May 10, 2018 at 11:35 am PDT | by Susan Hornik
Can Ryan Murphy make America vogue again?

Ryan Murphy says ‘it’s not an option’ to cast cis actors in trans roles. (Photo courtesy FX)

If ever you doubted Ryan Murphy is a genius, look no further than his new FX dance musical series, “Pose.” The Los Angeles-based, veteran gay executive producer, responsible for “American Horror Story,” “Glee, “Feud,” Nip/Tuck,” and “Scream Queens,” has put together the largest cast series regulars of transgender actors ever for an American television show.

Murphy is genuinely excited for viewers to watch the series, which also features the largest recurring cast of LGBTQ actors for an American television show.

“It’s an interesting thing to take a generation, many of them whom died of HIV in the ’80s and didn’t make it, to take those sort of people whose shoulders we all stand on, and then bring a new generation, and sort of mix those worlds together,” he noted.

Describing “Pose” as “very moving,” Murphy believes now is the time to tell the story
about this group of people who sadly are “more and more disenfranchised and cut off.”

“We wanted to celebrate them. They’re a part of our family, and certainly a part of mine and my community, and I think the timing of this show was very important,” Murphy said.

Murphy was adamant about showcasing the trans community in a respectful way.

“We show these women specifically in relationships with one another. So often, when we have portraits of trans people in the media, there are these side figures who play like this moralistic kind of thing for the main character, when they are the main character, when they are butting against each other, when they are butting against the world around them, whether that’s a man who works for the Trump organization, or some woman who works in a perfume store,” Murphy said.

He added: “These things I think are important, in order to really see the fullness of trans people’s lives, and also just queer people’s lives.”

One of the central characters, played by Ryan Jamaal Swain, is a black queer boy, who is pushed out of his home, looking for community and a sense of belonging.

“I think that that’s something that anyone that would come to this show is hoping for, for themselves,” said Murphy. “And so I think that what this show provides for me is an opportunity to have these people sitting with each other. My people, my community…having problematic politics, problematic relationships, exploring race, class, gender, and sexuality in a way that is accessible, so that we can bring our audience along with us. But then also is unique enough and personal enough that the folk from our community can have something that’s entertaining and a mirror for themselves.”

Initially, Murphy wanted to do a television version of the much-loved documentary, “Paris is Burning.”

“I loved ‘Paris is Burning’….But the more we talked about it and the more we worked on it, I sort of felt that it was very difficult to take those people that were iconic and make sort of fictionalized versions of their lives,” he said.

After getting the script for “Pose,” Murphy recognized how he wanted to create the series.

“I thought that was the perfect way to do it. It was, to me, more interesting and more authentic, and that’s why we decided to sort of twist it a little bit,” he said.

Viewers will still feel the essence of the documentary; the survivors of “Paris Is Burning” are involved in the show, playing judges on the dance panel and consulting on the overall series.

“Many of the scenes and incidents in the show are based on their stories that they have told us, which was very exciting for me because they were rock stars to me when I was growing up,” said Murphy.

With Murphy you never know what to expect, but you know it’s going to make for quality programming.

“Everything that I’ve ever done, in terms of television shows, should not work on paper, but who knew that a show about a high school show choir would become what it became? That has the same energy as this, in that it’s looking at a specific group of people who become a family,” he said. “And I’ve always written about a family in a community because growing up, I always wanted that, and I didn’t really have it. So I guess again, I return to my childhood themes in some way.”

While the series begins in 1987, Murphy already has an end date.

“The show will end when Madonna releases ‘Vogue’ and this wonderful world then becomes mainstream. That is the path of the drama series,” Murphy said.

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