A TV Series that Actually Matters: American Crime (JOUR 4250)

If you have not already been watching ABC’s newest series, American CrimeI highly recommend that you start. Yes, Keeping Up With the Kardashians is entertaining, but it has no application to the majority of Americans’ lives. On the other hand, American Crime is REAL. During a time with so much public focus on police brutality and abuse of power, the show is completely relevant.

Thank you John Ridley (the screenwriter for Twelve Years a Slave) for developing this series. 

The show explores countless other social issues that are prominent in today’s American society. Besides displaying real issues that Americans face on a daily basis, the show reveals how people of every race, gender, religion and social class have problems.

Issues that are explored in-depth include:

  • Murder
  • Hate crimes
  • Racial stereotypes
  • Problems with the justice system
  • Violence
  • Interracial relationships
  • Racism
  • Police violence
  • Religious discrimination
  • Lives of immigrants in the U.S.
  • Lives of illegal immigrants in the U.S.
  • Drug dealing
  • Drug use
  • Addiction
  • Juvenile delinquents
  • Teenage development/thought-process
  • Divorce
  • Adultery
  • Abuse
  • Gangs
  • Family relationships
  • Single parents
  • Homelessness
  • Perceptions of the military and those who enlist
  • Loss of parents
  • Loss of children
  • Life after brain damage


The show throws all of these issues into the lives of characters that represent Americans from many different backgrounds. Here is a run-down of the main characters:

  • A white family whose veteran son has been murdered
    • Divorced parents
    • Mother who raised two sons while homeless in Los Angeles and is extremely racist; she is obsessed with getting justice for her son and will not believe that he dealt drugs
    • Father who had a gambling addiction, is struggling to get his life together and trying be there for his children
    • Son is in the army along with his Asian fiancee
    • Son who was murdered was a drug dealer (unknown to family)
  • A white, Christian, conservative family whose daughter was married to the man who was murdered
    • Daughter suffered extreme brain damage when her husband was murdered and doctors thought she had been raped; turns out she was sleeping with multiple other men before the murder
    • Father doesn’t want to accept that his daughter was not a good, Christian girl
    • Mother doesn’t want anything to do with daughter’s husband’s family; she wants her daughter to get better
  • A hispanic family consisting of a father, daughter and son
    • Father tries to “act white” and is overprotective
    • Son ends up in juvie for providing a car the murder was perpetrated with and later for beating a boy (who beat up his sister) with a metal pipe
    • Teenage daughter tries to help her brother, yet is in desperate need of a female guardian; she later decides to live with her aunt and uncle to be around a woman
  • A black man accused of murdering the white man
    • Claims to be innocent, but then he starts to confess to anything if he can see his girlfriend (we still don’t know the truth)
    • The police tortured him for a confession
    • Used drugs heavily before being arrested and beat up a drug dealer with a gun at one point
    • Has times of clarity in which he wants to do better with his life
  • The black man’s white girlfriend
    • A drunk and a drug addict
    • Willing to sell her body for sex so she and her boyfriend would be able to afford drugs
    • It seems that she was adopted, or that her father remarried and had a son
    • Obsessed with finding photos of interracial couples in magazines
    • Killed the drug dealer that her boyfriend beat up
    • Accused her adopted/step-brother of sexual abuse so she would not have to testify against her boyfriend
    • Tries to convince her boyfriend to run from the law and cut off his ankle bracelet while he was sleeping
  • The black man’s sister
    • A converted Muslim with a dark past
    • Leads an organized protest to save her brother
    • Fights against the injustices that her brother has endured
  • A Mexican man living in the U.S. illegally
    • After paying the hispanic boy to use his car, the man then passes the car on to someone who committed the murder
    • The police shoot him in the leg and arrest him
    • In jail, other inmates slice his cheek open with a shank when he tells them that he wants out of a gang
    • Wanted for murder in Mexico and cooperates as much as possible to get a deal to stay in America
    • Has a wife and child in Mexico; he came to America to provide for them

I know the show sounds depressing, but it sheds light on the current state of our country. Hopefully it will make you stop and think. Our words and actions are what can change society. It is our responsibility to fight injustice and steer each other toward a moral and ethical society.

Watch episodes of American Crime on ABC’s website for free.

UPDATE (Spoiler Alert)

In the episode of American Crime that aired tonight, Aubrey (the white girlfriend of the black man) confessed to killing the white man and shooting his wife. While this was shocking to many, I predicted it in the second episode. Certain remarks Aubrey made throughout the episodes confirmed my suspicions.

The reason why she shot the husband and wife are not as obvious as they may seem. She was actually defending herself from rape and murder. While that does not excuse her other crimes, the confession reveals Aubrey’s one semi-redeemable quality: she will (eventually) take responsibility for her actions if it protects those she loves.

I think this is the absolute best way to wrap up the series. No one suspected the white, blonde girl was a murderer and instead blamed the black man. Only people of color (black and hispanic) were punished for crimes in the series, even if they were innocent. The stereotype that white people are always the victims and minorities are always the criminals is despicable, yet it is rampant in America. Anyone could be a victim and anyone could be a criminal, no matter their race.


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