This story gets more complex, more interesting and more nuanced with every episode. It feels wrong to say this is “just” a story about assault — mainly because that’s offensive and reductive. But at the heart of it, I think this season is about the dynamics of power and how that manifests both inside and outside the bedroom. What does having “power” mean in an intimate setting? How does that dynamic change if the sex is between two men? Should it matter? How much more complicated does this issue become if there are drugs and/or alcohol involved? Outside of the bedroom, there is the struggle of the teachers and parents. And this accusation affects people differently because of race and class and personal experience.
Kevin’s family has the means to protect their son, so they go about doing exactly that. They bring their lawyer in immediately. And they have reason to worry that their son, who is black and, at 18, no longer a minor, will be under intense scrutiny. After all, he’s the only one named in the article about the incident.
When it becomes clear that the police are willing to arrest the students on the team and get warrants for all their DNA, Curt is smart to want to present a united front as parents. Add to that the fact that he’s going through a divorce and can’t afford a lawyer and you’ve got a parent who might get desperate.
I wonder if the fact that Kevin’s family is choosing to go it alone will be a problem later. Didn’t Kevin promise Eric that he had them? Aren’t friends supposed to help each other in times of need? The fact that Eric chose to try to kill himself over talking to anyone is heartbreaking.
Taylor’s journey has been just as fraught and confusing. His mother, Anne, believes he’s been raped. But part of the problem is Taylor has been reluctant to offer up any details. We know he doesn’t want to burden his mother, but up until last week I know I assumed he’d been raped. It’s difficult for any victim to talk about their assault, but this situation is further complicated by the fact that it happened between two guys.
Now that Eric has let the police look at his texts, the “facts” are in question. What do we really know? We know Taylor went to that party looking to have sex with Eric. We know the texts implied that Taylor wanted Eric to be rough. We know both boys are in the closet. The police recovered Taylor’s clothes from that night and what they found — blood and semen — prompted them to use the word “rape,” whereas before they’d been saying “assault.” How does uncovering these news facts change that? Should it?
I don’t know where this is going, but the journey is fascinating and frustrating and so emotional. Should the police be allowed to look at any extenuating circumstances in determining if this is rape or not? Would having a rape kit done right after the assault been helpful or hurtful? How do you deal with a reluctant accuser? How will the police get those kids to tell them the whole truth? Will the parents help or hurt? None of those kids wants to rat on their friends, but it sounds like a lot inappropriate behavior happened during the Captain’s party. However this goes, I’m all in.
“Episode 5” synopsis, from ABC:
In the hours after Eric is forced to openly discuss his sexuality, Taylor must defend his actions on the night of his alleged assault to the police; Anne struggles with the discovery that her son is gay; a critical decision by the detectives makes some involved feel as though the worst may be over; and at Marshall high school, Chris deals with the aftermath of a seemingly innocuous incident that begins to take on racial overtones.
Here’s a clip from tonight’s episode:
American Crime airs Wendesdays at 10/9c on ABC.
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