It was the people vs. the Stanton High School theater program on Rise Season 1 Episode 2 as the ramifications of performing Spring Awakening continued to cause myriad problems.
Spring Awakening may be a provocative play, but the issues being highlighted in the community just go to show that this town is still living peacefully in a decade long ago. What they think they don't know doesn't hurt them.
There's no way the theater program is going to trump football with the residents of the town. At least not with some significant change. That much was reiterated with a resounding thud during the meeting about how resources are being spent.
It was frustrating that Lou did not want to be the person who went into the meeting with an agenda. If there was no agenda, then why was he attending the meeting in the first place?
Enter Tracey, who absolutely nailed it. She went into a room with a group of men and women who lived for the high school football team. They didn't give a damn whether or not the theater group existed.
Tracey knew she was not going to get anyone on the board to budge about the money being sent to the football team, so she picked her battle wisely.
The theater group has struggled over the years with diminishing returns, and that's because nobody took it seriously.
That's why there were countless renditions of Grease for years on end. Nobody cared enough to break the mold, and Lou is definitely trying to break that by bringing Spring Awakening to the masses.
The sports are not representing all of the children at Stanton High, and Lou and Tracey are single-handedly working their asses off to give kids not represented by sport an avenue to express themselves.
With recent events in the world, Rise is trying to be the show that instills hope in our lives, and that's a lofty task.
Robbie is a star football player who has aspirations that extend well beyond the football court, while Lillette is a waitress who is helping her mother make ends meet in order to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.
They may be from different sides of the tracks, but they have room to bond over their shared love of performing.
It's just a shame that, as soon as they got close to each other, Robbie got up close and personal with some other girl.
Oh, yes. Rise is definitely trying to give us all of those Friday Night Lights feels, and that's okay. Both shows hail from the same creative team, so it feels organic.
Then there's Simon who is apparently battling some feelings for Jeremy. They've been thrown together under the craziest of circumstances.
But Simon's role in Spring Awakening has struck a chord with his parents. They are worried about what effect their son kissing another boy, acting or not, will have on them.
What would people say about it? Simon's parents are overbearing, to say the least, but you can tell he's harboring feelings for Jeremy.
Even if his parents manage to keep him out of the school, it's hard to imagine him rolling over and accepting defeat. The more likely scenario is that he will find a way to attend the new school while still appearing in Spring Awakening.
There was a blatant element of denial with Simon's when he fretted about people knowing he was possibly going to be hanging out with Jeremy.
That's what pushed him to go on that date with Annabelle. There was nothing before that scene to suggest the two characters had even thought about each other romantically.
Lou's home life is also starting to crumble more than he thought it would. Gordy has some deeply rooted issues that nobody knows about.
Naturally, he blames Lou for bringing Maashous home. Lou is a do-gooder and knows that Maashous was sleeping rough in the school.
While there may be a tiny part of Lou that wishes Gordy was a good kid like Maashous, there's no way he would want to swap the two boys out.
Gordy is battling something, and he's using the alcohol as a means to cope. It does not help matters that he's paranoid about everything.
Lou going to the principal for assistance proved that even though the principal and Lou are at an impasse when it comes to whether the football team is more important, they will put their issues aside for the welfare of the students.
We've barely scratched the surface with the vivid world of characters, and I cannot wait to see what comes next.
Other tidbits from the episode:
- Lou's family life is beginning to overshadow his work. Gail was right to worry that her husband was spreading himself too thin. But Lou will be damned if he lets these kids down.
- Lillette apologizing to Gwen for what her mother did was the right thing to do, but why should she be taking the fall for the sins of her mother? Gwen needs to look to her own father for answers as opposed to blaming others.
- How long will it be before the football team manages to coerce Robbie back on a full-time basis?
Okay, Rise Fanatics! What did you think of the latest episode?
Are you still on board with this NBC drama series?
Hit the comments below.
Rise continues Tuesdays on NBC.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.