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"A ball is a gathering for people who are not allowed to gather anywhere else."

Pose is a series created by Ryan Murphy that aired on FX.

The year is 1987. Ronald Reagan is still President, Donald Trump is one of the most influential men in New York City, and the AIDS crisis is in full swing. In the midst of this dark and troubled time, ball culture offers an outlet for NYC's marginalized gay community, allowing them to forget their troubles for a little while. And ruling over the ballroom scene is the House of Abundance, led by Elektra.

However, when one of Elektra's followers, Blanca, learns that she has HIV, she decides to leave Abundance to start her own house. She is soon followed by Angel, who was cast out of Abundance, and Damon, a young gay newcomer who aspires to be a dancer. Together, they plan to challenge the House of Abundance and take its place as the leader of the ballroom community.

Season 2 fast forwards to 1990. Madonna brings the song "Vogue", which becomes the hottest song worldwide, giving the gay community a spot in the mainstream. However, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has gotten worse, especially in NYC, and violence against trans women of color is even more dangerous. Blanca struggles with her worsening HIV symptoms, becomes a nail salon owner, and gets into a feud with Frederica Norman, a vicious homophobic and racist tycoon. She also tries to give her children (Angel, Lil Papi, and Damon) the steps on being more independent and taking charge of their own lives.

The series's third season takes place in the first half of the 1990s, in which the characters are experiencing new opportunities as well as starting to see the first signs of the AIDS epidemic slowing down. Pray Tell's HIV has developed into full-blown AIDS, however, and he starts to make the most of what time he has left. The third season was the final season that aired throughout May-June 2021.

This show provides examples of:

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  • Adopted to the House: Most of the members of the House of Evangelista were homeless before Blanca took them in.
  • Ambiguously Christian: In "Mother of the Year", Angel boasts that she's been lighting candles all week to summon orishas to help the House of Evangelista win the Princess Ball, which suggests that she might have been raised in the Santería faith, which is a syncretic religion blending Catholicism and Yoruba and indigenous American belief systems.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • In a early episode Pray Tell is chanting "Old way, the only way" when the houses are walking in vogue performance. "Old way" was a term introduced at least two years after the episodes's timeline; New way performers were introduced to the scene in the late 80s, but the category was still called "Pop, Spin and Dip" until the early 90s when it was split to "Old way" and "New way".
    • During the chase scene involving the elf, an unusually modern taxi in 2010s NYC getup can be briefly seen in the left.
    • In the season 2 finale, during Blanca's comeback lipsync to the Whitney Houston version of "The Star-Spangled Banner," Damon heralds her entry by waving a Philly Pride Flag with black and brown stripes above the rainbow. The ballroom scene takes place in 1991, 26 years before the flag was introduced.
    • Electra names her house "Wintour" and says "Wintour is coming". This pun are anachronistic for 1990: though Anna Wintour became editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine in 1988, Game of Thrones had not yet popularised the phrase "Winter is coming". In fact, the first book in the series upon which Game of Thrones is based wouldn't even be published till 1996.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: In "The Fever", Candy goes hunting for enhancements so that she can win the body categories. She ends up getting some very dodgy silicone injections from a very questionable doctor.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Angel may be gorgeous and a good dancer, but it turns out that she can't act, as she gives a hilariously bad performance of the finale from Romeo and Juliet for one of the challenges.
  • Bad Boss: Elektra jealously monitors her followers' movements, mocks and belittles any of them who show an independent streak, and steals any good ideas that they have and presents them as her own. This comes back to bite her in the ass in "Pink Slip"; when her money dries up, her children all abandon her.
  • Big Brother Instinct: In "Acting Up", Papi beats the shit out of the photographer who took advantage of Angel.
  • Book Ends: The first episode featured a Whitney Houston song ("I Wanna Dance with Somebody") at the end of the episode, as does the final episode and final scene, using "My Love is Your Love".
  • Boomerang Bigot: It's not uncommon for trans women in the show to read each other by judging each other's ability (or lack thereof) to pass and insult each other using transphobic remarks. Lulu and Candy are particularly cruel towards Blanca in this regard after founding the House of Ferocity.
  • Break the Haughty: Elektra gets it hard in "Pink Slip." Her sugar daddy was actually dead serious that he'd dump her if she went through with her sex change, and her attempt to get back together with him is cut off when his new paramour arrives. The entire House has finally had enough when they find she spent their upcoming rent money on the operation and all quit, some to start their own houses. She tries to get back on her feet by advertising for another rich lover, who drops her the second he finds out about the sex change. At the episode's end she's reduced to working at the same peep show as Angel.
  • Butch Lesbian: One of the members of the House of Mugler is a butch lesbian.
  • Camp Gay:
    • Pray Tell, the emcee of the balls, is very, very camp. This seems to be common for the profession, as his fellow emcees Castle, Manhattan, and Jack are also extremely campy.
    • Damon is a more downplayed example. He isn't nearly as flamboyant as Pray Tell but he has a passion for dancing and the arts that ostracized him from his conservative parents before they even knew he was gay.
  • Cast Full of Gay: And trans. Of the (many) major characters on the show only Stan, Patty and Matt are cisgender and heterosexual.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: All the people who work in Trump Tower. Stan's boss Matt Bromley has this to say:
    "For the first time in American history, it's considered a good thing to flaunt your success, right? Let people know how rich you are."
  • Costume Porn: This being a series about the ballroom culture, pretty clothes naturally play a large role. The pilot alone has a sequence of the House of Abundance displaying themselves in gorgeous royal finery.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • "Giving And Receiving" gives some insight into Pray Tell's private life as he goes to visit his boyfriend in the hospital. It also shows Helena dealing with her grief after one of her favorite students dies.
    • "The Fever" gives some focus to Candy, one of Elektra's lesser subjects, as she goes in search of an edge so that she can win a body category.
    • "Love Is The Message" is nearly entirely devoted to Pray Tell as he comes to grips with Costas' death.
    • "Pink Slip" follows Papi after Blanca kicks him out of the House of Evangelista for dealing drugs.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Besides the racism and homophobia that one would expect in a series set during the AIDS crisis, the trans women all refer to themselves as transsexuals, as this was still considered the "correct" term back then. Word of God added that there are some trans men, but were kept as just faces in the crowd as no one wanted to use the even more uncomfortable terms they were called at the time.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Ferocity might have won the Princess Ball by sheer numbers if Candy and Lulu hadn't resorted to insulting Blanca to try and get her to walk out on the competition. Not only does their behavior disgust Blanca's former siblings from Abundance and cause them to defect, it also brings down the wrath of Elektra, who decides to formally join the Evangelistas. After that, the Evangelistas easily gather the trophies.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Blanca thinks so, and kicks Papi out of the house for dealing.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • In "Mother's Day", Blanca reluctantly goes to attend her mother's funeral and later dedicates a ball performance to her mother's memory.
    • In "Love Is The Message", Pray Tell's lover Costas dies, and Pray decides to spread his ashes along Fifth Avenue so that Costas can window shop there for all eternity.
    • In "Never Knew Love Like This Before", Candy is murdered and everyone in the community comes together for her funeral. Even her estranged parents show up.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first season had an entire lengthy plot revolving around cisgender male Stan, his wife Patty, and asshole boss Matt, which was almost completely removed from the show's regular plot and themes other than connecting with Angel. The second and third seasons do away with these characters once it was made clear that the audience didn't need a White Male Lead to keep them watching.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The series does end on one downbeat note with Pray Tell succumbing to AIDS, but otherwise the main characters achieve their happy endings through perseverance and hard work. Blanca becomes a nurse, a house grandmother, and is still madly in love with her boyfriend Chris. Elektra becomes involved with mafia business in managing adult businesses, becomes rich and respected but still donates heavily to HIV/AIDS causes and to help trans girls. Angel and Lil Papi get married in a lavish wedding and are raising Papi's son together. Ricky helps Blanca manage House Evangelista and has a new lease on life after Pray Tell's sacrifice. Lulu puts herself through school and becomes an accountant. Nurse Judy transitions to helping newborn babies after dealing with so much death in the AIDS ward. Off-screen, Damon recovers from his alcoholism and is living in Chicago with a new love. And while Pray Tell has died, he was at peace with his decision to give Ricky a chance at life and mended fences with his family and those close to him. Moreover, while the fight for equal access to life-saving medications continues to this day, the LGBT community starts to come out from under the HIV/AIDS crisis as more and more people survive and live out full lives due to the new advances in treating the disease.
  • Easy Sex Change: Averted; Elektra's GRS drains even her considerable finances and she has to spend several days recuperating in the hospital, and she concedes to Blanca that she is in more pain than she ever imagined.
  • Elite Man–Courtesan Romance:
    • Downplayed - Stan is a promising up-and-comer in the Trump Organization and Angel is a sex worker, yet they find themselves drawn to each other and troubled by their different social positions.
    • Also Elektra and her sugar daddy.
  • Empty Shell: Stan sees himself like this - believing in nothing, standing for nothing. He says part of why he's drawn to Angel is because of how unflinchingly real she is. After Patty finds out and asks him point-blank what he wants from the situation, he breaks down in tears and admits he has no idea.
  • End of an Age: Of a sort, and it was hinted at in season 2 but solidified in season 3 in regards to ballroom culture's mainstream popularity. Ballroom started to retreat back underground after Madonna's smash "Vogue" single started to wane, and at the start of season three, the judges have to start giving out cash prizes to keep the competitors coming back week after week. Ballroom culture would remain underground until the success of reality show RuPaul's Drag Race would bring drag/drag culture back into the mainstream in the The New '10s coupled with the rising acceptance of LGBTQ persons.
  • Family of Choice: Truth in Television for the "ballroom houses" of New York's LGBT community in the 80's.
  • Forced from Their Home: Damon is kicked out after his homophobic parents find that he's gay and he ends up homeless on the streets of New York. Fortunately, he's soon taken in by the Evangelistas and Blanca becomes his Parental Substitute.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes:
    • At the start of season 2, Elektra has started to fall back into her old habits, freeloading off of House Evangelista and refusing to participate in family activities, and the other Evangelistas are open about the fact that they only put up with her because she theoretically helps pay the rent. Her reputation is also souring in the larger ballroom community; as the community struggles with grief over the seemingly endless AIDS crisis, they are increasingly aware that Elektra doesn't attend any of the funerals or the protests, and only interacts with her peers at the balls, which she only still attends in order to collect trophies.
    • In "Worth It", none of the other Evangelistas are all that broken up about Cubby and Lamar running back to Elektra.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: In "Pink Slip", Lulu and Candy quit the House of Abundance and set up their own House, Ferocity. While they assure each other that they won't fall into the same traps that Elektra did, they very quickly become just as mean and egotistical as Elektra, treating their siblings-turned-children like slaves.

  • Gay Cruising: The piers is where this happens between men. The piers also are where the trans women "work" for men cruising for them specifically.
  • Gayngst: Along with Trans Tribulations. As could only be natural, most of the characters have been tossed out of their families for being gay or trans, had to drop out of school, and live in poverty or even on the street. Many trans women of color are forced to resort to sex work, as no employer will hire them out of bigotry.
  • The Ghost: Donald Trump is never seen onscreen, for obvious reasons.
  • Graceful Loser:
    • In "The Fever", Elektra, in a rare moment of humility, takes rival Aphrodite out for a bite to eat after the latter defeats her in one of the contests.
    • In "Worth It", Blanca offers genuine congratulations to Lulu when she snags the trophy for fairytale-related costumes.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: When Stan made a well-received independent suggestion in a meeting, Matt's reaction was to try and sleep with Stan's wife and reveal his infidelity.
  • Hate Sink: Matt Bromley is a greedy, rude, misogynistic, casually racist kingpin boss who spends most of his screentime either scheming to undermine Stan out of pure jealousy or sexually harassing every woman he comes into contact with. He's essentially a personification of everything undesirable and loathsome about The '80s.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: After Ricky tells Pray Tell that he's developing KS lesions and his HIV is starting to turn into AIDS, Pray Tell starts giving Ricky his meds, which ultimately leads to Pray Tell's death. Unbeknownst to Ricky, he had no idea that Pray Tell was giving him his medication, and thought Pray Tell may have gotten him into the clinical trial or had extra meds.
  • Hufflepuff House: There are several other Houses besides Abundance and Evangelista, but they don't really get much focus, aside from Elektra losing one category to an upstart from House of Extravaganza. "Mother's Day" introduces another House, Mugler, who are notable for having a butch lesbian in their ranks.
  • Innocently Insensitive: In the pilot, Angel at one point talks about how creepy she finds AIDS patients, not realizing that Blanca, who is standing right there, is HIV-positive.
  • In-Series Nickname: Pray Tell's name is actually isn't too far from his real name, "Prayerful".
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Costas' dying wish is that Pray Tell mourn him for one day only, and then go back to being himself. Pray reluctantly agrees, even though it breaks his heart.
  • Karma Houdini: Despite getting caught with priceless stolen clothes from a museum, the House of Abundance manages to avoid serious consequences because the museum doesn't want people to find out how easily they got robbed, for fear of losing out on future loan collections.
  • Kick the Dog: In "The Fever", Elektra forces Candy to compete in body categories, knowing that she has no chance of winning them, just to humiliate her.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: In the second episode, Blanca chooses to skip the Dynasty-themed ball, as Elektra nearly always wins it and the judges are merciless. This decision also has the side benefit of infuriating Elektra, who hates winning easily.
  • Last Episode, New Character: The series finale introduces Safaree, a young, scared trans girl with HIV and no place to go. Naturally, Blanca finds her and directs her to the ballroom, where she is quickly adopted by the House of Evangelista.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Ricky manages to win a trophy in a body category just by walking without a shirt.
  • Ms. Red Ink: Inverted; Stan is blowing through his family's finances making big purchases in order to impress his extravagant boss, while his wife is appalled by how much money they're spending.
  • No Antagonist: The show doesn't really have a central antagonist with most of the drama and conflict resulting from the realities of being black and gay and/or trans in Reagan-era America, though Elektra, Candy, Lulu and especially Matt all play antagonistic roles towards the main characters at various points in the series.
  • No Bisexuals: Surprisingly averted, despite A) taking place in the 1980s and 1990s and B) the creator being who he is. Lil Papi is explicitly bisexual, though he has a preference for women.
  • No "Police" Option: In the episode "Butterfly/Cocoon", one of Elektra's clients suffers an overdose when she leaves him unattended, and her first instinct is to call the cops. Her friends all point out that as a black trans woman, Elektra would almost certainly be made a scapegoat for the client's death if she went to the police, and thus they work together to dispose of the body before the cops find out.
  • Nothing but Hits: The show gives the hits of the mid-to-late '80s a serious workout, particularly during the balls, though occasionally Pray Tell will mix it up and play the disco songs of his era.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • In "Love Is The Message", everyone can tell that Pray Tell is going through some shit when they invite him to dinner and he spends the night drinking and growing increasingly garrulous.
    • In "Butterfly/Cocoon", Elektra comes to Blanca completely distraught and begging her for help - because at her job she'd been so secretive about she accidentally killed one of her clients by negligence.
  • Peking Duck Christmas: The Evangelistas spend their Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant after Blanca and Angel burn the turkey.
  • Platonic Co-Parenting: This applies to Blanca (a trans woman) and Pray Tell (a gay man) with regards to their Family of Choice. Blanca is the mother of the House of Evangelista and though Pray Tell is not an official member, he acts as a father figure to Blanca's children.
  • Platonic Prostitution: Initially Stan and Angel have this arrangement, where he pays her just to talk with him. However, she eventually becomes his mistress.
  • Precautionary Corpse Disposal: Taking place amid the AIDS crisis, patients who succumb to the disease get buried in a plain box in a remote section of Hart Island, by undertakers wearing hazmat suits, because at the time, it was still believed that the virus could become airborne.
  • Punny Name: Pray Tell, the emcee, who also happens to be a bit of a gossip.
    • Elektra's sugar daddy, who refuses to pay for her GRS because of his fetish for trans women with penises, is quite literally named Dick.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Stan, Patty, and Matt, arguably, the least interesting characters on the show, do not appear in season 2.
    • After the third-season premiere, Damon leaves New York forever in order to deal with an alcohol problem.

  • Really Gets Around:
    • Ricky has a reputation as a "hit 'em and quit 'em" type. Blanca reluctantly agrees to take him in so that he'll be encouraged to stay with Damon rather than seeking sex elsewhere. Damon finally dumps him when he finds out that Ricky had unprotected sex with one of the other dancers while he was on tour.
    • In "Love Is The Message", Blanca is pursued by an attractive dude named Darius who seems to be genuinely interested in her. Unfortunately, she later learns from Candy and Lulu that he's a chaser who's been working his way through every trans woman in New York City.
  • Recruited from the Gutter: Damon is homeless and living in the park when Blanca recruits him to join the house because of his dancing skills.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • In the pilot, facing an upcoming ball competition with a "Royalty" theme, Elektra orders her followers to sneak into a museum and rob its collection of royal clothing. The House of Abundance easily wins that ball, even though it gets them all arrested.
    • In the closing scenes of the pilot, Blanca bullshits her way into getting Damon an audition for the New School of Dance even though he failed to send in the paperwork on time.
    • Elektra pays for her GRS by convincing Lulu and Candy to rob a charity collector with her, claiming the money will be spent on luxuries for the whole house, only for her to pocket the money and take it to the clinic to deposit it.
    • In "Mother's Day", we see a flashback to how Blanca first entered the ball scene, by walking in a ball without the benefit of a House or Mother to back her up. Elektra adopted her that very night because she figured that anyone gutsy enough to walk on her own would be an asset.
  • Rich Bitch:
    • Elektra barely has to change her weave to give Dynasty realness, though she does have to operate on an allowance. Even so, the bitch never runs out. The third episode reveals that she does have one considerable limitation; her benefactor won't pay for her gender-reassignment surgery.
      • Subverted hard in "Pink Slip" - Dick dumps Elektra, banishes her from her penthouse, and cuts off her allowance, and Abundance collapses practically overnight, as it turns out that she raided the House's budget to pay for GRS and thus hasn't paid rent on their apartment in months.
    • "Worth It" introduces Ms. Norman, a racist, homophobic real-estate mogul who owns the building where Blanca's new nail salon is set up.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: In season 2, Elektra recruits Blanca and the others to help her hide a body in a trunk after one of her clients accidentally dies. This is based on the real life story of the drag performer Dorian Corey, who had a man's body hidden in a garment bag in her closet, which was only found after her death.
  • Sad Clown: Beneath Pray Tell's sassy, camp exterior is an incredibly lonely man who has watched helplessly as many of his friends and lovers have died from the AIDS crisis. In "The Fever", he learns that he has HIV, and in "Love Is The Message", his lover Costas dies.
  • Sleazy Photoshoot: In "Acting Up", Angel manages to convince a photographer to take photos of her for a portfolio in exchange for what she thinks will be a few tasteful erotic shots. Things quickly go south for her, as the photographer bullies her into completely disrobing and touching herself on camera. When Blanca and Lil Papi find out, they break into the photographer's studio, beat the crap out of him, and steal the roll of film.
  • Theme Naming:
    • The House of Abundance is the first House we're introduced to in the show, and portrays quite accurately what ballroom culture is all about: Momentarily (or perpetually, if you're Elektra) escaping your real living conditions shaped by discrimination and poverty by putting up a glamorous, luxurious facade, and pretending like you own everything.
    • The House of Evangelista is named after the model Linda Evangelista, one of the biggest top models of the 1990s. Blanca makes a note of how Linda "stole her look".
    • The House of Wintour is named after Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, because the house plans to mainly focus on vogueing during the balls.
  • The Starscream: Elektra's lieutenant Lulu hates her, a fact which Blanca tries to exploit in order to recruit her to Evangelista. It doesn't work; as much as Lulu hates Elektra, she likes winning. In "Mother's Day", Lulu and Candy attempt to take advantage of Elektra's GRS to issue a challenge to the House of Mugler, hoping that a win without Elektra would demonstrate that they could lead Abundance without Elektra. When Elektra's money runs out, Lulu and Candy don't hesitate to quit the House of Abundance and form their own House, Ferocity.
  • The Talk:
    • In the second episode, Blanca tries to give Damon a rudimentary talk about gay sex out of fear that he's becoming sexually active. Damon mentions his father tried to give him The Talk as well but naturally it was only about heterosexual sex, something Damon had no use for.
    • In "The Fever", Pray Tell takes the boys out to be tested for HIV after Damon fears that he might have been exposed.
    • After finding out Ricky and Damon haven't been taking protection all too seriously, Blanca makes a point of demonstrating how to put on a condom using a cucumber, greatly embarrassing her children. The scene takes a serious turn when Blanca finally reveals to her family that she has AIDS and tells the story of how she became infected herself by having casual unprotected sex with strangers, as a warning to her children to take the epidemic seriously.
  • Team Dad: While he is officially supposed to remain neutral towards the Houses, Pray Tell spends a lot of time with the Evangelistas, and serves as a surrogate father figure to the Evangelista boys.
  • Team Mom: By definition, the Mother of a House is supposed to be this. Elektra is more of an Evil Matriarch to her children, but supportive Blanca fits to a T. Fittingly, she wins Mother of the Year in the season 1 finale.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: In "Butterfly/Cocoon", Elektra reluctantly enlists the aid of Candy and Ms. Orlando to help her out of a jam, even though Candy hates her and Ms. Orlando hates Candy.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Elektra gives Blanca one of these when she finds out Blanca wants to start her own house, calling her a "beast" and deriding her ability to pass compared to Elektra's "realness".
    • In "The Fever", after getting her ass kicked in a bunch of categories in which Elektra forced her to compete, Candy calls her out for treating her children like subjects.
    • In "Mother of the Year", Elektra calls out Candy and Lulu for being both cruel and stupid as House Mothers.
    • In "Acting Up", Pray Tell calls out Elektra in front of the entire ballroom for refusing to participate in the die-in at St. Patrick's Cathedral, noting that she seems to have no interest in the community outside of winning trophies.
  • Those Two Guys: Cubby and Lemar just kinda migrate between houses, starting out as loyal flunkies in Abundance, then becoming reluctant vassals in Ferocity before finally being adopted by the Evangelistas. And then finding themselves back under Elektra's wing, this time parts of the newly established House of Wintour. "Them some unloyal mother-" can be heard in the crowd as they switch sides once again.
  • Tough Love: Elektra is incredibly hard on the children of her house(s), talking down on them, casually insulting them, putting them under immense pressure and demanding incredible things from them, to the point where it's questionable if she actually cares about anyone other than herself. Blanca gets especially rough treatment for daring to stand up to her, and becoming her rival. She also pays Blancas bail after she gets arrested, reads Candy and Lulu to filth after they came for Blanca, and joins forces with Evangelista to help Blanca, her own daughter, win Mother of the Year in the season 1 finale.
    • Blanca, to a lesser extent, is very stern with Damon because she fears that if she isn't, he won't achieve his dreams.
  • Trans Equals Gay:
    • Harshly subverted in the second episode, where Blanca repeatedly tries and fails to get a drink at a gay bar, only to be turned away because she's trans.
    • Comes up in the relationship between Stan and Angel. Angel outright asks him if he's gay and he says he's not and he sees her as a woman. Later when Stan's wife finds out she also asks him if he's "a homosexual".
  • Transgender Fetishization: Deconstructed with Elektra and Angel's storylines. The reality of being treated as "a porno book come to life" or even the fear of it weighs heavily on Angel's mind and impacts her relationship with Stan, while Elektra's lover Dick's insistence on her remaining "a girl with extra" rather than allowing her to transition on her own terms is what makes her break away from him.
    • In "Acting Up", Angel's nightmare of being fetishized comes true when a photographer blackmails her into stripping naked and touching herself on camera.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Ricky, Damon's suitor, is a bit on the rough side, but still sweet to Damon and respects his boundaries despite a "hit it and quit it" reputation.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Subverted; most of the cast are people of color who also happen to be gay or trans or both.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Blanca and Elektra. Despite Elektra mistreating Blanca as her daughter, undermining her house with a house of her own, they both deeply care for one another. Blanca especially, as Elektra was her mother for many years when she was alone in New York.
    • Lulu and Candy. They bicker and fight almost as much as Blanca and Elektra, but when Candy doesn't come home one night, Lulu is absolutely devastated. Their scene together at Candy's funeral is especially touching, with Candy recalling all the good times they had together as sisters despite all the difficulties they went through.
    • Really, the entire ballroom scene has this dynamic. "Reading" (meaning, cleverly insulting someone) is considered somewhat of a sport, they're often catty towards each other and mean and scheming but usually when tragedy strikes, they're there for each other. Mostly because within the community, that's all the support they can expect to get.
  • Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child: Blanca was kicked out of her mother's home after she came out as trans. In the pilot, Damon is kicked out of his parents' home after admitting that he's gay.
  • With Friends Like These...: The House of Abundance. While they continuously put up amazing performances at the balls, Elektras cruel and arrogant rule over the house makes for a rather hostile living environment that Blanca decides to rebel against in the pilot episode - only for her to be kicked out without hesitation. Lulu makes a point of having no loyalty to Elektra whatsoever, and that she only sticks around because she helps her win trophies.
  • World of Ham: Invoked in that the show is about the 1980s ballroom scene, a subculture specifically designed to be as flamboyant, camp and dramatic as possible. This is juxtaposed with the personal lives of its various participants as well as the mainstream white, straight culture Stan is a part of.
  • Yes-Man: Subverted with Lulu - in episode 1, one of her only lines is acting like a sycophant towards Elektra, saying Elektra deserves an apartment the size of a museum. Episode 2 reveals this is fully an act - Lulu hates Elektra and sticks by her only for the glory that being in the House of Abundance brings. In "Mother's Day", she and Candy force the other members of Abundance to issue a challenge to the House of Mugler, in an attempt to prove that they could lead Abundance without Elektra.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: In "Pink Slip", Helena of all people gives Blanca a pep talk after she doubts her parenting skills in the wake of Papi being expelled.