TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Rise TV Poster Image
Tender, lovely series is "Friday Night Lights" onstage.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Characters have a strong love of theater, and are willing to sacrifice, work hard, fight for their art. Families have tight bonds even if they sometimes fight and make mistakes. Characters with varying sexual and gender identities are treated with respect and dignity, sending messages of inclusion and kindness. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lou is a passionate teacher, but also a family man -- he checks in with his wife before making big decisions, and makes time for his kids. Michael is a transgender character, and his story is presented sympathetically. Lilette is a girl with big dreams and the grit to work hard to get there. Robbie is a talented athlete whose past makes him uncertain about his future. All the many other characters are believable, relatable, and real people instead of stereotypes. 


Characters work out their conflicts with words instead of fists, but a football coach threatens a drama teacher: "Let's not let things get ugly." 


Expect same- and opposite-sex kissing, flirting, dating. Two characters are having an affair (one is married), which we find out when they meet in a parking lot and kiss. A cook at a diner gropes a waitress, which she dismisses when her teen daughter says it's "sexual assault." 


Questionable language includes "hell," "damn," "pain in the ass"; a girl's clothes are called "slutty"; an angry teacher calls another teacher "son of a bitch." 


A couple of scenes show a character singing along to songs from the musical Hamilton on her phone, with the camera lingering on the phone. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A daughter comes to get her mom in a bar where adults are drinking. A teen boy drinks secretly in his room and his parents confront him and take away his privileges, hugging him and explaining it's because they care. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rise is a series about a high school drama teacher and his students. A major plot point of the first season is their controversial theatrical production, which makes waves in the downtrodden Pennsylvania steel town. Expect romantic complications: Two characters have an affair; one is married to someone else. A closeted gay teen plays a role in which he's expected to kiss another boy. Expect kissing, flirting, dating, references to sex. A woman is groped by a co-worker and dismisses her daughter's telling her that it's "sexual assault." A group of girls call another girl's clothing "slutty." A teen has a drinking problem (which his parents openly address, with love). Characters, including a transgender character, are treated with respect and dignity, given support and understanding by adults and peers. Language includes "hell," "ass," "son of a bitch," "damn," "crap," and "suck." 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byLisa O. March 19, 2018

Appropriate for teens

Really liked this first episode. I appreciate some parental involvement in the children’s lives. Enjoyable for both teens and adults.
Teen, 14 years old Written byLoranikas303 May 26, 2020

Just No

Me too, Dogcat. An angry teacher calls another teacher "son of a b**ch." This was too unnecessary, Teachers don’t cuss and why in the world did creato... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byDogcat May 23, 2020


I watched this when I was about 12. My mom watched it with me and I thought it was a solid show until there was hardcore language every one to two seconds. I st... Continue reading

What's the story?

When English teacher Lou Mazzuchelli (Josh Radnor) talks his way into taking on the drama department at his blue-collar high school, he hopes he can help his students RISE to the challenge of putting on the sexy, meaty musical Spring Awakening. What he doesn't know is that his little production will affect his entire depressed Pennsylvania town. With bright lights like troubled Lilette Suarez (Auli'i Cravalho), damaged Robbie Thorne (Damon J. Gillespie), and conflicted Simon (Ted Sutherland) in his cast, Lou has his work cut out for him. But when they all pull together to become, as Lou puts it, "a sacred troupe," something magical might just happen. 

Is it any good?

With a bunch of high schoolers under the direction of a passionate teacher, this drama has the setup of Glee, but it's sweeter, deeper, and more sympathetic. The emotional beats are much more similar to Friday Night Lights, which is not a surprise, since Lights executive producer Jason Katims is also at the helm of this show. And at the helm of the cast is Mazzuchelli, whose big, searching eyes and compassion for his students will immediately win viewers over. Soft-hearted viewers might even well up. 

They might also find themselves getting choked up during the rehearsal and performance scenes in Rise, when the talented young cast -- particularly Cravalho and Gillespie, who have voices beautiful enough to raise chills. If you saw Moana, you already know Cravalho can sing, and as a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, she's tender and easy to root for. All the characters are, in fact, and not just onstage, but at home too, where we follow them to find sick parents, strict Catholic parents, absent parents, and siblings with big problems and special needs. It won't take long before you'll want to spend more time in Rise's world -- and sing along. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of sports in their community and how it compares to what they see on Rise. Are high school games as big a deal in your town as they are on the show? What kind of pressures do the athletes (both the ones on TV and the ones in real life) face? What are some of the consequences of those pressures?

  • How do the characters on Rise demonstrate compassion and empathy? What about perseverance and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

  • How do parents and other adult role models help kids learn what success means? What defines success in your community?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love teen drama

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

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