It’s a Crime, If You’re Not Watching!

I’m not one of those people who have vivid memories of my childhood. I mean I remember that I had one, so it’s not like amnesia or anything. I know it may be wrong to say, and I’m sure that I’ll offend someone with this comment, but I think it would be cool to have like a weeklong amnesia experience. But, not like anything serious, because that would really suck. Anyway, back to what I started to write, before I got distracted with being politically incorrect.

I do, however, remember back in 1982 when my mom and dad went to see E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. They didn’t go to the movies all that often, both of them worked weird hours and they had five brats (well four brats and me), so they just didn’t make it very often. Everyone was talking about E.T. and how wonderful it was. So my mom was really excited to go see it. I think I had already seen it and was so happy that they were going to see it. When they got home that night, I remember asking my mom what she thought about it. I remember her looking at me and saying something along the lines of “It was good, but I don’t understand why everyone loves it, it’s not very realistic”. I was floored. How could she say that about such an amazing movie. I looked at my dad and said “If she wants real life, why doesn’t she just go sit on the streets of St. Louis and watch the bums in the gutter.” Now I think I would tell her if she wanted real life, she should just watch American Crime.


American Crime is the newest show that airs Thursday Night on ABC and if you aren’t watching, you are missing something pretty damn amazing for network television. This show is cable quality. And by cable quality I’m talking HBO or Showtime quality, not Bravo quality. Are you allowed to say Bravo and quality in the same sentence?

This show has a cast that is superb and spot on. The writing is gut wrenchingly disturbing. The direction is wonderful for the depth of story that is being exposed. And the quality of the production is top notch. This is the type of television the networks need to be making instead of any more Law & Order, CSI or NCIS spin offs. Not that I’m slamming those shows, but a lot can be said for originality.


American Crime centers on the murder of a young white married couple in Modesto, CA. The police arrest two male Latinos, one African-American male, and a white woman for the murder. The parents of the young man murdered are portrayed by Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton. And to say that these two are giving the performances of their careers would be an understatement. Hutton is reaching new depths to show the struggle of a father who wasn’t always there for his son, and now is trying to figure out who his son really was. And Huffman is intriguing as she explores the anger and hatred that you can only assume has been festering under the surface of this woman for years. Huffman, who has spent years playing characters of warmth and compassion, wears the racial hatred of her character as justifiable reasoning.


The show explores the complexities of the police and judicial system and deals head on with the issue of racism within it. Quickly we see the role race plays in the mindset of the families and the police. It is also interesting to note that of the four individuals arrested by the police for this crime the only one released is the white woman. We are also shown the way the media chooses to play into the race game. Quickly jumping on the issue of the Latinos arrested and questioning whether or not they are legal residents of the USA.

The show is written and produced by the writer of Seven Years a Slave and he is demonstrating his ability to delve into the depth of character and story as he did in that film. The show is being filmed in a very cinematic style, with quick takes and cut-aways. They are also using music and sound and, most importantly, quiet reflective moments to sharpen the effect of the story.

I am so impressed at the depth of character and story that both ABC is demonstrating this spring with this show and Secrets & Lies, as well as NBC with The Slap. Now if only CBS could decide to give originality a fair share, commercial television could be part of the golden age of television. Wouldn’t that be nice?

The one problem I’m faced with though is my mom. I can’t get her to watch the show. It’s too dark and real. She says she doesn’t want to watch that. This from the woman who is addicted to true crime T.V. Sometimes parents just don’t make sense.


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