I’m one episode in When They See Us, and this is exactly why I didn’t want to start this series. I knew it would make me angry and frustrated. Not because it’s badly put together; it’s barely considered bad. But because the story is told so compellingly that it hits so hard, you have no choice but to become emotionally invested and feel an overwhelming amount of disappointment. Basically the show from episode one, has done its job. With the current outburst of support for the Black Live Matter movement, this is just one of the many stories which makes the statement All Lives Matter, so pathetic and ignorant.
When They See Us is based on true events and highlights the constant injustice young black men and women face in America. From police brutality, to wrongful accusations, these guys don’t catch a break. In order to be a suspect for any crime, as long as you’re a man of colour, you fit the crime. For these 5 teenagers, it’s about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. On this one particular night in April of 1989, a group of kids headed to Central Park. On the same night, around the same location, a woman is raped and left for dead, but climbs to life. Fittingly, the police already have their suspects because, well, if they were there, it must have been them. The police eventually convince each kid to lie about what they supposedly witnessed, blaming only each other, with assistance of the interrogators. I am just shaking my head thinking about it. And to think this actually happened.
The show is insane. Like I said, I’m angry and frustrated and I guess that means this series has done its job. But, it’s all about the performances. These five kids are incredible and all I want to do is hug them and tell them it’s okay. They are wonderful. Please let me name them so you can see them. Kevin Richardson who was only 14 is played by the incredible Asante Blackk. Antron McCray was 15 when he was forced to make a false confession and his story is played by Caleel Harris. Yusef Salaam, also 15 in 1989 is depicted by Ethan Herisse. And 14 year old Raymond Santana was done perfectly by Marquis Rodriguez. But, without taking away all four of their tremendous performances, the most indescribable and profound performance goes to Jharrel Jerome who plays the eldest of the so-called Central Park 5, Korey Wise.
Confession time. I’m generally quite lazy to publish my reviews. By the time you read them, I’ve most likely finished an entire series. So allow me to add, the final episode of this short Netflix series, which is focused entirely on the story of Korey Wise, is one of the best pieces of art I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Just watch it. Jerome is one hell of an actor and he does it so damn well. If his performance doesn’t make you feel anything, then you must heartless.