Crime & com­pas­sion

A fa­ther’s search for his miss­ing son il­lu­mi­nates the hows and whys of mod­ern slav­ery in Amer­i­can Crime.

TV Plus (South Africa) - - DRAMA -

Amer­i­can Crime Sea­son 3 Thurs­days (from 17 Au­gust) M-Net (*101) 21:30

Stereo­type shat­ter­ing drama series Amer­i­can Crime (2015-cur­rent) is back for a third and fi­nal sea­son cen­tred on how crime ex­poses the com­plex­ity of the US’s class, gen­der, moral, cul­tural and racial di­vides – on a uniquely com­pas­sion­ate in­di­vid­ual level. “The main mes­sage I al­ways want to get across ev­ery sea­son is that we’re not as iso­lated or frag­mented as we think,” says series cre­ator John Ri­d­ley. This sea­son’s fo­cus on mod­ern-day slav­ery starts when rich Mex­i­can fa­ther Luis Salazar (Ben­ito Martinez) il­le­gally crosses the Mex­ico-US border to work un­der­cover as a mi­grant labourer while search­ing for his miss­ing son. “In this case, it’s not a spe­cific crime but how a coun­try uses peo­ple and how peo­ple are ‘dis­pens­able tools’,” says Ben­ito.


It’s a sea­son that will res­onate heart­break­ingly with South Africans be­cause of our own border is­sues. “There’s this xeno­pho­bia, this feel­ing of ‘It’s you or me and only one of us can win. If I take care of you, I won’t be able to take care of my­self. Let’s close the bor­ders, let’s kick the oth­ers out. If they’re dif­fer­ent, they’re no good’,” says lead star Felic­ity Huff­man. This sea­son she’s leav­ing her con­fi­dence be­hind to play down­trod­den South­ern Housewife Jeanette Hesby, who’s shocked to dis­cover that her fam­ily is abus­ing il­le­gal mi­grant labour to keep their farm’s costs down. “She has an awak­en­ing. She strug­gles and ul­ti­mately she fails,” hints Felic­ity.


As Louis, Ben­ito plays the out­sider who sees the ef­fects of the Hes­bys’ cost- cut­ting mea­sures which, when com­bined with US im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, al­low a kind of slav­ery to flour­ish. “We need to ex­am­ine the hu­man toll on our so­ci­ety, our food mar­kets, our sex in­dus­tries. You can ar­gue that farm­ing or pros­ti­tu­tion or some peo­ple that work as nan­nies – all their rights have been taken away is a form of slav­ery,” says Ben­ito, who hopes that above all, the series will en­cour­age view­ers to feel com­pas­sion for the “in­vis­i­ble” peo­ple whose labour en­riches our lives.

Jeanette (inset) and Luis’s paths cross thanks to mod­ern-day slav­ery.

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