American Crime in episode 9 manages to move the players along nicely as season two moves to its end. Leslie Grantham circles the wagons after the school’s server is attacked. Dan Sullivan learns that his team is falling apart and that Eric cannot see beyond his own issues, or at the very least, has no ability to feel empathy for someone else and is disturbed by the fact.
The coach is shocked and dismayed at the boy’s decision to leave the team after another player calls him “gay-boy.” Kevin is angry at the other players who beat Taylor Blaine as he believes this led to Blaine shooting his teammate dead in front of Leyland.
Sebastian hacks the school’s server and posts Leyland faculty email and internal memos online. His actions cause the school headmaster to take charge. She turns the table on the school board that clamored for her resignation and emerges victorious. At a meeting she forces the board to resign.
American Crime‘s second season, with its high school setting, a homosexual rape, racial tensions, homophobia, drug use, and two distinct tiers of educational facilities culminated in a school shooting. This can be seen as brave and/or inflammatory which is, no doubt, the reason that the show aired conversations with Columbine survivors and various real people who faced bullying for their sexuality.
(In one case the parent of a boy who killed himself because of homophobic bullying.)
This cold dash of realism adds to the poignancy and drama of the storyline. This season saw a shift from its tale of a male student’s sexual identity and rape and the reaction of the community, both the school system’s hierarchy and law enforcement to the incident.
As Taylor Blaine’s mother struggled for justice and to learn what really happened the two schools suffered meltdowns in student relations as well as faculty problems. The ramifications of the alleged rape have led to Eric being ostracized by his own mother, Kevin standing accused of abetting the assault and the death of a student by shooting.
Taylor has a champion in Sebastian (Richard Cabral) who appears to have his own reasons and agenda for helping. Grantham has moved from shock, depression and lethargy to emerge stronger than ever while Coach Sullivan has moved from attack mode to circling his own wagons after learning that Becca sold Taylor drugs before the shooting.
Show creator John Ridley has taken the theme of high school as microscopic society and exploded it. The entire landscape of the American scholastic institution is shown to be biased, homophobic, stressed, income based and hypocritical. This does not just cover the students, but the faculty, school board and to a huge degree the parents.
This is upper middle class versus lower class at its ugliest. Ridley has chosen to show what goes behind creating a Columbine situation. In essence this scenario, the rape of Taylor Blaine the authorities reaction to the crime and all the various players who have also reacted badly to the incident have created a “perfect storm.”
Before the end credits, Dixon is out, Grantham is triumphant and Dan Sullivan’s wife has pleaded with, initially, and then attempted to blackmail Anne Blaine into protecting Becca Sullivan (Sky Azure Van Vliet) from drugs charges.
Sebastian amps up his attack on the school and it seems that with one episode left, that Taylor may still be the single victim who will never find closure. It will be interesting to see how the series will proceed after the shooting, meant to be Grantham and not a student, and the dissolution of the school board at Leyland.
American Crime, by episode nine, shows that parents will do anything to protect their children, or in Anne Blaine’s case, get justice for as well as keep a child from going to prison for murder.
Kudos to Timothy Hutton for making his Coach Sullivan a man who believes in the principles that he preached to his players. The Oscar winning actor also makes the character real, in other words, flawed and human. There is truth in his Dan Sullivan with his reactions to all that has happened thus far.
Also worthy of high praise is Felicity Huffman who has managed to make her high-salaried headmaster run a range of emotions and in so doing elicited several types of reactions from the viewer. Truly a masterful performance.
American Crime has delivered a tale that is, at times, hard to watch. Yet for all the misery, pain and heartbreaking things that have transpired as a result of that initial crime, the show is nigh on impossible not to watch.
Episode 10 airs March 8. Tune in to see the outcome of this new American crime.