American Crime Story is an American Horror Story spinoff that revolves around some of history’s famous criminals. The first season centres around “The People V. O.J Simpson”case, AKA “The Trial Of The Century” (last).
There are few events that unify people, not only in America, but the world. One such event is 9/11 and another is The People V. O.J. Simpson. When something like this happens, the whole world takes notice and moments like that are etched in people’s minds forever. Another such event is The Assassination Of JFK. Everybody remembers where they were when 9/11 occurred, the same goes for Kennedy being shot, with those who are still alive to remember it. People remember where they were when America’s sweetheart O.J. Simpson was riding in a white Bronco with police in hot pursuit down a highway in Los Angeles. This marked the beginning of round the clock news, but more notoriously, reality television.
From the get-go, the show faced a heavy task. One such task being: how would a show be able to depict these real events without it becoming just another courtroom drama? We all know how this story ends because many saw it live, and the nineties/noughties kids can easily catch it on the internet. Would it be something other than another rehash of the famous “The People V. O.J. Simpson?” It only took one episode to suck me into this show. The show begins strong and the quality doesn’t drop at all throughout the season, not even for a second. It shows viewers something that they weren’t privy to back in 1995. It shows the going-ons behind the scenes, full of plays for power as well as using the case to further political ambitions.
He may have got off scot-free but he could never walk the street as he used to. In addition to the social commentary, we are witness to sensational performances, thought-provoking storytelling and very sturdy direction. This show wins across the board from main categories like acting and direction to the more technical aspects like camerawork and cinematography. It can’t be faulted on either front. In my book, “The People V. O.J. Simpson” is a direct rival to the likes of Fargo, The Hollow Crown, The Night Manager, Narcos and The Get Down for the best shows of 2015 and 2016. In conjunction to what I have mentioned, this spinoff is not only a masterful piece of television, but a necessary narrative considering our real life sociocultural and political setting at the moment.
The show dissects the case into different elements, and in each episode we are shown different parts of it. We start on the day of the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Also, we see the Bronco chase and then into the trial in conjunction to many conspiracy theories and leaks to the press. Every episode is absolute gold. They are a delight: intelligent, thought-provoking and outright engaging to watch. You don’t get bogged with lawyer lingo, and that’s something that can’t be said for many courtroom dramas. Each episode is imperative, and we see all the events of episodes one to nine come together in the season finale, episode ten. By looking at each case element under the microscope, American Crime Story allowed the audience to have a deeper knowledge of the whole case and not just what tidbits the media decides to allocate.
Even without looking back on the history of the case, it was obvious that the case would quickly become a matter of race. This is Los Angeles where a black man has been accused of killing two white people, one being a woman and his ex-wife. The activities of the series took place from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties where racial tension was at its very height, which was very well depicted in the movie Straight Outta Compton based on the LA rap group NWA. The show touches on the Rodney King riots, showing us that this trial has a larger context. It’s more than a double homicide. It shows that regardless of class, African-Americans get picked up by the cops for nothing…even if OJ was another Uncle Tom. It’s so stimulating because the social, cultural and political subtext of the show slot into our own society, even twenty years on, not much has changed in terms of equality, whether that be sex or race.
This season wouldn’t be so good without itself cast. The standout performances were Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran and Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden. Well, they picked up three of the nine Emmys the show won in the limited series categories with the season receiving twenty-two nominations. David Schwimmer (Friends) plays a good Robert Kardashian at the shows pure and moral core, surrounded by immoral and unethical lawyers, look no further than John Travolta’s Robert Shapiro if you want to see ruthless pragmatism at its very worse. He’s an absolute animal, yet he gets results. Joseph Sivaro as Fred Goldman deserves an honorable mention.
Many parts of season one were very hard to watch, in terms of it being a slap in the face that society is still like this to some degree. Secondly, we are witness to the Kardashian children who we now know as famous for being famous and the faces of reality television. They’re only famous because daddy was O.J.’s lawyer and out of this came reality television. The trial wasn’t a quest for truth and justice, which is what we’d like to believe. We saw the fires of justice burn in the hearts of Marcia (Paulson) Christopher (Brown). It became a media frenzy and the verdict was a heavy blow for law enforcement as well as blow for the fabrics of society. It goes to show you that the system is shit, and the truth doesn’t matter as long as you weave a truth that people will believe.
I have no doubt that this anthology drama will succeed as a series and it’s already been confirmed that Hurricane Katrina will be the subject of season two. American Crime Story is by far in my top five shows of the year. As first seasons go, they’ve set the bar incredibly high, but I’m sure they’ll deliver a story equalled to season one’s awesomeness in its follow-up.