The first season of American Crime was a captivating enough story, but season two took the show to whole new levels with its disturbing subject matter and exceptional performances. How will season three stack up? It’s too soon to tell, but I’m very optimistic.
Be warned: American Crime is definitely not for everyone. The subject matter is frequently disturbing, and the cinematography forces you to stay in the moment long after you’re comfortable. This year promises to tackle such weighty themes as immigration, poverty, drug addiction, human trafficking, and God knows what else. Who’s in for the ride?
Predictably, this is a stellar season premiere with immaculate performances. Felicity Huffman, Luis Salazar, and Regina King are all back, and they’re playing vastly different roles (with the same finesse we’re used to). But they’re also joined by a ton of new additions – chief among them is Sandra Oh of Grey’s Anatomy fame. Oh was always spectacular on that show, so I’m excited to see her tackle heavier material without comedy to fall back on. Also joining the cast is 24‘s Cherry Jones (another actress with gravitas) as Laurie, the matriarch of a family-run farm, and Ana Mulvoy-Ten who delivers a gut-wrenching performance as teenage prostitute Shae. Her ordeal is certainly the most engrossing, and she supplies the premiere with one heck of a memorable (albeit unsettling) ending.
Bits from America
– Much like season two, this premiere begins with a 911 phone call. We also see a dead body floating in a pond.
– I love how we’re introduced to Kimara – she’s trying to pay a very expensive cable bill before she’s called in to deal with a male trafficking victim (who doesn’t see himself as a victim). I loved the contrast between the opening scene, and the closing scene where she provides similar aid to poor Shae.
– Notice the scene where a saleswoman is applying makeup to Shae in the store. The camera frames Shae’s face and nothing else. You can just sense that something is not right, especially the way her “boyfriend” talks to her.
– So why does Luis want to go to North Carolina? Will he connect with the rest of the cast soon?
– Connor Jessup is also back. He was phenomenal as Tyler last season, so here’s hoping he’s equally great this year as a homeless teenager who finds work on the farm. Interestingly, much like the prostitutes in this episode, his work is also off-the-books and through a handler or “pimp”. I see a running theme this year!
– The scene with the sleazy businessman making Shae wipe off the makeup to look younger disturbed the hell out of me. How is this a network show? ABC really hit a home-run with this show – it’s cable TV quality in terms of both writing and from a technical perspective.
– Kimara’s IVF was unsuccessful. My guess is, she’ll adopt Shae by the end of the season.
– Felicity Huffman was a standout “villain” last season, and this year she’s playing Jeanette – housewife of Laurie’s son Carson. She visits her ex-junkie sister and tries to get her a job in the family business (her husband is not open to the idea since she stole from them in the past). Uh oh.
– Terrifying scene with Shae being ordered to recruit the poor girl off the streets. Thank God she said no.
– Most disturbing thing I’ve seen all year: the drunk slobbering all over Shae and then dragging her out of frame. The police busting through those doors was such a relief.
– God I love those signature violins that the show often plays. They bookend the hour in such a creepy manner.
Man: We’re not Whole Foods. Our customers demonstrate price sensitivity.
Carson: They’re cheap.
As expected, American Crime is still as thought-provoking and as addictive as ever.