ONE OF MY favorite quotes is from the novelist Taiye Selasi—or, more specifically, Selasi’s editor. Selasi was nervous before the release of her debut novel, Ghana Must Go. How would it be received? What if it wasn’t perfect? She called her editor, and the advice was simple: “Perfection is the Lord’s.”
This came to mind as I watched the final season of Pose, a scripted FX drama focused on the New York City ballroom culture, in which groups of LGBTQ+ people influenced by the fashion industry compete in dance, runway, and posing competitions. Pose isn’t just about trans and queer people as they try to survive the AIDS epidemic; it stars trans actors. It’s moving not just because of its subject matter but also because it’s unafraid to make what many scholars consider a grave mistake in art: crossing the line into sentimentality.
Let dialogue be cheesy. Let characters’ instincts to battle it out on the dance floor after every tragedy be as ridiculous as most musical numbers in Glee. Let feelings be unrefined. These seem to be Pose’s creeds, and I often eyerolled at the show’s adherence to them. And yet I kept watching. It was—there’s no other word for it—love.