When They See Us: A Parent's Guide to the Impactful TV Series

When They See Us: A Parent’s Guide to the Impactful TV Series

The Netflix series, “When They See Us,” directed by Ava DuVernay, has captivated audiences around the world with its gripping portrayal of the devastating true story of the Central Park Five. The five-episode mini-series follows the lives of five young boys who were wrongfully convicted of a brutal crime in 1989. Exploring the themes of racial injustice, police misconduct, and the power of resilience, this series has sparked extensive conversations among viewers of all ages. For parents who are considering watching the series with their children, here is a guide to navigating the impactful content and initiating important conversations.

Understanding the Historical Context

Before delving into the series, it is essential for parents to provide context and background information about the events that took place in Central Park in 1989. Explaining the racial tensions, police biases, and the socio-political climate of the time can help children grasp the significance of the story and its impact on society.

Prepare for Emotional Impact

“When They See Us” is an emotionally charged series that deals with sensitive topics such as racial discrimination, wrongful imprisonment, and sexual assault. It is important for parents to be prepared for the emotional impact it may have on themselves and their children. Watching the series together can provide support and create a safe space for open discussions.

Open Dialogue and Critical Thinking

One of the significant advantages of “When They See Us” is its potential to spark important conversations about racism, justice, and the flaws within the criminal justice system. Encourage your children to ask questions, express their opinions, and consider different perspectives. It is an opportunity for parents and children to have meaningful discussions and develop critical thinking skills.

Educate and Advocate for Change

“When They See Us” can serve as a catalyst for change. Use the series as a platform to educate children about civil rights movements, grassroots activism, and the ongoing fight against racial inequality. Encourage them to engage in advocacy work, whether it be through volunteering, participating in peaceful protests, or supporting organizations working towards criminal justice reform.

Mindful Media Consumption

It is crucial for parents to be mindful of the emotional well-being of their children when engaging with intense content. Recognize when it may be appropriate to take breaks, pause an episode, or seek support from mental health professionals. Promote a healthy media consumption experience that prioritizes self-care and emotional well-being.

Celebrate Resilience and Hope

“When They See Us” portrays the incredible resilience and human spirit of the Central Park Five. Highlight the positive aspects of the series, such as the friendships, family bonds, and the eventual vindication of the wrongfully convicted individuals. Emphasize the importance of hope, resilience, and fighting for justice.

Continued Learning

To deepen the impact of “When They See Us,” encourage ongoing learning and exploration of related topics. Offer book recommendations, documentaries, and articles that delve further into the issues presented in the series. Initiate conversations about current events and encourage critical thinking in everyday life.

As parents, it is our responsibility to guide our children through challenging and thought-provoking content. “When They See Us” presents an opportunity to educate, inspire, and cultivate empathy in the next generation. By fostering open dialogue, critical thinking, and advocating for change, we can help shape a more just and equitable society.


1. What is the TV series “When They See Us” about?

The TV series “When They See Us” is about the true story of the Central Park jogger case, where five teenagers of color were wrongfully convicted of a brutal crime in 1989.

2. Is “When They See Us” based on a true story?

Yes, “When They See Us” is based on the true story of the Central Park jogger case. It depicts the real-life events and the experiences of the wrongly accused teenagers.

3. What is the impact of “When They See Us” on the audience?

“When They See Us” has had a profound impact on its audience by shedding light on issues of race, wrongful convictions, and the flaws within the criminal justice system. It has sparked discussions and created awareness about the experiences of marginalized communities.

4. Is “When They See Us” suitable for children to watch?

Due to its intense and mature content, “When They See Us” is not suitable for young children. It contains themes of racial discrimination, violence, and sexual assault. Parents should exercise discretion and consider the age and maturity of their children before allowing them to watch the series.

5. How can parents discuss the series with their children?

Parents can start by asking their children if they have heard about the series or the real-life events it is based on. They can create a safe space for discussion by encouraging their children to share their thoughts and emotions. It’s important to address any questions or concerns they may have and provide age-appropriate explanations.

6. What is the significance of “When They See Us” in today’s society?

“When They See Us” is significant because it raises awareness about social justice issues such as racial profiling, systemic racism, and the need for criminal justice reform. It prompts conversations and actions to challenge these inequities and work towards a more just society.

7. How can parents support their children after watching “When They See Us”?

Parents can support their children by being emotionally available to discuss their feelings and concerns. They can validate their emotions, reinforce positive values, and educate them about the importance of empathy, understanding, and equality. In some cases, seeking professional support can also be beneficial.

8. Can “When They See Us” be used as an educational tool in schools?

“When They See Us” can be used as an educational tool in schools, especially in discussions related to race, social justice, and the criminal justice system. However, it is essential for educators to consider the age and maturity of their students and provide appropriate guidance and support during these discussions.

9. What are some recommended resources for further learning about the Central Park jogger case?

For further learning about the Central Park jogger case, some recommended resources include books like “The Central Park Five: The Untold Story Behind One of New York City’s Most Infamous Crimes” by Sarah Burns and documentaries such as “The Central Park Five” by Ken Burns. Additionally, various online articles and interviews with the real-life exonerated individuals provide valuable insights.

10. What are some other TV series or movies that address similar themes?

Some other TV series and movies that address similar themes of racial injustice, wrongful convictions, and the criminal justice system include “Just Mercy,” “Fruitvale Station,” “American Son,” “13th,” and “The Hate U Give.” These works provide further avenues for exploration and understanding of these important issues.