Ava DuVernay’s Netflix Series ‘When They See Us’ Releases A Teaser

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One of the most publicized criminal cases of the ’80s is adapted into the original Netflix miniseries When They See Us, created, written and directed by Ava DuVernay. The series follows the real-life story about five young boys who were charged and wrongfully convicted of the rape and assault of a young woman in 1989. The young men spent years in prison before their convictions were overturned after a confession from the real perpetrator. The real-life story of injustice, discrimination, and wrongdoing by the authorities is captured on film by prolific director DuVernay.

DuVernay released the teaser for When They See Us, originally titled The Central Park Five, on her Twitter account. The series will have four episodes, written and directed by DuVernay. While the director took a break from social causes with her film A Wrinkle In Time, she returns with this series to further a cause that sees young people being discriminated against due to their race or color. DuVernay has always been passionate about such topics, and her passion clearly shows in the teaser for the show.

The real-life case saw a resolution in 2014, as the young men had their convictions vacated and were awarded damages for the wrongful conviction by the city of New York. However, there is still an ongoing legal case for more damages for emotional distress and harassment.

When They See Us will reportedly span the duration of the original legal case, from the arrest of the young men to their eventual release. Given that, the lead cast will be played by different actors as the younger versions of the adults that will feature in the latter half of the series. When They See Us stars Jovan Adepo, Chris Chalk, Justin Cunningham, Jharal Jerome, and Freddy Miyares in leading roles with Vera Farmiga, Felicity Huffman, Joshua Jackson, John Leguizamo, and Famke Janssen in supporting roles.

Ava DuVernay speaks onstage during the cocktail reception in honor of the foreign language film award nominees at LACMA
Ava DuVernay speaks onstage during the cocktail reception in honor of the foreign language film award nominees at LACMAFeatured image credit: Rich FuryGetty Images

The topic of the Central Park jogger case has already been featured in another movie, a documentary by Ken Burns titled The Central Park Five in 2012. The documentary was critically acclaimed and garnered positive reviews as well as a Peabody award for the director in 2013.

The teaser shows a very stylized and quick sequence that provides little context but conveys the intense drama and tone of the show. The subject matter, despite being set in the ’80s, is a topic very relevant to current events, given the current political climate of America.

When They See Us releases on Netflix on May 31.