Weekend Binge

Before Black Lives Matter, there was the Central Park Five. Discover their harrowing story

Aunjanue Ellis as Sharonne Salaam, Suzzanne Douglas as Grace Cuffee, Kylie Bunbury as Angie Richardson, and Niecy Nash as Deloris Wise

Welcome to the Weekend Binge. Every Friday, we’ll suggest a binge-able title designed to keep you from getting too stir crazy. Check back throughout the weekend for even more gloriously queer entertainment.

This limited series from director Ava DuVernay takes on the case of the Central Park Five, and blew us away as one of the best shows of 2019. The trial of the Central Park Five became a media circus back in 1989 after police arrested five African-American youths for the brutal rape of a jogger in New York City. Amid the hysteria, police and an overzealous DA, encouraged by a certain real estate media narcissist, railroaded the kids for the crime. DuVernay examines the actions of prosecutors–all of whom likely knew The Five were innocent–juxtaposing that story with scenes of the kids in prison, and their subsequent quest for exoneration. Jharrel Jerome (of Moonlight) scored an Emmy for his performance, while queer actress Niecy Nash (of Reno 911!) made the transition from comedienne to dramatic powerhouse. Likewise, transgender model Isis King proves herself an effective actress in a brief but powerful role as Nash’s trans daughter. John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, Vera Farmiga, and Joshua Jackson also star in a true-life story of systemic racism that feels more relevant than ever. As the cultural conversation around race and police treatment of African Americans continues, When They See Us works as both historical tome and a primer for current events.

That alone makes the series worth watching, and more frightening than ever.

Streams on Netflix.