Ask Matt: Did ‘Pose’ End on Too Much of a High?

Pose Finale FX MJ Rodriguez
Eric Liebowitz/FX

Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic — also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist” — Matt Roush, who’ll try to address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today’s vast TV landscape. (We know background music is too loud, but there’s always closed-captioning.)

One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone, so we won’t be addressing upcoming storylines here unless it’s already common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] (or use the form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush). Look for Ask Matt columns on many Tuesdays and Fridays.

Balancing Pain and Joy in Pose’s Final Season

Question: As someone who once asked you why high-profile dramas considered misery to be an arbiter of truth, I’m somewhat surprised to find myself asking this question: Is there a sense in which Pose is going out on too high a note? As you pointed out, “there are times when it’s happy to just be an escapist wish-fulfillment fairy tale,” but that’s always been the aspect I’ve found least satisfying. What made this series unique was its warts-and-hugs-and-sequins-and-all depiction of trans and gay life in the ’80s, so in a way, isn’t it a betrayal of both the characters and their real-life equivalents to grant them the sort of oppressively smiley-faced endings we got in Downton Abbey‘s final season? — Ryan

Matt Roush: This is a provocative question — which, I should point out, was posed (so to speak) before the series finale aired on Sunday — and it made me reflect on Pose’s first-season finale when I was primed for something awful to happen to Blanca or one of her “children” after her triumphant win as Mother of the Year. I’ve watched so many season finales that add a final cliffhanger-style jolt that I was even more surprised, and thrilled, when Pose just let them exult in the moment. Pose has done a masterful job of balancing pain and tragedy — including the murder of one of their group — with joy and triumph within their tight circle of outcasts and underdogs. The show never ignored the prejudice they face — including Elektra being abandoned by her sugar daddy for daring to go forward with her sex-reassignment surgery. If the fairy-tale-like wedding of Angel and Papi in the show’s next-to-last episode was over the top, that was Pose’s style, and it’s not like they didn’t go through hell to get there. The series finale had moments of great tragedy (spoiler alert: a major character succumbed to AIDS) and righteous rage (ACT UP protests to get equitable distribution of meds, how timely), but also exuberant flourishes of community and hope for the future. If Pose erred on the side of happiness over gloom, I’m OK with that.

Who Was That Crabby Lady?

Question: I loved all three seasons of The Kominsky Method on Netflix. But who played Paul Reiser’s mom in Season 3 and what else has she been in? — Mary Ann from Chicago

Matt Roush: I love this question, because I did a double-take as well while watching the episodes that introduced this battle-ax character. It was the brittle voice that convinced me I was watching the otherwise unrecognizable Christine Ebersole, Tony-winning Broadway and cabaret star who appears as Bob’s mom Dottie in Bob Hearts Abishola. Kudos to Chuck Lorre for his loyalty to his stable of character actors. Not only did he insert this wonderful actress into his most personal show, but in the series finale of Mom, he introduced a dysfunctional mother-daughter duo played by veterans from two of his past hits: Melanie Lynskey (from Two and a Half Men) and Rondi Reed (from Mike & Molly).

It Had Better Be Worth the Wait

Question: Why do we have to wait another year for Season 2 of Blood & Treasure? It’s been two years since Season 1 aired! Why can’t CBS air Season 2 this summer since it already finished filming last year before the pandemic hit? Why does CBS care so very little about this show to delay it so much longer? — Chris B

Matt Roush: Maybe they’re saving it for something better. With very few exceptions, the broadcast networks are steering clear of original scripted programming this summer, no doubt figuring that even escapist fare like Blood & Treasure will do better for them as a midseason replacement than being thrown away during a period when viewership levels for expensive scripted shows are so low. (And the Olympics will be a further disruption in late July and early August.) But it’s true this has been a longer-than-usual pause between seasons.

Sherlock, Where Are You?

Question: I recently moved to streaming and added a subscription for Paramount+. One of the plusses was that now I’d be able to watch reruns of Elementary, which had disappeared from cable, so you can imagine my disappointment when Elementary was nowhere to be found on Paramount+. What gives? — Jangle

Matt Roush: Curiously, all seven seasons of Elementary are currently available on Hulu. Licensing deals can be confusing, but ViacomCBS is probably making more from Elementary by leasing the episodes to a streaming rival than by harboring it on their own platform. It’s possible that when Hulu’s Elementary contract lapses, the show could move to Paramount+. What this really demonstrates, though, is there’s no one-stop-shopping for everything you want to stream, even if common sense would seem to indicate that shows associated with NBC are on Peacock, CBS shows on Paramount+, ABC on Hulu, and so forth.

Is Closure for Canceled Series a Pipe Dream?

Question: I get so tired of devoting viewing time to a series only to have it canceled with loose ends hanging. For example, I loved Timeless and was happy that it was revived for a second season, only to be denied a third season. However, NBC took the viewers into consideration and wrapped up the loose ends with a TV movie. Now I find myself in the same boat with Debris. I loved the show and thought it would be the next The X-Files, only to find out it too has been canceled. I still have episodes on my DVR and wonder if I should even bother watching them, knowing the series won’t be coming back.

Why don’t the networks plan their decisions with enough advance notice so series can wrap up before its final episode airs? Cancelling a program and leaving the viewer hanging makes me think twice about getting wrapped up in a program. You just never know its future until it is too late. Now I’m wondering about the fate of Manifest. Will that show survive the ax or will it get cut with no resolution to its plotlines? Why can’t the networks give us fans a series finale that ties everything up with a nice bow, even if it means a TV movie like they did with Timeless. Or is that too much to ask? — Rob Bob

Matt Roush: In most cases, it really is too much to ask to have a show with no future return to production for any reason after it’s canceled. We’re talking lots of money with little return. It’s one of the uglier truths about the business of show business. My wish is that the producers of shows that aren’t guaranteed another season would film alternate endings to their season finales or have some backup plan so the cliffhanger conundrum isn’t quite so maddening to viewers. With Debris, it might not have helped because NBC was continuing to weigh its decision when the finale aired, and the unfortunate cancellation came a few days later. That really disappointed me as well. (Although I also usually advise fans of a show to keep watching to the end. Yes, it’s frustrating not to get to see more, but the individual episodes of Debris were well worth watching, especially the two-parter in which the fabric of everyone’s reality was being threatened by all of the time jumps. Excellent sci-fi.)

With Manifest (which I only wish I found as intriguing as Debris), I’m expecting NBC to eventually give the show a fourth season, but would advise the creative team to maybe rethink their six-year plan if it’s going to be such a close call from season to season. After this long ride, it would only be fair for the network and producers to get on the same page to provide at least a bit of resolution for this convoluted thriller.

And Finally …

Question: I’m wondering what happened to Collector’s Call on MeTV? We really enjoyed it and find it to be one of the better ones in this genre. Lisa Whelchel is such a great host as well. Hoping it is coming back sooner rather than later. — Kimmy

Matt Roush: Like many shows during the time of Covid, filming was paused until it’s safe for TV crews to go back into people’s homes to peruse their collectibles. The plan is to resume production once restrictions lift, which could be sooner than later if current trends continue. But no timetable for the show’s return yet.

That’s all for now. We can’t do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush), and you can also submit questions via the handy form below. (Please include a first name with your question.)