Ava DuVernay’s Central Park Five Series ‘When They See Us’ Gets Stunning First Trailer

Netflix has released the first trailer of Ava DuVernay’s upcoming limited series ‘When They See Us.’ The four-part series is based on the lives of the wrongly convicted teenagers labelled as the Central Park Five by the media. Ava DuVernay tells the ordeal from the perspective of five teenagers Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise. 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the case that triggered a series of debates across the nation.

The Central Park Five were at the center of the notorious wrongful conviction case in 1989. The five teenagers of color convicted of rape after the brutal assault of a Caucasian female jogger in New York’s Central Park. The show follows the five teens when they are first questioned in relation to the assault they did not commit. In the later part, the series shows the teens as matured men after their exoneration in 2002. The show also discusses the settlement they reached with the New York City in 2014.

‘Why are they doing us like this?’ asks one of the boys in the trailer. ‘What other way they ever do us?‘ asks another. The trailer gives a sneak peek of the trauma of the teens gone through with the help of snippets of courtroom proceedings, media reports and their families’ reactions. The trial and subsequent developments devastated the families of the Central Park Five. The trailer shows the teens’ families protest while the cops brief them about their children’s crime. ‘Every black male who was in the park last night is a suspect. I need all of them,’ says Linda Fairstein, the prosecutor played by Felicity Huffman in the trailer. Fairstein was the head of the Manhattan district attorney’s sex crimes office, which was her first job after the indictment in the college admissions scandal. When Vera Farmiga’s character, prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer, tells Linda Fairstein that nothing the boys have said matches the central facts of the crime, Huffman’s Linda replies, ‘All we need is for one to tie this whole thing together.’

During the courtroom proceedings, Joshua Jackson’s Mickey Joseph, who represented Antron McCray, locks horns with Lederer to prove the boy’s innocence. ‘There is not one shred of evidence,’ argues Joseph. ‘Imagine the frenzy of these teenagers ripping off her clothes!’ Lederer counters. The trailer ends with images of the Central Park Five teens intercut with moments from their post-exoneration lives as adults. Despite pressures from the likes of Donald Trump and many others for their heads, McCray, Richardson, Salaam, Santana and Wise were released in 2002 after the DNA evidence proved their innocence. The show is a political statement against the injustice of the judiciary towards the accused from Harlem, and an emotional drama focusing on the teens and their families.

‘When They See Us’ is created by Ava DuVernay, who also co-wrote the series with Attica Locke, Robin Swicord and Michael Starrbury. Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King from Participant Media, Oprah Winfrey from Harpo Films, and Jane Rosenthal, Berry Welsh and Robert De Niro from Tribeca Productions executive produced alongside DuVernay’s Array FilmWorks. The limited series stars Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, Niecy Nash, Blair Underwood, Christopher Jackson, Joshua Jackson, Omar J. Dorsey, Adepero Oduye, Famke Janssen, Aurora Perrineau, William Sadler, Jharrel Jerome, Jovan Adepo, Aunjanue Ellis, Kylie Bunbury, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Storm Reid, Dascha Polanco, Chris Chalk, Freddy Miyares, Justin Cunningham, Ethan Herisse, Caleel Harris, Marquis Rodriguez, and Asante Blackk.

Check out the ‘When They See Us’ first trailer below.

‘When They See Us’ debuts on May 31, 2019, on Netflix.