Seven Seconds premieres February 23rd on Netflix.
By Ariba Bhuvad
When I first started watching Seven Seconds, I had no expectations or any idea what the series would be about. Suffice to say, I was intrigued from the minute it started. Created by Veena Sud (The Killing), this 10-episode anthology crime drama delves into the stories and lives of the humans behind the headlines. Seven Seconds was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, following the death of Freddie Gray in 2015, who died while in police custody. Sud did an incredible job using Seven Seconds as a platform to increase awareness to the issues surrounding police brutality.
Set in the backdrop of Jersey City, the story revolved around the death of Brenton Butler, a 15-year-old African American teenager, who is accidentally killed in a hit-and-run—by an off-duty cop, Peter (Beau Knapp). As the series unfolds the murder of Brenton, it unapologetically explores the lengths to which the local police department goes to protect one of their own. Brenton’s parents, Latrice (Regina King) and Isaiah (Russell Hornsby) struggle to come to terms with their son’s untimely demise as they are initially kept in the dark regarding his murder. Leading the investigation is K.J. Harper (Clare-Hope Ashitey), who finds herself emotionally perplexed over the nature of the case.
I was blown away by the raw truth associated with the series, which reminded the audience of one simple thing—a teenager was left for dead because of his skin color. The narrative was strong and the voice loud, which really brought forth a plot many are scared to bring attention to. What was perhaps the most astonishing and disturbing aspect of the series was witnessing the ease with which the police department tried to cover their tracks. As the season goes on, it’s frightening to step back and wonder—is this how real-life events played out? I am certain that Seven Seconds will evoke the sentiments many felt at the prime of the Black Lives Matter movement, and resonate with those that still advocate for it.
While the story was strong and the message loud and clear, there were a couple episodes scattered throughout the series that felt a bit slow. There was a level of vague story telling in certain situations that made the story hard to follow. I noticed this was a common issue in the beginning of the series as the plot and storyline was developing. I also found it hard to relate to Harper’s character who was constantly battling a myriad of emotions—it felt forced, confusing, and didn’t quite match up with the moment that was unfolding. However, this wasn’t enough to derail the series or make it any less interesting.
It is extremely important for me to voice that Regina King did a phenomenal job in the role of Brenton’s hopeful, heartbroken mother. She shined as the actress we all know her to be and it was incredible watching her. I enjoyed watching her progression throughout the series as she dealt with her son’s unfortunate incident and the repercussions of police violence. The drama that ensues as the series goes on is definitely reason enough to check out Seven Seconds. I commend Veena Sud and the creative team for bringing life to an issue that highlights racial tensions and prejudices—and illustrating the ignorance that is present in today’s society. Seven Seconds is a reminder that this issue continues to exist and gives us a real-life insight into the devastating outcome for the families behind the news headlines. Be sure to check out this gem of a show when it releases this February—you won’t regret it.
I give Seven Seconds an A-.