Whether it’s Making a Murderer, Ryan Murphy’s The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, or any other similar show, one thing is certain: the true crime genre has reached epic popularity. However, unlike many shows that use the tagline “based on true events” but are purely tales of fiction, Ryan Murphy’s FX drama portrays a real life criminal trial that viewers can identify with on an almost personal level. And that sets this upcoming show apart from all the rest.
With such a star-studded cast, we begin with the character that the “trial of the century” was built around, the football star O.J. Simpson, portrayed magnificently by Cuba Gooding Jr, reports Cinema Blend. The Oscar-winning actor turned in a performance that could, in fact, land him on the much-envied list of Emmy nominees, giving O.J. the personality that induces debate among viewers and shows audiences a side of concerning discomfort and ever present stress.
Besides Cuba Gooding Jr., HitFix lists a long list of vetted actors and actresses including John Travolta as defense attorney Robert Shapiro, Courtney B. Vance as the second defense attorney, American Horror Story star Sara Paulson as prosecuting attorney, Sterling K. Brown as her fellow ADA Christopher Darden, plus Nathan Lane (F. Lee Bailey), Rob Morrow (Barry Scheck), Evan Handler (Alan Dershowitz), Bruce Greenwood (Gil Garcetti), Kenneth Choi (Judge Ito), Steven Pasquale (Mark Fuhrman), Selma Blair (Kris Jenner), Malcolm Jamal-Warner (A.C. Cowlings).
According to Cinema Blend, Travolta also is at his best, delivering a cocky, sharp and conniving portray as O.J.’s infamous defense attorney.
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story begins with an unexpected event – not the Brentwood murders or the famous Bronco ride, but with footage of one of the LAPD’s darkest moments, footage from the beating of African-American Rodney King. The beating, of course, led to riots and a deepening disconnect between the LA’s black community and the city’s police department. That was a racial divide that O.J.’s defense attorney’s used to their advantage even though, states HitFix, Simpson had severed most of his ties with the black community, preferring his rich white friends instead.
The performances by Paulson, Brown and Vance are also sensational, giving viewers three-dimensional characters.
However, while Cinema Blend raved about Travolta’s performance, HitFix didn’t see it that way, claiming Travolta’s performance was strange and at times silly compared to his co-star’s brilliant work.
But aside from the long list of well-recognized celebrities, the show hits on more than a few subjects, such as race and fame.
“Fame is fleeting. It’s hollow. It means nothing at all without a virtuous heart.” Robert Kardashian says to his kids Kim, Khloe, Courtney, and Rob. The reality stars’ father is famous because of the O.J. trial, a fame that eventually birthed his kids’ own stardom along with O.J.’s house guest Kato, who in one scene is out jogging while being hit on by beautiful women, then yelled at by a stranger who thinks Kato was O.J.’s partner in the murder and should go to hell. In the scene, Kato thinks about what just happened and shrugs it off saying, “Fame’s complicated.”
The show, agrees USA Today, isn’t about the murder itself but rather the people involved and its effect on society. But USA Today argues that the use of the Kardashian’s kids to portray the dangers of a celebrity obsessed culture is laid on too thick and is unnecessary.
Despite that, The People v. O.J. Simpson could be Murphy’s finest work to date, though some warn that any recommendation is also paired with a warning that the hours that critics have yet to see could send the show spinning off the rails. They also could also not, though, and instead turn it into not just a popular show but also a meaningful one.
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story airs Tuesday nights on FX.
Tell us! Are you watching The People v. O.J. Simpson? Let us know in the comments and check out a preview of what’s to come below.
[Image via FX]