Ryan Murphy’s just-wrapped Pose enjoyed one of the most breathtaking first seasons of the television year so far. The FX series felt like a revelation, giving viewers an endless parade of queer, Black and brown faces of all ages. In the new guard, there were the likes of Angel Evangelista (Indya Moore), her ballroom scene mother Blanca (MJ Rodriguez), and New York newbie Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain), also a member of the Evangelista family. In the old guard, there was the fearsome Elektra Abundance (Dominique Jackson) and tragic, loving ball emcee Pray Tell (Billy Porter).
Amidst our introduction to these beautiful stories there was only one problem: When the glitz, glamour, and shade ended, the first name that viewers saw when the credits rolled was Evan Peters. Peters, a Murphyverse veteran and favorite, is the sole straight white man in the core Pose cast, and his character, Stan Bowes, is the sole straight white man with a leading role in the Pose world.
But season 1 finale “Mother Of The Year” may have finally realized Pose doesn't allow Stan to shine, especially not for the already-announced season 2.
In the 2018 closer, Stan reappears outside of the Princess Ball to convince on-again, off-again love interest Angel to give him another shot. He promises he’s leaving his wife Patty Bowes (Kate Mara) “for good.” Rather than a New Jersey life with Patty, he wants a bridge-and-tunnel suburban New York home with Angel. Forget the Garden State. “You told me you just wanted a home, and someone to take care of, and to be treated like a real woman. Let me give you all that,” he tells Angel.
This is horrific for a few reasons.
Everyone who watched penultimate episode “Pink Slip” will remember Stan abandoned Angel after his first time at a ball. He was panicked by a scene of queer people of color fearlessly living their truths in a way that in no way catered to his gaze. He hated it so much that he completely emptied out the apartment he provided for Angel, put her possessions in a garbage bag, left a paltry note, and evicted her via stationary. This cruel move leaves Angel devastated, and she initially returns to sex work before realizing she is too upset to do the job. The man who wreaked all of this emotional havoc is now promising to be Angel’s knight in shining armor.
This is even worse when you realize Stan doesn’t make these pledges of fidelity because he wants to be with Angel. First, he tries to move back home with Patty, whose is aware of his NYC philandering. Patty is open to her husband’s return if Stan agrees to let go of his Manhattan career — the only status symbol he has left — and get a job close to home. That is the demand Stan can’t abide. So, he goes back to Angel because she wouldn’t ask him to give up his fancy skyscraper-set days. In fact, the most important part of Stan's offer to Angel is that they’ll get a house close to the city, and he’ll “take the train in” for work. This entire promise of love and devotion is a scam to protect Stan’s ego.
Thankfully, Angel fully rejects Stan, his manipulations, and his fake fairy tale oaths. “What I want has changed,” she explains. “I got a family. They already take care of me. I want to do right by them. I want to look after them. They need me.”
That kind of statement would be powerful no matter what, but it is even more important considering the subtext. Earlier in “Mother Of The Year,” Blanca reveals her HIV-positive status to Angel. The only reason the house mother shares that information is to remind her daughter she needs to be strong because one day Blanca won’t be there to lead the family. “I need you to take care of this house. It’s not tomorrow, but it’s sooner than you think,” Blanca says. “You are going to be a mother to all these children and many more. And no white boy from the suburbs is going to rescue you.”
It’s a hard lesson for Angel to learn, and one that leads to a lot of tears. Yet, Angel’s subsequent speech to Stan later in “Mother” proves Blanca’s lesson is also one her daughter has accepted. She is officially ready to be the house mother Blanca will one day want her to be. No matter how much Angel might have wanted to be saved, she knows she is actually the inevitable savior of House Of Evangelista and herself.
So we should expect to see an even more responsible Angel in season 2. That might mean she’s headed to night school, a possibility Blanca floated during her heart-to-heart with her daughter. That also, maybe, just maybe, might mean “Mother Of The Year” is the last we’ll see of Stan Bowes. Pose credits that don't read “Evan Peters” first and foremost? Now that's an idea that deserves across-the-board 10s.
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