On "Unsung," the lives of famous but unheralded people get examination. Now TV One, is premiering a series that takes a look at regular folk who've survived extraordinary circumstances.
Through reenactments and interviews, "Will to Live," (8 tonight, TV One), in a half-hour, tells the stories of people who, perhaps through sheer will, beat the odds and live through a terrible event.
The first two episodes make for interesting viewing, not just because the stories are of spectacularly horrific crimes, but because they also reveal lapses in law enforcement, when it comes to issues of class and gender. "Living Witness" tells the story of Gladys Wade, who survived an attack by a man eventually found to have murdered 11 women. "A Fire Within" is about Yvette Cade whose abusive husband doused her with gasoline and set her on fire. In both cases, the women turned to law enforcement and were betrayed.
Although I'm typically not a fan of reenactments, the ones in "Will to Live" are well done, and seem authentic since they're coupled with the survivors' narratives. The show's creators, too, do a good job pulling in witnesses -- from first responders to journalists -- who add deeper perspective to the stories.
Later episodes (some extended to an hour long) range from a teen surviving a heart transplant to a man struggling to put his life together after being exonerated after years in jail (Hey TV One, what about a full reality show about that?).
"Will to Live" offers strong storytelling and a dose inspiration. Plus it makes it awfully hard to complain about your own problems.