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NBC Show Rise Straight-Washed Its Lead Character So He'd Be More 'Relatable'

NBC Show 'Rise' Straight-Washed Its Lead Character So He'd Be More 'Relatable'

NBC Show 'Rise' Straight-Washed Its Lead Character So He'd Be More 'Relatable'

"I really felt like I needed to make it my own story," said the executive producer.

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NBC's upcoming musical theater drama Rise might be based on the true story of a gay high-school teacher, but the television series has changed a central part of his identity—his sexuality.

Rise is based on Drama High, a non-fiction book that tells the inspiring tale of Lou Volpe (played by How I Met Your Mother's Josh Radnor), a closeted theater teacher struggling with his sexuality in a small town in Pennsylvania who brings his school together with a production of Spring Awakening.

The NBC show will roughly follow that same story arc, but during a Television Critics Association press junket with executive producer Jason Katims, the Friday Night Lights producer revealed that he changed more than just Volpe's last name for the TV series—he made him a heterosexual family man.

"We took [the book] as an inspiration, and then I really felt like I needed to make it my own story," explained Katims. "With Lou’s family life and Lou’s family itself, there’s a lot of reimagination. Not just in terms of gay or straight, but in terms of the family structure."

Despite this change of character, Katims emphasized that the show wouldn't "shy away from issues of sexuality" and that there would be other LGBT storylines.

"I was inspired to tell the story of Michael, this transgender character, and Simon who’s dealing with his sexuality and growing up in a very conservative religious family," Katims added. "Those stories felt like they resonated with me as a storyteller, I wanted to lean into that."

Rise premieres on NBC on March 13. 

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Taylor Henderson

Taylor Henderson is a PRIDE.com contributor. This proud Texas Bama studied Media Production/Studies and Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, where he developed his passions for pop culture, writing, and videography. He's absolutely obsessed with Beyoncé, mangoes, and cheesy YA novels that allow him to vicariously experience the teen years he spent in the closet. He's also writing one! 

Taylor Henderson is a PRIDE.com contributor. This proud Texas Bama studied Media Production/Studies and Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, where he developed his passions for pop culture, writing, and videography. He's absolutely obsessed with Beyoncé, mangoes, and cheesy YA novels that allow him to vicariously experience the teen years he spent in the closet. He's also writing one!