The Night Of
Golden Globes Nomination: Best TV Miniseries or Movie + Best Actor, Mini-Series or TV Movie
SAG Awards Nomination: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries
Game of Thrones failed me. I was far too obsessed with the latest season of the show to pay attention to press surrounding The Night Of, the show that would replace HBO’s coveted Sunday night timeslot. I saw the commercials every week as I sat waiting for Jon Snow to come back to life, but for some reason was convinced that The Night Of was a contagion story, or involved some supernatural elements, or was just too creepy for me to pay attention to. Obviously, I was wrong about all of the above.
If you’ve ever seen an episode of Law & Order, you get the gist of The Night Of. It’s a dark procedural cop show at it’s core, revolving around a seemingly cut-and-dried murder case where Nasir Khan (Riz Ahmed), a young Pakistani-American, is on trial for the death of an Upper West Side girl. But in its first hour it pulls you in farther than anything allowed on Network television, and ends up saying a lot more about race than what Ice-T gets to deliver. It’s frustratingly slow at times, especially when we’re given more information about John Turturro’s character’s eczema than the evidence surrounding Nas. Its the pacing that gets to you, filling you with an ominous feeling of dread that you try to ignore while falling in love with Ahmed (who is having a great year, and also manages to be in the best character in Rogue One). The Night Of is a show that sticks with you because, as a mini-series, we’re never really left with any sort of conclusion. And while some of these questions are nagging (Why was his lawyer portrayed as an idiot who kisses him in a jail cell, on camera, even though I’d probably want to do the same thing?), most are left unanswered as a reminder that this happens every day in America. What happens to a young man forced into the prison system, what happens on trial when there’s no evidence to nab the likely criminal, what happens in racially divided neighborhoods – these are questions that don’t get answers, in real life or on HBO. I honestly haven’t stopped thinking about the show since I finished it. Maybe we’ll get a season two that will fill in some blanks, but if you’re looking to tune in I’ll tell you this: the cat, at least, gets a conclusion.