Linda Fairstein, the former prosecutor of the five youths in the Central Park jogger case, has become a headline-generating villain thanks to Ava DuVernay's Netflix series -- an "unsavory distraction" forced to quit boards of multiple charities and her alma mater Vassar over the past few days. "Under any other set of circumstances, the actress who brings life to Fairstein, and who so cannily depicts the process of self-assured moralizing turning into racist action, would be getting the reviews of her career and likely cruising to an Emmy win," says Daniel D'Addario. "But unfortunately, that actress, too, has become a bit of a distraction." D'Addario adds: "The fact that Huffman’s performance has been hard to talk about or to metabolize on its own terms has yielded some benefits for a limited series whose structure stacks the deck, a bit. Because there is one Fairstein and five boys, because Fairstein is animated by power and the boys are deflated by powerlessness, and because Huffman is a celebrated star while the actors playing the boys (Asante Blackk, Caleel Harris, Ethan Herisse, Marquis Rodriguez, and, especially, Jharrel Jerome) should be but are not yet, Huffman makes more of an impression. This is so much the case that if she were actively promoting the series, she might easily become the story of the series. Which would be a disservice. Whatever happens with her legal case, she’s already suffered a punishment — the loss of repute around probably her best work ever — that has also had a funny kind of preemptively restorative benefit to those around her. Without her in the headlines about When They See Us, Huffman, through no action of her own, allows her costars, the protagonists of the piece, to shine. Famous white actors receiving accolades for supporting roles in stories anchored by equally able actors of color who get no such shine is hardly a new phenomenon — look at the Oscar nominations for Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman, Sylvester Stallone in Creed, or Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained this decade alone. That is not going to be Huffman’s journey — but one hopes, say, that the spot that might have been reserved for her at the Emmys might end up going to Niecy Nash for complicated, tough work in When They See Us, or that the conversational vacuum she leaves might, as more and more screen the series, get filled by talk about the tenacious, heartbreaking work turned in by Jerome in the final episode. Her absence ends up creating a refreshing and fair bit of reversal-of-fortune whereby we can talk about the heroes and not just the powerful villain."