Back in 1969, the Stonewall Uprising changed things forever for Gay people in America. There have been a lot advancements for the LGBTQ community since then, mostly all for the better. We say we don’t want history to repeat itself, but in the last few years that is sadly what it is starting to happen here. The last 50 years have been historic for the LGBTQ community and that history is being told in When We Rise, an important, powerful and impactful 4-part miniseries that starts tonight at 9p on ABC.
The miniseries begins shortly after the Stonewall Uprising and several teens are leaving their homes to find a new purpose in themselves. When Cleeve Jones (Austin P. McKenzie) tells his father he is Gay, he is kicked out of his home. After what happened in NY, he knows there are places he can go to be out as the man that he is. He chooses San Francisco, where he meets Roma (Emily Skeggs). She wants to fight for Women’s Rights and she is a Lesbian. Together the two of them will work and fight hard to make it OK to be Gay in a Country that says it is not.
There will other huge names in the historic movement battling with them as they stand up to being profiled by cops and people who attack them for loving who they love. In fact, they will even fight people like them to make a change, so the next generations can be free to be who they want to be.
Another man fighting along with them is Ken Jones (Jonathan Majors). He is an African-American, former-military man and he has the hardest fight of them all. Neither the African-American nor the military communities accept him for who he is even though he tries to educate them. He is hoping to make a difference but it all falls on deaf years.
Tonight, we get to know our three main leads, their families and the start of the uprising. On Wednesday at 9p, they fast forward to 1978 and get political as Cleeve takes a job working for Harvey Milk who becomes the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California. Shortly after he takes office, Milk is shot and killed. Now the San Francisco community watches as his murderers get away with murder. That ignites a fire in them to fight even harder.
Also that year, Roma’s girlfriend Diane (Fiona Dourif) says that she wants to get pregnant. Diane works out a deal to get sperm from an unknown Gay man and impregnate herself with it. It works and she has a daughter named Annie.
Also on Wednesday’s episode, they skip forward to the early ’80s when people are starting to get sick and dying from a mysterious illness. That disease will eventually be called GRID, then AIDS and HIV. Slowly the people around our three leads will start to die off and there won’t be as many of them left.
On Thursday’s episode at 9p, the effect of AIDS is taking a toll on them. They are losing friends, family and lovers. Both Cleeve (Guy Pearce) and Ken (Michael K. Williams) are HIV+ and the meds that are keeping them alive are not worth the side effects. Still they vow to beat it. Then Ken’s lover, whom he was living with, passes away and he is kicked out of the house they shared. Now he is on the street, until eventually he finds solace in the VA Hospital where he will get the medicine he needs.
Cleeve has taken on the mission of the AIDS Quilt. It is a quilt made up of patches dedicated to loved ones who died from the virus throughout the years. He is traveling the country with, hoping to make a change. He eventually lands in DC, hoping to get a President to see it and acknowledge the LGBTQ community. It didn’t work with Reagan and Bush and after many years, he finally gets a response from Bill Clinton.
It is a small step, but one that leads to his biggest battle in the final chapter of the story on Friday at 9p. That is when they take on Prop 8 and that battle will take them to the Supreme Court. Eventually, they will win the biggest War in their history when SCOTUS finally grants Same-Sex couples the right to marry.
In this chapter, Cleeve tells a bunch of students, how does it feel to be the first generation not to have anything to fight for. I didn’t realize until he said that that most of us have never had to fight for anything like our parents did. In the last few weeks, we have started to rise up again. We have reasons to stand up to the establishment that is trying to push us down again. We cannot let those reasons be for anything that we have already fought for in this miniseries and causes like it. We have come a long way, baby, and we need to keep going.
I implore everyone, especially people who think that being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer is a sin, to watch this. It is not and it never has been. See how things were and ask yourself, do you want that to happen again? It is like seeing what happened during the Civil Rights movement back in the earlier part of the last century and saying that cannot happen again. This cannot either.
This story needed to be told so we never have to give an updated version of it. Dustin Lance Black created something that is so well done that everyone can and will enjoy it. There is a lot to take away from the 8-hour event, so start taking it away tonight at 9p and the rest of the week, minus tomorrow, at 9p on ABC.
When We Rise is as important to Gay Rights as were other television events like An Early Frost, And the Band Played On and Queer As Folk. It is raw, honest and must see TV.
I can honestly see this becoming a teaching tool for future generations including this one. How many miniseries can you say that about?
Even though Valentine’s Day is still a month away, in the TV sitcom world it is happening now because they tape in advance. Here is Diedrich Bader on the set of ABC’s American Housewife surrounded by a bunch of balloons to give to his TV wife Katy Mixon.
What is it about a guy with carrying a bunch of balloons like that that turns me on so much? Don’t you wish he is your Valentine’s? I know I do!!!
I guess since he is not, I will just have to settle by watching him tonight on ABC’s sweet and funny sitcom at 8:30p!
Scott Foley showed up at 7a, as requested, for ABC’s TCA Winter Press Day, but no one else was there. Oh, the Scandal. Instead, of calling his People and yelling at them, he shared these sad and lonely photos of himself in empty rooms. really didn’t notice that there was no one else there at first. All I could do was focus on his sad puppy dog eyes. Are they not just the most precious things? I just want to drive over to where he is at and give him a huge hug. No wonder Felicity fell in love with him, how can you not?
This might be a first in television history, but the first shows to technically be cancelled end their runs all the way in December. There have been shows in the past that have been pulled from the air after just one episode, but I don’t think there has been any other season where the first cancelled shows made it all the way to airing 10 episodes before they left the airwaves forever.
But this is not like any other year. Every new show is actually airing all of their episodes that the networks ordered for them and tonight at 9p ABC’s Notorious and Fox’s Pitch are the first ones to air all of their ordered episodes this season. In the coming weeks, they will be joined by several other shows like CBS’s Pure Genius, Fox’s Exorcist and Son of Zorn, ABC’s Conviction and The CW’s Frequency and No Tomorrow.
While I am not sad to see Notorious, I hope Fox reconsiders pulling the plug on Pitch. It was screwed the second they put it up against Thursday Night Football and after the failing Rosewood. Pitch was a great show that never got the attention it deserved.
First ABC said no no no more episodes to Notorious and now they are saying the same to Conviction according to The Hollywood Reporter. The legal drama was told that they will air the 13 episodes that they ordered, but no guarantee that they will air on Mondays at 10p. Is this a surprise? No, the show was awful.
Meanwhile THR says that over at one of ABC’s sister station’s Freeform, the network did not order a second season of Dead of Summer. As much as I enjoyed this show, I am OK with their decision because it felt like one and done.