I’ve never been and still am not a big believer in watching a lot of television. I get most of my energy from other people so as I’ve grown older I’ve insisted on real-life interactions, and not watching characters on the tube. Lately, though, I’ve given TV entertainment more of a chance. Especially when it comes to cable television. I feel like we’re almost in the midst of a “TV renaissance” of sorts, where there are so many great options – and some shows even feel like full-length feature films. From the storylines to the production quality; after taking an “Intro to Film” course in college many years ago, I’ve gained a sincere appreciation for well-shot and well-written stories.
That appreciation brings us, today, to American Crime. First things first: if you prefer content that is easy to swallow, light-hearted, and not dealing with very, VERY real issues, then American Crime is likely not for you. But if you prefer shows that make you think, question your own ideas and values, and are dealing with very real, present-day issues that you could easily see if you walked down Main Street of any American town…then American Crime is probably just what you’re looking for.
Here’s a sneak peak at one of the most powerful questions from Season 2 of American Crime. Read more inside:
One of the more interesting things about American Crime is that each season has many of the same actors, but they each play different characters. I didn’t know about AC during the first season, but even just seeing clips and photos from the first season in contrast to the characters that these actors are playing in the second season has been interesting.
The focus of this current, second season is a high school student named Taylor, played by Connor Jessup (who is an absolutely phenomenal actor from Canada). Taylor is the victim of a sexual assault at the hands of a classmate at a party where there are many illegal substances involved. Once she learns about the sexual assault, his mother begins a crusade of sorts to bring justice to those whom she feel have violated her son and failed to protect him. From the alleged rapist to the school system, she is a woman on a mission. Lili Taylor plays Taylor’s mother, Anne, and while she is very irritating in the first couple of episodes, her passion for her son and her ability to portray a mother on an unwavering search for justice is incredible.
Even in the previews to the very first episode, it is evident that the second season will deal issues of male-on-male sexual assault, education, social class, race, suicide, bullying and mental illness. And that’s just to a name a few of the issues that they talk about in the show.
American Crime is beautifully crafted, and shot in a very unique way. Throughout a scene filled with riveting, emotional dialogue, the camera will often focus on the main character, while secondary and tertiary characters are completely left out of the frame. In the midst of an intense argument, the camera may suddenly pan across the living room to document the layout of and environment in which the argument is taking place. This unique approach to capturing the actors and their surroundings is like nothing else I’ve seen on television this season or in any other medium.
More than anything, I love American Crime because, although it can be very serious, it definitely makes me think. Before watching this show, I had no real concept of male-on-male sexual assault. As these students question their sexual identities they, too, have to deal with their parent’s divorce, another parent’s mental illness, and their own feelings of guilt, shame, and curiosity. It’s a bag full of emotions that make for very thought provoking episodes.
While the students are dealing with that one bag full of emotion, the administrators and their parents are dealing with another. How do you discipline the students at the lower-income school for starting fights with their classmates? How do you handle a student who wants to transfer back to the lower-income school from the ritzy local private school? How does the private school handle the scandal of a student who attempted suicide? How does the private school handle the demands of both parents and the school board members?
Most recently, American Crime’s production took another very interesting turn. I won’t share the impetus for it as far as the storyline is concerned (no spoilers here!), but the episode was beautifully littered with pieces of narratives from teachers, parents, and loved ones who were survivors of school shootings. While I’ve never been directly involved with a school shooting, I’ve been very close to 2. The way that their reflections and emotion are so well captured really hit close to home. American Crime did them right by giving them such an un-biased but culturally appropriate forum in which to voice their reflections. Check out some of the videos from that episode (number 8) here.
I definitely plan to finish out this season, and maybe I’ll be so thirsty for more of this show that I’ll go back and catch the first season. I’ve heard that season one deals much more with issues of religion, which usually isn’t my cup of tea, but if it’s made as well as season two, I will definitely stick around to see what it’s all about.
American Crime airs Wednesday nights on the local ABC channel. In my area, Northern Virginia, it airs at 10:00 p.m. EST. Check it out.