Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley’s new series, “American Crime,” centers onr ace, class, and gender politics. The victims in the show are white, and the suspects, black and Latino, reflecting many of the country’s current, most lightning-rod conversations on social justice.
Much of that is framed in a more intimate way, though, with a focus on the character Alonso Gutiérrez, played by Benito Martinez. A widowed father, he faces “everything you would dread facing as a father,” says Martinez, “from his kids rebelling against him to racism to not knowing the legal system.”
His co-star, meanwhile, Regina King, takes on another important role: As Aliyah Shadeed, she plays an American-born Muslim, a responsibility of representation King doesn’t take lightly. “I learned first and foremost how many misconceptions there are about the Muslim religion,” she told Fusion’s Alicia Menendez, “and especially when it comes to American Muslims.”
If that all sounds like a show dedicated to exploring the concept of “diversity,” though, King actually prefers “Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes’ term: It’s television that’s “normalizing.”
“[American Crime director] John Ridley uses the word ‘reflective,’ often, and Shonda, with ‘normalizing,’ I think those two words are so much better than using the word ‘diverse,’” King said. “ I think when you look at America and what America is made up of, it’s not what we see on TV.”
“So as the stories start to get more broad, as they start to be told from different perspectives, then TV starts to become more normal,” she continued. “You start to have art imitating life more, and I am so excited that I get to be fully present during a time where this is happening.”