‘American Crime’: John Ridley Avoids Revealing the Central Crime of Season 3

TCA 2017: “Often with things like this, crimes in humanity, they’re not centralized. When they happen there is an effect that is wider, that goes beyond the headlines,” executive producer says

American Crime
ABC/Nicole Wilder

John Ridley played coy when asked to reveal what would be the central crime of the third season of his ABC anthology “American Crime.”

“I’ll say that when one completes all the episodes, one will have a full understanding of what the American Crime is,” Ridley said at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Tuesday.

The question was posed to Ridley because Season 2 of the anthology surprised viewers last year when the crime of the season turned out not to be the alleged rape from Episode one, but a school shooting in Episode seven.

But Ridley said that the every season of the show will have one “single incident” which serves as a through-line for the audience to follow, even as its effects ripple outward.

“Often with things like this, crimes in humanity, they’re not centralized,” Ridley said. “When they happen there is an effect that is wider, that goes beyond the headlines. That goes behind other stories that quite frankly aren’t even covered in the media.”

Season 3 of the drama issues surrounding the lives of immigrant day laborers and human trafficking, and will see the return of much the cast of the first two seasons, including Felicity Huffman, Regina King, Lili Taylor, Connor Jessup, Richard Cabral and Timothy Hutton.

And even though the series doesn’t shy away from exploring topical and politically charged issues, Ridley says he’s not interested in shaping the show around the minutiae of national politics.

“The urgency that I approach storytelling, the issues that are out there, they’ve always been out there,” Ridley explained. “This story would’ve been told irrespective of who’s in the Oval Office.”

“It’s not about tweaking or changing or trying to be oh-so-current that we miss the bigger picture and the longer game. Immigration is not new,” he said. “If we’re not engaging rather than preaching or proselytizing, then we’re not doing our jobs.

But what Ridley does aim to do with his series is to reflect the stories of individuals and the lives of real Americans. Especially those individuals who are not typically represented on TV or in the media.

“That’s really important, that’s what ‘American Crime’ is about: people, families, connections, communities,” he said.