Ava DuVernay’s drama miniseries When They See Us has been watched by over 23 million viewers on Netflix. The four-episode series tells the true story of the five young men of color - Antron McCray, Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam - wrongly convicted and sentenced for the sexual assault of a female jogger in New York’s Central Park in 1989 before being exonerated in 2002 after the real perpetrator confessed. DuVernay - who created, co-wrote and directed When They See Us for Netflix - has received widespread acclaim since it premiered at the end of May. The series’ talented ensemble cast has been praised by critics too, in particular the actors playing the younger and older versions of the five wrongly accused, which include Moonlight’s Jharrel Jerome and Caleel Harris (Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, Castle Rock).
It’s not just the critics that are going wild for When They See Us: the series has been a major hit with audiences too. Earlier this month Netflix took to Twitter to announce that since it made its May 31 debut, When They See Us became the streaming giant’s most-watched series in the U.S. Though Netflix is notoriously secretive about its viewership figures, the company seems pretty proud to boast about the number of its subscribers who watched the acclaimed series.
According to a tweet posted by DuVernay, the streamer recently shared the news that When They See Us had been watched by over 23 million Netflix accounts worldwide. The director’s heartfelt tweet (which can be viewed below) also stated she was moved to tears after hearing the news and emphasized that the show’s impact across the globe demonstrates the world wants to hear about “real stories of black people.”
Imagine believing the world doesn’t care about real stories of black people. It always made me sad. So when Netflix just shared with me that 23M+ accounts worldwide have watched #WhenTheySeeUs, I cried. Our stories matter and can move across the globe. A new truth for a new day. pic.twitter.com/4vgCo0aKR9— Ava DuVernay (@ava) June 25, 2019
While critical acclaim and viewing figures are of course important, it’s the real-world impact of When They See Us that is really amazing. Not only is the show generating conversation about the injustice faced by the wrongly accused in this particular case, it’s also shining a light on an American justice system that is all too often skewed against people of color. Members of the criminal justice system that aided in the wrongful conviction of the five accused are also coming under new scrutiny because of the series’ success.
When They See Us isn’t the first time DuVernay and Netflix have collaborated. In 2016 Netflix and DuVernay made the documentary 13th, which went on to score an Academy Award nomination and win three Primetime Emmys. Similar to When They See Us, the documentary highlighted the deep-rooted racism of the U.S. judicial system. Hopefully the success of both 13th and When They See Us could mean more powerful and important collaborations between DuVernay and Netflix in the future.
Source: Ava DuVernay/Twitter