There are some moments within history that no matter how much time has been removed from the event in question to the present – it’s hard to believe that it even took place. On April 19, 1989, one of those moments would come into the place of history books. Five young gentleman, barely old enough to shave – were arrested in the assault and rape of a 28 year old woman named Trisha Meili. The five young men in question were Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana Jr & Korey Wise. All the young men in question were of African American and Hispanic descent. The media went on to call the individuals the Central Park Five. In 1990, even with lack of evidence, each young man was sentenced to prison for 5 to 15 years. Hope came in 2003, when the real rapist came forth and the young men, now actual men, were set free and acquitted from all charges. This is their story.
When They See Us unpacks the tragedy that befall the group of five in the late 80s and throughout the 90s. Director, Ava DuVernay, holds nothing back from this powerful mini-series. DuVernay boldly takes audiences through the creation of the prosecution’s narrative which ultimately led to the imprisonment of five young men barely old enough to shave. Her approach to storytelling through the course of these four episodes is immaculate. Crafting a story that breathes from both sides of the boys, their families and the lawyers to the prosecution as well. Though the storytelling hits its’ absolute height of perfection when the fourth episode starts. DuVernay immediately sets up audiences for an emotional journey of sorrow and fantasy. It’s an absolute spectacle to beheld.
As beautiful and as well-shot as this series is – it’s nothing without its strong cast. Which is undeniably led by Jharrel Jerome, the actor behind Korey Wise. Jerome’s performance alone is single-handedly worth the watch. Jerome is charming, emotional and without a doubt will no doubt set your water works on overdrive. When They See Us is a really special series in the fact that no performance is wasted or falls short. Jerome is joined by veterans like Felicity Hoffman, Vera Farminga, Joshua Jackson, Blair Underwood and Famke Janssen. Hoffman and Farminga absolutely crush the villainous roles.
Overall, When They See Us, is an absolute must-watch. It is guaranteed to go down as one of this decade’s must see. The series is powerful, extraordinarily shot, written and acted. Director, Ava DuVernay, crafts an honest and gut-wrenching narrative that holds nothing back in its delivery. The cast that brings the story to life is strong and remarkable. Surrounded by industry veterans like Felicity Hoffman and Blair Underwood – though its’ newcomer Jharrel Jerome that steals the show. When They See Us is the must see event of the year.
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