Hilarie Burton Morgan hosts the first series set to premiere as a part of SundanceTV’s all-new true crime franchise, True Crime Story: It Couldn’t Happen Here. The show premiered on September 9 on SundanceTV as well as AMC+ and puts a spotlight on murder cases from small towns across America where questions remain if justice has been fully served. Each episode, Burton Morgan meets with family members and local insiders as she explores the twists and turns of the case, uncovering the unique challenges of small-town justice. New episodes air Thursdays at 10PM ET.
True Crime Story: It Couldn’t Happen Here investigates the distinctive ways in which crime impacts rural communities and their judicial systems. Too often the heartbreaking events in these towns are largely overlooked because they lack the national media platforms and advocacy resources found in larger cities. In the riveting series, Burton Morgan attempts to understand the challenges the community faced investigating the crime, learns the lasting impact the crime has had on the fabric of the town, and ultimately call attention to where justice currently stands.
During a roundtable with Burton Morgan, I got to ask the actress what viewers can do to help get justice for these cases. After telling me that this was like, “the best question ever,” she expressed how she was feeling on True Crime Story: It Couldn’t Happen Here‘s premiere day. “I’m so nervous, I’ve been on pins and needles all day. I care so much. It’s really easy to put something out there in the world that you don’t really care about because you’re like, ‘It sinks, it swims, whatever.’ I care so much about this and I really want other people to care about it, because I think we have the potential to do so much good together,” She shared with me.
“People in small towns don’t have access to the advocacy groups, to the resources, to any of the infrastructure that major cities have. So for someone in Adel, Georgia to get help, they’ve got to find someone in Atlanta to care, you know? And that’s what we deal with in the first episode. I would love the hashtag army to get involved, I would love for people to contact attorney generals and I think the way to do this holistically is to not be combative. I think, one of the things I’ve learned is that for these either wrongful convictions or places where there’s been no grand jury viewing of evidence, things like that, it feels like we’re waiting out the careers of judicial politicians, you know? It feels like we vote for judges, we vote for district attorneys, we vote for sheriffs, and we have a lot of power in who we put in those positions, but we’re kind of unaware of it,” the actress explained to The Nerds of Color.
“So, I’d like people to be aware of who they’re voting for. If anyone is running on a ‘I’ve won every case I’ve ever presented’ record, that’s like a huge red flag! That means they care more about wins and losses than they do about true justice and that’s a big thing. So when we are addressing these attorney generals, when we’re addressing these district attorneys, I think it’s important to, like I said, not be combative because some of them are not the same people who initially put these wheels in motion 20 years ago. I think there can be a lot of hope in like, ‘Hey, you’re new to the game, it would be really wonderful if you could take a look at this,’ because the problem with our judicial system is that there’s not an easy path for self correction. If you are running for office, why would you ever look at an appeal and say, ‘Oh yeah, I messed up here. I messed up.’ It’s fodder for your opponent.”
Burton Morgan ended her answer in an extremely hopeful and beautiful way, saying, “I think, with positive, optimistic pressure from the viewing public we can get a lot done because now, these people running for office know that the wins and losses don’t mean as much to us as the constant search for justice and sometimes that can change over the decades. We’re always getting new scientific information and DNA evidence has changed the game, so let’s re-examine as much as we can to make sure we’ve made the right decisions.”