When They See Us: Season 1 (2019)

Season 1
When They See Us

Critics Consensus

Ava DuVernay pulls no punches in When They See Us, laying out the harrowing events endured by the Central Park Five while adding a necessary layer of humanity to their story that challenges viewers to reconsider what it means to find justice in America.



Critic Ratings: 72


Audience Score

User Ratings: 243
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Air date: May 31, 2019
Air date: May 31, 2019
Air date: May 31, 2019
Air date: May 31, 2019

When They See Us: Season 1 Videos

Tv Season Info

Five teens from Harlem become trapped in a nightmare when they're falsely accused of a brutal attack in Central Park. Based on the true story.


Jovan Adepo
as Antron McCray
Reginald L. Barnes
as NYPD Officer Harmon
Asante Blackk
as Young Kevin Richardson
Marsha Stephanie Blake
as Linda McCray
Kylie Bunbury
as Angie Richardson
Chris Chalk
as Yusef Salaam
Jim Cleary
as Corrections Officer
Justin Cunningham
as Kevin Richardson
Omar Dorsey
as Elombre Brath
Aunjanue Ellis
as Sharon Salaam
Vera Farmiga
as Elizabeth Lederer
Caleel Harris
as (Young) Antron McCray
Ethan Herisse
as (Young) Yusef Salaam
Felicity Huffman
as Linda Fairstein
Chris Jackson
as Peter Rivera
Joshua Jackson
as Mickey Joseph
Famke Janssen
as Nancy Ryan
Jharrel Jerome
as Korey Wise
John Leguizamo
as Raymond Santana Sr.
Freddy Miyares
as Raymond Santana
Michael Murphy
as Leader of the Nation of Islam
Niecy Nash
as Delores Wise
Adepero Oduye
as Nomsa Brath
Marquis Rodriguez
as (Young) Raymond Santana
William Sadler
as Michael Sheehan
Blair Underwood
as Bobby Burns
Jasmin Walker
as Nurse Rikers
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for When They See Us: Season 1

Critic Reviews for When They See Us Season 1

All Critics (72) | Top Critics (22)

DuVernay makes an effective artistic choice by filming much of this through a blue filter, so that the boys' world is enveloped by a Kafkaesque indigo gloom from which they - and the viewer - can find no escape.

May 31, 2019 | Full Review…
Top Critic

In rendering their journeys, DuVernay pays careful attention to the terrifying power of language, especially the animalistic rhetoric with which prosecutors and journalists referred to the teens.

Jun 3, 2019 | Full Review…

When They See Us achieves quite a lot, asking us all to consider exactly who in America really gets the presumption of innocence when accused of a crime.

Jun 1, 2019 | Full Review…
Top Critic

[Ava] DuVernay's direction and writing is clear-eyed and focused, and puts a heavy emphasis on what the boys and their families lost over their decades-long ordeal.

May 31, 2019 | Full Review…

Taken as a whole, there's a lot to recommend When They See Us. It does as much as it can to recast the gaze on Black and brown people, eliciting empathy and the desire for justice.

May 30, 2019 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

The emotional weight of Duvernay's respect for the physical and emotional facts settled slowly in your stomach.

May 30, 2019 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

That two of the four words in the series' title are 'us' and 'they' says something about how much our discourse about justice is defined along entrenched polemical lines.

Aug 19, 2019 | Full Review…

The unsparing nature of When They See Us has sparked conversations about whether it's another in a long line of works that rehash Black trauma.

Aug 18, 2019 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

The first half of the four-part miniseries When They See Us, from acclaimed director Ava Duvernay (Selma, 2014), is a gut-wrencher.

Jul 25, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The acting was phenomenal, as was the way they told the story.

Jul 15, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Everything was solid. Episodes one and four are particularly harrowing.

Jul 15, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

When all is said and done though When They See Us may well go down as DuVernay's finest work - an empathetic look at a landmark case that forever changed the lives of five young men.

Jul 3, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for When They See Us: Season 1

  • Sep 28, 2019
    Brilliant heart wrenching show to watch
  • Sep 27, 2019
    When They See Us is a great series that Netflix represented. When They See Us show us all the hardships based on your race. The story is based from years ago, but it really connects with the times now. It's great other than placing a deeper meaning on it, it's very emotional, I had cried every episode, personally, it's suspenseful and detailed very well from the characters alone, to sticking with the true story itself. For the deeper meaning of it, it shows the unfair justice system and the hardships these young kids had to go through and the obstacles not only they had to go through but the one's their families and friends had to go through. The show only has one season but the one season itself is phenomenal and I would highly recommend for everyone to watch it.
  • Sep 15, 2019
    Some of the reviews here still don't acknowledge the Central Park 5's innocence and those reviewers bring that prejudice to the table. This series isn't light and when it needs comedic relief, there isn't any. But that's the point. The final episode brings everything home and I was left just staring at the credits reminding myself that it was a true event. I was left in tears. Ava did an extraordinary job.
  • Sep 12, 2019
    A true masterpiece! It should win all the awards this season! Brilliant!
  • Sep 11, 2019
    I was blown away by the actors performances! Each ones of them! What a pleasure for the eyes 👏
  • Sep 09, 2019
    This movie sets out to glorify and rewrite history in regards to a group of young boys who gang raped an female jogger. They were later awarded vast sums of money in a travesty which brings into question the old adage that crime doesn't pay. The main takeaway from this movie is to be aware of how the narrative can be obfuscated in such a way as to make heroes of some of societies most evil people
  • Sep 05, 2019
    This series will definitely exercise a lot of your negative emotions like anger, hatred and disbelief as you sit stunned by a Police Dept perpetrating Blind Justice as Expediency and Corrupt methods are employed on a group of youths who have never met before. The Justice system is totally dishonoured with systematic lies and contrivances that are megaphoned to a gullible public through a complicit media that selects the salacious details to push an iniquitous injustice upon the clearly innocent. All this has been seen and watched before in a well developed theme born of the Civil Rights movement and the acidic Black Lives Matter movement. What struck me with great force was Ava Davenay's bravery in identifying the important role played by a young "real estate thug" known as Donald Trump who pays some $87 thousand to post an ad offering $100 K reward but strongly advocating the death penalty for the Accused Minors... virtually! Real footage is interlaced and shows the true prejudice that is still beating in the way D T thinks about Afro Americans. Ava goes further to reveal his smug lines of wanting to be born black to get the advantages. Such a beautiful irony coming from someone born into privilege and advantage of a father who rescued his son's every failure! This is entirely relevant in 2019 and should sound a warning to all voters for 2020: "this is the truth your President will deny even though you have seen and heard... black lives don't matter!"
  • Sep 05, 2019
    Hands down the most gutting, moving, inspirational series I've ever watched. The actors were phenomenal, especially Jarrell who played Korey Wise. Episode 4 was the most emotional episode for me. I could not stop crying. I mean I was weeping as if I was going through it myself. I LOVED THIS. It is a MUST SEE.
  • Sep 04, 2019
    It could have been three episodes and been over.
  • Sep 01, 2019
    I had heard about the Central Park 5, but I did not know their story. I would not recommend this four part series as a "must-watch", but it is certainly something I had to see because I did not know their/our story. Their story is the weight of carrying this Black Skin; stolen, beaten, enslaved, oppressed, colonized, robbed, marginalized. I shed tears for Korey Wise, then I wept for the Children of African descent, for we are surrounded by wicked men and it seems our Salvation is not of this Earth.

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