I started watching this new series on Netflix as soon as it was released, but it took me a while to finish it. This is because it starts incredibly slow so I did not sit through like with some other series. However, the story was interested and I knew straight from the beginning that the happy end here is not guaranteed so I kept going. The series does speed up eventually and it is certainly worth watching.
The story is about corruption and racism against Blacks in America, however, this way of narrating the story does not seek to point a finger to the white population. Rather, it explores how racism is created, negotiated and spread by those who already have racist beliefs.
In this story, a clear racist is Mike Di Angelo (David Lyons) a sergeant who protects his colleague Peter Jablonski (Beau Knapp) when he accidentally hits a black boy on the bike. While Jablonski wants to take the boy to the hospital and report what he did, Di Angelo convinces him not to explaining that the boy is already dead (he wasn’t) and asks him whether he wants riots of the black community like the ones in Ferguson, thus implying Blacks riot for no reason against everything. In other words, Di Angelo clearly thinks that the black community riots against the police because they are difficult and not because they are genuinely concerned with the way police operates. We heard before (and this is mentioned in the series) that some members of the US police tend to arrest and convict people of colour to a much higher extent than white people for exactly the same crime. While this view is something many Americans will think as well, it is worrying when stereotypical and negative views against one community are held by the Police. This issue is what series tackles and portrays really well. The series also portrays the solidarity of Police forces against the Black community and thus implying that professional solidarity is more relevant than doing the right thing and they are actually paid to do, which is serve the community as a whole.
While Jablonski is not a racist he does not go against his conscience but tries to get away with the crime, and the whole series is about hiding a crime and then series suddenly turns into a court drama. The latter is done very good.
What is bad in the series is the portrayal of district attorney KJ Harper (Clare Hope Ashitey). She is a very deeply irritating character and this character is what was repelling me from the series. KJ is the reason why I did not sit through and watch the series even though I was interested in the story. The stuff she says and does is sometimes unbearable and I also do not understand why the writers needed a black district attorney who eventually messes the case up due to personal issues and issues with alcoholism?
I also did not like that the main racist is, based on his surname, of Italian ethnic origin because this is a very stereotypical portrayal of US Italian population, which has historically been portrayed negatively. I was wondering whether authors of the series wanted to tackle racism without upsetting average white Americans who already hold discriminatory views of people of Italian origin thanks to decades of bad media representation? Were they also afraid of criticism of racism the series offers so they portrayed KJ in an obnoxious way, which also implies she is simply not fit for the job while the white solicitor is outstanding?
With all failures, the series is worth watching because it gives a good insight at how racism is communicated and how the justice system can be easily perverted and leave a bitter taste in the mouth of victims. A very shocking, albeit not entirely unexpected ending, which raises important questions and makes the reader think and hopefully change some views.
Thank you for reading.