by E.C. Gregg
Quite simply the best television show to have aired on the BBC in a long time. As the title suggests, this ten part drama centres on the incredibly public trial of O.J. Simpson, the former American Football player and movie star. O.J. is the prime suspect of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman. All the evidence points to O.J. committing this double homicide and his actions immediately after the police make contact with him condemn the man even further. The case is pretty much in the bag as far as the prosecution is concerned. As the series progresses, the amount of bullshit and deviation used by O.J.’s defence attorneys is astronomical. If this wasn’t based on a historic event and heavily influenced by facts, the story as a whole would not hold any credibility.
The casting for American Crime Story is truly mouth-watering. Cuba Gooding Jr. takes the lead role and delivers a wonderfully diverse portrayal of Simpson. John Travolta has a look like he can constantly smell of turd under his nose but this only added to the character of Robert Shaprio. Sterling K. Brown, Sarah Paulson, Kenneth Choi and the rest of the ensemble are superb but the standout performance is clearly Courtney B. Vance as the charming snake-like mother fucker Johnnie Cochran. The way he manipulates the juries’ perception of the LAPD and O.J. is astonishing. He twists the whole case into a trail of racism within the police department instead of focusing on the double murder, becoming very much the Johnnie Cochran show. It is also satisfying to see David Schwimmer in a role that didn’t just make viewers think ‘oh look its Ross from Friends.’
The time period of when the O.J. trail is set is significant and assists in getting a verdict from the jury. It’s the early 90s and the LAPD hold a horrible reputation of police brutality towards ethnic minorities; African-Americans especially. So when the general public discover that O.J. Simpson is being taken to trial for murder it completely divides the nation. Most of the black community believe that the LAPD are framing O.J. because he’s a successful black man. You can’t blame them for taking this stance, racism was still very much a huge issue. The white community believed O.J. committed the crimes because of all the evidence points towards him. The DNA evidence even identifies him as the killer but this is not set in modern times. DNA was only recently introduced into trails at this time; no one understood what the fuck it was! Evidence became irrelevant as soon as the race card was used by Johnnie Cochran and his team of lawyers. It was very much black against white.
The tragically wonderful thing about this drama is the eminent frustration felt by all persons involved. This frustration transfers itself into audiences, so much so that you find yourself shouting at the television like a lunatic. The viewer feels the frustration of Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) as she battles to keep the jury focused on the facts and her soon to be ex-husband is making a mockery of her parenting skills in the press. It was clear to see how aggravating it was for Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown) as it became apparent that the only reason he had been taken on to prosecute O.J. was because of the colour of his skin. It was transparent how Robert Kardashian’s (David Schwimmer) feelings towards his good friend O.J completely change as doubt set into his mind. The audience can even connect with O.J. himself after he is cleared of both counts of murder. He has been found not guilty yet the predominantly white community that he resides in utterly reject him. The look and feel of the whole production is constantly engaging and absorbing.
We’re not even half way through 2016 yet but I’m confident enough to say that The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story will top any other television series this calendar year. If you haven’t had the privilege to watch it; sort your fucking life out. Not a moment of this series is boring or dull. The only criticism that can be made about it is that this particular story will not return for a second series.
Dir: Anthony Hemingway, Ryan Murphy, John Singleton
Scr: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, Jeffrey Toobin
Cast: Sarah Paulson, Sterling K. Brown, Cuba Gooding Jr., Courtney B. Vance, John Travolta, Kenneth Choi, David Schwimmer, Nathan Lane, Bruce Greenwood
Prd: Scott Alexander, Todd Brown, Nina Jacobson, John Travolta, Brad Falchuk
DOP: Nelson Cragg
Music: Mac Quayle
Runtime: 42 minutes per episode