A star-studded thriller, ‘The People vs. O.J. Simpson’ is worth viewing

By on February 3, 2016

By Matthew Shircliffe–

Not guilty — this was the verdict the jury arrived upon on Oct. 3, 1995, in “the trial of the century.” It acquitted ex-football star and Heisman trophy winner O.J. Simpson of two accounts of murder. The victims were ex-wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. It quickly escalated into the most infamous trial in American history.

Now two decades later, FX is retelling that story in a ten-episode mini-series that premiered last night called “The People vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” A spin-off series of “American Horror Story,” this premiere was phenomenal.

From the gripping storytelling to the spectacular all-star cast, this show works in every way imaginable. Everyone knows how this trial inevitably ends. We all know O.J. gets off clean while the general consensus is he is guilty. Regardless of what the public knows and feels, I cannot help but be amazed. The show is still unpredictable and undeniably shocking.

Although the run-time of the first episode was approximately 58 minutes, it was such a quick watch because of how hypnotized and invested I was from the get-go. It is impossible to not be interested in the well-thought-out dialogue and the compelling characters.

Cuba Gooding Jr. plays a  panicked, unsettled and nervous O.J. Simpson. He is a desperate man in a desperate situation.

David Schwimmer — who most people remember as playing Ross on “Friends” — plays Robert Kardashian, Simpson’s long-time friend and former lawyer. He is convinced to be a part of his defense team. He tries to find the balance between justice and loyalty. He comes to Simpson’s defense, refusing to stomach the thought that O.J. could commit such heinous crimes. Much like Simpson, Kardashian is losing his grip with a high level of concern and restlessness, making both characters fascinating.

Gooding Jr. and Schwimmer are great, but it was Courtney Vance, Sara Paulson and John Travolta who stole the show’s premiere. Sara Paulson, a series regular on “American Horror Story,” takes on the role of Marcia Clark, the outspoken district attorney who is the lead prosecutor against Simpson. She is determined to take him down.

John Travolta plays the other side of the coin delivering a stellar performance as well, depicting Robert Shapiro, a part of Simpson’s defense. Travolta is drenched in makeup, which is oddly disturbing, yet riveting. If you find yourself analyzing his facial features a little bit too closely, you are not alone. Despite his complexion, his performance was exceptional.

Vance plays the famous Johnnie Cochran, the lead attorney in Simpson’s case, and he delivers another superb performance to go along with the rest of the cast. Everyone involved with the production of this series deserves praise. By the time this series is over, your time will have been well worth it.

The episode opens with old audio and video footage of the notorious arrest of Rodney King and the rioting that came to follow. It emphasized police brutality against African-Americans, while implying that perhaps what was to follow two years later in the Simpson trial was race-related.

The story begins immediately following the murders of the two victims and police discovering the bodies. Then the police inform Simpson at his house, but it turns out when they arrive they discover incriminating evidence leading to him becoming a suspect.

My only complaint with the episode was the inclusion of the Kardashian daughters. Although it was only a one-liner by Kris Jenner and just a mere head-nod to the now-famous daughters, it seems like a corny bit of fan-service that is unnecessary and will make anyone roll their eyes.

This season is set to follow the trial. The amount of stress, the physical and emotional toll everyone went through to win this case is overwhelming. The show is fast-paced, strategic and will hook the viewer immediately. If you are looking for a new series to check out that will make you critically think, this is definitely worth the watch.

About Sam Draut

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *