Ava DuVernay’s compelling Netflix dramatization “When They See Us” has been viewed by more than 23 million accounts on the streaming platform, she announced on Twitter.
The chilling story of five Black and Latino boys, who were coerced into confessing to a brutal rape inside New York’s Central Park has been a hard-hitting reality check on the injustices handed down by the American court system after they were wrongly convicted in 1989.
The “Central Park Five,” as they were called, had their sentences later vacated after DNA evidence proved another man was the actual culprit and he also ultimately confessed. Duvernay told the painful story from the perspective of the men for the miniseries which mustered up a national conversation that put much of the focus on former prosecutor Linda Fairstein who led the charge to put the teens behind bars.
DuVernay said she “cried” when it was revealed just how far the miniseries reached into homes.
Duvernay directed and co-wrote the series. Since its release, people who were involved in convicting the “Central Park Five” have faced extreme backlash, including former Manhattan prosecutor Fairstein and Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Lederer.
Fairstein formerly served as the head of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office sex-crimes unit during the case. As a result of the controversy, she has since resigned from her position from the boards of Vassar College and Safe Horizon, a victim-assistance organization. She was dropped by Penguin Books’ Dutton imprint, Fairstein’s longtime publisher as well, the site states.
Fairstein wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Monday saying that the show, “wrongly portrays [the exonerated defendants] as totally innocent — and defames me in the process.”
The men, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam are now dubbed the “Exonerated Five.”
Since its premiere May 31, the four-part ‘When They See Us’ series became the most watched show in the U.S., according to Netflix.