Seven Seconds — Netflix’s latest crime drama hybrid — is hard to watch. In the first five minutes, a white cop accidentally runs over a black teen; afterwards, he calls his fellow officers to the scene, and then comes the cover up. Then the consequences. Then the riots.
It’s all too familiar. And the series, out February 23, is heartbreaking in its sheer commitment to the harsh realities of being young, black and in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The crime thriller takes racial tensions and dials them up to a deafening, real-life clamor. So real, it hurts — from the cops determined to protect their own at any costs in an America that has endured the tragedies of Eric Garner and Michael Brown; all the way to the short-tempered, harried receptionist that greets parents Latrice (Regina King) and Isaiah (Russell Hornsby) at the hospital where they find their son brutalized by the hit-and-run.
True to form, nobody is perfect, especially when faced with uncomfortable truths — which are aplenty in Seven Seconds. Latrice and Isaiah are forced to confront who their son really was; Prosecutor KJ Harper (Claire-Hope Ashitey) is forced to face her own, self-inficted demons. And the officer who hit the boy is not only racked with guilt, but he wears that guilt prominently. Like a sleeve.
Thankfully, the cast is all-around impressive. Especially King’s performance as a mother lost in grief (and we all know nobody does grief like King). Ashitey deftly plays Harper as a frazzled, gin and tonic loving lawyer who is inspired anew by the case. She’s amazing to watch too, especially when she’s playing off her partner, Michael Mosley’s chatty, prying Joe "Fish" Rinaldi. Their tit for tat brings a lightness to the series that doesn’t ever make things any less serious.
So as far as procedurals go — at least the ones ripped from the headlines — Seven Seconds is certainly worth a weekend binge.