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‘Pose’ starting its final season with head held high

From left: Dyllón Burnside as Ricky, Hailie Sahar as Lulu, Mj Rodriguez as Blanca, Indya Moore as Angel, and Angel Bismark Curiel as Lil Papi in "Pose."
From left: Dyllón Burnside as Ricky, Hailie Sahar as Lulu, Mj Rodriguez as Blanca, Indya Moore as Angel, and Angel Bismark Curiel as Lil Papi in "Pose."Michael Parmelee/FX

And the category is: Wisdom.

On Sunday at 10 p.m., FX is bringing back “Pose” for a third and final season. For some fans, that seems like a short run, particularly for a show that has been groundbreaking, stunningly original, and reasonably popular. About the subculture of the New York ballroom scene of the 1980-90s, “Pose” has also served as an awards notable for FX, having gotten a bunch of Emmy nominations for the first two seasons that included a win for Billy Porter for his simultaneously over-the-top and intensely dramatic turn as Pray Tell.

But to me, the show’s three-and-out approach is respectful to both the story and the show’s audience. In promoting the final, seven-episode season, series co-creator and showrunner Steven Canals explained to the press the reason for ending. “For me as a true lover of television,” he said, “one of the things that has always frustrated me is when I am tuning into a season of television and I can tell this season just feels like filler. The last thing I wanted to do to our audience was create narrative simply to create narrative, and with no real intention. I could see the ending … and it made sense to land the plane comfortably, if you will.”

Perhaps there were other factors at play in bringing “Pose” to a close, but Canals’ words are nonetheless golden to me. Going on and on and on, creating “narrative simply to create narrative,” is one of the problems that has plagued some of the best shows out there. I recently wrote about how “The Handmaid’s Tale,” an important prestige series for Hulu, has reached too far. The fourth season, which premieres Thursday, feels at times painfully forced, as Elisabeth Moss’ June continues to survive in Gilead against the odds. And a fifth season has already been ordered, in case you’re thinking that the writers and producers might be heading in the right direction.


“Shameless,” too, overstayed. Like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” it began as one of TV’s best. But by season 11, it was straining to keep the story alive without repeating itself. Because it included so many more characters to explore than “The Handmaid’s Tale,” it thrived for longer than expected. But still, when it ended a few weeks ago, it had lost its early intensity and brilliance. When a series such as “Two and a Half Men” lingers on, it doesn’t seem tragic because, even while the CBS sitcom was immensely popular, it was never a careful narrative or an inventive piece of work. Like “The Big Bang Theory,” it was built to be a weekly dispensary of one-liners and character shtick until it had enough episodes to live forever in reruns.


But series that begin as something special, such as “Modern Family” and “Dexter,” don’t deserve to be worn down and exhausted. And neither do their fans.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.