A brutal attack which results in the death of a young man and leaves his wife barely clinging onto life sends shock waves through the community and stirs up racial and ethnic tensions. Warning there are spoilers ahead.
As soon as I saw the promo for this show I knew it was going to be dark, intense and in places difficult to watch. And that’s exactly what the pilot served up. In 43 minutes the show covered murder, drugs, sexual assault, addiction, gang culture and racial inequalities. When you’re dealing with sensitive issues like these there’s definitely pressure to do it right. American Crime did just that and then some. The entire episode was an emotional roller coaster ride that had me almost in tears at one moment and then wanting to shout at my screen the next. The crimes committed were the starting point for the show but it was actually the scenes showing the racial inequalities and social issues that stood out and really drew me in. The scene in which a murder suspect, played by the very talented Richard Cabral, repeatedly questioned why he was shot when trying to flee from police and then explained it was because he didn’t matter to them particularly highlighted this, and was one of the saddest moments of the episode.
Another great thing about the show is that the characters are written in such a way that there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ guys, they are simply just people who have made questionable decisions and landed themselves in awful situations. The couple addicted to drugs are most evident of this and you wonder what led them to where they are now. Caitlin Gerard and Elvis Nolasco who portrayed the pair really nailed the vulnerability and desperation of their characters. And they weren’t the only ones. Honestly the performances of each cast member were so good that it’s hard to pick a standout. Benito Martinez and Johnny Ortiz, playing father and son Alonzo and Tony, had excellent chemistry together but their individual talents also really shone through especially in the scene where Tony is taken into police custody. Felicity Huffman who plays the murder victim’s mother was predictably brilliant, showing the darker side of grief. However it was Timothy Hutton that really stole the show. The scene in which he broke down in the bathroom stall was definitely the hardest to watch and yet it was the best of the episode. His performance was so real and raw; it was genuinely heartbreaking.
So the cast were brilliant, the plot was enthralling and the writing intelligent. I could probably go on for pages and pages about how great I think the show is but I think I’ll let you discover it for yourself. In the simplest terms: American Crime is a winner!