Tonight’s season finale of “American Crime” caps an outstanding season that touched on race, class, education and social injustice.
Executive producer John Ridley says he was overwhelmed by the response to the season. “We told the story we really wanted to tell,” he says. “There were moments we felt the story on the surface would not be as easy a point of entry. And what we were surprised by was the audience came back more probably engaged, more appreciative, more ready to be observant of the stories we were telling. That was special.”
While last season drew critical raves, earning the show 11 Emmy nominations, this season has resonated more with audiences. Ridley attributes it to the universal theme of family, which he says everyone can relate to.
“Last year there was so much that was about the dissolution of family, and families falling apart from the jump,” he says. “The first time we saw Tim (Hutton) and Felicity (Huffman), she doesn’t want him to hug her. This year, it was about families coming together, sometimes in opposition of other families — but ultimately that’s something that you understand. The people who are going to fight most passionately for you are the ones living under your own roof.”
That’s something he relates to himself, he says. “My kids tell me constantly I’m a helicopter parent. I’m just trying to be a parent.”
While he says the show is still as “potent as it was last year,” last season’s themes of “drugs, murder, extreme bigotry — those are things hopefully most people aren’t visited with,” he says. “But education, family, unfortunately sexual assault, just by the numbers — many households have endured it. The handholds were more readily apparent.”
Going into tonight’s finale, those families are all coming to terms with the fallout from the events of the night of the captains’ party. Taylor (Connor Jessup) is in jail awaiting sentencing, while his mother (Lili Taylor) is desperate to help him get out. Dan (Tim Hutton) and Steph Sullivan (Hope Davis) realize their daughter is going to get caught for giving Taylor drugs, and they’re lashing out at everyone around them. Terri (Regina King) and Michael LaCroix (Andre Benjamin) are trying to protect their son (Trevor Jackson), who may have incited the basketball team to beat up Taylor. And hacker Sebastian (Richard Cabral)’s crusade for justice just might not be so well-intended.
Meanwhile, principal Chris Dixon (Elvis Nolasco) looks like he’s going to lose his job — while Leyland headmaster Leslie Graham (Felicity Huffman) has suddenly emerged on top, dissolving the school board who’d been about to boot her.
The question is: Will the truth finally come out? Will we ever know what really happened?