HBO's true crime tale of Nasir 'Naz' Khan (Riz Ahmed) and the murder of Andrea Cornish (Sofia Black-D'Elia) explored the criminal justice system and thoroughly depressed me every Sunday night through eight weeks this summer. The story took viewers from the night of the crime through the experience of the suspect, lawyers, and investigating officers. The show is one of the most shocking and difficult to watch this summer and will stick with me most likely until the end of the year when I'm picking my top ten.
As Naz was thrown into the meat grinder of prison, Jack Stone (John Turturro) worked the case with the help of another attorney Chandra (Amara Karan) picking up on all the leads that Detective Box (Bill Camp) did not investigate during his time as an officer, though he does come through upon his retirement. The show was stacked with other great character actors including Michael K. Williams as Freddy an inmate that takes Naz under his wing. Naz suffers under this mentorship developing a drug addiction, assisting with drug deals, and distracting guards while murders take place. The prosecuting attorney Helen Weiss (Jeannie Berlin) also delivers an impressive performance.
Everyone suffers in this bleak depiction of New York City including Naz's parents Salim Khan (Peyman Moaadi) and Safar Khan (Pooran Jagannathan). The show explores discrimination against Muslims in New York post-9/11. There is also a gruesome look at healthcare through Jack Stone's efforts to cure his eczema on his feet. The show lagged a bit in the middle as it settled on a slow pace but came through with plenty of interesting developments in the last few episodes. With eight total episodes, it won't take long for busy viewers to take it all in. The show has also received criticism for being yet another television show that revolves around another dead woman that is pushed to the background.
Riz Ahmed is a rising talent who recently graced a summer blockbuster in Jason Bourne and will appear in possibly the biggest movie of the year Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Turtorro took over from the recently passed James Gandolfini who had produced the show and Turtorro shines as the afflicted lawyer who follows the clues about his lifestyle. The unwinding of Andrea's life comes with plenty of twists and turns keeping viewers on the edge of their seats and dropping cliffhangers at the end of each episode.
I think The Night Of comes as a great replacement to True Detective which failed in the second season. I like a show that begins and ends in one season giving a complete picture and I would be very interested if they put this show into an anthology type series. The Night Of is something unique with great writing and explorations of complex issues. I want more of shows like this one.