When I saw “The Central Park Five” documentary a few years ago, I was crushed with sadness. The story of the five teenagers made me once again look at the justice system with anger. The sad thing is that innocent people get sent to prison all the time. The story of “The Central Park Five” felt like it would make a good live action film or television series.
When I had heard that Ava DuVernay would be making a limited series about the Central Park Five, I was very excited. There was a little bit of hesitation from me because I did not like her latest movie “A Wrinkle in Time” at all. On the flip side, “Selma” and “13th” were very powerful gripping films. The trailer eventually came out and all the hesitation went out the window.
“When They See Us” is a four-part limited series on Netflix about The Central Park Five. The series is a fantastic roller coaster experience. I had so many emotions watching this series. I was very angered at points, tearing up throughout, and then hopeful and moved at points. Many television shows do not extract that kind of emotion. I was glued to my TV screen.
The acting in this show is terrific throughout. There is not one weak actor in the show. Everyone pulls their weight and as a viewer I felt the pain. The actors portraying the prison guards and shady cops do their job and I hated every single one of them.
The stand out actor for me was Jharrel Jerome of “Moonlight” and “Mr. Mercedes” fame. Jerome pulled off a master class of acting. Episode four was his episode and he stole the show. Like I said before, you feel his pain and eventual joy. I truly believe Jerome’s name will mentioned around awards time, along with this show.
The music throughout the show bring emotion out as well. One episode it will be New York hip hop and the next it will be depressing brooding song, it definitely adds to the experience.
The cinematography is superb as well. Some of the shots are astonishing. There is a scene in the show where one of the boys is talking to his father from prison, and the way it’s shot is stunning.
“When They See Us” is a great show and a much-needed show. It will break your heart and have you questioning the legal system. DuVernay delivered. She does social justice projects so good. The story of The Central Park Five needed to be told again and it did its job once again.
If you have not seen this yet, please do yourself a favor and watch it immediately.