What is Pose without Blanca Evangelista? The FX show, which explores ’80s and ’90s ball culture, is known for its groundbreaking portrayal of LGBTQ2 communities in decades past. But it’s Blanca — portrayed by Mj Rodriguez — who steals the show. As the founder of the House of Evangelista, she guides viewers through the underground ballroom scene at the height of the AIDS epidemic with grace, tact and dependability.
The show’s second season concludes this Tuesday, so we’re looking at all the ways Blanca’s been a kickass house mother — and how she’s secured herself a spot as the best character on television right now.
Blanca is the biggest supporter of her house children, as well as her friends Pray Tell (Billy Porter), Lulu (Hailie Sahar), Elektra (Dominique Jackson) and Candy (Angelica Ross) almost to a fault. She doesn’t let Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain) wallow in the fact that he didn’t get a spot on Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour, or Angel (Indya Moore) beat herself up after a bad experience during a photoshoot. Instead, she encourages them to keep their chins up and plan their next move.
She’s relentlessly optimistic
— Janet Mock (@janetmock) August 14, 2019
Even in the face of enormous oppression during the AIDS epidemic, Blanca is always looking forward and figuring out how she and her family can succeed. She pushes Pray Tell to get on HIV treatment drugs after experiencing a boost in her own health. And, despite this season’s main foil, snobby real estate mogul Frederica (Patti LuPone) stopping at nothing to evict Blanca from her nail salon, Blanca pulls herself up again. The penultimate episode saw her despondent after — spoiler alert! — it is implied that Frederica burned the salon down. It takes a girls trip and a handsome lifeguard to put the sparkle back in her eye, but there’s no doubt Blanca will be back to her usual buoyant self in this week’s finale.
Her motivations are always clear
Blanca rarely falters. If one of her kids gets in trouble, you know she’ll be there ripping them a new one or, more likely, ripping the person who wronged them. Her dogged support of her own family sometimes blinds her to when they are legitimately in the wrong — like when Angel uses drugs. But her kids eventually come around to the fact that mother is always right and always has their best interests at heart.
She builds people up
Blanca has clearly learned from Elektra not to parent with an iron fist and sharp tongue. When Angel lands a modelling gig for a Wet n Wild cosmetics campaign, Blanca marches her house into Duane Reade to be the first to see Angel’s face front-and-centre in the makeup aisle. And when Damon misses the deadline to apply to dance school, Blanca accosts the instructor and persuades her to let him try out, resulting in his admission to the program. Blanca is always her children’s biggest cheerleader!
She’s ride or die
If you need her, Blanca 👏will 👏show 👏up. During a session with Elektra at the sex dungeon, a man overdoses and dies; Elektra calls Blanca, and while she thinks they should call the police, they entrust Candy and another trans sex worker, Ms Orlando (Cecilia Gentili) with sewing up the body and storing it in Elektra’s closet so that she won’t be charged with murder. (This scenario is based on a true story.) Blanca knows that the justice system doesn’t favour trans sex workers of colour. She is dependable AF, regardless of the repercussions.
She’s the beating heart of Pose
So says co-creator Steven Canals, so it has to be true! In every scene, Mj Rodriguez dares viewers not to feel. Whereas some of the other characters on Pose appear to be larger than life, Blanca is down to earth. As a result, she’s a relatable character that provides viewers with a way into a subculture that many might not be familiar with.
She owns her weaknesses
Blanca has really been through it. Her insecurities bubble up in her fight with Pray Tell about his poz status and how hard it is to date as a straight trans woman with the disease. Blanca also realizes that the high standards she has for her friends and family, and her attempts to help them reach the goals she lays out for them, have perhaps driven them away. She’s strong — she has to be, given everything she’s gone through in her life — but she’s beginning to understand that she hasn’t done a great job at showing her vulnerability to those closest to her.
She doubts herself
Blanca has the utmost faith in those around her, but she uses that to mask her own self-doubt. We saw that in last week’s girl’s trip to the beach, when she expressed trepidation about baring her body in a bikini and getting clocked.
She’s mother of the year
In perhaps the best episode of the first season, Blanca was crowned mother of the year at one of the show’s famed balls. Though they’re currently not on speaking terms, at the time Pray Tell said it best when he called her caring, loyal, affirming and inspiring. Though Blanca is now an empty-nester, it is for all of the aforementioned reasons that she more than deserves the distinction of mother of the year for a second time.