The Night Of is harrowing portrait of American values
DEFIES STEREOTYPES AND DEMANDS NUANCE
“Here’s the deal, Mr. Khan, and you know it. Whether you stabbed her or not, you could have saved her. This young woman who you barely knew, but who you say you liked. Did you kill her?”
“I don’t know.”
That daunting question looms throughout the miniseries The Night Of, a critically acclaimed and Golden Globe-nominated crime drama.
Rizwan “Riz” Ahmed plays Nasir “Naz” Khan, a Pakistani-American college student who is accused of murdering a woman in New York’s Upper East side. The thrilling miniseries takes audiences down a culturally and politically driven road where people are questioned, exposed, and eventually led to the truth.
In a society where Muslims are often feared and regarded as terrorists, this show gives viewers a glimpse of how terrible it can be when these labels are held against them while also touching on stereotypes and race.
The great thing about series with so few installments is how densely each episode is with information and excitement. The Night Of is no different, with all eight episodes acting as puzzle pieces to this much bigger and complicated mystery.
In the very first episode, Naz is following Andrea (Sofia Black D’elia) up to her apartment when two men mutter to themselves about Naz. “Did he leave his bombs at home?” one asks. The subtle but piercing comments are all too common for Muslim-Americans, many of which are still facing cultural repercussions from Sep. 11, 2001.
The Night Of is incredibly relatable because of the situations present that are seen in everyday life. Police brutality, discrimination, stereotyping, and drug abuse are just a few themes writer and director Steven Zaillian touches on.
While these themes are prevalent, it’s arguable that so many other crime shows do the same thing. But in an interview with the LA Times, Zaillian contradicts that notion, implying that it has to do with the justice system as well.
“We are interested in treating the story in as realistic a fashion as possible,” Zaillian said. “If you do that, you can’t help see the flaws in the system.”
Zaillian is right when discussing the crazy house that is the justice system. Serving as a continuous cycle of dishonesty, racism, and complete oversight on the real issues, the justice system seems to pay more attention to the color of the suspects skin rather than their crime. In the end, it seems like justice is never served.
Although the series was aired last year on HBO, the show is still incredibly prevalent to today’s times, as conversations and debates about minorities and crimes continue. The stereotyping may never go away, but this show provides a glimpse into what life is like for a minority living in America. It’s worth a watch.