Missing Glee? NBC is working on a new teen musical soap written by Friday Night Lights & Parenthood creator Jason Katims with the “Hamilton” team producing.
Drama Hightells the story of Lou Mazzuchelli, a litterature teacher in his forties in a Pennsylvania high school, who is appointed by the principal to take over and modernize the theater program that is dying. He chooses the provocative and emotional rock musical Spring Awakening –about teenagers discovering the inner and outer tumult of sexuality in late-19th-century Germany- as their first production. A choice that won’t be without consequences for the students and their families in this “Americana” town… It is based on the true story of the first-ever high school production of Spring Awakening that made headlines back in 2011.
The drama project about to get an official order looks like a mix between Smash, about the creation of a Broadway musical, and teen soap Glee with a more grounded feel thanks to Jason Katims. Plus, he already wrote for teenage characters in critically-acclaimed Friday Night Lights and family drama Parenthood. He also executive produces alongside partner Michelle Lee under their overall deal with Universal Television. Jeffrey Seller and Flody Suarez, producers of Tony-Award-Winning hip-hop musical Hamilton, are also producing through their production deal with Universal signed last year.
Written & produced by Jessica Goldberg (Parenthood, Camp, Deception). Co-produced by Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights, Roswell, My so-called Life), Michelle Lee (About a Boy) & Aaron Paul. For Hulu, Universal Television & True Jack Productions. 67 pages.
Description: What does it mean to choose between the life we live and the life we want? The Way examines a family at the center of a controversial cult movement struggling with relationships, marriage, power and this dilemma everyday…
With Hugh Dancy (Hannibal, The Big C, King Arthur), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad, Big Love, Need for Speed), Michelle Monaghan (True Detective, Boston Public, Gone Baby Gone), Rockmond Dunbar (Prison Break, Sons of Anarchy, The Mentalist), Sarah Jones (Alcatraz, Vegas), Kathleen Turner, Minka Kelly (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights) Rob Morrow (Northern Exposure, Numb3rs),,Kyle Allen…
PREMIERING THIS WINTER ON HULU
A lot of people will compare The Way to The Leftovers. And I’m OK with the comparison (as a die hard fan of the Damon -God- Linfelof’s show that is coming back soon). But I want to come up with another one. The Way made me think about Big Love, which I loved passionnately when it was on, on HBO, and which I still miss dearly. Not a lot of people watched it, sadly. I hope more people will give The Way a try. It’s on Hulu, so we shouldn’t witness a miracle here. But it’s a really great show to start their new original drama revolution with. I mean… It comes from Mr Friday Night Lights-Parenthood Jason Katims, and it’s a family show! A very unusual one, indeed. It’s no surprise if such talented guys as Hugh Dancy & Aaron Paul signed on for it! They know what they’re doing, they know where they’re going…But do we?
The pilot starts with an intriguing scene featuring a post-tornado destroyed village somewhere in rural New Hampshire and an heavenly figure who’s helping the needing families, even before the authorities are there. But don’t be naive: Cal Roberts is here to recruit. He needs new members for “The Way”, the cult he works for (but he’s not the boss). He’s charismatic, strong, convicing, charming… Well, he’s Hugh -innocent pretty face- Dancy. Who woulnd’t follow him wherever? (The man’s gonna be great in the role) And he’s using people’s weaknesses, fragilities to get what he wants from them (which is total devotion). Classic technique. There’s a lot to say about this man, most of it is left unanswered at the end of the pilot but he can be brutal and one thing’s for sure: whatever his reasons are to do what he’s doing he’s not one of the good guys. In fact, who is in this organization? They all do things they can’t be proud of. But Cal is not part of the Cleary family. His nemesis is.
Aaron Paul plays Eddie Cleary, a convert to the controversial movement with a wayward past. He’s a husband to Sarah Cleary, and a father of two, and he suffers a crisis of faith when all that he’s come to accept as truth, for love mostly, is fundamentally challenged. But from The Way, you can’t escape and he’s gonna learn it the hard way. Cal Roberts won’t let him go that easily, even if Sarah was meant to be his wife, not Eddie’s. They were a couple a long time ago but Sarah chose Eddie over Cal. There’s history here. A promising adult love triangle that is… I’m puzzled about Aaron Paul in this role. It’s SO different from Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad. It’s a good thing for him, he will be able to show another side of this talent, but still, is he the right choice? He seems too young for the part in fact, and I have a hard time picturing him married to Michelle Monaghan, with two kids. But we’ll see. Aaron Paul Vs. Hugh Dancy is an exciting perspective, though.
The Way is a very well-crafted pilot that moves forward at the right pace, with a sense of mystery and sobriety that makes it really immersive. It’s not as lyrical and poetic as The Leftovers, it’s not as cheery as Big Love sometimes was. The Way is its own thing, part family drama with soap elements, part religious-themed documentary, part thriller, part investigation, since the FBI is watching The Way. It’s easy to get fascinated by The Way, the people in it, the Cleary family, the compound life… and it’s exciting to think about all the things we don’t know about yet, from the way the cult works to the characters’s pasts, secrets… How did they end up here? We don’t know yet and maybe that’s why this pilot makes us wanna stay.