Emmy Spotlight: When They See Us
September 5, 2019
In case you missed it, the 2019 Emmy nominations are here and there is a lot of representation when it comes to TV shows filmed in New York City. Leading up to the Emmys ceremony on September 22nd, we’ll highlight some of our favorite NYC TV shows that are nominated. Check out our coverage of Russian Doll, Pose, and Saturday Night Live.
When They See Us is a Netflix miniseries created by Ava DuVernay about the events of the Central Park jogger case in 1989. Like other true crime shows, we see the events and court case play out as five innocent black boys are convicted for the attack on the jogger. The series follows these five boys, Antron, Kevin, Yusef, Korey, and Raymond, as they are coerced into confessing for a crime they didn’t commit and their lives growing up in the prison system. In 2002, the real culprit came forward to confess, which eventually led to the exoneration of all five men in 2014. The series has an all star cast, with veteran actors like Michael K. Williams, Niecy Nash, Vera Farmiga, Felicity Huffman, John Leguizamo, Famke Janssen, and Dascha Polanco. It also has some breakthrough performances when it comes to the roles of the young versions of the boys. Although the series is only 4 episodes, it feels like one long movie as you watch the characters and their families grow up from 1989 to present day.
The series depicts Trisha Meili, the victim in the case, going into Central Park the night of her attack. The boys who later became suspects and their families live in Harlem, which is in Uptown Manhattan. Filming locations in this area include the 24th Precinct on 100th street and The Heritage Building, where some of the press conferences in the series take place. In addition to this, corrupt head of Sex Crimes Unit Linda Fairstein (Felicity Huffman) meets with prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer (Vera Farmiga) before the case goes to court at the second oldest library in the city, at the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen. In one fantasy scene, Korey imagines a day in Coney Island with his old girlfriend while in solitary confinement. Coney Island is located at the south end of Brooklyn.
When They See Us is nominated for 12 awards at this year’s Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series. Creator Ava DuVernay is also nominated in both the writing and directing categories. With the amazing cast, it’s no surprise that the show has 8 acting nominations. Actors Jharrel Jerome, Aunjanue Ellis, Niecy Nash, Asante Blackk, John Leguizamo, Michael K. Williams, Marsha Stephanie Blake, and Vera Farmiga are all nominated, so chances are at least a few of them will bring home the gold.
All 4 episodes are available to stream on Netflix, in addition to a companion special where Oprah Winfrey interviews both the cast and the real Exonerated Five to speak on their experiences of being wrongfully convicted and how that effects them today.