American Crime Season 3

American Crime Season 3: Grade the ABC Franchise's Latest Premiere

ABC introduced us to yet another American Crime on Sunday night, as the anthology drama returned with its third season. Having previously tackled such issues as rape culture, racial prejudice in the justice system and homophobia, series creator John Ridley is putting a spotlight on other timely subjects in Season 3: immigration, sex trafficking and drug addiction, among others.

Much as American Crime‘s sophomore run began with a harrowing 911 call, Sunday’s season premiere kicks off the same way — except, instead of reporting a rape, the Spanish-speaking caller is alerting authorities to a dead body floating in the river. We don’t learn much else about that potential murder during the rest of the episode, or how it affects the season’s major players, but it quickly becomes clear that it’s not the only injustice going on in North Carolina, the setting for Season 3.

Also introduced in Sunday’s debut:

* Kimara Walters (played by Emmy-winning series vet Regina King), a social worker who primarily deals with teen victims of the sex trade. Kimara has burdens of her own; she can’t afford to pay her cable bill, and her in vitro fertilization treatments aren’t taking. But Kimara’s top priority is clearly her work, even when her clients don’t want her help — as is the case with Ishmael, a young man who, despite being forced into prostitution, refuses to sell out his pimp and rejects Kimara’s attempts to find him a shelter for the night.

Later, we meet Shae, another teenage sex trafficking victim who seemingly works for the same skeezy boss as Ishmael. When Shae winds up at a sketchy motel room at the end of the episode, forced to engage with a creepy, handsy client, she seems equal parts relieved and terrified when the cops bust in, arrest the man and introduce Kimara as Shae’s new social worker.

American Crime Season 3* Laurie Ann Hesby (24‘s Cherry Jones), who, along with her two brothers, now runs the Hesby Farms enterprise that their father previously maintained. Much to Laurie Ann’s chagrin, Hesby Farms is struggling to compete with other produce providers that have significantly lower labor costs. The solution? Farm chiefs, like the one played by Crime staple Richard Cabral, must go out and recruit extra-cheap workers (see: undocumented immigrants) in order for the Hesby business to stay afloat.

Luis Salazar (Benito Martinez) is one such immigrant, who takes up farm work upon arriving in North Carolina. But whatever vision Luis had of life in America is quickly tarnished; when he gets to the South to begin his job, Luis finds that immigrants are essentially modern slaves, forced to live in rundown trailer parks and constantly indebted to their employers.

* Though we don’t see much of them in the premiere, Felicity Huffman and Connor Jessup (who have both starred in previous seasons) also appear: Huffman plays Jeannette, the well-meaning wife of a farm-owning Hesby brother, who desperately wants to help her financially unstable sister; Jessup, nearly unrecognizable from his Season 2 run, plays Coy, a young drug addict who gets recruited by Cabral’s Isaac to work on the Hesby farm.

Ridley and his American Crime production team use many of the same elements in Season 3 that they have in years past — evocative violin music, extreme close-ups, seemingly disparate storylines that end up weaving together in rather heartbreaking ways.

Although Sunday’s premiere takes its time introducing us to the season’s main characters and their struggles, it once again tees up a run of episodes that will likely take a cold, hard look at societal issues going undiscussed.

That’s our take, but what did you think? Grade the premiere in our poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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21 Comments
  1. Dave says:

    My mom turned to me after the episode and said it seemed like 4 different shows in one. I told her that’s the beauty of AC. It will all intertwine beautifully as the season progresses. Tonight was the exposition and though expositions can be tedious, I was enthralled from start to finish.

  2. tjchurch2001 says:

    I wish they’d add White Collar’s Tim Dekay, especially since he seems to also be part of a family that will also be a big part of the storyline. (I missed if the 2 people leaving the business talks in the same vehicle were siblings or spouses.)

    Also, I missed not seeing Timothy Hutton (especially since it aired here in a time slot I often spend watching a weekly “Leverage” repeat). I thought maybe the girl (who thought she’d been there before at the end) would shoot the guy off-camera & perhaps be an illegal worker at her job & add to that now a murder suspect.)

    Lastly, I thought the one worker in the vehicle saw a cop wave the vehicle over, which might have led to more detail for that part… This premiere seemed uneven/jumbled.

    • KLS says:

      You mean add Tim DeKay more? He was in one scene in ep 1. I am sure that you’ll see him and Timothy Hutton plenty in the coming weeks. The episode introduced a lot of characters quickly and set things up for the season. It was probably meant to be jumbled.

      • tjchurch2001 says:

        I made what I meant pretty clear, I thought.

        That said, I read an interview later in the night with Timothy Hutton, which named his character as well as who (& the portrayer) his character was married to, which made me feel better, as it seems neither had a scene in the premiere.

        That said, it also (with your comment) reminds me that last season, many characters were connected in many different ways, so maybe we need “Parker”, “Neal”, or someone else added (in an online after-show?) to help us know who is connected to who & how.

    • ravynrobyn says:

      A fellow Timothy Hutton fan 🙌

      He won’t appear until the END of episode FOUR, almost halfway through the season 😠 I know he’s well worth waiting for, I just don’t WANT to!

      Hope this isn’t too spoilery-I’m glad I know so I won’t be obsessed with when he’ll be on and I can focus on the stories. I have the attention span of a TWO year old!

      💕💕💕💕 TIMOTHY HUTTON💕💕💕💕

      • tjchurch2001 says:

        Having still never seen the movie he won the Oscar for (& not knowing until after Sunday’s premiere “Superior Donuts” star Judd Hirsch was in it as well), I do not know whether or not to call him worth waiting for. (Same as the late Bill Paxton, I watch the show wondering how much of each great line was made so by the writing or his performance.) I am simply happy I didn’t miss him. (Especially seeing headlines weekly referring to real-life Ponzi schemes & other things that were like early “Leverage” targets, which they seemed to deviate from in some later episodes.)

        Regardless, I watched with decent focus (as I recall) in Season 2, but as this season began, am only now (then) recalling how complex the interactions between characters & stories become, & hoping I am remembering the quality of my own work correctly, &/or can do it this time.

  3. abz says:

    Get ready for another emotional roller coaster people. I don’t know if this season will be as good as the near brilliant second season, but I’m along for the ride. And so happy to see Sandra Oh back on TV!
    I’m really glad they brought Connor Jessup back. He’s a really talented actor.
    On a completely shallow note, what’s with the guy who played Hector (can’t remember his name) and his incomplete moustache each season with two strips on the side. Anyone else find it a little weird/distracting. He should really grow out the full moustache or shave it off.

  4. abz says:

    I will say one thing though. The use of the black screen to censor the swear word is still as annoying as it was last season. At least bleep it or go silent or something instead.
    This is why I’m growing tired of networks. Why can’t these shows use curse words if they want to? Do they think children are watching this type of show? And the show airs at 10 PM. Come on! So glad FX is at least one network out there that has stopped caring and they’re not censoring as much anymore.

    • Tj says:

      And i feel the exact opposite. I’m so glad these networks at least somewhat sensor the cursing.

      • abz says:

        May I ask why? This is a show that deals with serious, mature, and emotionally charged subject matter. In emotionally charged and angry situations, people naturally curse and let out their anger and frustration. Why should a prime time show geared towards adults/teen and airing at 10pm have to censor its dialogue? I could understand if it were a show airing before 9pm or 10pm or something that’s on a network like the CW (a network primarily geared to a younger demographic), but it makes no sense on a show like this,

    • That’s what that was?! I thought my cable went out for a second. So ridiculous.

      • abz says:

        Yeah, they kept using it all of last season. I don’t get why. It’s so annoying. At least just mute the word instead. It’s just stupid to me that a prime time show airing at 10pm geared mostly towards teens/adults is even censored in the first place.

        • christopher bee says:

          That´s why i´m glad to live in Germany. All curses allowed on Tv and naked stuff also. BUT bloody gore violence is censored instead (pre 11PM)

  5. Angela says:

    Going to be especially interested to see how Kimara’s storyline as well as that of the struggling farm play out. I like the empathy Kimara shows for the people she’s trying to help, and look forward to seeing how she balances that with the personal stress she’s going through.
    .
    And with all the immigration debate going on, the undocumented worker storyline is going to be particularly powerful, I bet. I already feel for Luis, and I think Jeanette’s going to be a fascinating character to watch as well. Hopefully she proves sympathetic to the struggling immigrants somehow. Sounds like we’re in for another intense season.

  6. spdavid says:

    It’s not the easiest show to watch,the strategy tends to be to throw everything but the kitchen sink in as the season goes along.So far it doesn’t seem to be as way overacted as the last two seasons but it’s early.Be ready for improbable situations that normally would never happen but will because this is on TV.

    Look,it’s not a bad show.I’ll watch.But don’t let yourself get pulled in enough to lose track that this is TV not real life.And also don’t let yourself think everyone has to act like,well,not very nice people in order to get what they want or need.TV tends to focus on people being nasty and cold these days.

    • mary says:

      Where do you live(& I am seriously asking)? The last two seasons were very real life situations. If you did not feel involved at all, then you are very very lucky.

  7. Ann says:

    I used to look forward to this show because always starts off strong, then meanders in the middle, and then turns into another show by the finale with a completely new issue. This show needs to keep one or two consistent writers.

  8. KLS says:

    Thanks for the recap of the opening. The Walking Dead ran late so I missed the first 8 minutes. Missed the floating body entirely.
    .
    The dialog for this show is always excellent, but I especially like the silent parts, enabling the actors/actresses to acutally act. On too many shows, yelling and smirking is the depth that we get from most “performances”.

  9. christopher bee says:

    They´ve did it once more again, meaty drama, outstanding acting and Mr. Isham´s score.
    This will be a rollercoaster ride and i´m all in.

    Sidenote; I´ve always thought that Richard Cabral inherit that neck and throat Tatoos for real.

  10. Chuck says:

    American Crime makes a strong argument for Trump’s border tax. Why force American farmers to use illegal slave-like workers to compete with cheap Mexican importation.