More than two decades after writing his first TV episodes for My So-Called Life, and seven years after his Emmy-winning finale for Friday Night Lights, Parenthood creator Jason Katims is back in the often-challenging world of high school and family drama with the premiere  Tuesday of NBC's Rise.

And though  Rise was inspired by Drama High, former Inquirer and Daily News reporter Michael Sokolove's book about drama teacher Lou Volpe and the award-winning theater program at Levittown's Harry S. Truman High School, the first thing to know about the show is this is Katims' story, not Sokolove's.

Or Volpe's.

Volpe and lead character Lou Mazzuchelli (Josh Radnor, How I Met Your Mother) share a first name and a passion for high school theater, but like everyone in Rise,  Mazzuchelli is fictional.

And unlike Volpe, he doesn't happen to be gay. (At least two other characters in the show are, and the cast includes a nonbinary actor, Ellie Desautels, playing a student transitioning to male.)
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Katims placed Rise in a fictional Pennsylvania town called Stanton that's closer to Pittsburgh than Philadelphia. But that doesn't mean Levittown didn't inspire him.

And then there's football, which enters the picture when Lou casts  Stanton's quarterback, Robbie Thorne (Damon J. Gillespie), as one of the leads in Spring Awakening, which  proves as controversial as the show itself, a rock musical that deals with adolescent sexuality in 1890s Germany. (In 2011, Volpe's program at Truman was the testing ground for a version of the musical for high schools. It probably doesn't hurt Rise's presentation that one of the show's executive producers is Jeffrey Seller, lead producer of Hamilton.)
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Before he started writing, Katims spent time with Volpe and went to Truman to meet and observe the work of Tracey Gatte, a former student of Volpe's and the assistant director who replaced him as head of the school's drama program after he retired in 2013. (Rosie Perez's fictional Rise character, by contrast, is Tracey Wolfe, an experienced assistant director, who, in possibly the show's most depressingly believable story line, loses the  job she expected to get to a man who literally doesn't know his stage left from his stage right.)
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Volpe's confidence also struck Radnor, whose character is a veteran teacher but a fledgling director.

In the 10-episode first season of Rise, Lou Mazzuchelli's fearlessness can play like arrogance, both at work, where he repeatedly undervalues Perez's character, and at home, where he expects his wife, Gail (Marley Shelton), and their children to sacrifice for his dream.

At the same time, there's an impulsive generosity to Lou's dealings with his students and their complicated lives that's reminiscent of  This Is Us, whose time slot Rise moves into on March 20, after the hit family drama's season finale on Tuesday.
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Katims' story acknowledges his main character's limitations.

Rise. 10 p.m. Tuesday, NBC. Moving to 9 p.m. on March 20.