‘When They See Us‘ is an American drama television series that airs on Netflix. It’s created by Ava DuVernay who also directs all the episodes. DuVernay is known for her hard-hitting films and documentaries. Her last documentary, ’13th’, is a study of the intersection of justice, race, and mass incarceration in the USA, where DuVernay contends that after the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution abolished slavery, some practices perpetuated the tenets of slavery by criminalizing certain behavior, suppressing the disenfranchisement of black people, amongst other things.
Considering the politically charged content DuVernay is used to handling and the significance of her voice, the subject matter of ‘When They See Us’ is right up her alley. The show centers around the famous case from the 1980s that came to be known as the Central Park jogger case where a jogger was raped and beaten brutally, and those accused were labeled the Central Park Five. The New York Times labeled it as one of the most widely publicized crimes of the 1980s, and the accused included four African Americans, and one Hispanic. The series covers their wrongful conviction, imprisonment, release, and subsequent settlement that they won after suing New York City.
Ava DuVernay, Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Rosenthal, and Berry Welsh are on board as the executive producers of the show, and the main filming took place in New York City, particularly on Madison Avenue which is the East Harlem area of Manhattan.
When They See Us Cast: Who is in it?
The main characters of ‘When They See Us’ are the Central Park Five “accused”, the jogger who was the victim of a horrific crime, and the people involved in the persecution of these boys. The five accused were Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, and Raymond Santana. Jovan Adepo who is known for his role in Denzel Washington‘s ‘Fences’ plays the part of Anton McCray, Korey Wise is played by Jharrell Jerome of ‘Moonlight‘ fame, Chris Chalk stars as Yusef Salaam, Asante Blackk plays Justin Cunningham, and Freddy Miyares appears in the role of Raymond Santana. Apart from this, the cast consists of a host of talented names like Vera Farmiga, Joshua Jackson, Blair Underwood, and John Leguizamo.
When They See Us Plot: What is it about?
The plot of ‘When They See Us‘ centers around the aftermath of a brutal crime that came to be known as the Central Park Jogger case, and those initially accused of the crime came to be known as the Central Park Five. In the 1980s, on the night of the crime, Central Park witnessed a group of youths who assaulted people and carried out acts of vandalism as part of some gang activity. The worst of these cases was Trisha Meili, a 28-year-old investment banker who was out jogging. She was brutally raped and beaten, to the extent that it was believed she would die. Surprisingly, this bold survivor beat the odds and recovered. However, the crime against her sparked outrage and five youths, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, and Raymond Santana were arrested. The show chronicles what happened to them.
The youths initially protested their innocence, but the police at that time did not question them by the book. This miscarriage of justice is a definitive moment in the fractured race relations that plagued New York back then. The police coerced a confession out of them, and Salaam recalls, “I would hear them beating up Korey Wise in the next room. They would come and look at me and say: ‘You realize you’re next.’ The fear made me feel really like I was not going to be able to make it out.”