When They See Us
Series | English | 1 season (4 episodes). Each episode is between 64 and 88 minutes
On April 19, 1989, while jogging in Manhattan’s Central Park, Trisha Meili, a White investment banker, was assaulted and raped. After a roundup of Black and Latino kids in the neighborhood, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, and Raymond Santana were charged with committing the crime. They were referred to as the Central Park Five. Prosecutor Linda Fairstein, head of the Sex Crimes unit of the NYC District Attorney’s office finds the evidence skimpy. But she also realizes that because this is an assault on a young, blonde, White, wealthy woman, the press will be demanding blood and a quick conviction. All five are found guilty. After years in prison, being tortured by guards and inmates, and after completing their five-to-seven-year sentences, the Central Park Five get a big break. Matias Reyes, a felon serving a life sentence, confesses he’s the one who raped Trisha Meili. The DNA on his sock, which the DA’s office always had, comes back as a match with the garment the jogger was wearing. Reyes’s semen also matched the semen found on the jogger. On December 19, 2002, New York Supreme Court Justice Charles J. Tejada vacated the convictions of the Central Park Five. And what about Linda Fairstein? District Attorney Robert Morgenthau simply stated that “appointing Linda Fairstein to this case was misplaced.”
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 96%
- Metacritic Score: 86
- Primetime Emmy Awards: Winner, Outstanding Limited Series; Outstanding Actors in a Limited Series (Jharrel Jerome, Michael Kenneth Williams, John Leguizamo, Asante Blackk); Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series (Vera Farmiga, Niecy Nash, Aunjanue Ellis)
- BAFTA Awards: Winner, Best International Series
- AFI Awards: Winner, TV Program of the Year
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This is a lot to cover and DuVernay and her co-writers craft scenes that are horrifying, harrowing, upsetting and infuriating. It demonizes the right people and demands your fury over the events presented.
As the title suggests, the idea of seeing is crucial to this elegant, wrenching four-part reenactment of the Central Park Five tragedy. DuVernay, who wrote, directed and executive produced the series has a gift for framing a familiar historical moment so you can really see it for the first time. DuVernay’s most profound decision is to portray these five Black and Latino boys, ages 14 to 16, as the scared children they are, rather than as the gangsters or delinquents they are made out to be.
Ava DuVernay pulls no punches in this urgent, astonishing retelling of an assault case that opened a window on injustice in America.”
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