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Friday, May 15, 2015

American Crime Season 1 Finale: The Banality of So-Called Justice

American Crime ended is first season last night with its story of star-crossed lovers, Carter and Aubry, whose complicated love was too pure, too innocent, too compelling and beautiful to ever survive this gaggingly ugly and brutal world.   Carter dies from Russ's bullet  just as he's trying to call Aubry, no doubt to tell her he loves her, and Aubry's last thought before she dies of her own hand is maybe somehow Carter survived.

But we can the narrow indictment to something more specific than the world, and I don't mean just the hapless, tormented Russ, whom I'll get to in a minute.  It's the breathtaking cluelessness of the justice system - more destructive, in some ways, than mere corruption - which can't get anything right.  We've seen evil in police work on television before - The Shield would be an outstanding example - but never an exposition such as in American Crime of a system so rotten at every level.   The season ends without our knowing who did the initial killing, and certainly the authorities don't know.  They're good at nothing - not catching the criminals in the first place, not protecting the souls who come into their custody - except providing an effective training camp for further criminal acts.   I suppose this banal ineptitude afflicts most parts of our society, but it's especially grievous when it inhabits a system in which life and death is literally at stake.

Certainly the inanity prevails in the ease with which people can get guns in this country.  I knew the moment Barb bought the gun that its bullets would be used to kill Carter, though I thought she not Russ would pull the trigger.   But, in retrospect, Russ was always more broken than Barb, and it figures that his naive belief in the justice system (taking its word for it, to the end, that Carter killed his son) - unlike Barb, who was finally maybe glimpsing a deeper truth, and was pulling away from the system - would propel Russ to his act, pathetic for him, the ultimate voice of the deadly ignorant injustice for Carter and Aubry.

There are slender threads of hope, maybe Carter's sister and Aubry's mother hugging, now that Carter and Aubry can't, and perhaps realizing that they contributed to the deaths of Carter and Aubry, too. Maybe Hector, maybe Tony, but the odds are against them, as long as this sick system of justice continues.

America needs more shows like John Ridley's American Crime and its splendid acting (special kudos to Caitlin Gerard, Elvis Nolasco, Richard Cabral, Benito Martinez, Regina King, Timothy Hutton, and Felicity Huffman, but everyone was just brilliant) to strip the system bare, so we can see it for what it is.  The more I think about it,  American Crime is the best series on television in many a year. I'm glad there'll be more of it next season.

See alsoAmerican Crime, American Fine ... American Crime 1.7: The Truest Love ... American Crime 1.10: The Exquisite Hazards of Timing

a different kind of crime


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