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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story’ is a compelling depiction of true crime

    TV poster for “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” The series is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book “The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson.”

    “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” This is one of the most recognized phrases ever spoken in a courtroom. It is referring to the bloody glove found at the crime scene of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

    It’s one of the most famous legal defense cases in history. It helped start the still-relevant conversation about racial profiling by the police, and it all began with one man: former professional football player, sports commentator and actor O.J. Simpson.

    We’ve all heard the story, but we haven’t seen an all-star cast tell us what happened through powerful writing and top-notch directing. At least, not until now.

    FX’s new series, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” does just that.

    No time is wasted, and the show opens with the discovery of the dead bodies of Simpson’s ex-wife and her friend. The police go to notify Simpson, but discover a trail of blood at his home, along with blood on his car and a bloody glove matching the glove found with the two bodies.

    The series begins to unfold from there, with A-list celebrities occupying most of the roles. Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Simpson and, although he doesn’t look exactly like him, he portrays the former Heisman Trophy winner with a strong emotional intensity and a gritty sense of mental instability. You know Simpson is guilty, but you can’t look away.

    His lawyers are played by John Travolta in the role of Robert Shapiro, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran and David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian. Vance, in particular, is fantastic as Cochran, who hasn’t actually joined the defense team thus far in the series, but still steals every scene he’s a part of.

    The prosecution attorneys are played by Sarah Paulson and Bruce Greenwood. If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of big names on display here.

    Paulson does great as Marcia Clark, the tough-as-nails prosecutor who immediately pushes for Simpson’s arrest after learning about a prior incident where he had abused his wife.

    Schwimmer does well as Simpson’s attorney and most trusted friend, Robert Kardashian. And yes, that is the same Kardashian you were thinking of. Many may be unaware of the fact that one of Simpson’s lawyers was the father of Kourtney, Kim and Khloe, thus igniting the Kardashian empire. The children even make a few appearances, and so does Kris Jenner, played by Selma Blair.

    There’s one scene where Robert Kardashian is reading a letter to the media that Simpson wrote, and his children are watching on TV. Then they start mindlessly chanting “Kardashian” over and over in one of the show’s more bizarre sequences.

    Now, obviously the only Kardashian that needs to be there is Robert. The presence of the children detracts from the story just a bit. They feel more like props for the audience to enjoy rather than actual parts of the story, but it’s not like the chance to portray the Kardashians as children comes around everyday on TV—apparently the writers just couldn’t waste the opportunity.

    The show is compelling from start to finish. It’s pretty clear that the writers aren’t exactly on Simpson’s side, but they still do a great job of presenting thought-provoking ideas about race and police tactics.

    The series immerses the audience in the world of the 1990s and makes viewers stop and think about how incredible of a story this is. Hopefully it’s getting the facts right too.

    Oddly enough, it’s challenging to find criticism with this show. The acting and directing are incredible, the script is solid and the series overall is hard to turn away from.

    Whether you were old enough to remember these events or you’ve only heard stories about them while growing up, this show will help you understand the bigger picture, particularly in the events leading up to Simpson’s trial.

    Spoiler alert: Simpson is acquitted of the murders, unless the writers are planning some sort of crazy twist where he is found guilty and justice is served. In reality, Simpson is currently serving a sentence for other crimes he committed, and one can’t help but wonder what he would think of this show, assuming of course that he can watch TV in prison.

    “The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” airs Tuesday nights on FX.

    Follow Alec Kuehnle on Twitter.

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