Macall Polay/FX

Angel & Lil Papi On 'Pose' Have A Refreshingly New Kind Of Romance

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During Pose's first season, Angel was stuck in an unhealthy relationship with a married man. But once she broke their repetitive cycle, she realized what she really wanted: someone who could share her life and her world, who appreciated her and didn't treat her like an object to possess. In Season 2, she finally found it — without even having to leave her apartment. On Pose, Angel and Lil Papi have a refreshingly new kind of romance, one that feels much-needed in a staid landscape of the same old thing.

Angel and Papi were noticeably closer in the Season 2 premiere, having apparently bonded off-screen in the time since Season 1. They were always together in the background of scenes, giggling over the antics of their house or offering each other quiet comfort. They already felt like a unified pair, so when a thread of flirtation wound its way into their scenes, it felt natural and fitting. But Angel and Papi's relationship continued to deepen over the first half of the season, and soon developed in a way that seemed genuinely fresh. Instead of indulging in cheap drama or tired tropes, this romance stayed true to both characters while also giving them room for growth. That's what makes it so satisfying to watch their story unfold — on top of the scorching chemistry, that is.

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The turning point in Angel and Lil Papi's relationship came in Episode 3. They had already kissed once, but Angel was skittish about embarking on a relationship with someone who already mattered so much to her. If it took a turn for the worse, what then? They were already family, so if they broke up, it would affect everyone else in the House of Evangelista, too. But Papi encouraged Angel to give him a shot and they decided to go on a real date for the first time.

The trouble arose when Angel booked a major modeling job on the same day. She ended up flaking out on the date in favor of her big photoshoot, which is a pretty typical TV move; no one ever seems to have access to a phone in these double-booked situations, so Papi was left out in the cold. But instead of being angry at Angel for standing him up, Papi gave an impassioned monologue (he's good at those) about how important it was for her to follow her dreams. He knew she was going to be a success and that she had to do whatever it took to get there. He would be there for her no matter what and he wanted her to know that, but she had to look out for herself first.

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Not to put too fine a point on it, but when was the last time you remember a leading man on TV insisting his love interest prioritize her needs over his? I'm not saying it never happens, but it's rare; characters often have to make sacrifices for career or love that rob them of the chance to have both. Women in media especially struggle to quote-unquote "have it all"; trans women hardly ever get the chance to try.

On top of that, Papi displays a level of emotional vulnerability not often awarded to male characters. He's there to be Angel's support and he relishes the opportunity. Watching a man champion a woman's career without jealousy or ego is still something you don't seen enough of on television. Personally, I'd like to see more of it, but I'll enjoy Angel and Lil Papi picking up the slack until that happens.

This is a love story that honors Angel's personal journey by giving her what she needs without punishing her for wanting to have it all. And any time she stumbles, she's got her own personal cheerleader there to give her a boost.