John Ridley, who is a solid winner with awards and winning projects to prove his talent as creator, gives American Crime a second season with a premiere that looks intense and uncomfortable. It includes Issues that deal with teen sexuality, a clear class system in the American educational system and racial issues. In the opening episode a mother’s son is temporarily “expelled” after “inappropriate” pictures of the boy turn up on social media.
Taylor Blaine (Falling Skies’ Connor Jessup) is shown drunk and partially dressed. When his mother (Lili Taylor) learns of the expulsion and the pictures she is outraged and upset. Talking to her son she learns that the boy was drugged and sexually assaulted. Going to Taylor’s school, she speaks to the headmaster, played by Felicity Huffman, who then asks the basketball coach (Timothy Hutton) to investigate the charges.
American Crime is following the example of American Horror Story; that Ryan Murphy created, and will offer up many actors from the first season as different characters in a completely different storyline. Huffman, who played Barb Hanlon in season one is back and Hutton, who played Russ Skokie, has also returned.
The premiere starts the second season by offering drama with a capital D. Questions of ethics, class divides in the school system, as well as society, and school officials who are anxious to cover up any hint of a scandal makes for heavy duty television.
It is all too easy to become swept up in the storyline and it would be a hard hearted viewer who does not empathize with both Taylor and his bewildered mother. Each of the characters introduced come with a bag full of issues. The episode offers up dysfunctional families, parents struggling to deal with their children’s issues and a closing of the ranks by a prestigious school more concerned with its reputation than justice for an the victim.
Anyone not having seen the first season of American Crime can tell by the caliber of the performers in the show alone that this will be one powerhouse season. With three actors on the roster that are award winning; Hutton has an Oscar for his performance in the 1980 film Ordinary People, and Hoffman was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Transamerica. Lili Taylor has a multitude of awards as well.
Watching the premiere, of episode 201, it is immediately clear that if a television series could have a pedigree, American Crime would be that show. Serious, deep and disturbing, the second season will become necessary water cooler TV for 2016. Tune in and catch the premiere on January 6, 2016. Prepare to be impressed, disturbed and to think.