The third instalment of John Ridley's anthology drama series American Crime returned on Sunday (12 March 2017) with its most politically topical season thus far.
The show, which changes its setting, characters and narrative each season while keeping the majority of its actors has relocated to North Carolina for season three. Whilst the previous two seasons were based and launched by a central tragic event, such as a murder or sexual assault in high school, the third season tackles a range of topics which all interact, effect and influence each other. The first episode opens with Luis Salazar (Benito Martinez, pictured) crossing the Mexican border and entering the United States. It is a powerful opening scene and one which is extremely haunting following the outrageous statements and declarations made by President Trump during his campaign. American Crime could possibly be the first television show to comment directly on the issues under Trump's America. While this season of the show was mostly written and produced before Trump was elected or inaugurated, the political and social climate during the election, in which immigration and "The Wall" were controversial topics surely had an effect on John Ridley's writing and directing.
While many of the characters and their story lines have yet to fully intertwine with each other, the first episode introduces us to several characters and sets the foundations for their stories. While immigrant labour on the farm will surely become the main topic of the season, prostitution and exploitation will also be addressed through the story of Shae Reese (Ana Mulvoy Ten), a 17 year old prostitute. One of the episode's most shocking scenes is one which features Shae meeting one of her older clients who is clearly controlling and abusing her. Later on Shae meets an even younger girl on the street and tries to coerce her into joining "her and her guy at their apartment" meaning she is clearly trying to persuade the young girl into joining the trade. The episode ends with Shae being arrested after the police stakeout one of her clients during their meeting and eventually finds herself sitting across from Kimara Walters (2x Emmy winnter Regina King). The social worker's first scene in which she tries to renew her cable licence which has both been cancelled and doubled in price is interrupted when she receives a call to try and help a young male prostitute called Ishmael find a shelter to protect him from his pimp who is also his cousin. Based on the first episode, the season will be anchored by an exploration into human trafficking, prostitution and labour. The season will be partially set on a farm, which employs Luis Salazar, and other immigrant workers.
American Crime has only produced three instalments though each one (including the third season thus far) has tackled some of the most challenging and provocative issues in America with humanity and honesty. American Crime has always been a shocking programme in its directing, acting, narrative and direction however, the show's most shocking moments have never been there just for the sake of a few cheap thrills. Ridley and his writers look at headlines and breaking stories in America and give them human faces.