×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Pose’: Ryan Murphy and Janet Mock Break Down ‘Milestone’ Death

SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading if you have not seen “Pose” Season 2, Episode 4, entitled “Never Knew Love Like This Before.” 

The second season of “Pose” sees the story jump forward in time to 1990, putting the AIDS epidemic even more at the center of the ballroom culture drama. However, in Episode 4 of the FX show’s sophomore season (“Never Knew Love Like This Before”), which features the shocking murder of Candy (Angelica Ross) and her subsequent wake, executive producer Ryan Murphy and co-executive producer Janet Mock sought to “shine a scalding light” on a different epidemic that still plagues the trans community today.

“We’re dealing with AIDS, but there’s another epidemic happening then as it is now, which is violence against trans women and the murdering of trans women,” Murphy tells Variety.

Candy’s involvement in the episode begins with her interrupting a meeting of the ball emcees and demanding that they include a lip-sync category at future balls. Pray Tell (Billy Porter) turns her away, and later on he and Blanca (MJ Rodriguez) discover Candy’s body hidden in the closet of a shabby hotel room.

The rest of the episode plays out at Candy’s wake, with a series of fantastical sequences in which she appears before each of the main characters, as well as her parents, for some final words of regret and hope.

“We wanted to explore the idea of having that opportunity — that if you have one last moment with someone, what would you say to them, would you let them know how you felt? Particularly for somebody who felt marginalized in that community, if you could do it all again, what would you say to them to let them know that they were important to you and to the world,” Murphy explains.

Murphy reveals that Candy’s death had been a long time in the works, as he and the other creatives behind “Pose” had talked about it since the beginning of the show. But they decided to wait for the audience to get to know the characters before dropping such a bombshell.

“We wanted the impact to feel like a milestone as opposed to some plot device,” Murphy says.

Writing and shooting this episode felt particularly raw, Mock says, given that many of the LGBTQ cast members find themselves in the same position as their characters: seeing their friends and loved ones fall around them and attending a seemingly never-ending stream of wakes.

“We always had the community right there when we wrote; we knew it was a memorial for them. And for me, it was a memorial to myself,” Mock says.

Mock shares that one of the reasons she first wanted to go public with her own story of transitioning was because of Gwen Araujo’s murder. Araujo was an 18-year-old trans woman who was killed by three men who had slept with her, a death that “constantly haunts” Mock, she says, “in the same way that ‘Paris is Burning’ with Venus Extravaganza dying at the end of that film with no explanation about what happened to her, how her family felt, what happened to her body” lingers.

“There was no memorial, nothing, and so for us, it was our way of paying proper tribute to what it means to lose somebody and the importance of a life,” Mock says of “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” which deliberately spent the entire episode showing the “nuts and bolts” of what happens when someone close to you is torn away.

“The moment at which they go out to search for her when she’s lost, the moment at which you gather together to realize you need to talk about her being dead, the moment at which you have to claim her body, the moment when you notify her parents and pray and hope that they show up, the moment at which you have to sit and grieve on your own and then the fantasy of her coming back to say her last words — we wanted to capture all of it,” Mock says.

The episode also offered a bit of closure for Candy’s parents, who do show up to her wake despite having kicked her out of their house and their lives. Her mother in particular gets a moment of fantasy to say goodbye to her daughter — a scene the producers say resonated with Ross, who was also rejected by her parents when she came out as trans at age 17.

“For us, the aspirational part of this episode is that there is a great sense of healing that comes from Candy being able to confront her parents and be able to reintroduce herself to her parents,” Mock says. “All of these characters on this show have dealt with that rejection from their first family in their lives and have to go out and create a new sense of family. But no matter what, there’s still that aching pain for so many LGBTQ people, despite having a chosen family, of wanting that acceptance and that love and that recognition from the people who birthed you.”

In directing “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” which he describes as the “most important episode of TV” he has ever helmed, Murphy says he wanted to give the actors space to decide what their characters’ reactions would be to this terrible loss. This allowed for Indya Moore, who plays Angel, to make an emotionally-driven decision to approach Candy’s open coffin and take her hand.

“When we were filming that scene everyone was crying — you can’t help but to cry, it’s such a cathartic moment. We all want to be seen and loved for who we really are,” Mock says. “We hope that with the grim situation and circumstance of losing Candy, at least she can leave us with the sense of hope that maybe, just maybe, we’ll one day all be loved and seen for who we are.”

“Pose” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Viacom Channels Grab 'Seinfeld' Cable Rerun

    Viacom Channels Grab 'Seinfeld' Cable Rerun Rights

    Viacom has sealed a deal with Sony Pictures Television for the cable rights to “Seinfeld” starting in October 2021. The deal comes on the heels of a blockbuster new deal between Sony and Netflix for the streaming rights to the beloved NBC sitcom that also begins in 2021. “Seinfeld” reruns have been a staple of [...]

  • Soho House

    Soho House Lands In Downtown Los Angeles

    Warner Music, Spotify and Lyft are poised to welcome a new neighbor to downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District with Soho Warehouse, the third California outpost of the Hollywood-loved members-only club — and the largest North American opening to date. Hot on the heels of the Soho House Hong Kong debut earlier this summer, the private [...]

  • Elite Season 2

    San Sebastian: Spain’s SVOD Players Debate Competition, Brand, Talent

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Executives from HBO, Netflix, Amazon and Movistar+ and “Elite” co-creator Darío Madrona took to the stage to field questions on the Global Impact of Spanish Series. Here, briefly, are five takeaways: 1.Spain First “La Casa de Papel” was watched by 34,355,956 Netflix accounts over its first seven days,  after a July 19 [...]

  • Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers

    Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers From Skipping Fox Ad Breaks

    Fox is hoping to knit together the seconds-long divide between a TV program and the commercials that support it. During ad breaks for a few football broadcasts, tomorrow’s run of the Emmys and Wednesday’s season premiere of “The Masked Singer,” the network will kick off ad sessions with special show promos that display artistic renderings [...]

  • Patria

    HBO Europe Unveils ‘Patria’ Footage to Captive San Sebastian Audience

    SAN SEBASTIAN — Amid large expectation, HBO Europe has revealed first footage giving a first sense of tone and pace of its Spanish original series “Patria.” A packed-to-overflowing press conference on Saturday morning at the San Sebastian Festival can be read as one sign of the potential popularity of the eight-part series. The panel sneak-peek [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • Peter Weber and Mike Johnson

    'The Bachelor's' Mike Johnson on Diversity and New Leading Man Peter Weber

    ABC named its newest star of “The Bachelor” this week, officially making Peter Weber the leading man for Season 24 of the long-running dating show. Social media backlash ensued following the announcement due to ABC’s selection lacking diversity, yet again. Since the dating franchise began in 2002, there has been only one “Bachelorette” of color [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content