American Crime was easily the most ethnically complicated show I have ever watched. If you took all of today’s modern problems and threw them in a blender, American Crime would come out of it. American Crime takes its viewers on a rocky ride through an investigated high school male-on-male rape. It ends with the victim in jail for the long haul. What happens in between is what needs to be talked about. There are many different issues in American Crime that will be discussed. Each issue will be analyzed through in-class readings and other pieces on the show.
Daniel D’Accario, a writer for Time Magazine brilliantly wraps up American Crime. He writes, “Its many strengths (and few weaknesses) stem from its willingness to go to excesses in depicting every imaginable social ill. It’s the perfect antidote to nostalgia: A show that both aggressively pursues new angles on life as lived today, and whose oddity makes it unlike just about anything you’ve seen before. ” (Accario, 2) The first issue in American Crime deals with race. Race plays a different role in the show than one would expect. The “star” of the show is a poor, white boy named Taylor that is victimized.
The most powerful family in the show is the Lacroix family. The Lacroix family is black and very wealthy. They have little to no sympathy for poor, white people. People have grown accustomed to the white families being wealthy in television shows while the minorities struggle for wealth and power. But American Crime is different. They flip the script and make the white families on par with minority families, which is the way it should be. Brian Lowry, a television critic for Variety talks about how portrayal of race is different in American Crime.
He writes, “a single event also laid bare rifts regarding class and race, and shattered illusions about some of these perfect, privileged children, who were, among other things, sexually predatory and dealing drugs. ” (Lowry, 5) He is basically talking about the roles of the various white characters in this show. One of them is raped, and also ends up killing someone and going to prison. One is the basketball coach’s daughter who sells felony drugs. Eric is another white kid whose image is changed vastly. He is co-captain of the basketball team, but he is also gay and battles depression.
He is the one who “rapes” Taylor, and he even tries taking his own life in the show. This is what Lowry is talking about in his piece. Ta-Nehisi Coates, a writer for The Atlantic, builds off Lowry. She writes, “There is no fixed sense of ‘whiteness’ or ‘blackness,’ not even today. It is quite common for whites to point out that Barack Obama isn’t really ‘black’ but ‘half-white. ‘ One wonders if they would say this if Barack Obama were a notorious drug-lord. ” (Coates, 8) American Crime builds off the notion that “white and black” becomes much less important than other factors when a highly emotional incident/ crime occurs.
Race is an interesting point in this show, but there are much bigger factors. Class and wealth are other very interesting concepts in the show. Terri Lacroix, a wealthy and powerful black woman is abusive. She abuses her power and her wealth. She refuses to help Eric get a lawyer. She is unrightfully cruel in the firing of a young, black female employee. She is racist when she talks about Taylor and his mom like they are white trash and trailer trash. She has unfair and private internal connections that she uses without a second thought of who might be affected. She is genuinely not a good person.
She means well, but she is power stricken. Her class in the show allows to finagle Kevin and her family through this incident to a certain point. Her husband Michael Lacroix also illegally releases the medical records of Taylor’s mother, which casts a negative light on her. Being in the wealthy class in this show is helpful because those families can afford lawyers and send their children to nicer, private schools. There are two schools in this show. Marshall High School is full of minorities and poverty-ridden families. It is a public school, so there is no uniform required and every student stands out.
At Leyland High School, things are much better. It is a very nice private school. There are minorities in the school, but it is predominantly white and made up of upper-class families. Lowry talks about how Taylor’s class may have led to the rape. He writes, “At the center of it all is Taylor, a kid with a blue-collar mother, Anne, and who attends an elite prep school. His lack of means leads to him being labeled “WT,” for “white trash,” and prompts the administration to react harshly when texts surface of him looking blackout drunk at a party thrown by the basketball team. (Lowry, 5)
He is talking about how Taylor’s lack of wealth, class, and identity makes him a prime suspect for popular Leyland students. He is an outcast because he is a Marshall Student at Leyland High School. He just doesn’t fit in with his peers. Alyssa Rosenberg, a writer for the Chicago Tribune, sums up class in American Crime perfectly. She builds off of Lowry by writing, “The tangle of plotlines also comes together to suggest that class, as represented by the glistening halls of Leyland and the LaCroixs’ gorgeous modernist house, doesn’t offer all the benefits its characters expect.
Terri and Michael recognize that they have to stop using their money to protect Kevin and begin parenting more directly, communicating with him more honestly and setting a stronger moral example. Anne must confront the horrifying idea that sending Taylor to a private school damaged him rather than elevated him. And Curt and his ex-wife make the choice to get one of their sons out of the public school system while leaving another one behind, a decision that further divides their splintering family. ” (Rosenberg, 11) Class plays a large role in American Crime.
The development of class is flawless in that it makes the audience think in ways they wouldn’t have before. The next concept to talk about is sexuality. Sexuality and masculinity play the most pivotal role in this movie. Taylor Blaine, the protagonist, is looked at much differently in the end as opposed to the beginning. At the beginning of the season, Taylor is known as “straight” as evidenced by his girlfriend that he has. We soon find out that he is has been raped by another male student. In the end, he is ends up being gay and had partial plans to meet with his attacker. Everyone in the show besides Eric is shocked at Taylor being gay.
Eric is another case. He is Taylor’s attacker/lover. He is co-captain on a basketball team full of testosterone and meatheads. There is an expectation of him to live a male alphadog life. When his name is mentioned as Taylor’s attacker, things start to get messy. It gets even messier when he comes out as gay. His “bro” relationship with his brother goes to shit. His masculinity is questioned. He loses everything to the point where he swallows a ton of pills in hope of ending it all. One big disturbance in this show is the inability of the people in the show to fathom a male-on-male rape.
For much of the series it is played off as a joke. Only when there is a “semen trail” to Taylor’s private parts is when the people in the show start to take it serious. American Crime displaces sexuality from the norm. Amanda Schumacher, a writer for the Huffington Post, build off this concept. She writes, “It is unprecedented to see the story of a young, male survivor of sexual assault brought into such sharp focus on a network television series. That American Crime reflects and validates the experiences of real-life male survivors is only part of why this is remarkable, though. (Schumacher, 6)
She talks about how American Crime shines light on the fact that there are real male rape survivors that struggle every day. Sports culture is another concept that needs to be addressed. Watching this show timed up perfectly when Donald Trump talked about his conversation with Billy Bush as “locker room talk. ” There is a stark difference between locker room talk and sexual harassment. The basketball team’s locker room talk in this show is vile, and vastly over exaggerated. The locker room talk affects Eric and his masculinity throughout the show.
In the beginning, Eric is met with questions of’who he’d rather bang’ or which race of girl he’ll go for next. Once he reveals he is gay, that all changes. Teammates are open about not wanting to share a locker room with him. The sense of “locker room talk” is also what induces Taylor to kill the man on the basketball team. When some of the players are out to dinner, Kevin gives them “locker room talk” about tea eaching Taylor a lesson. The boys take it seriously and go to kick Taylor’s ass. That leads to one pulled trigger and one dead high schooler. Ryan Green, a writer for ABC, writes about Eric’s treatment in this show.
He writes, “His basketball teammates are disgusted at the idea of having to share a locker room with him, and Coach Dan Sullivan has to ask the students to give him more applause following Eric’s awkward, Leslie Graham-penned speech of gratitude. ” (Green, 4) He becomes an outcast on every level, with sports culture pushing at all of his buttons. Drug use and mental health are the last two concepts that will be analyzed from American Crime. The use of drugs in American Crime vastly changes the outcome of the show, but also takes effect on most of the main characters.
When Taylor is at his darkest times, he buys a grab bag of pills from the basketball coaches daughter. He takes these pills only hours before killing the player on the basketball team. Eric’s overdose is drug-induced, and it almost takes his life. Both of these drug problems occurred because of mental health issues. Both Taylor and Eric were being bullied and tormented into their own suicides. Thankfully neither of them got that far. When Taylor is really at a bad place, he takes a bunch of different drugs and goes into the forest. Pilot Viruet, a writer for A. M. Club, details this pivotal scene.
She writes, “Taylor is… rying to find ways that will make him feel better and feel like less of a victim who everyone is pitying. He gets drugs from Becca and then later steals a gun from the woman who used to take care of him. There’s a brief moment of anxiety when Taylor walks into the woods with the gun and a single gunshot is heard… After a drug trip in the woods, still-tripping Taylor scribbles a hit list: Eric, Kevin, Wes, Dr. Graham. ” (Viruet, 8) This shows that his mental health combined with his drug use was pushing Taylor to the brink of some extremely horrible crimes. Taylor’s mental health takes a surprising turn at the end.
Him accepting a 10-year prison sentence is the first time in a while he feels empowered and not the victim. This crime literally kept him from going insane. American Crime is a dynamic television series that’ll hit every emotion and push every button you have. There are so many elements to the show that change the way the viewer looks at each and every character. The plot is rarely changed, but countless subplots are throw into the mix. It complicates the show up until the very end when Taylor decides to take matters into his own hands. This show is a great learning experience that all young adults should watch.