In 1995, what was said to be the trial of the century took place, and the world watched with baited breath as O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr.) was placed before a jury and tried for the murders of his wife/ex-wife Nicole Brown and her lover Ronald Goldman. The odds were stacked very high against him and his defence, which seemed to be ever-growing throughout the course of the trial, as they fought to convince the courtroom and the rest of America of his innocence. However, as hard as the prosecution tried, they just couldn’t get any footing on the biggest case any of them had ever been involved in, and so almost a year after the trial had first started, O.J. was found not guilty of both murders. For many people, though, considerable doubt remained with regards to the man’s innocence, and still does to this day.
How I even came to find out about The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is something that has since slipped my mind, but I do know that the reason it took my fancy was the phenomenal cast behind it. Cuba Gooding Jr. played the man on trial and was defended by the likes of John Travolta as Robert Shapiro and Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran, and on the prosecution side of things, Sarah Paulson played Marcia Clarke and was blindingly fantastic.
Courtney B. Vance took on a more and more prominent role as the series played out, and with that his performance grew more and more impressive. His character, Johnnie, appeared to be the only person who was determined to get O.J. off no matter what had to be done by him or his team. Vance delivered rousing speeches that had an echo of Martin Luther King’s awe-inspiring tone in them and I think that’s what made him stand out so much for me.
The hands-down winner of the series has to be Sarah Paulson who, as I’ve already said, was beyond wonderful. She really nailed the part of Marcia, and you got a real sense of how she was seen in the eyes of the American public. That is, of course, not to mention the effect the case had on Marcia’s personal life, and how it impacted the divorce she was going through at the time of the trial. Every dimension of Marcia was brought to life by Paulson who has only been raved about by critics since the show aired.
The showed came along at an eerily coincidental time, when the LAPD were actually thinking about reopening the case in real life after what they suspected was the murder weapon was found, however, I don’t imagine that was what was required in order to get audiences asking themselves the vital question again – did he do it? Well, I went into the show totally blind considering I was born three years after the trial took place, and the conclusion I came to after seeing everything that took place in the courtroom was that he didn’t do it. For me, there were too many holes in the evidence, and also too many slip-ups by the LAPD and during the judicial process. But the biggest thing that I could get my head around was the fact that at no point was it depicted that there were any other suspects in the frame, which suggests to me that the police were tunnel-visioned in their inquiries and therefore only brought forward evidence that fitted their theory. I do realise, however, that it is only a television show and therefore what is seen has to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Overall, I found The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story to be a highly interesting, in-depth study of the 1995 case that gripped the world. The twists and turns that took place throughout the trial proved to be a real treat for viewers and made the retelling of events just as riveting as I’d imagine the real case would have been 21 years ago.
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