'When They See Us': Release, cast, plot and everything you need to know about Ava DuVernay's take on the 'Central Park Five' rape case

'When They See Us': Release, cast, plot and everything you need to know about Ava DuVernay's take on the 'Central Park Five' rape case

Come May 31, and Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay will shed light on a 30-year old real-life crime case with the premiere of the highly-anticipated Netflix series 'When They See Us'. The four-episode scripted series is based on the "Central Park Five", a true story that involved a group of teenagers wrongly convicted of a crime they didn't commit. Known for her hard-hitting films and documentaries, such as the '13th' and 'Selma', the upcoming series is right up DuVernay's alley and here's what we know about the drama series so far.


The Central Park jogger case was a major news story involving the rape and assault of 28-year old Trisha Meili, an investment banker, along with attacks on others in the North Woods of Central Park in Manhattan on April 19, 1989. Meili was left in a coma for 12 days after the incident. The New York Times termed it as one of the most widely publicized crimes of the 1980s.

Five juvenile males — of whom four were African American and one was Hispanic — were apprehended on the night of the attack in connection with the attacks in Central Park that were committed by close to 30 teenage perpetrators. The five were tried variously for robbery, riot, rape, sexual abuse, and attempted murder, based solely on confessions that they were false and coerced.

When the FBI tested the DNA of the rape kit, it was shown to not match any of the tested suspects and Robert Morgenthau, the District Attorney, presented the findings as "inconclusive". Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana Jr., and Korey Wise, the five suspects, were convicted in 1990 in two separate trials and received sentences ranging from five to 15 years.

Matias Reyes, a convicted murderer and serial rapist, confessed to the crime in 2002. He was earlier not prosecuted for the attack as the statute of limitations had passed by the time he made a confession. The five convicted men then sued New York City in 2003 for emotional distress, racial discrimination, and malicious prosecution. The case was settled for $41 million in 2014.

The four-episode series traces the journey of five teenagers being falsely accused of a rape they didn't commit (IMDb)



The intense crime drama will premiere on May 31 this year on Netflix.


The series traces the story of the "Central Park Five" case that saw five teenagers being falsely accused and convicted of a rape they didn't commit. 'When They See Us' spans 25 years starting in 1989 to their acquittance in 2014.


Emmy nominee and 'The Wire' star Michael K. Williams plays Bobby McGray, the parent of one of the accused teens, while Vera Farmiga ('Bates Motel') plays Elizabeth Lederer. 'Desperate Housewives' star Felicity Huffman essays the part of Linda Fairstein. British actor Jovan Adepo plays Antron McCray one of the accused, while Asante Blackk, Ethan Herisse, Marquis Rodriguez and Jharrel Jerome, will take the roles of Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise respectively. 

Other cast members include Joshua Jackson, Storm Reid, Dascha Polanco, Chris Chalk, Freddy Miyares, and Justin Cunningham.


Ava DuVernay will helm the show and the script was penned by Robin Swicord, Attica Locke, Yusuf Hassan, and Michael Starrbury. Executive producers are expected to include DuVernay, Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Rosenthal, and Berry Welsh.





Netflix dropped a trailer in April which has crossed a million views. The distressing clip starts with one of the accused looking terrified while being handcuffed to a chair by the police. The tension only builds as all the African-American males are pulled in for questioning at the time of the sexual assault. The trailer also has a voiceover where a woman is heard saying "Nothing in these boys statements matches the central facts of the crime."

The trailer then shows a transition where the boys are seen growing up behind bars and the older actors are shown. It concludes with another VO: "I don’t think we should admit to something we didn't do. I think we should keep fighting."


Watch this space for more updates on 'When They See Us'

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