Today’s spotlight is Seven Seconds, a 10-part crime drama series to watch on Netflix. A dive into a divided America.
What is it about ?
Tensions escalate in Jersey City when a teenage boy from the African-American community is seriously injured by a police officer.
America facing these demons
The Netflix catalog is so dense that some titles do not necessarily go up in your recommendations. Seven Seconds may be one of them. This detective series released in 2018 has been hailed by both critics and viewers. Veena Sud, known for her work on the American version of The Killing, serves us here a cold and brutal drama against a background of racial injustice. If this is a subject already seen on television and in the cinema, the series treats it aptly, telling this story through the eyes of characters plagued by their demons – of that assistant to the district attorney played by Clare-Hope Ashitey who suffers from alcoholism and his colleague camped by Michael Mosley, through the cops ripoux. David Lyons – who we had decidedly missed on the screen – is also impeccable in this role.
The writing is nuanced, the vision is never Manichean and in tone, Seven Seconds approaches the excellent American Crime, a 3-season anthology which focuses on the study of crimes of a racial, social or political, through the experience of different characters. The two series also share another point in common in the person of Regina King: she slips here in the skin of the mother of the murdered teenager and delivers, once again, a masterful performance.
Seven Seconds hits the mark when it comes to representing the social divide that is tearing the United States apart, inequalities in justice and the problem of social class. When young Brenton Butler is accidentally killed by a police officer, their line of defense is to smear the image of the victim by revealing that he was not a child at heart. A practice that we have already seen in the media … As such, the choice of the victim’s first name is not trivial since the writers were inspired by the Brenton Butler affair. This African-American was unjustly accused in May 2000 of the murder of a white tourist. His story had been relayed in the American media and had been the subject of a documentary entitled Un guilty ideal directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade in 2003, and awarded an Oscar. If in this case the tables are reversed, both Brenton (the real and the fictitious) have both been victims of the American system.
Netflix unfortunately did not wish to renew Seven Seconds for a season 2, but the first – consisting of 10 episodes of 60 minutes – is sufficient in itself and ends the story of Brenton Butler. If the first part of the series sets up the story and the atmosphere while focusing on the investigation, it will be necessary to wait a second half of the season to follow the trial. So how long does it take to bury the truth? The answer is in the title …