Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A More Relatable ‘American Crime’

Review of ABC's "American Crime" season two.
Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton in American Crime season two.
(Photo: ABC/Bill Matlock)
TV SHOW REVIEW
I couldn’t watch past the first episode of American Crime’s first season last year. Though the plots were interesting, they were terribly depressing and I couldn’t relate to any of the scenarios. While the subject matter isn’t any happier (it IS called American Crime for crying out loud) season two appears to have a few bright spots.
 

Like American Horror Story and Secrets and Lies, American Crime is one of TV’s newer ideas of presenting shorter seasons with one continual storyline per season. The cast and characters are changed each season with some of the same actors returning playing different roles. This is a great formatting idea as these types of shows become more like mini-series or long movies.
 

In American Crime’s first season, viewers were faced with the death on a young man, the feuding of divorced parents, a young pathetic couple strung out on drugs who will do anything to get more, arguments about “illegals,” shootings, beatings and more. After watching the very first episode I found myself with no one to root for and watching people destroy their lives was not appealing to me.

Like season one, the second story of American Crime wanders from scene to scene causing you to wonder how they are all related. Even by the end of the first episode you still aren’t sure, but ABC promises that the characters are all connected in some way.

If you’ve seen the commercials, then you already know part of the plot, but pieces don’t completely come together until the last couple of minutes. The main story is about Taylor Blaine (Connor Jessup) who is an unlikely student of a privileged private school. He’s poor. School becomes worse for him when photos exposing him at a school party drunk and passed out. However, he knows that more happened than what is shown in the photos, but he isn’t completely sure what that was. At first he appears to be a jerk to his mother, Anne (Lili Taylor) until she realizes that he is holding a terrible secret and she becomes his greatest ally. (This is enough for me to watch again and see how this plays out. She’s the parent that I want to be.)


The private school is led by headmistress Leslie Graham (Felicity Huffman) who first appears to be concerned about doing the “right thing,” but it becomes pretty clear that protecting the school’s reputation maybe a smarter choice. The basketball team, who has just won another championship, is led by coach Dan Sullivan (Timothy Hutton) who can’t fathom that any of his team members could do anything wrong. Although, he and his wife (Hope Davis) are concerned about the antics of their cheerleading daughter (Sky Azure Van Vliet).


Then, there is rich kid Kevin LaCroix (Trevor Jackson) who is accused of hurting Taylor and seems to have questionable morals. His mother, Terri (Regina King) thinks that her son is too good for his current girlfriend (who appears to be having second thoughts as well) and father Michael (Andre Benjamin) who is just trying to keep the peace. Especially interesting in this season is that Taylor and his mom are white while the LaCroix family are black.


There is no debating that American Crime is done well. Like last year, it is created and executive produced by Oscar-winner John Ridley (12 Years a Slave). Huffman is always great in a “love to hate her” kind of role and Hutton’s character is a refreshing change from his sad sack persona of the first season. I look forward to the rest of the season with cautious optimism. I can only hope that this story will have a redemptive ending.


American Crime airs Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.

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