It was one of those where-were-you-when moments. I think Dallas was on. It was interrupted by coverage of a slow speed white Bronco chase in LA. You literally could not turn away from the tv screen. By the way, the chase ranks sixth on the list of most universally impactful televised moment of the last 50 years. (The Not Guilty verdict was third behind the 9-11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina.) It was the same with the trial. You had to watch. You couldn’t turn away.
And so it is with The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. I loved the first episode and here’s why: Let’s start with the source material, Jeffrey Toobin’s book. I read it when it first came out and it’s a really good look at the behind the scenes nitty gritty of the trial. There’s no teflon here, everyone is flawed. Everyone has a bias.
Onto the casting. Wow! Who would have thought David Schwimmer, John Travolta and Cuba Gooding Jr. would be so impressive. (I expected greatness from Courtney B. Vance and Sarah Paulson.) But kudos to the casting people who not only did a great job but also got the cast to buy in. Everybody is great so far and from the reviews, it only gets better.
But will the series changes any minds about the Not Guilt verdict? At the time, I believed he got away with murder. I still do. And given that the series is based on the book that solidified that belief, there’s no way in hell I’ll come away thinking Oh, poor OJ. But there was a racial split at the time and the majority of blacks supported the verdict.
However, a poll done last year shows that there is a growing belief among both blacks and whites in America that OJ did it. It remains to be seen in the wake of recent arguments over #blacklivesmatter and boycotting the Oscars if this changes.
But in the words of OJ himself, “I’m not black. I’m OJ Simpson.”
And let’s not forget that truth is fluid. For instance, there is some question about a scene in the movie in which O.J. threatens suicide in the Kardashian’s home.