TV Review - American Crime: Season 2
Oscar-winner John Ridley was also nominated. The writer-director takes his queue from Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story and has made his second season a completely different story with completely different characters in a completely different setting, except most of the actors remain.
For example, Regina King, in Season 1, played a California Black Muslim, living a devout and modest life. This time around, she plays Terri LaCroix, a wealthy, black businesswoman working at a high-powered company in Indiana. King's character was apparently single last year. This year, her Terri LaCroix is married to a successful architect named Michael, played by Andre Benjamin who recently starred in Ridley's Jimi: All is By My Side (2014). Terri and Michael have a teenage son and basketball star named Kevin, played by Trevor Jackson.
Felicity Huffman also co-stars as Leslie Graham, the headmaster of Leyland High School. She's overseeing fundraisers to maintain and even expand the school's prestige and status. Because the rape allegation involves her students, she becomes concerned that it could threaten that prestige and that status. Notice, she isn't concerned with Connor or anyone else's welfare. Her actual concern for students seems minimal, if non-existent.
Timothy Hutton plays Dan Sullivan, the basketball coach who stands in stark contrast to Leslie. His actual concern for students seems extremely high. He's more inclined to call a student on his cell phone or at home to see if he's okay. He's especially concerned when his athletes, his basketball team, are accused in the rape allegation.
Ridley and his team of directors, which include Jamaican filmmaker, Clement Virgo, and gay, Asian filmmaker, Gregg Araki, continue the knockout-style established last season. The story is mostly told through close-ups and occasional medium-shots. By the end, we become intimately aware of all the actors' faces, every pore and in the case of the teen characters, every pimple.
As such, this show really is a vehicle for actors to shine. Thanks to the direction and Ridley's writing, they do shine. All the performances are incredible. Each person feels so lived in, so authentic and real. Each can be shocking one minute and heartbreaking the next, and it all works.
Taylor's treatment and subsequently his mom Anne's treatment, as well as Eric's treatment, show the difference between social classes, the rich and the poor. The rich get all the advantages and the poor don't. Ridley defies stereotypes by making the rich in this case the black people and the poor are the white people. Yet, he doesn't make it as simple as a skin color-reversal. A lot of racial politics that are true are explored honestly and not under the simple gimmick of something like Trading Places (1983).
Running Time: 1 hr.
Wednesdays at 10PM on ABC.