American Crime returned for its third season and by the looks of it, it might be its best yet. The anthology series, created by Academy Award-winner John Ridley (the screenwriter for 12 Years a Slave), has moved this year to North Carolina to tackle human trafficking in its many forms. As with past seasons, the show opens with a 911 call, except for the first time, the person making the call is a Spanish speaker. He tells the operator that a body has been found in the river.
Of course, before we even get to see who it is that person is talking about, we’re introduced to the sprawling cast of characters who will be connected to that crime. First off is Luis Salazar, a Mexican man who we meet as he crosses the border illegally. He wants to make it to North Carolina and it’s soon clear he’s not interested in merely finding a job. There’s the Hesby family who own tomato farms in the state and who, as we learn, might be employing a number of undocumented workers. And then there’s Kimara Walters, a social worker who focuses on helping young teenagers involved in sex trafficking.
And if those provocative storylines weren’t enough to get you to tune in, just look at the show’s stellar cast. In addition to Emmy winners Felicity Huffman (as Jeanette Hesby) and Regina King (as Kimara), the ABC drama is bringing back two season one favorites. Benito Martinez, best known for his work on The Shield, gets the plum role of Luis Salazar who becomes a firsthand witness of the horrible conditions those working the fields have to endure. And breakout star Richard Cabral, who earned his first Emmy nomination for his work in the show’s first season, gets yet another chance to show off his acting chops playing Isaac Castillo, a farm chief that helps keep its workers in check.
From the first episode alone, it’s clear American Crime is yet again interested in using regionally specific storylines to illuminate larger issues. By tackling forced labor in all its complexity, this season is likely to spark heated debate about the exploitation of undocumented farm workers, and the larger socio-economic issues that encourage and allow that very exploitation.
American Crime airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on ABC.