Tragedy Told Masterfully In When They See Us
Besides myself, Sylvia thoughts on the series will be told. She done some research of the background and backlash of Ava’s critically acclaimed series which has been the highest viewed series on Netflix every day since it’s release.
Since the release of When They See Us, prosecutor turned author Linda Fairstein has deleted her social media accounts and a nonprofit organization is calling for Fairstein to be removed from the board of directors. Although, her involvement in the case has been public knowledge for several years. Recently Fairstein took to the Wall Street Journal to break her silence and share her thoughts on the Netflix series, which she deemed far from praise worthy. Fairstein wrote, “Ms. DuVernay’s film attempts to portray me as an overzealous prosecutor and a bigot, the police as incompetent or worse, and the five suspects as innocent of all charges against them. None of this is true.” Fairstein also states,”The other charges, for crimes against other victims, should not have been vacated. Nothing Mr. Reyes said exonerated these five of those attacks. And there was certainly more than enough evidence to support those convictions of first-degree assault, robbery, riot and other charges,” Fairstein makes it very clear that she stands by the ruling of the original case and the series did not capture all of the components involved in the case.
During Netflix’s final For Your Consideration Emmy event, hosted by Oprah Winfrey, Ava Duvernay spoke about some of the comments Linda Fairstein shared about the series. Duvernay goes on to state,” “I think that it’s important that people be held accountable,” explained DuVernay. “And that accountability is happening in a way today that it did not happen for the real men 30 years ago. But I think that it would be a tragedy if this story and the telling of it came down to one woman being punished for what she did because it’s not about her. It’s not all about her.” (Hollywood Reporter)
Not only is Linda Fairstein under fire amid the release of When They See Us, but Elizabeth Lederer, the former assistant DA and the woman who prosecuted the five boys is also under fire. Lederer, a part-time professor at Columbia Law School, played by Vera Farmiga in the series, has received pressure from students and recently decided to resign from her position. (TMZ)
Famous director Ava DuVernay hasn’t been shy to produce films that “shake the boundaries” of what cinema can portray. With critically acclaimed projects such as 13th, Queen Sugar, Selma, A Wrinkle In Time, and many more projects that have been critically acclaimed, she was bound to do what some fans felt was missing from her catalog of excellent cinema. A retelling of a famous civil rights case, and this was surprising considering how much of an activist DuVernay is. What she has done with the new Netflix mini series When They See us has not only told the stories of five men who were jailed since they were boys for a crime they didn’t commit in not only an incredibly factual fashion but she picked a cast that made us feel the raw emotions of what each member of the central park five was going through. It’s produced with the assistance of the legendary Robert De Niro.
Asante Blackk portrayed Kevin Richardson. Caleel Harris was Antron McCray. Ethan Herisse was Yusef Salaam. Jharrel Jerome was Korey Wise. Marquis Rodriguez was Raymond Santana. Don’t mind the reputation but these five young men absolutely nailed the roles as the men of the Central Park 5. Add in an Oscar worthy performances from Felicity Huffman as the evil and tyrannical prosecutor Linda Fairstein, Jharrel Jerome as Korey Wise, and Michael K. Williams as the father of McCray. Great pacing between events occurring in each episode, the innocence of the five, fantastic music, great costumes, and an astounding amount of nostalgic feelings breathes life into how a retelling of tragic events can be produced. With all of these elements on another level, the real seller of this series is the amazing retelling of the events through multiple episodes.
Changing The Narrative Of Retell-lings
We not only got to see their story portrayed by the incredible cast but we got another perspective of their personalities shown. The central park 5 versus the media was the main conflict which was highlighted in multiple different ways throughout the episodes. The stereotypes media outlets placed on the five boys going through the false allegations was heartbreaking to see. They were labeled monsters with no evidence and without hearing their side of the story. When They See Us is unique because it takes this narrative and shows us how media sources showcased systemic racism which occurred back then and occurs today in an entertaining but frightening way.
Ava doesn’t shy away from coming up with a script and dialogue that conveys the message that change in the overall justice system. From innocent black children being called animals, parents being coerced into confessions, black children being lined up all of New York, and many more aspects of systemic racism which is portrayed in a way that all races and ethnicity can see it and feel like it’s wrong. Some of the most powerful and heartbreaking scenes came from the horrendous interrogations that each child went through. To see the methods that police officers, and attorneys used to coerce innocent African American children into false admissions was painful to watch. The final verdict court scenes were some of the most tear inducing, and powerful acting I have ever scene in any cinematic project.
The message of change needing to occurred asap in the justice system is delivered flawlessly by When They See Us and DuVernay makes a horrific truth the main subject throughout the world in brilliant fashion. I understand if people do not want to see another story of African American trauma, and might want to write this series off to save their mental sanity. That’s totally okay, however, the impact this series is having on mainstream America to get change to occur and not just spoken about. Fairstein is already being forced to resign and is being called to be incarcerated. DuVernay’s goal of humanizing African American men and boys was extremely successful. It’s worthy of an Oscar. Just a warning, it will bring painful feelings of anger so please be wary before you watch.
Final Take 10/10
- Great acting, specifically Jharrel Jerome’s portrayal of Korey Wise
- Amazing black children was successful
- Perfect recapturing of the era
- Powerful message
- Brilliant writing
- Ava DuVernay, that’s it.
For More Info On The Central Park Five Check Out This Video