The “American Crime” FYC event at the Television Academy’s Wolf Theatre was filled with mutual admiration between the cast and executive producers. It also included a musical performance of Mark Isham’s haunting show theme for Emmy voters to consider.
Led by Variety’s executive editor, TV, Debra Birnbaum, the discussion of the show’s third season focused on the issue of oppression and how what we do in our everyday lives affect the lives of the oppressed: produce prices as related to badly treated migrant workers, America’s opiate addiction problem and how it affects the working class, and human trafficking.
John Ridley observed, “The price is greater than what we pay at the register.” Commenting on the very real jeopardy many Americans face everyday, Ridley said, “We wanted the audience to feel that strain of when your well-being can’t be guaranteed. When we don’t have control of our lives, other people step in and take control.”
Each cast member noted how special and unique a working experience “American Crime” is for them. Felicity Huffman said, “It’s like being in rep theater. It’s a candy store.” Lili Taylor had to learn French for her Season 3 role and said, “My brain grew a lot and lit up in a lot of places.”
Ridley and his fellow executive producer, Michael J. McDonald, praised the cast’s willingness to go to great lengths to portray their Season 3 characters, like learning new languages and even altering their bodies. Huffman said she wore padding to portray Jeanette Hesby after friends sent her photos of some North Carolina women. “I wanted the body to be soft, rounder, not an L.A. look,” she stated.
The show’s storylines have also created space for conversations about tough topics. Benito Martinez summed it up succinctly. “The thing about art is you want it to inspire feeling and emotion,” he said. “This show is more in the art realm because it’s an incomplete piece: it needs the audience to finish it – their opinion, their reaction.”
Should the show get picked up for a fourth season, Ridley acknowledged he already has a theme in mind.