When They See Us ★★★★★

One of the most powerful Netflix series I've seen. I actually live in NYC and was here during the time of the Central Park Five trial. So in addition to the excellent script, acting, photography and direction, it brought back many memories for me as I know so many of the locations and recall all that happened, especially the sensationalism it generated in the media. It also highlights the early racist proclamations about the Five made by then-real estate developer Donald Trump, grimly foreshadowing the racism and attention-seeking aggression we now see overtly displayed in the Oval Office.

The story is well-known: how a young woman who worked in finance was brutally raped while jogging in Central Park, the police arrested and coerced confessions out of them, rising star sex crimes prosecutor LInda Fairstein undertook a personal mssion to convict them in spite of practically no evidence, then years later (after the young men's lives were destroyed through incarceration), a single serial rapist confessed to the crime, leading to their exoneration.

The series is broken into 4 parts, each one dramatic in its own right - the arrest and interrogation, the trial, the fate of the four younger men who fortunately were tried as juveniles, and the tragic fate of the oldest of the five , Corey Wise, who actually met the real perpetrator in prison before, out of religious conversion, he confessed to the crime.

The series is terrible reminder of the pervasive racism in our criminal justice system. The acting is uniformly excellent, with special mention of Jharrel Jerome (see in 2016's Oscar winner "Moonlight") as Corey, as well as Felicity Huffman, Vera Famiglia, Michael Kenneth Williams and the young actors playing the teens in the first two episodes. It held my attention throughout, although the third episode dragged a bit as it had to move between 4 storylines and had less dramatic tension. At many points, I was overwhelmed (in a good way) and there were moments that had me in tears. The ending especially was poignant, as it updated the audience on the current lives of the five men, with each appearing: the damage done and the true nobility of each is apparent in their visage.

Stephen liked this review