Photo by Bob D'Amico - © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
Photo by Bob D’Amico – © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

Last week on February 7th, SCAD Atlanta’s aTVfest premiered a two-episode sneak peak of the upcoming series “American Crime” at the SCAD Show theater. The star of the new series, Academy Award winner Timothy Hutton (“Ordinary People,” “Leverage”) was honored with SCAD’s annual Icon Award for his work of over thirty years as an actor.

The new series offers a story one would expect to see on a channel like HBO or Showtime, but is it a premium cable show? No. It does seem like a show one might see on FX or AMC, but it is not a basic cable show either. It certainly does not seem like a show one might see on a network channel, but it is! ABC showcases a realistic and well-told serialized drama that soars.

Russ (Timothy Hutton) is a father whose son has been murdered and his daughter-in-law is in a coma after having been raped. His ex-wife Barb (Felicity Huffman, “Desperate Housewives”) arrives and they handle the aftermath notifying the in-laws and wait as the police investigate the crime. It is not exactly clear why Russ and Barb’s son and daughter-in-law were attacked in their home, but one thing is for certain, there is not a simple answer to this case as we follow other people somehow tied to the crime including a meth-addicted couple, a Latino family who run a car business and a Latino gang member who’s been running around town using Russ’ son’s credit card.

As I was sitting waiting for the premiere to start, I noticed the title card and thought to myself, “Why is the show titled ‘American Crime’?” I understood that it’s about a crime that has taken place in America, but why is it titled that? Just about any other crime show could have that general name, but after watching the first two episodes, it became very clear. It is called “American Crime” because it’s about a crime that seems so relevant and in line with what’s happening in America right now. The show deals with issues involving racism, gender and class. What’s amazing is how the show gracefully handles those issues in ways we’ve rarely ever seen onscreen. Without being too left or too right, it provides a story that everyone can understand.

This is a very different show for ABC. It has the most realistic characters out of all their other programs. While we all love characters from ABC shows like Richard Castle (“Castle”)  and Olivia Pope (“Scandal”), they are not very “real” in that you would probably never actually meet someone like them. Timothy Hutton’s character Russ though, seems very much like someone whom you could meet in real life as he grieves for his son and tries to piece together the whole situation. This is a show that stays very grounded in portraying a realistic world where ordinary human beings experience a terrible atrocity that could happen to anyone.

Series premieres Thursday on March 5th at 10/9c.


Kristofer Seppala

Kristofer is a writing grad student at SCAD Atlanta. He has a particular love for films from spy flicks to rom-coms. His favorite actress is Emma Stone and his man crush is Michael Fassbender.