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Mug shot of Kenneth (Supreme) McGriff.

Source: New York Daily News Archive / Getty

American history is full of stories of everyday people who rose from the bottom of the social ladder to the top, even if they took alternative routes to arrive there. Showtime’s newest series, The Supreme Team, explores an age-old story of an urban crime organization that became one of the nation’s greatest threats but allows us to hear from the men themselves years after the allure has passed from their crimes.

Founded in Southside Jamaica Queens by Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, the Supreme Team quickly became the city’s and one of the nation’s most notorious crews. They quickly added their names to the list of other New York crews that helped inspire and also destroy communities across the country.

Many of us watched hoping to get our fix of crime tales, but the most impactful contribution comes from being able to hear from the two biggest players in the organization, Kenneth McGriff and Gerald “Prince” Miller. Incarcerated for most of their lives, we get to hear more about the events that shaped Miller’s perspective at an early age, including the murder of Clifford Glover, a ten-year-old, killed by the police in 1973, as well as the watershed murder of a New York police officer, Edward Byrne.

Beyond the personal vignettes from both Kenneth McGriff and Gerald Miller, the show succeeds at providing perspectives from a diverse list of people. Everyone from members of the Supreme Team to current NYC Mayor Eric Adams, I. Daneek Miller, LL Cool J, and Joy Reid breaks down the temperature and climate of New York and Queens, which not only humanizes the project but also shows the wide-reaching impact of their legacy. The show also allows the wives and girlfriends of the men to speak about their lives before and after prison, which allows the viewers to see the collateral damage crime causes years later.

The piece also examines the complicated relationship between Irv Gotti and Supreme as well as 50 Cent, further providing fuel for the endless fire between the two camps. Informative and eye-opening, the three-part documentary does a good job of chronicling Queens by delving into the rich history of its construction under L.B. Griffin Construction, the first black-owned construction company in New York as well as it being “the largest enclave of African American home ownership in the Nation” according to New York councilmen I. Daneek Miller.

Ultimately, the documentary does a supreme job of providing the viewers with the context they need to understand the times and people involved, while also examining the issues and consequences of the organization’s actions.