A chronicled re-telling of the gay rights movement in the United States, beginning with the Stonewall riots in 1969.A chronicled re-telling of the gay rights movement in the United States, beginning with the Stonewall riots in 1969.A chronicled re-telling of the gay rights movement in the United States, beginning with the Stonewall riots in 1969.
Perhaps most disrupting was the decision to change the cast members mid-program. Austin P. McKenzie, Emily Skeggs, and Jonathan Majors play Cleve, Roma, and Ken during the first few episodes. Then, Guy Pearce, Mary Louise-Parker, and Michael Kenneth Williams take over in the same roles as slightly older versions of the characters. The change is jarring; the younger actors bear little to no resemblance to their slightly more mature counterparts, and none attempts to match their characters mannerisms or personalities. The younger actors come off better, perhaps because they create the characters and suffer no comparisons to earlier incarnations as do Pearce, Parker, and Williams. However, the directors and cast should have studied "Moonlight," a film that seamlessly used three different actors to portray the same character at various stages of his life. Frankly, "We Shall Rise" had little reason to use different actors; the age disparity is not that great, and subtle make-up and acting could have convincingly bridged the age gap. Viewers now ponder why Cleve became more affected as he aged, while Ken became less good natured, not to mention the drastic physical changes.
Unfortunately, ABC's brave decision to devote a week's prime-time programming to a lesson in gay rights history was not well served, and the weak ratings will likely dampen enthusiasm for further efforts. The disjointed telecast impacts the drama, and some good performances from a large talented cast suffer. A generous sprinkling of cameos from Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O'Donnell, Dylan Walsh, David Hyde Pierce, Rob Reiner, and others testifies to the broad support and enthusiasm for the project. However, the intended audience for the project is uncertain. The LGBT community, their friends, and their families already know and have lived this history, while those opposed to equal rights will not tune in. With the choir stalls filled, are there any open minds to fill the pews?
- Mar 4, 2017