When they See Us, directed by Academy Award-winner Ava DuVernay, is a critically-acclaimed miniseries about a real-life case involving five young men of colour who were falsely accused of raping a jogger in New York’s Central Park. Though the case took place in the 1980s, the questions the series raises about race, privilege and justice feel just as relevant in today’s political climate.
Is When They See Us on Netflix?
Yes, the complete series is available to stream on Netflix.
What is When They See Us about?
In 1989 Trisha Meili, a white, 28-year-old investment banker was badly beaten, raped and left in a coma. Five African-American and Hispanic teens were arrested the same night and claimed to have been coerced into false confessions, despite a lack of forensic evidence linking them to the crime.
The four-part miniseries follows the case through the eyes of its five defendants, the Central Park Five, over 25 years, from their arrest to their exoneration and subsequent struggle to adjust to life outside prison.
When They See Us stars a cast of household names and newcomers and its soundtrack features some of rap, R&B and hip-hop’s biggest names.
Who is in the cast of When They See Us?
Asante Blackk made his screen debut playing Kevin Richardson, the youngest of the Central Park Five. Justin Cunningham is also a relative newcomer and plays Kevin as an adult.
Young Antron McCray, the first of the five to be exonerated, is played by Caleel Harris, who also works as a voiceover artist. English actor Jovan Adepo (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan) stars as grown-up Antron.
While Ethan Herisse previously had bit parts on shows like The Mindy Project and Key and Peele, his turn as young Yusef Salaam, another of the accused, is his first starring role. As an adult Salaam became an author, activist and public speaker, played in the series by Homeland’s Chris Chalk.
Jharrel Jerome (Moonlight) was nominated for an Emmy for his portrayal of Korey Wise, who has since gone on to fund the Innocence Project to help the wrongly accused.
Outspoken defendant Raymond Santana is played by Iron Fist’s Marquis Rodriguez as a teen and Freddy Miyares as an adult.
Felicity Huffman (Transamerica, Desperate Housewives) plays controversial Manhattan DA Sex Crimes Chief Linda Fairstein. The release When they See Us sparked a boycott of Fairstein’s young adult book series.
Marsha Stephanie Blake (Orange is the New Black) received an Emmy for her role as Antron’s mother. The Wire’s Omar, aka Michael Kenneth Williams, plays Antron’s father.
Other big names include Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, Nothing But the Truth) as Manhattan Assistant DA Elizabeth Lederer, John Leguizamo (John Wick, Moulin Rouge) as Raymond Santana’s father, and Dawson’s Creek’s Joshua Jackson as Antron’s lawyer.
Is When They See Us a true story?
When they See Us is based on a true story. The series has renewed interest in the case, leading to some recent real-life repercussions. Read more about the true story here.
Who is on the When they See Us soundtrack?
The soundtrack to the series has been called “nothing short of spectacular” and includes tracks from Nipsey Hussle, Mos Def, Drake, DMX and Frank Ocean. It is available on Spotify.