When O J Simpson was sent to trial, the two worlds of celebrity and justice came banging together like one big tabloid gavel on judicial bench. News of the trial was printed as light entertainment, discussed on daytime TV, and mocked on Saturday Night Live. It redefined the meaning of the words ‘media circus.’
This American Crime Story series follows the case from crime to punishment – or, lack thereof – and even if you’ve studied every article, watched every archive clip, and read every tweet about the trial, this is still very much a Must.
Over ten hour-long episodes, we dive head first into the juice, exploring the story and its themes of race, fame, domestic violence and the tabloids. They’ve added context too – rather than starting with grim shots of the murdered Ronald Goldman and Simpson’s former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, it starts two years before in 1991, with Rodney King’s beating at the hands of the LA police, which triggered five days of riots. With this addition, they bring the trial into perspective – back-grounded by a city divided by race, and fuelled by anger.
Even though we’ve heard it all before, (and we know what the judgement will be) you still sit jaw-dropped, waiting for the next detail. That’s partly down to the solid cast – Cuba Gooding Jr has OJ down to a T, switching moods as often as Simpson himself switched lanes in that famous clip of the (ridiculously long) chase down by the feds. And David Schwimmer is so good as his pal Robert Kardashian, that we almost forget he’s Ross from friends. But above them all is Sarah Paulson, who plays doomed prosecutor Marcia Clark, right down to the last curl.
The Telegraph’s Jonathan Bernstein puts it perfectly, saying “American Crime Story’s OJ Simpson chapter is timely, expertly executed, smartly cast entertainment that, if it’s done its job correctly, will leave you with an unpleasant taste in your mouth.” Like OJ after you’ve just brushed your teeth? Maureen Ryan in Variety comments that the series’ “editing was marvelous; jagged when things were spinning out of control and precise when depicting complex confrontations.” The New York Times’ James Poniewozik agrees, saying it “shifts tones nimbly,” and “the casting is inspired.”
First shown February 2016. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here: