TV Review: ‘The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story’

Review by Lauryn Angel

Those of us of a certain age remember watching footage of O.J. Simpson’s white Bronco being chased by the LAPD. We know the names of Robert Shapiro, Johnnie Cochran, Marcia Clark, and Christopher Darden because they dominated our tv screens – not just in trial footage, but as punch-lines to late-night talk show jokes and one-liners in sitcoms.

Twenty-two years later, The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story brings those figures back to the small screen, with a stellar cast. The limited series is helmed by Ryan Murphy, co-creator of Glee, American Horror Story, and Scream Queens – none of which are known for gravitas or eruditeness. Murphy’s reputation for being over-the-top might turn some potential viewers away, so it’s worth noting that while he helms the project and directs several episodes, he leaves the writing to Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who developed the project from Jeffrey Toobin’s book, The Run of His Life: The People vs. O.J. Simpson.

While there is plenty of courtroom drama in the show, the series also shows how the case affects the players on a personal level. We see Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) practicing opening statements in front of his wife. We watch Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) tucking her kids into bed at night and balancing her high-profile case with the nasty custody battle she is fighting with her ex. And we see Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer) lecture his children about the dangers of fame without integrity. The show becomes less about the trial itself and more about the drama it causes behind the scenes. The cast is superb, with Paulson in particular delivering a mesmerizing performance.

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