Sometimes it feels like The United States of America is one of the least “united” countries in the world. Too often it feels like not only are we having different conversations, but that we can’t even agree that the conversations are taking place or should take place. Between climate change, police brutality, and gun control/ school shootings, there is no shortage of opinions being shared online at any given moment following a tragedy of the previously mentioned.
It’s hard to produce content that discusses a polarizing subject without alienating half of the fanbase, or majority in general. To allow the viewer to leave their preconceived notions at the door and take the story unfolding before their eyes for what it is, and not just an accumulation of all news reportings they have digested up until that point, is really difficult. In some ways, the impact of real life situations may be what draw us to the film or television show in the first place, but they can also greatly affect how we process what unfolds on screen.
I think Seven Seconds, a new Netflix anthology series about the death of a young teenager named Brenton Butler at the hands of an off-duty police officer, masterfully engages the viewer with a realistic story about realistic characters. The writers fleshed out each character enough where you know more about them than you would had it been a film, but not enough so it’s as if we are viewing it from the perspective of a deity. There are characters that I would like to know more about, but it’s almost more intriguing that I didn’t get their entire backstory, as a opposed to flashbacks and perspectives that only disrupt the flow of the narrative.
The show is adapted from the Russian film, The Major and stars KJ Harper (Clare-Hope Ashitey), assistant district attorney as she attempts to convict the very powerful team of white officers in Jersey City, New Jersey. Regina King gives a brilliant performance as grieving mother, Latrice Butler. Other stand out performances include Beau Knapp as Peter Jablonski (one of the officers) and Nadia Alexander as Nadine (a catalyst to the events that take place throughout the season).
One thing that stood out for me was the way in which they showed the parents of Brenton, who really struggle. They take two different approaches in their grief, and in many ways it’s healthier for them to do it this way. There were also slight nods at real life situations that happen including the support groups for moms of slain black teenagers, Black Lives Matter gets involved although not explicitly called BLM, the hyper masculinity in the black communities is discussed and not just in the “streets” but in the very Christian home of the Butlers. One of my favorite storylines had to have been that of Nadine. She was an extremely complicated character who is so involved in her own situation, it’s apparent that she does not recognize her own racial and financial privilege.
The worst part about this show is waiting for the rest of the world to watch it so I can discuss it openly. While it took about two episodes for me to become fully invested, the intriguing pace and questioning as to how it would end left me feeling on the edge of every single episode.
Seven Seconds premiers on Netflix this February 23rd.