The show left me sick to my stomach and so sad this could happen. That being said I would watch again and suggest it to your teenagers.
Numb, horrified, astonished, alarmed and devastated. Those are just a few of the feelings I had after watching the Netflix true crime show “When They See Us.”
I watched the show with my parents after the urging of my nephew Armaan and niece Jennah, 16 and 17 respectively. They were stunned by what they watched and asked me as a journalist how this could have happened.
I honestly could not answer their question. I found myself wishing there was an investigative reporter, like my friends Mike Deeson and Angie Moreschi from Tampa or one of my former colleagues, Bill Elder in New Orleans. These are some of the finest investigative journalists that I know and who have won at least 40 Emmy’s combined, nominated for dozens more and that does not include their other prestigious awards. I know they could have dug deeper into the case. Perhaps exposed the truth earlier, rather than years later.
The injustice portrayed left me sleepless, researching the case.
The four part miniseries is based around one of the most talked about sexual assault cases in the country.
In 1989 a woman jogging in New York’s famous Central Park was viciously beaten and raped. 28 year old Trisha Meili was in a coma for 12 days and suffered life long injuries.
Five teenagers, who became known as the Central Park Five, were convicted on various charges in connection with the case. Four of the teens spent between six to seven years in a juvenile facility and the eldest, a 16 year old, spent 13 years in an adult facility where he was subjected to brutality associated with these type of facilities. It is simply bone chilling.
The teenagers, their families and a community fought the convictions for years while the five maintained their innocence.
The teens asserted the police coerced initial confessions after questioning them for more than 48 hours without food, breaks or their parents present. The most disturbing accusation, that an overzealous prosecutor named Linda Fairstein, played by Felicity Huffman, knowingly pushed detectives into “making the case” at all costs.
The limited series goes in-depth into the case. It spans nearly a quarter of a century from when the teens are first questioned, throughout their time behind bars and life after release for four of the teens.
One of the episodes is devoted to the eldest teen, Korey Wise, and what he endured in adult prison.
Wise’s traumatizing experience is what disturbed Armaan the most. And I can understand why. Teenage years surround friendship and loyalties. I don’t want to give too many details away, but when you watch the series you will understand the heart wrenching consequences on how Wise got entangled in the case.
Jennah was most disturbed by the actions of Fairstein and the racial undertones to the accusations despite the time period. Fairstein has seen a lot of backlash after the release of this miniseries. Also an author, her publisher dropped her and she has stepped down from many boards.
The New York Times, did an in-depth article on Fairstein defending her actions.
I would highly suggest watching this series. It can get a bit confusing in episode three, but you will quickly catch up.
The program has been the Netflix’s most watched program since its May 31st release.