Let’s get this out of the way now: American Crime doesn’t play around. It is not like anything else on network TV. It’s purposefully slow. The screen goes black when cuss or sexual words are said. It is gritty and made to show every blemish of our current society. With all this in mind, it is the most incredible show on television right now.
For this anthology series, we’ve dealt with racism and religion for Season 1, rape and private school culture for Season 2, and this season we are dealing with labor, illegal immigrants, and sex trafficking. Yeah. They don’t cover any of this with a censored or optimistic lens. It is dark. It is scary. Sometimes, watching a scene makes you cringe as it is so horrifying. However, it is incredibly enlightening at the same time.
I don’t want to go into to much detail about the pilot, so I’ll give you some quick broad details. Regina King (two-time Emmy winner for her work on this show) plays a worker for a non-profit that helps kids get out of prostitution rings. Felicity Huffman plays a concerned wife who cares about her sister, who has had a rough go at life. Her husband is in the family business of owning a tomato farm. Both are affected, in strikingly different ways, when a tragedy hits their immigrant workers’ lives. Cherry Jones plays the newly stressed-out head of the family tomato farm in North Carolina. Benito Martinez plays a Mexican immigrant who has snuck across the wall and is placed in North Carolina, though he has a stronger motive than just getting work. We also have an underage girl who is in a prostitution ring that she has come to see as her new normal, a drug addict who is looking for work, and an immigrant worker who is freaking out over finding new recruits for the tomato farm, played by Richard Cabral.
It’s a lot to handle, and the premiere episodes of American Crime have been known to spin a lot of plates at the same time, as there are always so many characters and plot lines to cover. The show handles the craziness incredibly well, immediately putting you into this world and environment where you start to have various emotions towards characters right out of the get-go. I ended the first episode excited for the second, but also with immediate opinions of character, good or bad.
I have talked before about my love for this show, as Season 2 was one of the best seasons of television I have ever watched. However, this pilot is a fresh start. That’s the scary thing about anthology shows, as sometimes you get a great season (American Horror Story: Coven) and sometimes you get a pile of poop (American Horror Story: Freak Show). I’m already intrigued by the various paces of these different individuals. Every character has something instantly intriguing about them, and I want to see where their stories lead.
Now, there’s an important person I didn’t mention yet, and that is Sandra Oh.
I. Love. Sandra. Oh.
She just makes a brief appearance her, but her return to ABC is welcomed and I am excited to see where her plot line takes her. She is billed as a “Guest Star,” but so was Regina King in Season 1, and she won the Supporting Actress in the Limited Series Emmy, so who knows! She has more a role in the second episode, as she hosts a meeting to teach others about the crazy amounts of trafficking in North Carolina, so hopefully this season features an abundance of her.
Again, don’t feel overwhelmed if you’ve never seen an episode before, as you don’t have to have. This season starts off with a clean slate. The prior seasons are on Netflix, if you want to understand the show’s tone prior to season three, but give this season a chance whether or not you’ve seen an episode.
TV dramas are all very dark now. We don’t get a lot of levity in this age of peak TV when drama series are airing. However, if you have to pick one, American Crime is the way to go.
American Crime premieres Sunday, March 12th at 10pm on ABC.