TV Recap: American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, ‘The Race Card’

Written by Tommy Tracy

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Warning: Full Spoilers Ahead

Wow. Well, that just happened. With all the current talk of “Black Lives Matter” and the recent KKK riots in Anaheim, this episode could not have come at a more opportune time. “The Race Card” tackles the treatment of black citizens from the LAPD, the use of the n-word (which is uttered A LOT in this episode) and two opposing black men looking at this case a different way. And it is epic.

Everyone who knows this case knows that Johnnie Cochran was a huge advocate for black rights and all about unethical treatment of blacks via authority and media. People may not be as familiar with Christopher Darden, played here by Sterling K. Brown, a black prosecutor assigned to the case to put Simpson away. The way these two men combat each other and the system, both looking at different angles of race, is incredible. Darden believes Simpson is guilty, not because he’s black, but simply because he did it.

Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson. Photo Credit: FX, Fox 21 TVS, FXP
Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson. Photo Credit: FX, Fox 21 TVS, FXP

A very Darden-centric episode, we see him struggle with the idea that he may be on the prosecution for just one reason. He’s forced to question a key witness who is a known racist. He hears rumblings of dissension between the prosecution and starts to believe that he is only on the team because eight of twelve jurors are of the same color.

The weak point of this episode deals with the defense redecorating Simpson’s house to make it “more black.” Gone are his photos of his kids and ex-wife, exquisite paintings and pictures of golf friends (all white). Now we see African art, contemporary black pieces and photos of black people that O.J. doesn’t even know. It’s maddening to think the defense would do this, frustrating to think that the most likeable characters on the show are kind of dicks. Simpson also disagrees with this.

This is a fine episode but little things that I mentioned knock it down a notch. Bill Hodgman’s collapse is a nice touch, something that did happen in real life, but the end result is sort of brushed under the rug. All in all, this show is doing a good job, walking hand in hand with Netflix’s Making a Murderer by giving every American in the country a faux law degree.

‘The Race Card’ Final Grade: 8/10