When They See Us premieres May 31st on Netflix.
[Ed. Note: Being that TV and City is on a bit of a hiatus, this article has not been edited.]
By Ariba Bhuvad
Get ready to bawl your eyes out with this new limited series, When They See Us, written, directed, and created by the one and only Ava DuVernay. Following the real-life story of the Central Park Five, When They See Us gives us a shocking and saddening insight into the U.S. criminal justice system and how five individuals were wrongfully convicted for the rape and beating of a female jogger in 1989.
The focus on injustice, in this case, is something that will forever be seared into my mind, and DuVernay tells the story in such an emotionally gripping manner. Starting from the night the rape and beating occurred and ending on the eventual exoneration of the five men, DuVernay walks us through the pivotal moments of this real-life story. I have so many positive things to say about this mini-series, that it’s quite hard to find a place to start.
The story itself is so mindboggling to comprehend because while watching the series, it’ll suddenly occur to you that all of this really did happen and these men were subjected to something that they didn’t deserve. The show doesn’t shy away from shedding light on how the state manipulated timelines and stories and coerced these kids into giving confessions that were not indicative of the truth. You’ll find yourself yelling, “Are you kidding me?!” multiple times because the sheer ignorance and brutality of how this case was handled seems too fake to be real.
DuVernay does such a phenomenal job delivering this story in a manner that resonates with the viewer, even though we absolutely cannot begin to relate or fathom what these men went through. The manner in which DuVernay is able to reach out to the audience and grip our hearts with the story she’s telling is something I haven’t quite experienced before.
I have to give a shoutout to the cast involved with the series, starting from the young kids who had to display fear and confusion as they were subjected to a situation they absolutely had nothing to do with. Of course, as the series continues, actors had to be swapped out for older ones who continue to carry on the torch flawlessly and seamlessly. Not enough praise can be given to the cast of When They See Us who had very difficult roles to play. As a viewer, I was having a hard time watching so I can only imagine the emotional depths the cast had to reach into to give the performances they did.
When this mini-series drops on May 31st, I highly recommend each and every one of you watch it. Quite often, shows like this are fictional, but this one is anything but, and it’s a frightening reminder that justice isn’t always served, and when it is–far too much time has gone by.
I give When They See Us an A.