Candy Ferocity could have been any Black trans woman, and maybe that was the problem. On the award-winning FX series Pose, Candy’s position oscillated between being the laughingstock of the balls, a bullying house mother, and a witty sidekick. But unlike other house mothers, such as Blanca and Elektra, Candy’s character didn’t give audiences much insight into her life when she was just Candy Johnson, which is why her untimely murder became that much more harrowing.
Candy was the victim underneath Pray Tell’s gaze in the ballroom scene. He made fun of her once-tiny figure and her absent dance moves. She asked him, “Why do you always have to put me down?” He responded, “I don’t have to put you down when you’re always in the bottom.” All Candy wanted, in her words, was “to be seen,” and that was one of the last scenes where viewers saw her, animated and resistant, before witnessing her bloodied body in a closet within a seedy motel, her eyes open and staring off into some imperceptible spot.
The internet commentary was swift. Many members of the LGBTQ+ community were upset because the material hit too close to home. Exactly two weeks before the airing of this particular episode, Brooklyn Lindsey, 32, was found dead on the front porch of an abandoned home in Missouri City, Kansas. Like Candy, she was dark-skinned, Black, and trans. She was also found alone, and her killer has yet to be found.
Since the beginning of 2019, 15 Black trans women have been murdered. It is an epidemic that showrunner Ryan Murphy and creator Janet Mock wanted to showcase, although many chalked up the attempt to trauma porn. Morticia Godiva, a Black trans woman, said that the lack of authenticity was the most striking. One of Pose’s biggest inspirations is the iconic documentary Paris Is Burning, and if the story were to stick to the script, Venus Xtravaganza would’ve been Candy incarnate. But unlike Venus, Candy is not a blonde White woman. So why did the dark-skinned Black actress have to die? In Godiva’s words with regard to Candy’s story, “Wanting to be true to what has happened and is happening is admirable, but… delivering something that does not center trauma is a lot more validating.”