The People v. O. J. Simpson:
American Crime Story
Review by Eric Renderking Fisk | February 22nd, 2016
If I can ever get Eddie Muller from The Film Noir Foundation on my podcast, there’s one question I must ask him is akin to “The Chicken or The Egg…” What comes first for most people; the love of Film Noir or the obsession with True Crime stories? Because in most circumstances the people who I meet who love one also love the other.
If you enjoy movies like “The Maltese Falcon,” “Kiss Me Deadly,” or “The Third Man,” then it’s safe to assume that you like most mysteries and suspense with realistic endings. And the most realistic endings come from true crime stories that dig deep into the mind of the killers and other criminals. Not only do we want to know if these criminals get away with it or how they get caught, we also want to know why they did it? What made them do it? What are the circumstances that brought them to that specific point in their lives when they crossed the line?
Such is the case of “The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” The must-watch Docu-drama from 2016 that focused on the “Crime of The Century,” the cold-blooded killing of O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife and her friend Ron Goldman.
And how Ron Goldman became a mere afterthought in the trial to convict the man who was acquitted.
The story bounces back between sides, the prosecution of the case by Marcia Clark, Christopher Darden and D.A. Gil Garcetti versus “The Dream Team” defense - Johnnie Cochran, Robert Kardashian, Alan Dershowitz, Robert Shapiro, Barry Scheck, F. Lee Bailey… am I missing anyone? This series showed the audience what happened behind the scenes per script writers of this series and based upon the book “The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson” by Jeffrey Toobin. Watching this series isn’t unlike watching how sausage is made, horrible accident videos on YouTube, or various other nauseating activities.
I have a cast-iron stomach with a high threshold for disgust and even I can’t bear to watch some aspects of this series; not because of the subject matter but how the case was tried and how the defense team twist facts and the truth and could maneuver and manipulate Ms. Clark and Mr. Darden using issues of gender and race against them.
Throughout the actual events that occurred or while watching this mini-series it’s hard to imagine how this started as an open-and-shut case with all evidence pointing to Mr. Simpson’s guilt with his blood at the scene of the crime and the two victims blood at his house along with one of the bloody gloves that was used during the murders found on his property, to there being some reasonable doubt that maybe some racist cops planted evidence.
Then I was reminded how Simpson got away with this while watching some of events that occurred that made a truthful conviction possible. It was just as hard then as it is now to comprehend such has how Judge Ito allowed personal and private issues to interfere with the hearings and eventual trial, how obvious conflicts of interest were ignored, and how much of this case was prolonged for the mere spectical. Because of those issues, the outcome was inevitable.
If I can just interject this; The most surprising aspect of “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” is the side-story of Robert Kardashian portrayed by David Shwimmer and his growth as a character who at first believed that “The Juice” didn’t do it and eventually concluded that because of O.J.’s actions and behaivor that he must have been guilt. Mr. Shimmer’s acting and his ability to portray such subtlety in this role earned him accolates; espcially the Emmy nomination. If anything, Mr. Shimmer's protrait of Robert Kardashian served as the Audience Surrogate for me, the characther I identified with the most.
With that said: Why, yes, it is a train wreck, but it’s a disaster with some genuine acting and attention to detail that feels as if the viewers were taken back to the mid-1990’s. Thanks to the writing, directing, acting, I couldn’t take my eyes of the screen and even able to empathise with some of the so-called villians of this series and understand why race was such a factor and why the jurors declared Mr. Simpson as “not guilty.”
For Film Noir cultists, fans of true crime stories, and everyone else who merely enjoys good drama, “The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story” is essential viewing. As a miniseries that serves a pure entertainment has the perfect balance of drama and intrigue that will keep casual viewers in their seats and binge watch during a rainy weekend. This also serves as social commentary about how a community can be so beaten down after decades of oppression and violence and how their own experiences give them reasonable doubt because of possible tainted or planted evidence.
This series serves as an example of how evil people, anti-heroes, former heroes… anyone who has ever done something horrible could get away with it because of a cynical population and jaded justice system.