TCA 2015: 'American Crime': Powerful and raw emotions behind a murder

TCA 2015: 'American Crime': Powerful and raw emotions behind a murder
Timothy Hutton appears in a scene from the new ABC drama "American Crime." (Bill Records / ABC)

The complexity of race relations and how different cultures interact in the face of searing horror and tragedy is at the core of "American Crime," ABC's upcoming drama from Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley ("12 Years a Slave").

Ridley acknowledged that some of the stories and emotions of the show reflect some of the recent tensions across the country sparked by the deaths of African American men at the hands of police officers. But the show had been in development long before those eruptions.

"As the show was moving along, very sadly, I realized that we were predating some things, and that the reality is that, these things remain cyclical in our country," Ridley said during a session for the show at the Television Critics Assn. press tour.

He added: "It was never our desire to exploit any of those things. But at the same time, you have to build the space where people do recognize that it is not purely empty entertainment."

In "American Crime," a young white couple is attacked in their Modesto home. The husband, war veteran Matt Skokie, is murdered, and his wife is hospitalized in critical condition. An investigation into the crime reveals that the case cuts across socioeconomic and cultural lines as several people deal with the tragedy.

The 11-episode series premieres March 5. Timothy Hutton, Felicity Huffman, Benito Martinez and Regina King are part of a large ensemble cast.