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TV Series Review

In the Spring of 1989, a 28-year-old white female was raped and left for dead in New York City. Days later, a group of five, young black and Hispanic adolescent boys, who happened to be at a nearby park, were arrested and, according to the teens and their families, unlawfully interrogated.

After that? Investigators forced them to confess and afterward they were sent to juvenile detention and prison. What followed were years of abuse and corruption in the justice system. Twelve years later, in 2002, they were exonerated.

When They Don’t See You

Netflix’ new, original miniseries, When They See Us, is based on the stories of these five boys (Kevin Richardson, Antron Mccray, Raymond Santana Jr., Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam) who came to be known as the Central Park Five. The series tells us that they were robbed of their childhood, dignity and humanity,—convicted of a crime they did not commit.

The show, watched more than 23 million times, became one of Netflix’s buzziest programs since its release in late May. It’s designed, according to DuVernay, as a dive deep “into the different phases of the criminal-justice experience.” Divided into four episodes, each piece is treated as a narrative, giving viewers an in-depth look at how the justice system failed these five youth.

The first part, DuVernay told Entertainment Weekly, “is all about police interaction, precinct behavior [and] bail.” The second “is about court and plea trial and the ways in which we’re processed through the legal system.” The third, “is about juvenile detention and post incarceration, how formerly incarcerated people are treated in this country.” And the fourth “is about incarceration itself.”

Pain in the Process

DuVernay is no stranger to difficult storytelling. Director of the Oscar-nominated Selma, DuVernay knows how to captivate an audience. But some audiences aren’t happy with the details of her newest creation. The show has been accused of taking a few artistic and narrative liberties. But whether every detail is spot-on or not, this Netflix original is captivating—and excruciating.

Many scenes are incredibly difficult to watch. DuVernay makes you feel those moments of injustice, racism and innocence lost. There are glimpses of hope, but know that this show is properly rated TV-MA. Graphic verbal descriptions of rape and assault are heard a couple lies in bed together, partially clothed. Oral sex is hinted at (though we don’t see anything) and teens kiss and flirt. . A transgender character is in the mix, as well, and drug dealing is referenced. In addition to all of that, the prison beatings, combined with corrupt officials, make this an extremely difficult and challenging series to watch.

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Episode Reviews

May 31, 2019: "Episode 1"



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Asante Blackk as Young Kevin Richardson; Caleel Harris as Young Antron McCray; Ethan Herisse as Young Yusef Salaam; Jharrel Jerome as Korey Wise; Marquis Rodriguez as Young Raymond Santana; Marsha Stephanie Blake as Linda McCray; Kylie Bunbury as Angie Richardson; Aunjanue Ellis as Sharon Salaam; Vera Farmiga as Elizabeth Lederer; Felicity Huffman as Linda Fairstein; Leguizamo as Raymond Santana Sr.; Niecy Nash as Delores Wise; Michael Kenneth Williams as Bobby McCray; William Sadler as Michael Sheehan; Suzzanne Douglas as Grace Cuffee






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Kristin Smith

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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