‘When They See Us’ is Your New True-Crime Obsession On Netflix

The Netflix miniseries is inspiring and irritating viewers in equal measure.

When They See Us on Netflix

Fair warning: When They See Us, the new Netflix miniseries from Ava DuVernay, is so deeply frustrating that viewers are literally having to take breaks from it in order to calm themselves down.

That won’t necessarily be news for longtime viewers of DuVernay’s work.

After all, her documentary The 13th, which outlined the systemic racism of the industrial prison complex, similarly communicated the lived of experience of people of colour in a way that was both essential and also deeply, almost unbearably maddening.

But even still, that doesn’t take away from how deeply, uniquely upsetting When They See Us is. Based on the story of the Central Park Five, a group of young men of colour who were accused of a crime that they did not commit, the show is a powerful exploration of the way American institutions are weaponised against the disenfranchised.

Moving from 1989, when the men were first put on trial for their supposed crime, right up to the present, When They See Us provides no easy answers for viewers hoping that such problems belong in the past — after all, one of the men who mostly loudly called for the deaths of the Central Park Five is currently leader of the free world. In a humane but nonetheless deeply fiery way, DuVernay picks apart everything from the biases of the police force and the court system, to the presumption of guilt so often foisted upon African-Americans.

To that end, When They See Us, which was released in four parts in full by Netflix, is leaving viewers both inspired and deeply frustrated.

More than that, When They See Us is becoming a force of actual good in the world. Viewers aren’t just being left blindsided with impotent rage — they’re actually going out there and sharing invaluable information pertaining to judicial rights, equal representation in the media, and the best way to navigate a racist police officer.

All four episodes of When They See Us are available on Netflix now. Watch them — but be prepared to be incensed.