I’ve grown a lot during the past few years at college. I’ve gained and lost interest in a fair share of things that used to mean a lot to me. Case in point: awards season.
It was only two years ago that I wrote an article for The Quad about the Oscars, and looking back, I may have been losing my faith in awards shows then, too. Even though the shows have turned into politicized platforms that barely serve the purpose they were originally made for, part of me can’t quite stop watching them altogether.
Maybe it’s the fond memories I have of watching these shows with my mom that motivates me to give them one more chance, which is exactly what I did when the Golden Globes aired on Jan 8. That, or maybe there was nothing else on TV and I just caved. Either way, I’m glad I tuned in because the Globes introduced me to my new favorite show, “The Night Of,” which after a week of binging, I finally finished.
I found out about “The Night Of” when a presenter was listing the nominees for Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. The only name I recognized was John Tuturro. My ears perked up when I heard it. Tuturro—a frequent collaborator with my favorite directors, the Coen brothers—was nominated for something? I was automatically in, and when I saw that his co-star Riz Ahmed was also nominated in the same category, I knew this show had to have something going for it.
“The Night Of” centers on Ahmed’s character, Nasir “Naz” Khan, a young college student accused of murdering a female acquaintance, and his psoriasis-ridden attorney, John Stone, played with an experienced ease (that can only come from years in the business) by Tuturro.
Throughout the series, we follow Naz’s time spent in Rikers Island prison awaiting his trial and the trial itself. I came out of the first episode with so many questions: Is Naz guilty? Is Stone cut out to handle this kind of case? Is the criminal justice system really that corrupt?
The first episode literally had me on the edge of my seat. I actually had to pause the show and start it up the next day because it was making me so anxious. I can’t remember the last time any piece of media struck that kind of chord in me.
Without giving away too much information, I can say that there is some sense of closure once the series ends, but with that small amount of closure, I found myself drowning in twice as many questions than when I had started the show, which only makes me want to rewatch even more.
“The Night Of,” not unlike other HBO gems (“True Detective,” anyone?), is a mini-series, meaning it basically has a predetermined, limited number of episodes to tell its story.
I never really gave it much thought until now, but the job of a mini-series is kind of incredible. “The Night Of,” for example, had only eight episodes to introduce its plot, build investable characters and wrap it all up into a neat and compact package. Mini-series don’t have the luxury of 22-episode seasons where characters can grow into themselves and audience ratings have somewhat of a say. The fact that I got so invested in the lives of Naz and Stone and spent a fairly short amount of time with them was amazing to me. The show simultaneously left me fully satisfied and craving more. So it goes.
So my advice to anyone reading is as follows: stream, download or steal your friend’s HBO GO password. Do anything and everything you can to get your eyes on “The Night Of.” I promise you’ll still have your faith in good TV after.
Rachel Alfiero is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with minors in Latin American studies and Spanish. She can be reached at RA806657@wcupa.edu.