No matter how hard Russ (Timothy Hutton) tries or how ingratiating he is, there’s roadblock after roadblock to his attempts to make up for his mistakes. Although American Crime is in search of the person who killed Matt and injured Gwen, Russ acts like a criminal. He’s not a suspect, of course. And, even though he isn’t literally a criminal, his family treats him like one. He feels like one. Guilt can ruin a life. For those who haven’t watched the series – Russ is Russ Skokie, father of Matt the victim of murder. Barb (Felicity Huffman) is his ex-wife who struggles with feelings...

We are on episode 7 of American Crime, with only 4 episodes left, and we have no clue what the truth is. With so many stories unfolding at the same time, it’s impossible to go into much depth as far as the characters go. As a viewer, this leaves me with a lot of unanswered questions. Is this an intentional device on the part of American Crime’s creators? Or is it a limitation in the writer’s capacity to live inside these complicated characters’ minds? T.C. Boyle, who is known for writing character driven fiction, speaks of the role of the writer...

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...

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...

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...