American Crime, season two, episode one begins with a 911 phone call. A woman’s voice (Lili Taylor) tells the operator that she wants to report a rape. The episode then begins to show the backstory leading up to that call. Everything begins, after the 911 call, and the first installment of season two starts by focussing on Taylor Blaine (Connor Jessup).
The teen student is speaking, apparently, with a school counselor at the private school he attends, Leyland. Taylor talks about his chances at college and what he sees as potential problems. Later the boy is seen watching the basketball team practice under the tutelage of Coach Dan Sullivan (Timothy Hutton).
As he looks on, Taylor starts receiving pictures on his cell phone, photos that show him partially dressed and obviously intoxicated. These images are shared on the net and with the entire school This begins a chain of events that will turn this private school upside down.
Initially, the school’s officials react against Taylor Blaine by suspending youngster for inappropriate conduct that goes against the school’s guidelines. Even when Anne Blaine come in, the reaction by the school is to punish Taylor, regardless of the facts.
Anne Blaine (Taylor) is called in for the suspension and, after Dean Henderson refuses to show her the pictures, leaves with her son. She is angry and upset, Taylor refuses to get into the car. As the episode progresses, Anne learns about a basketball “Captain’s” party that Taylor was invited to with his girlfriend. She also sees the pictures.
The players in this season of American Crime includes Anne and her son, with all their emotional baggage and pending backstory. The Headmaster of Leyland Leslie Graham (Felicity Huffman), Coach Sullivan (Hutton) who worries about his winning team members and his daughter, Terri and Michael Lacroix (Regina King and André Benjamin) and their basketball captain son Trevor (Trevor Jackson)and another team captain Eric Lupton (Joey Pollari) appears to be involved as well.
When Anne Blaine comes in to see the headmaster, Graham mixes her message to the mother. The school head wants to lay the blame on Taylor and protect the school’s reputation. Afterward Graham asks Sullivan to speak to his team and find out what happened.
This request upsets the coach, who feels he has a special rapport with his players and he resents being put in the position of “bad guy.” For Sullivan it is all about trust, the same way he sees raising his 17 year-old cheerleader daughter Becca (Sky Azure Van Vliet) and the coach is annoyed and upset.
Graham comes across as the ultimate self promoter. The headmaster is adept that telling parents, the school board, and the faculty what they want to hear. She also puts the school’s reputation above the student’s needs, as evidenced by her reaction to Anne Blaine’s second trip to the school.
When Anne raises concerns that the school seems to be doing little about her son’s rape, Graham becomes threatening to the upset mother. The headmaster bullies the woman which then results in Anne making the 911 call heard at the start of the episode.
Season two of American Crime looks to be another award winning effort. Show creator John Ridley has given us a cast of characters who look to be as intense as the storyline itself. The boy Taylor and his mother have some sort of dysfunctional backstory judging by their interaction, or lack of it and the family of Dan Sullivan has an interesting dynamic.
Dan’s wife Steph (Hope Davis) is worried about their daughter, but the pot smoking mother insists that her husband speak to Becca. She also accuses Dan of becoming too serious because he will not join her smoking weed because of Leyland’s drug tests for staff.
On the school side, Huffman’s character is focussed on her career above all else and bent on protecting it by keeping the school’s reputation spotless. Hutton’s character is weighted down by all the responsibility and concerns that the headmaster is trying to make him “dig the dirt.”
Peripherally, we are introduced to the Lacroix family and from the outset, father Michael is the “cool one’ and mother Terri is an unpleasant woman who pushes her son Kevin to do better. We also meet Taylor’s girlfriend Evy (Angelique Rivera) who tells Anne about the basketball party.
American Crime is gripping with its second season storyline. Dealing with a private school and all its peccadilloes. The tendency to hide the “dirt,” punish the victim and sweep all that unsightly mess under the scholastic rug is one theme in the series this time around.
It also deals with sexuality and preconceived paradigms being challenged by not only the youth of today but the effects of the Internet on our children and us. American Crime airs Wednesdays on ABC. Tune in and get caught up in an intense storyline and high quality acting.