O.J. Simpson and the trial that kept everyone glued to their TVs 20 years ago will once again be center stage when American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson premieres at 10 p.m. on FX. The 10-episode docudrama stars Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpson, and early reviews are stellar. Given viewers’ recent obsession with Making a Murderer, The People vs. O.J. Simpson is sure to be a hit.
O.J. Simpson’s story is told through the eyes of Jeffrey Toobin. The series is based on a book titled The Run of His Life that was written by Toobin, which the Week says is “widely regarded as one of the best and most credible nonfiction accounts of the O.J. Simpson trial.” And despite the fact that despite the 24/7 coverage of the real case in 1995, the trailer declares that fans “don’t know the half of it.”
American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson presents the trial and how it was influenced by Simpson’s celebrity status and his race. We are shown the racial tension of L.A. at the time, including the heated response to the Rodney King beating and the relationship between O.J. Simpson’s trial, and that racial tension is a theme of the show. The fact that the racial tension that existed then and is portrayed in The People vs. O.J. Simpson still exists today is just one element of the show that will make the 20-year-old case work for today’s audience.
The People vs. O.J. Simpson goes beyond O.J. Simpson, though, and looks at the lawyers and their interactions outside the courtroom. Racial and gender-based tension in society is reflected in the relationships between the attorneys in the Simpson trial. Egos come into play and deep relationships are created in the show as they were in the course of the trial. The People vs. O.J. Simpson looks at it all.
The elements of The People vs. O.J. Simpson that provide parallels between the world of the 90s and the world today also include the role of the Kardashians in the trial, with patriarch Robert Kardashian, played by David Schwimmer, as one of Simpson’s attorneys. The New Yorker indicates that The People vs. O.J. Simpson even manages to bring to mind the Bill Cosby case, the Black Lives Matter phenomenon, and all of the issues related to the gender and race of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and how that impacts how we see them and how they are able to perform their jobs.
The People vs. O.J. Simpson goes deeper into the case, showing the viewer behind-the-scenes events they were not made aware of when the actual trial took place. The Verge describes the show as a character study of O.J. Simpson, giving us a look at a dark side of him and doing it in a way that will have us hooked from the beginning. While there will be many who watch the TV portrayal of Simpson’s trial and remember when it dominated the airwaves, there will also be some watching who were too young to pay much attention 20 years ago. No matter how familiar you think you are with O.J. Simpson’s trial, in spite of the fact that we all know how it ends, the view the show gives us through the lens of celebrity and race of the mid-90s, combined with the dark character study of Simpson will keep us tuning in.
The People vs. O.J. Simpson includes Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, and Courtney M. Vance as Johnny Cochran.
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]