The O.J. Simpson murder trial is revived in the new TV series, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and I’m hooked. Every Tuesday at 10p.m., I’m curled up on my bed (eating my chips), waiting to see what’s in store.
It’s been 21 years since former football player, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and waiter Ronald Goldman. A whole new generation is able to learn about the trial that rocked America. For nine months, the trial showed on TV and viewers saw firsthand what happened inside the courtroom. I was born one month after the verdict was read so I missed “the trial of the century.” So now, the FX miniseries is helping me catch up.
The subject of race was very apparent during this trial. Many supporters of Simpson believed he was framed for the murders. His die-hard football fans couldn’t imagine Simpson, “the all American athlete” would kill two people. A majority of the people that believed he was innocent were African-Americans. On the other hand, a large percentage of White Americans believed Simpson did commit the murders. In 1994, The Washington Post conducted a survey wanting to know whether people believed if Simpson was guilty or not. According to the survey, 63% of White Americans believed he was guilty and 22% of African-Americans felt he was innocent. The divide was clear and I think it only grew once the trial got underway and details about the night in question were released.
I’ve watched videos of viewers reacting to the verdict and there were a range of emotions. People were cheering and hugging each other because Simpson was found not guilty and right next to them, others held their mouths in disbelief that he wasn’t convicted of murder. For me, I’ll hold off to share if I think he did it or not.
The success of the series comes down to how brilliantly the actors were chosen for each role. It’s spot on! A couple months back, I saw the promos for the series and knew I had to watch it. Academy Award winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. (right) portrays Simpson (left). At first I thought, “They chose him? He looks nothing like O.J.” but it goes way beyond resembling the person.
Gooding Jr. adds a truth and rawness to the role that makes him believable. The reenactment of the scene when Simpson has a gun to his head, sitting in the backseat of his white Bronco because police cars are chasing him is powerful.
Simpson was asked by Los Angeles police to surrender in connection to the death of his ex-wife and waiter but refused. Instead, he led them on a wild goose chase for hours on a L.A. freeway. I was on the edge of my bed waiting to see if he would pull the trigger. Of course I knew that he wouldn’t (he’s alive) but every time he raised the gun to his temple, I thought otherwise. Back in 1994, the chase was shown on all major news channels minute by minute but audiences didn’t see or hear Simpson trying to kill himself. If only they saw what exactly happened inside of the car.
I’ll forever associate John Travolta to playing “Danny Zuko” (his role in Grease) but in The People Vs. O.J. Simpson he takes on a much different role. He plays Robert Shapiro, a well-known criminal defense attorney. It’s no surprise how great Travolta is doing in this role and I like the edge that he adds to the character.
Actress Sarah Paulson (right), best known for her role in American Horror Story took on the portrayal of former prosecutor Marcia Clark (left). Clark is remembered for being a no non-sense, straight to the point defense lawyer. Her personality wasn’t the only thing that the media focused on. For much of the trial, her hair was the topic of discussion.
I’ll admit her hair wasn’t the cutest but it didn’t need to be discussed. She was in court to do her job, not to walk a runway. In the FX series, it shows how she dealt with the media scrutiny behind closed doors. Clarke broke down in her office because it became too much to handle. She didn’t understand how she went from just a regular person to being ripped to shreds all across newsstands and TV screens. To add to the stress, she was dealing with a divorce and custody battle over her two children. I love the series because I get to see what happened in the personal lives of everyone involved in the case. I’m able to connect and relate to people that aren’t always transparent. Paulson delivers on showing both sides to Clark and how she was able to balance being a mother while working on a highly publicized case. I commend Clark for handling the media the way she did and continuing to doing her job as a great defense lawyer.
“If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” is probably one of the most famous lines spoken by Simpson’s defense attorney, Johnnie Cochran (right).
Leather gloves were found on Simpson’s property that were believed to be used during the killings. Simpson tried them on in court but the gloves didn’t fit. Cochran spoke directly to the jurors in his closing statement and that’s when he delivered his famous one liner. Actor Courtney B. Vance (left), known for his role in Law and Order, really brings Cochran’s personality to life. The 90’s mustache and glasses adds to him being the perfect pick for the role. Cochran was known for his persuasive way of speaking. He had the ability to move a crowd with his words and get them to believe whatever he said. Vance taps into that quality of his and shows the importance of Cochran being on Simpson’s “dream team.”
The name “Kardashian” was long in the media before any of this current hoopla started. Robert Kardashian (right), the father to the entire clan was Simpson’s defense attorney and best friend.
Actor David Schwimmer (left), (a.k.a. “Ross” from Friends in my head) plays the late lawyer. The attention to detail is amazing in the series because they made sure to add Kardashian’s signature gray strands to Schwimmer for the role. Kardashian had a lot to deal with during the trial because he played double duty. He served as an attorney and most importantly a friend. Kardashian was there to talk Simpson out of committing suicide during his first attempt. Schwimmer shows how Kardashian felt seeing someone he knew fall apart during the lowest part of their life. I wonder if Kardashian ever doubted his friend’s innocence. If he did, he probably felt obligated to support him either way because of the history they had together. What a position to be in.
Now, you all are probably wondering what side I’m on. It’s tough for me to make my decision. On one hand, there’s allegations of police tampering with the evidence in order to convict Simpson. Then on the other hand, Simpson tries to commit suicide two times but says he’s “100% innocent” in court. Why try to kill yourself if you know you didn’t do anything wrong? That doesn’t make sense to me. I’m stuck in the middle, so I’ll have to keep watching to make up my mind. There’s only four episodes left in the season and more witness testimonies will be shown. Maybe by the end of the series, I will have chosen a side. If that’s the case, I might have to check back in and give my final verdict.