

Angelica Ross has been cast in American Horror Story: 1984.

I love this show so much. It's beautifully told, and provides so much necessary visibility and representation for trans actors of color. This episode was hard to watch. I appreciate that the violence was not sensationalized but was very present, and I am stunned to learn the funeral home scenes were not rehearsed.
posted by donnagirl at 6:01 PM on July 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

I've never cried so hard through any movie or tv program as I did with this episode. It really caught me off guard. It tore my heart apart. I love that I'm alive at a time when I can experience such a show, and I'm grateful to have watched it with you all!
posted by el gran combo at 12:05 AM on September 30, 2019

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