Ava DuVernay’s new Netflix series, When They See Us, has been watched by more than 23 million accounts so far, the streaming giant has announced.
The drama chronicles the real life case of the Central Park Five, five teenagers of color who were convicted of a rape they did not commit. The four-part drama focuses on the teenagers from Harlem – Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise. Beginning in the spring of 1989, when the teenagers were first questioned about the incident, the series will span 25 years, highlighting their exoneration in 2002 and the settlement reached with the city of New York in 2014.
“Ava DuVernay’s enraging, powerful, deeply human retelling of The Central Park Five case is essential viewing,” we wrote in our five-star review.
Evidently, people are agreeing with more than 23 million accounts watching it to date.
“When They See Us has been in the top two most-watched series on Netflix in the UK since it launched on 31 May – beaten only by Black Mirror,” says Netflix.
The streaming service has been increasingly releasing stats and viewing figures about its original shows and films, even releasing a weekly top ten list in recent months for UK users, as part of a test to see if subscribers find it useful. According to those charts, When They See Us debuted at number six in its first week, before climbing through the ranks to be the third most watched TV show on Netflix UK, behind Jane the Virgin and What/If. Across the month, however, Netflix says that When They See Us has only fallen behind Brooker’s dark dystopian tech anthology.
The figures, of course, should be taken with a pinch of salt: Netflix’s count for a “viewer” is anyone who completes at least 70 per cent of one episode of a TV series or 70 per cent of a film – an indication, perhaps, of how much time people typically spend watching a single title on Netflix, or of how value attention spans have become in a competitive online age. Nonetheless, the show’s performance highlights the reach the platform has.
“Though the case has long been notorious in the US, we honestly didn’t expect such a reaction in the UK,” said Netflix on Twitter. “The shock, disbelief, & anger audiences feel when hearing this story is not limited by geography. Important stories – and important truths – travel, when they have a platform.”
Netflix has also released a follow-up talk show special, Oprah Winfrey Presents: When They See Us Now, talking with the men featured in the show and the series’ creators.
“Watching this is painful. But it’s necessary. This needs to be watched,” Kevin Richardson, one of the Exonerated Five, told Oprah.
“Imagine believing the world doesn’t care about real stories of black people. It always made me sad,” tweeted DuVernay. “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.”
When They See Us is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.