This is not a recap. It’s more of an explanation about why I was so late to the party for this TV show. I’m actually watching the latest episode now as I type this.
When the fall season began, Thursday nights on ABC was ruled by Shonda Rimes. We had Grey’s Anatomy at 8 p.m. Scandal at 9 p.m. and How to Get Away With Murder at 10 p.m. Once HTGAWM ended I was sort of glad for a break in the three hours of drama. Grey’s Anatomy sucked again last night. Scandal is losing it’s appeal. HTGAWM has more holes in the plot than swiss cheese. Perhaps it is time to give American Crime a chance?
I watched the first episode of American Crime eventually and I wasn’t really that into it. For some reason, I was looking for something to binge on one weekend and gave the show another chance, and I am so glad I did.
Yesterday, Robert Rorke at the NYPost printed a great article on the show. Here is how it opens:
The best network TV show that no one’s watching is ABC’s “American Crime.”
How this provocative drama from Oscar winner John Ridley got lost in the programming shuffle — and has yet to be renewed — is one of the more distressing mysteries of the TV season. Ideally, it should have premiered last fall, when audiences were primed for new offerings, instead of being tacked on the schedule in March — after the conclusion of the dopey (and unresolved) Viola Davis acting seminar “How To Get Away With Murder.”
Rorke also gives this brief synopsis for those unfamiliar with the show:
We meet the three families after the murder of Matt Skokie, a US military veteran who has become a petty drug dealer in Modesto, Calif. His divorced parents, recovering gambling addict father Russ (Timothy Hutton) and racist mother Barb (Felicity Huffman), are bitterly reunited. Matt’s wife, Gwen (Kira Pozehl), survives the shooting but is left stricken with aphasia and cannot help the case; her parents (W. Earl Brown and Penelope Ann Miller) are more concerned with their daughter’s recovery than with Barb’s crusade for justice. A local family, the Gutierrezes, becomes swept up in the arrests when a teenage boy (Johnny Ortiz) is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
There are basically three suspects who have been arrested in the case. Carter Nix, a black drug addict who is a surprisingly likeable person despite his tragic circumstances and violent tendencies. He has a white girl friend who is also an addict and the two are pretty much non-functional and teeter on the edge of death every episode. Both of their families arrive to try to save them from themselves and blame the other member of the duo for pretty much everything. The white girls family is desperate to get her back home away from the drugs and Carter. Carter’s sister is hard core in the Nation of Islam and offers to help bail him out on the condition he never see the girl again. Neither of these two can keep that promise.
Hector Tontz is a Hispanic gang member who was arrested in connection with the murder as he was seen driving a car in the area at the time of the murder. Tony Gutiérrez is a seemingly naïve teen who was loaning out cars from his father’s garage to people for some spending money. He “rented” a car to Hector which was connected to the murder and was arrested while later driving it.
Timothy Hutton and Felicity Huffman are brilliant in their roles as the parents of their murdered son. Barb (Huffman) is a bigot and Russ (Hutton ) has been estranged from the family for 20 years over some gambling situation 20 years prior.
The parents of the murder victims wife, who is in a coma, are fiercely protective of her. There are rumors that she was raped, and then evidence seem to lean toward her having consensual sex with multiple men.
It’s a crime drama that is using the current racial uproar in this country to drive ratings. That did not work. The main reason for that is every person of every race in this series is a hyperbolic stereotype. Everyone is broken. Everyone is racist. The white people are racist, the Hispanic people are racist, the National of Islam people are racists, and soon the Asian fiancée of the victim’s brother will arrive and I expect her to be racist too. Law enforcement is mediocre at best. The court systems fail everyone and corrupt some of the affected in the process. There are few if any redeemable characters. Tony’s father is a single dad and also has a high school age daughter to raise. He is trying his best, but failing.
It’s all a big tragic mess. We don’t like to watch big tragic messes on TV. It’s gut wrenching at times. The acting is fantastic. It’s just that there will probably not be a happily ever after for anyone.
So, it is one of those “critically acclaimed shows” that we are not watching. But I am watching. Because I just can’t look away.