WHEN THEY SEE US dramatizes the 1989 true story of the "Central Park Five", wrongfully convicted of rape.
Detective Linda Fairstein sets out to solve the brutal rape case of Trisha Meili, in this very watchable four part drama. She is determined to do so at whatever cost. Unfortunately, this resulted in Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise and Raymond Santana; five black teenage boys, being wrongfully arrested and prosecuted for a crime they did not commit.
In Part one, Detective Fairstein (Felicity Huffman) requests that the cops arrest any young black male who was in Central park on the night the rape took place. Fairness and respect certainly do not come into it, as the police fabricate the events of that night; with no evidence and no witnesses to support their theory. The NYPD employ shockingly underhand tactics to obtain confessions, from a group of boys that are mainly minors and yet they do not receive the protection they deserve.
In the second part, the Central Park Five take on the city of New York and a truly biased and racist legal system. The harrowing court case promotes more and more lies and all seems to be stacked up against the accused. Surely the truth will be exposed (you would think). Tensions rise and families are divided. Donald Trump places an advert in the press requesting that the death penalty be brought back. Imagine that! There would be no way back for those wrongfully convicted by a justice system that fails those who are not white.
It is important to note that the USA is a nation in which 1 in 9 African Americans are incarcerated and are given sentences which are longer than their white counterparts, for the same crimes.
There is a point, when you get your hopes up, and think that maybe the teens might just get the justice that they deserve. However, all hope soon vanishes when vital evidence is ignored. I just wanted to scream at the screen " oh come on", because the injustice of it is so blatant.
The five boys, in part three, are shown adjusting to life behind bars; and their life on release from prison. It is not difficult to feel sympathy for those men as they face the challenges of trying to fit back in and pick up the pieces of their lives.
The final part, shadows Korey (Jharrel Jerome) as he goes through the adult prison system. I think it is truly remarkable how strong willed and determined he was. He never once admitted to the crime he was innocent of; even though this prolonged his time inside. How cruel is a system which says you can only be released on Parole, if you admit to a crime? (whether you actually committed it or not). Ultimately, there is a twist to the tale, when the men are finally all exonerated. I do love a happy ending!
If you like dramas based on true stories, then you must watch this mini-series. I was desperate to know the outcome, so binge watched all four parts. This probably is the best way to watch it in my opinion (if you have the time). The shocking injustice portrayed in this four part drama will make you feel very angry. Despite the truth prevailing, those involved in the injustice never admitted their part in it.
This drama successfully highlights the huge racism problem which undoubtedly still exists today. Whether we like it or not, sometimes justice really does depend on the colour of your skin.
- You can catch up on Netflix.