Pose was one of Murphy's last remaining shows he created before he stunned the industry and moved his longtime overall deal from Disney-backed 20th Television to Netflix. In the time since, Pose exec producer and director Janet Mock followed Murphy to Netflix with a groundbreaking overall deal of her own. Co-creator Steven Canals, meanwhile, has remained at Disney and signed his own pact with 20th Television and is already prepping another LGBTQ-themed series for FX.
"'Write the TV show you want to watch!'That's what I was told in 2014 while completing my MFA in screenwriting," Canals said in a statement Friday. "At the time we weren’t seeing very many Black and Latinx characters — that happened to also be LGBTQ+ — populating screens. And so I wrote the first draft of a pilot the 'younger me' deserved. Pose was conceived as a love letter to the underground N.Y. ballroom community, to my beloved New York, to my queer and trans family, to myself. I, along with my incredible collaborators, never intended on changing the TV landscape. I simply wanted to tell an honest story about family, resilience and love. How fortunate am I to have done that for three seasons. I’m filled with gratitude to our intrepid writers, cast, crew, and producers who worked tirelessly to make Pose come to life, humbled by our loyal audience, thankful to the ballroom community who trusted us to tell their story, overwhelmed by the critics who warmly embraced us, and forever indebted to Ryan Murphy, FX, and 20th Television for changing my life."
Pose scored an early season three renewal in June 2019, ahead of its sophomore return. The series — which also counts Brad Falchuk, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Alexis Martin Woodall and Sherry Marsh among its exec producers — had just wrapped filming the season three premiere when the pandemic forced productions across the globe to shut down. The final season will jump from 1991 to 1994, when ballroom feels like a distant memory for Blanca (series star Mj Rodriguez) who struggles to balance being a mother with being a present partner to her new love, and her latest role as a nurse's aide.
Meanwhile, as AIDS becomes the leading cause of death for Americans ages 25-44, Pray Tell (Emmy winner Billy Porter) contends with unexpected health burdens. Elsewhere, the emergence of a vicious new upstart house forces the House of Evangelista members to contend with their legacy.
The decision to end the series arrives after Canals previously told The Hollywood Reporter that when he pitched Pose, he envisioned the series running five seasons. "With that said, could it be a four-season? Could it be a six-season? Sure," he told THR in August 2019. "It could be more or less. What's really important for all of us — and maybe more specifically for Ryan, Brad and I — is that we felt we told the story that we intended to tell. Once we've hit that point, we'll know that it's time to end it."
While three seasons may seem like a shorter run than anyone would have expected, Pose has left an indelible mark on the TV landscape. The drama made TV history by featuring a record number of trans characters portrayed by trans actors with a cast that includes Porter — who became the first openly gay man to win the lead actor Emmy and Mock ranking as the first trans woman of color hired as a writer on a TV series, as well as the first transgender woman of color to write and direct a TV episode. Pose also boasts the largest recurring cast of LGBTQ actors ever for a scripted series. Rodriguez, Porter, Michaela Jaé, Dominique Jackson, Indya Moore and Hailie Sahar star Dyllón Burnside, Angel Bismark Curiel, Sandra Bernhard and Jason A. Rodriguez.
"Words cannot truly express my gratitude and appreciation for those who have given FX and the world the gift that is Pose,” said FX chairman John Landgraf. "Ryan Murphy, Steven Canals, our incomparable cast and their collaborators created a masterpiece and, in doing so, have left an indelible legacy that will open doors, new doors, for the trans community. Pose is proof that Ryan's, Dana’s and our commitment to giving more opportunities to underrepresented writers, directors, producers, actors and craftspeople was not done to signal our virtue — but because our world is literally filled with untapped geniuses looking for nothing more than a chance to prove their extraordinary talent, beauty and value in the marketplace of stories. Pose has always been a family drama — one about acceptance and inclusion, pain and joy, struggle and perseverance and, most of all, love. The third and final season is a fitting and beautiful ending to this story."
With the conclusion of Pose, FX's roster of scripted originals includes the Murphy-produced anthologies American Horror Story and American Crime Story; Donald Glover's Atlanta, Pamela Adlon's Better Things as well as Breeders, Dave, Mayans, Mr INbetween, Snowfall, What We Do in the Shadows and the upcoming Reservation Dogs, Shogun, Platform and Pistol, among others. Many of FX's originals have moved to debut first on its streaming hub, FX on Hulu, including Y: The Last Man, Jeff Bridges entry The Old Man and Murphy's episodic anthology American Horror Stories.
"Pose represents a great source of pride for all of us inside Disney Television Studios," said Walt Disney TV chairman of entertainment Dana Walden. "This show demonstrates the power of our industry to shine a light on the underrepresented and point to our common humanity —and to do it with glitter, gusto and sheer fabulousness! A special thanks to Ryan for introducing us to voices like Steven Canals and Janet Mock, and then for clearing the way for them to do their best work. And while we are sad to bid the show farewell at the end of this season, audiences are in for a beautiful and emotional final ride."
As for Murphy, the prolific showrunner's roster of scripted originals for Disney's 20th TV includes Netflix's Ratched and The Politician as well as Fox's 911 and spinoff, 911: Lone Star, and the FX/FX on Hulu entries American Crime Story, American Horror Story and spinoff American Horror Stories. Murphy's Netflix roster includes mini A Chorus Line, Halston and Monster, among others. Mock exec produces the latter, marking a reunion with Murphy following their collaboration on Pose.
"Pose has been one of the creative highlights of my entire career. From the very beginning when Steven Canals and I sat down to hear his vision and ideas for the show, it has been a passion project. To go from the beginning of my career in the late '90s when it was nearly impossible to get an LGBTQ character on television to Pose — which will go down in history for having the largest LGBTQ cast of all time — is a truly full circle moment for me," Murphy said. "Pose’s story may end in 1996, but its impact will go on forever."
Added Mock: "My life has been forever changed because of Pose, a drama series that centered around trans and queer people, people living with HIV/AIDS, and Black and Latinx people — without trepidation or apology. It's left an indelible mark on our culture, modeling that a TV show can be successful and entertaining while also casting authentically, hiring LGBTQ talent in front of and behind the camera, and moving people living on the margins to centerstage. Though I am heartbroken to say goodbye to our beloved characters, I know the work my fellow writers and producers, our crew, and trailblazing cast did on Pose will live forever as a glittering, heart-filled, bright beacon of love, acceptance, family and community. I am grateful to FX for being our home, 20th Television for the support, to Ryan Murphy for your bold vision, to our audience for your love and loyalty, and to the ballroom community for trusting us."
This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.