A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that When We Rise is a miniseries that tackles the history of the gay rights movement from 1972 onward. Real-life activist Cleve Jones' retelling of his memories in the movement takes center stage among other personal narratives depicted in the show with San Francisco as the backdrop. Stories of the lives of gay characters in the Navy, in the peace movement, and in the much-conflicted National Organization for Women add personal subplots to the main theme of equal rights. There's frank talk about the culture of drug abuse, teen homelessness, prostitution, and violence against gay people in San Francisco in the 1970s (" ... get rid of the radicals, hippies, and gays") when 2,800 gay men were arrested in a year.
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What's the story?
In the first episode of WHEN WE RISE, the main characters appear in their younger years. Peace activist and openly gay Cleve Jones, an 18-year-old from Arizona; closeted Navy man Ken Jones; and NOW activist Roma Guy (at first struggling with her sexual identity) come to San Francisco and seek their community and, eventually, their place in the gay rights movement. The rest of the series follows their personal and political stories.
Is it any good?
While the excellent acting and compelling storyline in this series likely will draw viewers' attention, the often stilted messaging can dull the drama. There's a lot of history that remains to be widely known in the struggle for equal rights for all Americans. When We Rise tells the history of the gay rights movement through the stories of people with very different points of view but with the shared experience of a point in time in the history of a struggle. On the flip side, the sometimes soapy drama can detract from the serious equal rights message. That's unfortunate, because When We Rise has many poignant, emotional moments about being true to oneself and allowing that truth to propel you into fighting for rights.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to be part of an equal rights movement such as the one depicted in When We Rise. What actions can you take to stand up for a social justice cause that needs your voice?
Talk about some of the choices that the characters depicted in this series made when they were young. How did they affect them as older people?
Discuss the ways in which the young activists in San Francisco in the 1970s faced very serious risks: lack of safe, clean places to stay; little or no money for food; discrimination; and even the risk of random acts of violence. How is today's climate different? How is it the same?
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