Watch Brick City
- 2 Seasons
Set in Newark, New Jersey, Brick City is a docuseries that provides an unflinching, behind-the-scenes look at the challenges that confront America's inner cities. Premiering in 2009 on the Sundance Channel, the show spans various institutions and communitiesâfrom police departments to public schools, health care facilities to local government officesâin an effort to explore the multiple factors that shape urban life. Through a diverse cast of characters and interviews with city leaders, activists, and ordinary citizens, the show captures the hopes, frustrations, and contradictions of urban life for those who call Newark home. At the center of the series is the city's police department, helmed by Police Director Garry McCarthy. With unprecedented access to McCarthy and his team, the show explores the high-stakes world of law enforcement in a city where violent crime is a daily reality. We see officers on patrol, detectives investigating homicides, and SWAT teams responding to emergencies, all while grappling with budget constraints, public scrutiny, and the threat of violence. Throughout the series, McCarthy emerges as a central figure, a tough cop with a pragmatic streak who is working to modernize his department and build trust with the community he serves. But Brick City is not just a police procedural. It also delves into other areas of city life that are often overlooked in mainstream media. We meet Kyla McCarthy, a young girl with severe asthma whose family is struggling to find affordable healthcare. We witness the travails of a public school system that is chronically underfunded and plagued by high dropout rates. And we follow the political career of Cory Booker, then Newark's mayor and now a well-known political figure, as he navigates the challenges of governing a city with limited resources and a complex racial and ethnic makeup. One of the strengths of the series is its diversity of perspectives. We hear from activists like Ras Baraka, a community organizer who is critical of the police department's use of force, and from business owners who are working to revitalize Newark's struggling economy. We also see the impact of crime on victims' families, and the difficult choices that many residents face as they try to navigate a city that is simultaneously a place of opportunity and a place of danger. In addition to its focus on urban life, Brick City stands out for its innovative visual style. The series employs a mix of verite-style footage, where the camera follows characters as they go about their daily lives, and more stylized sequences that use music, editing, and animation to explore broader themes. For example, in one episode, the show uses animation to depict the effects of a gunshot on a victim's body, while in another, we see a montage of city residents discussing their hopes and dreams set against a soundtrack of jazz music. This creative use of visuals helps to capture the raw energy and vitality of Newark, while also conveying the complex emotions that underlie daily life in the city. Overall, Brick City is a compelling and thought-provoking series that offers a nuanced portrait of urban America. By focusing on the experiences of ordinary people, the show sheds light on the complex forces that shape life in a city, from poverty and inequality to race and class. At the same time, it celebrates the resilience and creativity of Newark's residents, who are working to build a better future for themselves and their families. Whether you are a fan of true crime shows, documentaries, or socially conscious dramas, Brick City is sure to leave a lasting impression.