The power of American Crime


By Tina Takhmazyan


It’s rare for me to ever cry when watching movies or television shows. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s just that things seen on the screen try so hard to pull at heartstrings, they come off as over produced.

I discovered “American Crime” a few months ago and there hasn’t been an episode where I haven’t been utterly heartbroken by the end. This makes ABC’s decision to cancel the series after only three seasons so much more upsetting.

“American Crime” had three seasons, using mostly the same actors, but with separate story lines in each season. Each season had multiple different story lines that switched off in the episodes. Season three is the only one I’ve seen and it’s really something to have a box of tissues on your night stand for.

It was set in North Carolina and explored the subject of human trafficking. There was a pregnant teen prostitute, a Mexican immigrant working on a farm, a drug addict, an immigrant turned slave from Haiti, among other victims and oppressors. Often times, scenes were so disturbing that I had to take several breaks in between them.

The story lines were set in abortion clinics, farms, foster homes, motels, and dark alleyways. I hate calling them “story lines” because they’re not, and that’s what I love about “American Crime.”

It’s raw and incredibly real. Sometimes too real, to the point where it makes the audience uncomfortable.

Right now, in such a divided state that we’re all in, it’s fascinating to see story lines as real life. This isn’t just a fast headline that quickly swims by at the bottom of the news screen. This isn’t something you see on Twitter. It’s real life. It’s people with raw emotions and heartbreaking situations. There aren’t any one note good or bad characters. There are just people. The characters don’t get happy endings. Everything is a trap and the show goes from one character’s violent and tragic story ending, to moving right on. Life isn’t a fairy tale and it difficultly shows so. There’s racism threaded throughout the entire season. As one character, an abusive husband, groans, “We don’t get a hashtag.” in reference to black people.

Monologue is short and quip. Hats off to the actors for making me hate them and cry for them, and everything in between. You want to help them so desperately and do something to save them.

I’ve understood my privilege in a much deeper way than ever before. I think everyone in this country would benefit from watching this phenomenal show. You can’t help but feel the urge for opening your heart and mind. You can’t help but want to start a discussion where there isn’t one. You can’t help but want to hug everyone who is going through any of that.

I’ve been lucky enough to never see any of the situations that I’ve seen in the show. It breaks my heart that this is all real. I’m upset that ABC cancelled the show and hope they replace it with a similarly angled show.

So, if you haven’t already, watch “American Crime”. Have tissues next to you though; you’ll need them.