A household name in the LGBT and ally community, fast becoming an iconic, multi-groundbreaking director, screenwriter, and producer, Ryan Murphy has created what could arguably be many a first in television that defies or stretches a limited personae of what TV is in the context of entertainment and information.
Murphy’s debut network series “Popular” first aired in 1999. Though the well-portrayed dramedy about two teenage high school girls from different backgrounds and social status unwantedly become stepsisters had a decent following, it was short-lived at only two seasons.
Then in the first decade of 2000, Murphy brought to the small screen two hit series: “Nip/Tuck” a medical drama following two doctors who share a plastic surgery practice, and “Glee” a high school-based musical comedy-drama. Both gripped the attention and excitement of audiences and critics alike for a combined 221 episodes. Each show garnered numerous award nominations and several wins.
Murphy’s most significant following, however, is “American Horror Story” an anthology series that premiered in 2011. As cult classics go, the sometimes creepy, sometimes frightening, sometimes campy, and immodestly politically driven series should reach generations.
[Personal note: My particular favorites were Season 1 “Murder House” and Season 6 “Roanoke”. I’m not a believer of the supernatural, particularly ghosts, nor am I a believer that cannibalism and inbreeding are prudent practices for natural selection — both seasons just raised the hairs on my arms, hands, legs, and head.]
His next project, “The New Normal” failed to stay afloat amid mixed reviews, and possibly because of Salt Lake City’s NBC affiliate, owned by the LDS Church, chose not to air the series. A trickle-down effect then closed production on Murphy’s comedy horror series “Scream Queens”. Mixed reviews (“too tasteless and too silly”) and low viewership muted the queens.
However, 2018 looks renewed for Murphy. His Fox drama series “9-1-1” premiered Jan. 3, pulling in nearly seven million viewers.
Come this June Murphy will make television history with his latest FX drama, “Pose” — having assembled the largest cast of transgender actors ever in regular roles for a scripted series. This new musical project “looks at the juxtaposition of several segments of life and society in New York: the rise of the luxury Trump-era universe, the downtown social and literary scene and the ball culture world [of the 1980s].”
The series stars Tony winner Billy Porter, and stage vet MJ Rodriguez, and the cast includes Evan Peters, Kate Mara, Charlayne Woodard, and James Van Der Beek, as well as transgender actors Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Hailie Sahar, and Angelica Ross.
“Now is the time to tell this story, about this group of people who, sadly are more and more disenfranchised and cut off,” Murphy told Deadline.com. “We want to celebrate them…The timing of this show is very important.”
“The show is about the search for being authentic … about creating opportunities, too,” Murphy told Vox.com. To that end, he and the other producers spent “months and months and months” casting the show.
“This is one of the best casts I’ve ever worked with,” Murphy continued. “Many of them, when we were shooting, had never been in front of a camera. That was more exciting to me, to be blunt — to make stars and create opportunities.”
“This is an amazing experience for all of us, to actually be seen as actors that can portray [these characters] and work professionally,” added cast member Dominique Jackson.
“Pose” co-producer and writer, Janet Mock added, “There is that history-making piece of the show, which makes it so exciting and creates a really great headline. But I think at the end of the day, Ryan has assembled a cast of collaborators and actors and artists and intellectuals who have come together to create this cultural product that can stand with any other … I never had access to seeing myself in such a full way, in a way that is raw and problematic and gossipy and cackling, but then also deeply heartfelt and saddening and heartbreaking.”