“American Crime” stars Richard Cabral as Hector Tonz, Elvis Nolasco as Carter, Caitlin Gerard as Aubry, Johnny Ortiz as Tony Gutierrez, Benito Martinez as Alonzo Gutierrez, Timothy Hutton as Russ, Felicity Huffman as Barb, W. Earl Brown as Tom and Penelope Ann Miller as Eve. American Crime has a very good cast and it looks good as well.
The title makes me think of mobsters and shotouts on the streets of Chicago in the 1930s. The kind of show where the good guys wear white hats and the bad guys chew on cigars. But that’s not what American Crime is about. The evil gang in the story is the Police Dept that railroads some poor kid and shoots another one down in the street. The only note that rang false here was that they didn’t drill the guy with forty or fifty rounds, they just wounded him. Wow, great special effect.
Like most newer dramas, there are no heroes to be had, just villains in at least fifty shades of gray. Cops and judges who aren’t corrupt, but are outright bastards. Parents who don’t do to a good a job of protecting their kids. Kids who are criminals of one sort or another. The only seemingly innocent people are the strangers played by Extras we see in the background, and I’m none too sure about them.
There’s a murder that connects several stories. This brings in an absentee father and a racist mother who are the dead man’s parents. The dead man’s wife lays in a coma as her parents mainly stand around wringing their hands. On the other side we see the three knuckleheads who are involved in committing the crime and their loved ones. We don’t know what really happened, that’s the mystery here. The Legal System is all about chewing them up and grinding them into dust and has zero interesting in finding out what really happened-all they care about is closing the case-and treating everyone they meet like dirt.
We have one kid who seems to a bit slow in the Special Needs kind of way. But he is shoved through the System with no indication that anyone cares that he’s not firing on all cylinders. He’s our only really sympathetic character, all he did was loan someone a car, which hardly seems like a death penalty offence to me. But he did talk to the Cops, which everyone who have ever watched any cop show every made should know is a huge mistake. Cops are never on your side. And they sure as hell aren’t on anyone’s side in this show.
After the first few episodes I think the best thing that could happen to American Crime’s Modesto would be a nice A-Bomb being dropped on it. It’s downer of a show for sure and if the ratings don’t improve, this experiment in long form drama on network TV might be over before it really gets going.
American Crime airs on ABC.