When They See Us season 1, premiere recap: Part 1


When They See Us kicks off its first episode with a saddening introduction to the story of the Central Park Five.

When They See Us epitomizes the saying, “wrong place at the wrong time”. For us, this may be a limited series, but for five individuals this story is their life, and it’s hard to wrap your head around it when the story begins. This first episode sets up the night that these five boys’ lives changed forever, and it’s intense.

This night in 1989 was like any other night for the Central Park Five, they were out with their friends and getting up to no good. What they were not doing was preying on an innocent woman jogging around Central Park. Unfortunately, the authorities were dead set on proving this was not the case, and that these five kids were responsible for the brutal beating and rape of a young female jogger.

When They See Us highlights the injustice against these five young men almost immediately as the cops start the entire thing off with bad intentions. After realizing that a group of rowdy kids were in Central Park as well, they begin trying to link the boys to the rape, despite the fact that nothing about either situation connected with the other.

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The kids were brought into the station and subjected to coercion, racial profiling, along with a handful of other illegal activities. It’s safe to say that nothing about the situation was handled in a legal, fair manner, and as a viewer, it’s so difficult to watch these kids be tricked into false confessions without an attorney or parents/guardians present.

It’s a gross act of injustice and to realize that this actually happened makes it that much harder to watch.

This first episode of When They See Us essentially reminds us that this case wasn’t about the people or person at fault, but rather what story could be created to appeal to the masses. As the episode progresses, you see the cops continue to pressure each kid by lying about what’s going on and keeping them for entirely too long.

The strategy the authorities use to get false confessions is by keeping each of them apart and forcing them to tell lies that incriminate each other. It’s absolutely horrendous and disgusting, and jarring to take in that some version of this actually went down.

Next. First trailer for Netflix’s When They See Us premieres, includes Felicity Huffman, but that’s hardly the point. dark

By the episode’s end, the authorities manage to get each of the kids to sign a statement affirming the “confession” they ended up giving. It’s absolute cringe and frustration, and to think, this is just the start of the entire story.

Kudos to Ava DuVernay for bringing this story back into the spotlight. It’s a story we’ve all heard of before, but haven’t seen in this emotional light–and it’s really hitting me in the feels.