NBC faces backlash after rewriting lead gay character as straight in upcoming drama series

The show's creator rewrote the character's sexuality so he can 'connect' with the story


An upcoming NBC show has rewritten its lead gay character as heterosexual. 

Rise is loosely based on a true story, and the central character was inspired by a real-life teacher who was closeted.

Friday Night Lights creator Jason Katims wrote the series based on the book Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theatre, which tells the story of a teacher named Lou Volpe who puts on a production of Spring Awakening at his high school.

Volpe was closeted before coming out later in life, but due to a change of heart by producers we won't be seeing any of that in the NBC series. 

During the Television Critics Association press tour panel on Tuesday (January 9), creator Katims revealed he changed the character's sexuality so he could connect with the story. However, he also insisted he didn't want to "shy away from issues of sexuality". 

He revealed that the show will still have LGBT+ elements, and will focus on its young characters, who include a trans character and another character struggling with their sexuality. 

Katims also claimed that he changed other aspects of Lou's family life, including giving his son a drinking problem which "becomes a major storyline and becomes a very powerful part of storyteling." 

Friday Night Light and Rise creator, Jason Katims

"As much as it's about high school theatre, it's also about the football team," he said. "That storyline also becomes a big part of the show. And I love the idea of striking a balance between the two of them." 

Rise, which debuts in March on NBC, stars How I Met Your Mother's Josh Radnor as Lou Mazzuchelli along with Moana star Auli'i Cravalho and Rosie Perez.