"American Crime", directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley of "12 Years a Slave" fame, centres around the racially charged murder of war veteran Matt Skokie. While the show, which premiered on ABC on 5 March, promised potential, it falls short when compared to network's other fantastically scripted shows.
"American Crime" revolves around the murder of Matt Skokie, a Modesto, California military veteran, that exposes the racial, gender and societal undercurrents that keeps the American justice system afloat. The premiere episode, which unfolded quite slowly on Thursday, begins as Russ Skokie (Timothy Hutton) attends an unfortunate phone call from the Modesto police, wherein they ask him to identify his son Matt's body.
His estranged wife and Matt's mom, Barb (Felicity Huffman), who is the star character of the who so far, is seen butting heads with Russ soon after. Although her demeanour suggests that she is devastated and wants justice for a dead son, she speaks otherwise.
"They're looking for an illegal... It just figures my son goes to another country to fight and then he comes home to America and gets killed by someone from another country." Barb mocks. She also consistently tries to get Russ to atone for failing as a husband and a father.
The investigation into Matt's killer produces three suspects: Tony (Johnny Ortiz), a Hispanic teenage rebel, Mexican street gangster Hector (Richard Cabral), and Carter (Elvis Nolasco), a black drug addict. However, it successfully eludes from concretely depicting either of them as the murderer, and provides enough contradictory evidence so that the viewers believe each of their innocence.
Barb, who is white and bitter, tries to pass of the murder as a bias crime and insensitively asks, what if the case was other way around? What if instead of three coloured men murdering her white son, it had been "three whites who went into a black's house, murdered him, raped his wife."
"American Crime" is more concerned with the repercussions of the murder, the people it affected and the rifts it caused in society, rather than with the murder of Matt itself.
The series moves along at its own pace, but it tactfully and distinctly explores how various individuals react to tragedy and how in most cases assigned identities and inescapable and lasts for a lifetime.
Watch out for the gripping show on Thursdays on ABC.