Are 'American Crime' Seasons 1 & 2 Connected? The Drama Charts A New Course In 2016

On Sunday night, actress Regina King will compete for a Golden Globe for her role in the freshman season of ABC's gritty drama American Crime. Although she's up against the likes of Orange Is The New Black's Uzo Aduba, King has pretty good odds: she already won an Emmy for the same role just last September. (Her victory likely caused many a viewer to think to themselves, "American What? What is this show I've never heard of?") This Wednesday, only four days before the Golden Globes ceremony, Season 2 of  American Crime will premiere. If you're thinking it's too late to get onboard this show, thankfully, you're wrong. Because it is an anthology series, American Crime Seasons 1 and 2 will not be connected.

Just like FX's American Horror Story, the plot, location, and characters of American Crime will completely reset for the new season, while keeping most of the core cast intact. Just like viewers can expect to see Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters to pop up every year on AHS, Regina King and her co-stars — including Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton — will all be returning for another go-round on American Crime in 2016. This year, the action will shift from Modesto, California to Indianapolis, Indiana; the crime in question will center on a student who accuses members of his private school's championship basketball team of sexually assaulting him at a party.

The change in setting means that all of the show's cast will be playing brand new characters. King will shift from supportive sister Aliyah Shadeed to the disbelieving mother of one of the accused teenagers. Meanwhile, Huffman and Hutton — who played the victim's parents last season — will this time play the school's president and basketball coach, respectively. Other returning cast members are Lily Taylor (as the victim's mother), Elvis Nolasco (as the public school's principal), and Richard Cabral. New faces joining the show for the first time in Season 2 include Hope Davis (most recently of FOX's Wayward Pines) and rapper André Benjamin as the husband of King's character.

The fact that so many faces will be recurring throughout the two seasons means that it would be difficult to connect the disparate crimes even if showrunner John Ridley (12 Years A Slave) wanted to. Of course, American Horror Story also started as a series of standalone seasons before more and more connections started to emerge between them, so who knows — Ridley could conceivably still change his mind. But while expecting audiences to suspend disbelief in regards to why multiple characters have the same face is par for the course in a fantastical horror series like AHS, the same thing probably wouldn't work as well on a straightforward drama like American Crime. How would Ridley explain the fact that a grieving mother in urban California and a wealthy principal in suburban Indiana are identical twins?

It's probably best for American Crime if the seasons remain distinct and disconnected. This is a series that's devoted to realism, to portraying uncomfortable truths about our country with unflinching honesty; if the show's dedication to realism were to start being called into question, it would undermine the entire endeavor. That's good new and bad news — bad if you were attached to Season 1's characters and are disappointed to hear that they won't be returning, but good for those TV viewers who might have missed the first season as it flew under the radar, and are now able to tune into the second season with no fear of missing anything when it premieres on Jan. 6 at 10 p.m.

Images: Ryan Green/ABC (3)