The way the criminal justice system treated the Central Park Five – five boys who were arrested and incarcerated in 1989 for a rape they didn’t commit – is so far beyond terrible, so blatantly unjust, that it’s difficult to wrap my head around. But director Ava DuVernay (Selma, Middle of Nowhere) is shining a light on the horrors of the young men’s case and their eventual exoneration in When They See Us, a Netflix limited series which has just released a new featurette that includes interviews with DuVernay, the actual survivors, and the actors who portray them.
When They See Us Featurette
Man, this show’s going to be brutal to watch, isn’t it? But if enough people check it out – which seems possible given Netflix’s massive reach – this is actually the type of thing that could actually move the needle on the imbalances in the criminal justice system. “Film does have the power to change things, and as it relates to the prison industrial complex, as it relates to the criminal justice system and all of the insidious behaviors that are within it,” DuVernay says. “If we keep talking about it, keep telling and sharing and showing these stories, I believe we’ll get to a place where people will be intolerant of what is happening and demand change.”
The series stars Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, Niecy Nash, Blair Underwood, Christopher Jackson, Joshua Jackson, Omar J. Dorsey, Adepero Oduye, Famke Janssen, Aurora Perrineau, William Sadler, Jharrel Jerome, Jovan Adepo, Aunjanue Ellis, Kylie Bunbury, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Storm Reid, Chris Chalk, Freddy Miyares, Justin Cunningham, Ethan Herisse, Caleel Harris, Marquis Rodriguez, and Asante Blackk.
Based on a true story that gripped the country, When They See Us will chronicle the notorious case of five teenagers of color, labeled the Central Park Five, who were convicted of a rape they did not commit. The four part limited series will focus on the five teenagers from Harlem — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise. Beginning in the spring of 1989, when the teenagers were first questioned about the incident, the series will span 25 years, highlighting their exoneration in 2002 and the settlement reached with the city of New York in 2014.
When They See Us is available to stream on Netflix right now.
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