American Crime was one of the most critically acclaimed shows of last season, and it generated quite the conversation when it debuted. Not only did it feature an all-star cast, but it eventually became one of the most buzzed about awards contenders of the last season. Both Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton turned in noticeable performances, but it was Regina King who walked away with an Emmy win a few months ago. It’s one of the few limited series programs that isn’t overly flashy with its season-to-season storylines, and it certainly helps with the premiere of season two. If this premiere is any indication, we are in for a compelling season of drama.
Instead of continuing with the story from the first season, the actors get to switch gears to play other people, and the storyline of Season Two of Crime is totally different. Set in Indianapolis, the pilot centers on Taylor Blaine, a high school athlete who finds himself the subject of humiliation when pictures of him drunk at a party circulate around his prestigious private school. When confronted by his single mother, Anne (an emotional Lili Taylor), her son confesses that he was sexually assaulted by his fellow basketball teammates. Or at least he thinks he was.
When we originally reviewed the first episode of the first season, the gang at ADTV seemed a bit intimidated by Crime’s drama. It immediately delved into a horrific murder and rape that might have also scared off viewers. The second season deals with a traumatic subject, but it doesn’t push your face in it. We are immediately questioning a lot of the characters’ motives and interactions, and that’s partially what makes this a curious hour of television. Huffman stars as the headmistress of school, and one can’t help but raise their eyebrow when she says, “we mean what we say” to Anne to assure her that the alleged rape will be investigated.
The relationships between parents and their children is obviously going to be a running theme throughout this season, and the familial dynamics are already very established. Regina King’s Terri expects her athlete superstar son to make sure he makes a name for himself and criticizes him for passing the ball at a key moment in a basketball game. In the next scene, Taylor makes his tearful confession to Anne, and she is heartbroken to find out that no one helped her son when he was obviously drunk and confused. It’s also very clear that these parents will do whatever it takes to protect and guard their children. Huffman has always been a favorite of mine, but her supportive headmistress has her school’s reputation at stake. Watching her through this season will be exciting.
Coming after the television debut of the CNN documentary (and Oscar hopeful) The Hunting Ground, American Crime’s choice of subject matter is timely and disturbing. The Kirby Dick documentary briefly mentions that young men and boys are not “expected” to become victims of rape or sexual assault, but Crime is clearly not afraid to discuss these topics. Surely, this season will touch upon homophobia and the unrelenting culture of sex that we live in and are barely capable of controlling. It may be dramatic, but it is also vital.