Friday, May 15, 2015

ABC's American Crime

Honestly, I don't watch much on ABC these days.  In the last year or so I've gotten hooked on a few of their series - anything from the Marvel franchise, Forever, How to Get Away With Murder, and American Crime.

The latter concluded its first season last night. This series is like none other.  It started with a horrible crime and spread through the families involved with an astonishing ripple effect.  The plotline was incredibly relevant to our day and time.

The series started with an attractive young Anglo couple attacked in their home.  The husband was killed. The wife was beaten, raped, shot in the head, but survived with no memory of the event, or notion of who she had been. The families of each of the victims came together and dealt with the horror in different ways.

A young Mexican-American teen-ager became involved because he had rented a car of his father's to the first primary suspect in the attacks. Police suspected it was used to go to the crime scene. Their first suspect was the Mexican gang member who rented the car.

The real culprits of the crime turned out to be an African-American man and his drugged-out Anglo girlfriend. For all their dependence on chemical coping, the couple was very much in love, a bit of poignancy added to the mix.

By looking at the people involved in the crime, you can guess the kinds of tension that built and exploded during the season.

The storyline, riveting and timely, descended into a racial conflict which threatened to boil over into more violence.

Each episode of the series grabbed my interest immediately and made me come back the next week, even though the ugliness of parts of the story repelled me.

Filmed in California (it supposedly took place in Modesto), the outdoor scenes were filmed on the dusty, drought damaged yards and streets. The bleakness of the grounds added to the atmosphere of the story.

An exceptional group of actors at the top of their games filled the cast.  Felicity Huffman in a role in which she was almost unrecognizable did a superb job as the mother of the murdered young man.  Her character was filled with long repressed emotions coming to the top.  I hated the character at times but always understood her. I will not forget her in this part. She was as bleak and unforgiving as the dry ground around her.

Timothy Hutton  played her ex-husband, a reformed alcoholic/gambling addict, now a shuffling, ineffective man destroyed by his cold wife and his own failure to be the father his children needed. He is a pitiful character not quite part of the events, shunned by his ex and his remaining son, desperate to be part of the family once more. Desperate to atone. I'm used to Hutton playing the clever wise-cracking role.  To see him in this role was shattering.

The versatile Regina Taylor played the sister of the man suspected of committing the crime.  The character was an African-American woman who was a Muslim.  She was a super strong woman in her faith in her religion and her brother. She was a righteous woman who did whatever necessary to support her brother. She created a memorable character.

As a writer, I was fascinated by the scripts for each episode.  The progression of the story was established well as the audience learned more about the crime, the victims, the suspects, and their community.

There were plot twists and surprises with the ultimate surprise being the ending.

It was announced last night that the series will return next year.  Undoubtedly it will be a new story as this one concluded.

If you like drama that will grab you and keep your interest and bring insight to our own current events, catch American Crime on demand or when it comes out on video.

I predict there will be Emmy nominations for some of the cast members, and probably Golden Globes.

The series was hard-hitting, but like witnessing a crime in front of me, I could not look away.

Until next time...


  1. Sounds like a terrific series. You keep bringing to my attention the great stories I am missing by not having reliable paid TV access. I might have to rethink that economy.

  2. This one was a good example for authors in the way each episode and the whole series was structured.