Yes, we can: 10 shows that challenge America to be better

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American Crime Story

What it’s about: The anthology series focuses on one highly public crime and/or scandal each season. The first installment revisited the O.J. Simpson trial. The second was a reverse-chronological account of the events leading up to Andrew Cunanan murdering Gianni Versace.

What it’s fighting for: If you believe history repeats itself, American Crime Story is the show on this list that most explicitly begs the United States to improve. Because we don’t want to ignore police brutality and racism so long that riots break out, priming the pump it to impact a major trial again, do we? We don’t want to condone the behavior of overtly bigoted and misogynist public figures, right? And we don’t want our own biases to blind us from the obvious, such as a string of related murders, correct?

In typical Ryan Murphy fashion, American Crime Story packs a lot into its storytelling. The two seasons (and presumably the third, too) manage to consider race, gender, prejudice, celebrity, journalism, LGBTQ identities, coming out, the military, and the public’s tendency to sneer at the unknown. Yet, even with all this subject matter, the series never loses its central focus: If America wants to move forward, it occasionally has to look back.

Where to watch: Season 1, The People v. O.J. Simpson, is streaming on Netflix. Season 2, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, is not streaming yet but can be purchased on Amazon and iTunes.