I’m Selina, Awards Circuit’s queer Girl Friday for everything LGBTQIA+ on TV! Pride Month has kicked off to a roaring start with the premiere of “Pose,” a new series from Ryan Murphy about the ball culture of 1980s NYC. But not everything came up roses this week, as young LGBTQIA+ fans were dealt a low blow with news of “Shadowhunters'” surprise cancellation after just three seasons on the air. Was it a smackdown of LGBTQIA+ centric storytelling, or are money troubles to blame? Last but certainly not least was the midnight release of the “Sense8’s” finale episode, which could very well be the Wachowskis’ crowning achievement. Buckle up folx, June is already a crazy ride.
Though I posted a recap of “Pose’s” premiere earlier in the week, I had to take some time and gather my thoughts about the series so far. “Pose’s” premiere was good, but ultimately more of a pilot meant to clinch a greenlight than earn an Emmy. “Pose is “Paris is Burning” meets “FAME” meets Cinderella, and each reference is fairly easy to spot. There’s the fierce dragmother of House Abundance, who doubles as the evil stepmother to Cinderella (or in this case, Blanca); then there’s Damon, the kid seeking fame and fortune with his dancing shoes on at all times; and then there’s the fairytale princess (Angel) who falls for her knight in shining armor (or in this case, a Trump exec named Stan from the ‘burbs).
I did enjoy the ball scenes in the episode, which copied some of the iconic drag categories from “Paris in Burning” like executive realness and military chic, but I was more pleased by the museum heist (“How to Steal a Million,” anyone?), which explained House Abundance’s looks in previously released trailers. The royalty realness wardrobe was a too Hollywood for a drag queen in the ’80s, no matter her budget, and if House Abundance had magically pulled the looks from a thrift store rack, it would’ve taken me out of the story. Where do the hell you get an ermine muff, if not from an actual queen’s wardrobe?
Going forward, “Pose” needs to define itself as its own story, rather than an amalgamation of silver-screen classics. With seven more episodes in this season to go, I’m confident we’ll get there.
On a sadder note, fans of Freeform’s “Shadowhunters” were shocked Monday morning when news broke of its untimely cancellation. Just like fellow queertopia “Sense8,” the show’s axing came down to money issues, clearing up fan concerns that “Shadowhunters” was cancelled for its LGBTQIA+ inclusive storylines. Freeform EVP Karey Burke revealed at a media luncheon in NYC that the cancellation is “purely economic,” due in part to strategy shifts at Freeform, who will be ordering their content in smaller batches. That announcement tanked Netflix’s output deal with co-production partner Constantin Film, leaving “Shadowhunters” (which was produced by the pair) out in the cold. “We went back and forth with them but ultimately we just couldn’t make it work,” Burke said, though she acknowledged that she and others at Freeform were “very happy creatively with [Shadowhunters].”
“Shadowhunters,” based on the novels by Cassandra Clare, followed the angel-blooded Clary Fray on her mission to protect humanity from demons. “Shadowhunters” has been a queer bastion for its young following, showcasing asexual cutie Raphael, lesbian badass Aline, and power couple Magnus and Alec as fully developed characters who weren’t defined by their sexuality. For LGBTQIA+ fans, who often gravitate towards fantasy stories as a form of escapism, “Shadowhunters'” cancellation is a heavy loss. But, at the very least, Freeform is giving the series its proper end. With the second half of Season 3 already shot and the first half aired this spring, the studio decided to order a two-hour finale for the series, leaving fans with a satisfying end based on the show’s bookish origins. The finale will air sometime in spring of 2019, though there’s no word yet on an exact date.
I can only hope that “Shadowhunters” will take a nod from Netflix’s “Sense8,” which released its own two hour finale early Friday morning. Having just finished watching it myself, I’ll try my best not to spoil it for y’all, but let me say this: this finale is a celebration, not a funeral. Yes, every plot hole was plugged and every conflict resolved, but each scene is an exclamation, a statement on living rather than an entry in a long to-do list. At its heart is a sense of love as a shared, joyful thing, reaching beyond the bounds of monogamy in ways heterosexual stories never touch upon. “Sense8” has been praised for its portrayal of polyamory in the past, but this finale was a decided statement on love in 2018 and love as it’s always been in the LGBTQIA+ community: a shared, ever-changing relationship defined only by the people within it.
Amor vincit omnia, folx: love conquers all things. The finale, more like a cinematic offering than a made-for-tv movie, is filled with an indescribable expression of love and queerness, blended together in a way only the Wachowskis could achieve. If the directing pair are to be remembered for only one of their projects, “Sense8,” not the “Matrix” series, is their legacy. Please, watch the finale: you will be far from disappointed.