The stars of this week’s American Crime are it’s writers, well done! Each storyline involves characters making the decision to take bold actions and beginning to deal with the consequences of those actions. Everything is spinning out of control in dangerous ways, and it is heartbreaking to watch.
Episode 6 opens with the growing protests of the Latino Students of Marshall High. In Episode 2 there was a fight between a black boy and three Latino boys over Evy and the Principal suspends the three Latino boys for fighting, and not the black boy. Other students accuse the principal of being racist of Latinos and this week’s episode we see this issue coming to a head. We see the African American principal (Elvis Nolasco) desperately trying to advocate for all students and his well meaning actions are used against him.
We find Eric (Joey Pollari) and Taylor (Connor Jessup) having to deal with being “out” in totally different ways, but both boys are not happy. We see the subtle yet not so subtle way that homophobia can destroy a family and a community.
I feel for Eric who is dealing with the complexity of his homophobic Mom, younger brother, team mates, and classmates. He is a perpetrator and a victim all at once. We see Taylor’s mom Anne (Lili Taylor) determined to continue her mission of justice in civil court and we wonder why is she so steadfast. We see Headmaster Barb’s (Felicity Huffman) armor begin to crack as she works to spin the aftermath of the alleged assault in Leland’s favor. Barb is like a swan floating on a pond, she appears to be totally calm cool and collected, just floating. But just beneath the surface, she is frantically working in order to just stay afloat.
I find the LaCroix family to be absolutely fascinating. Aliya (Regina King) is one of the most prejudiced characters I’ve ever witnessed on television. A prime example of the dark side of the “talented tenth” of black society. Everyone who is not like her, is against her or trying to take something away from her. Aliya strongly believes that one must be 150% (or more) better than the competition in order to get half the recognition for her accomplishments. More class conscious than the Dowager Countess of Grantham on Downton Abbey, she seems to hate working class and poor black people as much as the privileged white parents at Leland. She has programmed all of that judgment and fear into her son Kevin (Trevor Jackson), creating emotional scars that may cause the family more harm than good.
Kevin is in a tough position, the only son of an African-American version of the “Tiger mom” he is under an extreme amount of pressure to be better than excellent always. With Kevin we see the underbelly of the talented tenth and it is not pretty. Although one would assume that misogyny would be inherited from the father, Aliya’s obsession with class and building up the ego of her precious son has warped his vision of women. He has no problem referring to women as “bitches” and “hoes” with his buddies on the basketball team and blaming Taylor for everything that is going wrong in their lives. All of Aliya’s “smothering” may backfire on her and turn her biggest fears for Kevin into reality.
Kevin’s dad Michael (Andre “2000” Benjamin) is an unexpected delight. His steadfast nature is the perfect complement to the strength and determination of his wife, and in this episode we see why Michael has been able to achieve success and what he is willing to do to save his family.
Episode 6 left me literally feeling sick to my stomach. You know that moment when you are watching a show and yelling at the characters on the TV because you know they are going to do something totally mind-blowingly stupid that will ruin their lives? That is episode 6. We still have more questions than answers.
American Crime is storytelling at it’s best.