Let me start off by saying, I am a massive documentary lover. Documentaries on social issues and true crime are what excite me the most. So you can imagine how shocked (and excited) I was when I heard that ‘When They See Us’, which premiered in the UK last year May, was based on a true story. The Central Park 5 story was unknown to me. A captivating true story about 5 boys who were accused and jailed for the rape and assault of a female jogger in Central Park, New York in 1989.
The show is split into four parts, which is massively appreciated. Their story is told from start to finish; from how they were each coerced by the police, their families struggle to come to terms with everything and all the way to the end, when they were exonerated. The final episode however, is a bit different. The focus is mainly on 16 year old Korey Wise and his painful journey through the adult prison system. A boy who simply accompanied his friend to the police station, and as a result was charged with rape and spent years in adult prison. Many scenes tugged at my heart strings, had me shouting at the screen and many times questioning ”WHY?” Each episode has moments of disbelief which is why you have to take a moment to not only digest what you have seen but prepare yourself for what is to come. This was REAL LIFE. This was THEIR reality. I watched this with my cousin and I would advise having a viewing buddy, the conversation after each episode is needed.
I’m that person who likes to talk and ask questions whilst watching TV. It’s a (bad) habit. But this show? This show silenced me. It had my full attention, my eyes were fixed on the screen. No pausing. No toilet breaks. I was hooked. The acting is amazing (multi-award winning) and although the story is heartbreaking, it’s even more reason to see it to the end. Justice must be served.
You don’t have to watch the episodes back to back but I chose to (just don’t skip any parts, you might miss some key events!) I guess what kept me going was knowing there was light at the end of the tunnel and there would be a happy ending. I have never craved for a happy ending more than with this series. I’ll be honest though, I’m not sure if I would have finished it had it ended differently. There’s only so much my heart can take!
Although the series did an excellent job of telling each of their stories, being the inquisitive person that I am, I wanted to find out more especially about where they are now including the victim. I found some great articles that reveal some hidden truths:
‘When They See Us‘ is still available on Netflix UK.