Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘When They See Us’ is difficult-but-essential viewing

“When They See Us,” a new miniseries on Netflix, can be so infuriating that it’s hard to watch — especially its first hour, which depicts the arrest of the teenaged boys who became known as The Central Park Five, and shows police detectives coercing them into confessing to a brutal rape.

We review the series on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast. Some of us struggled to get through that first episode, and the episodes that follow have plenty of painful moments too, but “When They See Us” rewards viewers who persist with a moving and unforgettable dramatization of all the ways the system failed Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Antron McCray.

The show is already having an impact, with President Donald Trump facing questions about his aggressive campaign to have the death penalty applied to five boys who were ultimately exonerated (Trump remains unapologetic).

Meanwhile, prosecutor Linda Fairstein has resigned from several boards and was dropped by the publisher of her crime novels. Fairstein said the series was “full of distortions and falsehoods,” though some of her claims don’t seem to stand up. (Others who’ve followed the case are praising the series for its accuracy.)

So perhaps it’s not surprising that the review leads us to a broader conversation about some of the bigger issues that “When They See Us” raises, and about how much weight we should give to stories like this one, or like HBO’s “Chernobyl,” which bring a scripted approach (and presumably some degree of fiction) to historical events.

We also recap some of the week’s other streaming news, namely the latest TVs recommended by Netflix and the streamer’s new deal with “Pose” writer-director Janet Mock.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you want to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:45 Netflix recommended TVs
10:43 Netflix signs a deal with Janet Mock
17:15 When They See Us review
47:54 When They See Us spoiler discussion