TV Review: ABC’s ‘American Crime’

Drama from John Ridley premieres March 5
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ABC’s American Crime—created and executive produced by John Ridley, who won an Oscar for his 12 Years a Slave screenplay—premieres March 5 at 10 p.m. The anthology series is told from the points of view of those involved in a fatal home invasion and its fallout. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

“Telling the story from multiple perspectives, a la Crash, intersecting around a murder, writer-director John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) works to challenge perceptions and preconceived notions, as the evolving facts of the case sweep up the characters, but seldom shake their prejudices and convictions. This is, in any venue, ambitious storytelling, although the rarefied air it inhabits could wind up thinning the ratings as well.”
—Brian Lowry, Variety

“The expectations game might be difficult to win, especially with Crime getting its debut after ABC’s tonally incongruent Shonda Rhimes block. But if the writers can resist the urge to spoon-feed the audience their lofty ideas, Crime could acquit itself despite the perception of guilt by association.”
—Joshua Alston, A.V. Club

“But it's the level of performance, particularly from Hutton, Huffman, Miller and, later Regina King, who plays Carter's sister, that prevents the politics and cultural statements of American Crime from overpowering its story, which may be the series' true breakthrough.”
—Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times

“This series is at heart a murder mystery — someone has been killed, and the show withholds who did it. But solving the crime isn’t the point. The murder is a clue to the mysteries of character, experience and self-deception. It’s not a procedural. If anything, American Crime is a television series that echoes some of the novels of Richard Price, including Clockers and Lush Life.”
—Alessandra Stanley, New York Times

“But this series works, mostly, because Ridley avoids making pronouncements from 30,000 feet, instead keeping the focus at eye level. The racial dynamics of the crime and its investigation are implicit and they play out naturally without the script prodding them along.“
—James Poniewozik, Time

“This is often a stirring and deeply felt portrait of people in an extended state of crisis. You want them to find peace, but doubt that they will.”
—Verne Gay, Newsday

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