TV Recap: American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, Series Premiere

Written by Tommy Tracy

american-crime-story-people-simpson-poster

It’s here! The highly anticipated American Crime Story (from the creators of American Horror Story) has hit to commercial anticipation. The most prolific murder case in American history has been told many times on screen but for some reason, now seems like the best time to tell the story of O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and with Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story at the helm), it has to be special.

John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian
Photo Credit: FX

We start like any other murder case based show, with a murder. However, we don’t actually see the murder (no one did) but just find the bodies of Nicole Brown (Simpson’s ex-wife) and Ron Goldman. And it is gruesome. Definitely not for the weak at heart. We then jump right in to Simpson being a suspect and the show really takes off from there. My memory is fuzzy (I was five when the events actually happened) but I know a lot of the facts shown weren’t fabricated (much). They were done really well and the emotion shown by O.J. is electric.

I don’t want to get into plot too much. A quick Google search can tell you all you need to know. What I’m going to focus on is the information shared in each episode, the acting and the cliffhanger. The information shared here is solid. The murder, the evidence, the prosecution (led by a very game Sarah Paulson), the defense and the arrest are all prevalent here. All the major players make an appearance: Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance), Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer), Marcia Clark (Paulson), and Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) and all play their parts to what is to be expected. As I mentioned, Clark is especially vicious, truly standing out as the one that O.J. needs to overcome.

Shapiro, Kardashian, Simpson

With such a star cast (which also includes Nathan Lane, Bruce Greenwood and Selma Blair), the acting must be on point, right? Well, it’s actually a little hammy. Gooding seems to play O.J. a little too softly. Yes, he’s proclaiming innocence but it’s a stretch. Schwimmer is also very hammy and my God, Travolta. He’s off the map, playing stoic and then slightly insane. Or maybe that’s just Travolta. And what happened to his face? Is any of it real? I digress. Paulson and Vance are the standouts here, showing a true passion for their characters. I can’t wait to see how things unfold, especially when they meet in the courtroom. That should be very high energy.

All in all, the first episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson was a solid venture into this story. Though it hit some speed bumps (the acting), the story and crime element should be enough to keep audiences watching. If you grew up in the time of this case, you’ll remember it and it should suck you back in to the 1990’s and America’s most prolific murder case of all time. Until next week, dear readers.

Final Grade: 8/10