Netflix’s most talked about series within the last week has been a series called When they See Us, which was brought to light by Ava DuVernay. For many people who were unaware of the story behind the Central Park Five, this series gave a raw and unapologetic view of the disturbing details of what actually went wrong in the trial of 1989. Many Netflix Originals that have given a spotlight to many major events that had happened before my time have intrigued me, but something about this one was different. There was something about this series that depicted the wrongful conviction of five African-American and Latino boys that struck anger and emotion through my body as I dissected each episode one by one. It was not that fact the teens were profiled because that is something as black and brown males in American we have became accustomed to, but instead the deliberate and strategic planning by law enforcement that went on behind closed doors that made me cringe as I got deeper and deeper into the plot.
Ava DuVernay’s ability to allow the viewers to act as a fly on the wall during the interrogations of each child was something that had to be done. As the eyes pointed towards police brutality in our country continue to grow, this series gave us no choice but to see what really went on back then and continues to go on today. Many of my peers told me they were not able to finish the entire series as they became too emotional or filled with anger. If you were able to make all the way through, you were able to see an award winning performance by Jharrel Jerome. Prior to this performance he was seen first in the Academy Award-winning movie Moonlight. His performance as Korey Wise showed his true ability as an actor and elevated him to a new status. Part 4 of the series gave us a look at Korey Wise, the oldest of the Central Park Five, as he went from a 16 year old child in Rikers Island to becoming a grown man being exonerated from prison. The performance was like no other as viewers got to experience the severe pain, trauma, and neglect Korey Wise felt during his time in prison. In his interview with Complex Jerome went into detail about how portraying Korey Wise, and how it took an emotional toll on him.
If you have yet to watch this series I encourage you to do so. You will see how media can make people believe false narratives, an inside look at how a system that was designed to protect its citizens did the exact opposite, and finally an award winning performance by an emerging star.