Aubry’s (Caitlin Gerard) alive – but coming back to reality in the throes of withdrawal and without drugs is quite distressing. No one in American Crime wants to face the truth. Except, maybe Aliyah (Regina King), Carter’s sister. Truth can be very difficult to face. Aliyah says it well: “If they hurt Carter now it all goes away; their lies, their mistakes.” The wish to make something painful “go away” is human nature.  More so for those who have something very difficult to face, as the characters in American Crime certainly do. We try to make things “go away” with a variety...

Tomorrow night on American Crime - what’s happened to Aubry?  Stay Tuned. Nothing in Aubry’s (Caitlin Gerard) life is as important or as enticing as drugs.  Not even love.  And, she’ll put her life and Carter (Elvis Nolasko) at great risk to get her fix. What are Aubry and Carter running from in Episode 5 of American Crime? Drug addiction isn’t the real culprit. We could say she’s an addict and Carter’s an enabler. But, that’s not enough. What are the forces that drive them so hard that neither can stop? It’s terror of loss - for both Aubry and Carter. Yet,...

Living under someone else’s thumb is damaging to the spirit. There are different ways the parents in American Crime have tried to control their kids. In my office, I see the effects of the shoulds. The have tos. The chain of believing the only way to be loved is to please. To be what they want – and deep inside, hating it. Really hating it. But seeing no way out. Not being accepted for who you are is a devastating thing. It eats away inside. Subtle or not so subtle revolts set in. In the form of drugs, desperate actions, getting...

As secrets continue to unfold in Episode 3 of American Crime, drugs, sex, and complicated family histories are increasingly implicated in the crime against Matt and Gwen. Drugs and sex are not infrequently turned to as ‘answers’ to various kinds of desperate circumstances and pasts. Gwen turned to sex. Matt turned to drugs. Aubrey Taylor (Caitlin Gerard) turns to both. What kind of escape is she desperately clinging to?  What role does calling her foster dad serve?  Does she want his help or something else? “With this life sometimes bad things come your way. That’s when you get a little desperate,”...

Racism is a symptom - a troubling and destructive one, to be sure. But, like any symptom, it has its personal roots. As a psychoanalyst, my work is to find the roots of any symptom brought into my office. And, with the multi-storied American Crime unfolding each week, the roots of Matt’s mother, Barb’s (Felicity Huffman) racism are starting to be exposed. What’s made her how she is? It’s not people of color that Barb hates or looks down upon – even though she treats them that way. What she hates is her own humiliation; circumstances that left her out of control....

We’re left with more questions than answers at the end of the premiere of John Ridley’s American Crime. Of course - we’ve only just begun. Yet, we start to realize that each main character has complicated secrets that must be uncovered in order to make sense of what’s happened. For me, as not just a viewer but also a psychologist, meeting these characters for the first time is a lot like having a first session with a new patient in therapy. There are relationships gone wrong  - similar to Russ (Timothy Hutton) and Barb (Felicity Huffman). There are things like Carter’s (Elvis...