“When They See Us” is a Netflix limited series based on true events which occurred in 1989.
On the night of 19 April 1989, a white lady got attacked when she was out jogging. The case fell on the table of New York City prosecutor, Linda Fairsten, who was the head of the Manhattan sex crimes unit at the time. She was desperate to resolve the case and as quickly as possible.
As a result, the New York City (NYC) police framed five innocent teenagers – four African Americans and a Hispanic. The NYC police department charged them for rape and assault. The boys, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana Jr, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise became known as the “Central Park Five.” Their lives would never be the same again. And their youth was stolen.
“When They See Us” features an ensemble cast including Felicity Huffmanof Desperate Housewives fame. Huffman does a fantastic job in her portrayal of prosecutor Linda Fairsten. She is so believable in her role that you almost want to hate her.
The four-part series was co-written by the director, Ava DuVernay. DuVernay is famous for the 2015 historical drama “Selma.” And wow, what amazing storyteller she is? Each of the four parts of the series highlighted a key issues such as police aggression and how they can circumvent the law should they choose too. “When They See Us” also tackles the American justice system, juvenile detention and most importantly, life after incarceration.
By part three, the audience can truly appreciate DuVernay’s awesomeness as we are taken through the individual journeys of the boys. Antron, Kevin, Raymond Jr, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise were easy preys and victims of an unfair justice system because of ignorance.
Furthermore, the story captures how ironic life can be. Antron (Caleel Harris) got betrayed by his dad Bobby (Michael K. Williams) while Raymond’s dad (Freddy Miyares) was his strongest support. Yusef (Chris Chalk) and Korey just have their mothers. While Yusef’s mother is a fighter, Korey’s (Niecy Nash) isn’t as strong. As for Kevin, it paid to have a big family. It got chilly when his mother said, ‘All the guilt is lazy energy.’
In part one it would seem that Antron’s situation was the most dire. But of the “Central Park Five, Korey certainly had the saddest story. DuVernay saved the best for last and Jharrel Jerome gave the performance of his life in portraying Korey. He takes the audience into solitary confinement. You feel his pain. And as you watch Korey’s story, it will be difficult not to weep uncontrollably.