Just days into the initial round of Emmy voting, When They See Us has gotten a big boost from the streaming service that the Ava DuVernay directed limited series is on and from real world outrage over the prosecutors who were hellbent on putting the Central Park 5 behind bars for the brutal sexual assault of a NYC jogger in 1989.
Offering no actual stats or date, Netflix today sent up a very big flare for the widely acclaimed four-parter that is almost guaranteed to be a big contender for this year’s TV Academy ceremony. When asked to elaborate, the Reed Hastings-run streamer had nothing but a “no” to offer on questions of context, clarification, or hard numbers over its well-guarded claims:
'When They See Us' Caleel Harris On America's Criminal Justice System, Ava DuVernay, Michael K. Williams & The Real Antron McCray - Next Generation TV
When They See Us has been the most-watched series on Netflix in the US every day since it premiered on May 31 pic.twitter.com/jS8IXIh03g
— Netflix US (@netflix) June 12, 2019
Facing a backlash of apparent exaggeration earlier this year over the Sandra Bullock starring Bird Box, Ted Sarandos back in April promised to be “more fully transparent about what people are watching on Netflix around the world.” The streamer’s chief content officer added that “over the next several months, we’re going to be rolling out more specific and granular data and reporting.”
Of course, like the When They See Us numbers, you have to take Netflix’s word for it. Still, generating cultural and political attention, there is little doubt the examination of the judicial railroading of five young men of color by police and prosecutors in the Manhattan of the twilight of the Reagan Era is drawing a lot of attention.
On June 11, Deadline exclusively reported that former New York County Deputy D.A. and bestselling novelist Linda Fairstein had been dropped by ICM Partners because of her role decades ago in the squalid case.
Today, lead prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer stepped down from her long-held role as a part-time professor at the prestigious Columbia Law School. Still at the District Attorney’s office after all this time, the Vera Farmiga-portrayed Lederer made it very clear that When They See Us and the consequential protest by students at the school is what pushed her out the door.
Having survived a petition for her removal in 2013 after Ken Burns’ documentary on the now Exonerated Five came out, this social media posting this afternoon of a letter from the Dean’s office laid out Lederer’s scholastic fate:
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While we are pleased with this announcement, we recognize that there is much work to be done. We hope to work with the administration, faculty, and students to implement mandatory trainings for all faculty, and to ensure more inclusivity in the classroom. The proposed trainings will contribute to a robust learning community for all students at Columbia Law School.
The office of D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr had no comment on Wednesday’s events surrounding Lederer or her future as a prosecutor.
Starring Farmiga, Felicity Huffman, Michael K. Williams, and John Leguizamo among others, WTSU is first set in 1989, when the five Harlem teens were incorrectly convicted first in the media and then twice in the courts for the rape of the Central Park jogger. It runs to 2014, when Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise received a settlement with the City of New York after years behind bars.
Serial rapist and murderer Matias Reyes confessed to the sex attack in 2001 while in prison for another crime. His statements were confirmed by DNA evidence and knowledge of the scene. Reyes was never prosecuted for the crime because New York’s statute of limitations on such sex crimes had expired for the 1989 incident.
Strongly poised in the limited series category, When They See Us looks to be primed to face-off against HBO’s also highly acclaimed and well watched Chernobyl for the top prize at the Emmys on September 22.
Full disclosure, I picked both WTSU in my May 30 review and the also 1980s set saga of the nuclear meltdown in the USSR in my May 2 review as the shows you have to watch in their respective weeks.
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