March 4, 2017 | Arts / Entertainment

LGBT-focused mini-series "When We Rise" sinks

When We RiseABC promoted the heck out of When We Rise, the eight-hour, four-part drama focused on the struggles of the LGBT community over the past five decades.
 
Award-winning writer Dustin Lance Black was behind the ambitious project. It starred name actors like Mary Louise Parker,  Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O'Donnell. Ads were aired in almost every commercial break during the Academy Awards. Most entertainment-focused and gay-centric blogs talked about it.
 
But in today's fragmented media environment, When We Rise failed in the ratings from the start.  It debuted on Monday to a small audience -- even beaten out by the abysmal Two Broke Girls -- and ratings did not recover for the rest of the week.
 
Reviews have been somewhat mixed about the final product, though most critics seem to have had a generally positive reaction to the series.
 
The LA Times wrote that "When We Rise is the most impactful LGBT-centric series since HBO’s Angels in America more than a decade ago. Sure, it’s a small playing field, but a notable one given the challenges of today."
 
When We Rise

On the other hand, "As a television drama, it often plays like a high-minded, dutiful educational video," wrote New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik.

Openly gay Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever was harsher, saying: "I did watch and it put me to sleep, over and over."

Two other shows that prominently featured queer characters fared just as badly. The new TV series Doubt, which included Laverne Cox as a trans woman, was canceled by CBS after only two episodes (though many are putting the blame on audiences' dislike for lead actress Katherine Heigl). 
 
Eyewitness
 
And the USA Network ended Eyewitness (pictured, above) after one season. The show was based on a short-lived Norwegian series, and followed the story of two teenage boys who witness a multiple shooting while together at a cabin in the woods. They remain quiet about the incident, not only out of fear of being next on the murderer's hit list but also out of concern their relationship will be outed to the community. 
 
Perhaps ABC should have aired When We Rise in June, the traditional month of Gay Pride. If you want to make up your own mind about the mini-series, American viewers can still watch it on ABC Go

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