American Crime – The Issue of Male Rape


Connor Jessup as Taylor Blaine in American Crime


On its second season, American Crime has been delivering another riveting storyline that follows the aftermath of one high school male student accusing a star male athlete of raping him at a party.

The show pulls no punches in unraveling the political and emotional upheaval of all involved. This is has not been a canned season of overused crime stereotypes or neatly packaged resolutions.  It dives into the psyche of all affected by this crime.  It shows the self -interest of institutions. The protectiveness of parents and what they would do for their children is unmasked.  It unveils some ugly truths about teenage culture that bleeds beyond the veneer that everyone wants to uphold and believe actually exist.

It makes you question the motive of the victim, the accused, those who fall in their different camps, the school administration wrapped in their self interests, a flawed legal system.

The two boys, who are central to the story, are outed in ways that bring further ramifications to them.

The male rape is met with disbelief and denial in a culture that upholds men victimless in this type of sex crime. It shows how male culture can also be its own worst enemy , allowing these acts in the shadows and ridiculing it  often with violence ( victims and all) in public. Homophobia drives the young men who struggle with identity and with the perception that being gay makes you less than a man.

The show reveals human frailty and failings in dealing with this very real crime.

Getting to the truth is painful because American Crime takes the audience in a journey that shows us how the blame is spread among all of us in terms of how this crime is treated and addressed.

Felicity Hoffman is masterful as the School Principal Leslie Graham. Her character is all about control and lessening the damage to the school’s image. There is a subtle insanity to her character and Hoffman performs it with all credibility.

We are reminded of why Timothy Hutton was an Academy Award winner when he was young. His acting is flawless as the very vulnerable coach , Dan Sullivan,  whose whole world is falling apart in every episode.

Both Hoffman and Hutton are the epitome of great acting.

Connor Jessup is truly one of the best actors of his generation.  His nuanced, disturbed, vulnerable, and empathetic Taylor Blaine is one of the most real victim characters I have seen played in any film. He knows how to deliver in layers and we are drawn to the truthfulness of his character.  I remember him when he was in another TV Show, Falling Skies. He also shone brightly in his performance there. He has some Leo DiCaprio, Ryan Gosling and Al Pacino in his acting.

Joey Polari as Eric Tanner also brings on a brilliant performance as the accused basketball player.  Guilty or not, Polari brings empathy to his character and in some ways shows how he has been a victim himself in many ways.

Kudos also to the brilliant performances Regina King and Lili Taylor. Absolutely stellar.

Great writing, relevant material, and great acting makes American Crime a must watch.




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