Emmy-nominated 'When They See Us' is a must watch drama

Ava DuVernay’s mini series “When They See Us” was nominated for 16 Emmys, including the Outstanding Limited Series category. The drama, which is available on Netflix, tells the story of the wrongful rape and assault convictions of five black teenagers in 1989. The boys aged 14 to 16 became known as the Central Park Five during the course of a sensational trial. In 2002, the convictions of Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise were overturned after the actual rapist confessed to the crime.

“When They See Us” is a four-part series that depicts how the boys were picked up at Central Park and how the boys were interrogated and coerced into admitting to a crime they didn’t know anything about. As the series progresses, DuVernay explores the details of the trial, how the prosecution’s case lacked any physical evidence that the boys were involved in the crime and how their case hinged upon the false confessions. After the trial, “When They See Us” examines each of the five boys incarcerations and how they adjusted to life after prison. The series ends with the overturning of their convictions more than a decade after their imprisonment.

“When They See Us” is a strikingly heart-shattering depiction of how Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise’s lives were irreparably altered by a single night when they visited Central Park. The entire cast and crew should be proud of their gut-wrenching depiction of what happened to five very real men. This series is not easy to watch and it’s not intended to be. It makes the viewer cringe and it makes you ache for each of the innocent boys, but because it is a truly horrifying story, it must be watched.

DuVernay’s brilliant direction earned “When They See Us” two nominations for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special. Eight members of the cast were nominated for their roles (although I would argue that the entire cast should be nominated for their work). Jharrel Jerome, who provides a phenomenal performance as Korey Wise, the only member of the five to be sent to a prison instead of juvenile detention, was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series. Both Aunjanue Ellis (Sharon Salaam) and Niecy Nash (Delores Wise) were nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series. John Leguizamo (Raymond Santana Sr.), Michael K. Williams (Bobby McCray) and Asante Blackk (young Kevin Richardson) were nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series.

Marsha Stephanie Blake (Linda McCray) and Vera Farmiga (Elizabeth Lederer) were nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series.

“When They See Us” is available on Netflix. Audiences might also enjoy Netflix’s high intensity drama about a venture capitalist, “What/If.”