Brick City (S1 Episode 1)

Brick City is a documentary series that follows the lives of residents and city officials in Newark, NJ. The subtitle of the series is “Change Comes Hard.”

Episode 1 follows Mayor Cory Booker, his police chief, and Jayda (a resident of the city). All of them are striving to change the city and neighborhood in some way. Booker and McCarthy are agents working on macro level of citywide problems: what can they do to reduce crime, increase movement into the city, and make life better for people living in the city. Jay is an example of working on the micro level of city engagement and trying to move into the mezzo level of focus. The story starts with her working with students at a local middle school near her, and later follows her to a meeting where she is speaking with a consultant about starting her own non-profit program.

To show the immensity of the task of change, all of these people are shown in the context of what they are trying to change. In the same episode McCarthy tells Booker shootings have gone down during this time period as compared to last year, they both learn that a child had been shot in the neck. Jayda, while in her school has to break up a fight between the very same girls that she is trying to inspire.

I really enjoyed this episode because rather than bog the viewer down with all of the historical facts about the City of Newark, or focus too much on the buildings n the downtown area, it instead throws the audience right into the lives of the people it is following. I think that this abrupt introduction to a city leaves the audience no time to form a conception of the city from historical background, but rather, they must use the information they are presented with to make judgements.