Even though “Lady Justice” is allegorically represented with blindfolds to symbolize the impartiality of an ideal judicial system, in reality it’s often otherwise, shaped by and pandering to prevalent political forces, oppressive power structures, societal prejudices and systemic callousness; the representation, thus, can instead be construed as an inverse allegory for willful blindness to even flagrant injustices. Ava DuVernay’s gripping Netflix miniseries When They See Us, based on the infamous 1989 Central Park jogger case, provided for a troubling, enraging and poignant reinforcement of this tragic irony that continues manifest across geographies and time periods. In the said incident, a woman was brutally raped and assaulted in New York’s Central Park while on her nightly post-work jog. However, instead of properly investigating the vicious crime and finding the real perpetrator, the brutish police force, under the lead of a brazenly racist and bigoted investigator (Felicity Huffman), take it on themselves to harass and intimidate five teenage boys – Keven Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise, who came to be referred to by the dehumanizing epithet “Central Park Five” – into blatantly false confessions, and then into convictions and incarcerations too. Over the course of four episodes, DuVernay deftly chronicled how the lives of these four regular Harlem boys were irrevocably destroyed, especially given how they’d continue to face persecutions even after their release. While the miniseries – with a fine evocation of the mood, the passing of time and gross nature of injustice – comprised of excellent performances by everyone, the standout one undoubtedly belonged to Jharrel Jerome’s astounding turn as Korey, the only one among the five who faced the devastating wrath of adult prison.
Director: Ava DuVernay
Genre: Drama/Political Drama/Crime Drama/TV Miniseries