“American Crime” is a new television series that began airing on ABC in March of this year. Since then, it has been highly praised by critics and viewers alike, yet the views have steadily dropped since the first episode. The show airs every Thursday, starting with a season of eleven episodes.
“American Crime” is a drama about the justice system in the United States. It starts off with the murder of a young white veteran and attempts to show how this one death can affect the families and lives of those directly and indirectly connected to the crime. The show deals with issues of race, drug use, family, relationships, and violence which seems like a lot to take on in one show, but instead is a realistic and poignant representation of American society. In an interview with writer John Ridley, he explains the purpose of this diversity in “American Crime”:
“You can say good morning, and you can offend half the population. And it’s something you have to get past. Right now, organizations need to be in reality, not in diversity. So we had individuals with all kinds of backgrounds. And it wasn’t necessarily about vetting or is this proper because even people within ethnic group or race or religion are going to see things differently….But it’s just saying are these things coming from a real human point?”
And the show’s focus on diverse people and circumstances helps build something important—human character. The characters in “American Crime” range from a grieving but racist mother to immigrants that the American judicial system takes advantage of to an African-American man perhaps wrongfully accused of murder. At first, the show seems to take on a lot. However, each character introduced is not a hero or a villain; every character’s unique situation and flaws provokes a complex reaction from the audience where they have empathy yet are still critical of each action. Basically, John Ridley has successfully created a show where the audience cares about the characters on a human level. Columnist Jeff Simon writes an in-depth article on his opinion of this matter, as well.
The most significant reason why you should watch “American Crime” is because it is relevant. For the first time, a broadcast drama is showing as much liberty as cable shows have in the past. “American Crime” offers important critique and insight into American culture, yet viewership drops each week because we fear watching a piece of reality instead of an escape through television. Advertising drops because companies do not want to associate their products with something critical. “American Crime” connects to the racism and police brutality that caused outrage in Ferguson, Missouri. It connects to feminism and the role of strong women in society. It connects to religion and differences as well as conflict in faith. It connects to the relationships that occur between people of different races, backgrounds, and socioeconomic standing. And, in John Ridley’s words:
Suddenly, you realize this was not a show about looking back. This was not a period piece. This was a show that was going to be timely if it was done five years ago, if it was done 20 years ago, if it was done right this very minute if we were filming. And unfortunately, it may still be timely five years from now. Particulars may change. Circumstances, unfortunately, seem to be very, very similar.