"There is plenty of pain amidst the joy and glamour: Addiction, injustice, death," says Kristen Baldwin. "While the specter of AIDS hangs over the whole season, Pose leaves a significant milestone in the history of the virus until the 90-minute finale. It's a lot of ground to cover, and some of the dialogue trends toward overwrought speechifying ('They give us life, and then charge us the price of survivor's guilt!'). But this was a time when ACT UP literally had to throw the ashes of their loved ones on the White House lawn to get the government to pay more attention to the AIDS crisis, so perhaps a little melodrama is called for. As he loses his peers to AIDS, Pray Tell begins to wonder what mark he will leave on the world — just as Pose's creators no doubt had the show's legacy in mind as it chose to honor queer activists in its final episode."
Pose ratches its tendency toward aspirational wish fulfillment to 11 in its final season, to mostly numbing effect: "The third season gives most everyone the kind of accoutrements Evan Peters' white-collar office drone would've killed for: posh apartments, skyscraper offices and the kind of luxuriously relaxed brunch sessions that even the characters admit — in a flash-forward to 1998 — earn comparisons to Sex and the City's foursome," says Inkoo Kang. "One couple gets married in the most sumptuous onscreen wedding since Crazy Rich Asians. It's hard to begrudge these opulent happy endings to a marginalized group whose real-life counterparts met such tragically violent and premature deaths, but there's also something nigglingly inorganic (if not boringly bougie) about their five-star happily-ever-afters. Pose has long wanted to serve as a kind of antidote to the devastating coda of Paris Is Burning, but surely there could be something more interesting waiting at the end of the rainbow than a handsome, blandly pleasant doctor. Nice people being rewarded by nice things — that’s the dramatically inert ethos that guides Pose's valedictory season."
Even when Pose is at its darkest, its light is always brighter: "As Pose understands all too well, life is hard enough for people who look like its characters," says Kayla Cobb. "The hatred people of color, specifically people of color who are also part of the LGBTQ+ community, face on a daily basis is suffocating. Why add to that pain, when you can instead offer a message of love? Why not create a new fairy tale?"
Why it was important to bring the ballroom scenes back for the final season: When the pandemic first hit, co-creator Steven Canals feared the ballroom scenes would have to be cut from Season 3 because they required 125 to 150 background actors. But Canals says, they figured a way to film those scenes. "We should’ve filmed a behind-the-scenes documentary because it was challenging,” says Canals. “There were a lot of creative camera angles and we actually had to do some visual effects work as well." Cast member Indya Moore adds: “It was really laboursome to navigate. It was challenging sometimes, but we got through it and we created really beautiful scenes. People were very cooperative and very supportive to the process.”
Janet Mock pitched a final season wedding as a love letter to Pose: On most shows, weddings are a cliché, a ratings grab, a move a season makes when it has run through more elegant ones. But Mock knew that a Pose wedding could mean something more. “It was my love letter to Pose,” Mock said, “and to the women who watch this show, who are craving that sort of deep, deep partnership with someone who fully shows up for them and celebrates them and loves them in public.”