There isn’t a genre that captures the imagination of human beings more than crime. The knowledge that one of their own can be capable of such brutal and sickening thoughts that they then carry into action speaks to the darkest part of their nature. Throw in reality and you have drama that will pull the attention of anyone, even those who claim to be above that sort of grotesque entertainment. Enter The People vs. OJ Simpson.
The FX drama is a look back at the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial in which the former pro-football player was charged with murder of both his ex-wife, Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman. The trial came at a time of racial turbulence in the city of Los Angeles, where the murders took place and involved people of celebrity status. This trial polarized the country and was a spectacle that couldn’t be ignored.
The drama has a very similar feel in that it is a spectacle that cannot be ignored. The visuals are incredible and shot in such way that it has a cinematic feel which tends to give each scene more gravity. Nothing is wasted, not shots, music, actors, or dialogue. Everything feels necessary to accurately portray, to the best of their ability, the feelings that went on nearly 20 years ago.
Cuba Gooding Jr. plays the titular O.J. Simpson as a man who is emotionally broken. Whether it is from the grief of his ex-wife’s murder or the fact that he may have committed the crime, Gooding Jr. does an incredible job of portraying what was most likely the real instability of Simpson.
The supporting actors, John Travolta as the lead attorney of Simpson’s “dream team” Robert Shapiro and David Schwimmer as Simpson’s confidant Robert Kardashian both do an excellent job in their respective roles. Travolta takes control of every scene he is in to get across who Shapiro was during the trial. Schwimmer might do the best job of completely understanding his character as the audience gets to see him go from supportive to conflicted through the first episode.
For the entire hour, there is an intensity that grips and won’t let go. The People vs. O.J. Simpson is can’t bear to watch but can’t look away, just like the case was in real life.
Rather than state outright what they believe the judgment in the case should have been, the writers do a great job of simply telling the story by humanizing each of the characters so the audience can have a great understanding of the toll the trial would take.
The first episode ends with the well-known escape in the Ford Bronco and from there it is on to the trial itself and the deterioration of all of those involved. There is much more to come as the audience gets to dive deeper into what happened behind the scenes in a very public case.
The first episode is incredible and if the rest of the episodes continue to deliver, this may very well be one of the best true crime shows to be put on television. Watch it and decide if he did it.