The O.J. Simpson trial gripped America in 1995. It was an L.A. noir mystery fuelled with fame, celebrity, class, and race… but in the end there wasn’t much of a murder mystery, just retribution for years of police mistreatment in the black community. While the trial didn’t have many twists or turns, reversals or red herrings, it’s estimated that 150 million people watched the televised verdict. Why? It was America’s first glimpse of reality TV. And the third-rate Hollywood soap opera didn’t disappoint. According to prosecutor Marcia Clark, “The networks were getting hate-mail letters because people’s soap operas were being interrupted for the Simpson trial. But then what happened was the people who liked soap operas got addicted to the Simpson trial. And they got really upset when the Simpson trial was over, and people would come up to me on the street and say, ‘God, I loved your show.’ ”
FX’s new ten-part miniseries “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson” is as addictive as the original story. Watching an episode is like taking a bite of one of Proust’s madeleine cakes and journeying back to the fin de siècle days before social media, before Paris Hilton, “The Hills,” “Survivor,” and all the other ready-made celebrity TV shows that gave us a voyeuristic kick. The O.J. Simpson trial was the prototype. While the story still has a lurid, train wreck quality, being twenty years removed from the original events allows producer Ryan Murphy and his team of writers the chance to fuse the series with modern parallels. Here are 10 reasons why you should tune in.
10 Because something is Wrong with the Criminal Justice System
9 Because You forgot all about Bruno Magli Shoes
8 Because You're Culpable in Creating a Celebrity Culture
The O.J. Simpson case is often called the first reality TV show. Regularly scheduled programs were interrupted, one network after another, to cut to a white, 1993 Ford Bronco driven by a Pro Football Hall of Famer racing down the California freeway –police cars in pursuit. Supporters actually lined overpasses in Compton and Inglewood to cheer the Bronco on.
7 Because You’re a Millennial
6 Because the Acting is Excellent
5 Because the Music is Darkly Comic
4 Because there are Modern Parallels
3 Because it Features one of the Most Ironic Lines… Ever
2 Because the O.J. Simpson Case is a Real American Horror Story
“American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson” is produced by Ryan Murphy, the hotshot auteur who brought us “Nip/Tuck,” “Glee,” “Scream Queens,” and “American Horror Story.” Murphy’s shows are polarizing. What starts out promising often devolves into sensationalism and button-pushing camp; no sane TV critic would find any merit in the last few seasons of “Nip-Tuck,” and “Scream Queens” should have been left to die on the studio floor.
1 Because True Crime Stories are all the Rage
“American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson” arrives on the heels of “Making a Murderer,” the ten-part Netflix documentary that examines the 2007 conviction of Steven Avery, the Wisconsin man charged with murdering 25-year old Teresa Halbach. Avery insists he didn’t commit the crime and was framed by the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department. Netflix doesn’t talk numbers, but the series has captured the attention of the masses, with chatter spreading on social media and 24-hour news networks. While true crime shows like “Dateline,” “48 Hours,” and “America’s Most Wanted” have always attracted amateur sleuths, in the past two years the canon has grown in prestige, first with “Serial,” which revisited the case of Adnan Syed, and then with “The Jinx,” a six-part HBO series that sought to implicate Robert Durst.
Sources: TheGuardian.com, VanityFair.com, NewYorker.com
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