One of the biggest and most highly covered court cases in recent memory, involving the one and only OJ Simpson of NFL, Naked Gun and Las Vegas robbery fame and the not so good people of California.
I mean there will be spoilers for The People vs OJ but…I mean...it’s based on historical events, and who really doesn’t know what happens?
I have never seen any of the America ‘whatever’ Story stuff before, it had never peaked my interest, however when I saw that they were tackling the OJ Simpson case, they very much peaked my interest. It was further stimulated by the stellar cast containing big names like Travolta, Gooding and Schwimmer.
The cast is the perfect place to start, because the acting throughout was phenomenal. It’s hard to pick out all the great performances (there were many) but there was something special about Sterling K. Brown (Darden), Courtney B. Vance (Cochran) and Sarah Paulson (Clark). Vance’s sharp tongue as Cochran was the best part of the show, so many lines being spewed and charisma that took on a life of its own, the casting seemed absolutely perfect. Paulson played Marcia Clark superbly, portraying her pain as the case went along, the stress increased and the prosecution’s case unravelled.
Despite all that, for me Brown’s Darden was the standout performance of the entire show. His performance for the main part was so understated, which was perfect for the mild mannered Darden. To see him crack towards the end as the case got away from them due to the defence’s antics was spectacular, I felt as if Darden’s feelings perfectly portrayed those of the audience, the desperation at the joke the case had become and the feeling that they weren’t playing a level game, just a great performance.
David Schwimmer (Kardashian) gets a lot of shit, but I think that he deserves recognition for how good he was in this. Schwimmer goes from being firmly on the cock of OJ, however as the trial continues you can see the doubts start to creep in, to the extent that by the end of the trial he clearly feels sick about his part in defending OJ. Kardashian goes from being OJ’s biggest fan, slowly becoming less so, until the very end, where he flat out believes that OJ did it. It’s a massive transformation, however it isn’t one which feels forced and Schwimmer plays it very well, you really feel his desperation and his despair when OJ is found not guilty.
The thing about shows such as The People vs OJ is that before you watch a single second, you know what the outcome will be, yet you tune in anyway because the acting is excellent and it’s about getting to the outcome, not the outcome itself.
One thing I thought was really good was that the show wasn’t really about OJ Simpson, but rather those who were behind the trial of OJ Simpson. OJ features prominently in the first few episodes, however after that he is a supporting character at best. The same can be said of Kardashian, who was vital in those first few episodes but then takes a back seat to the proper lawyers. It’s nice to see that they decided to go for the truly important people in the case, rather than the larger celebrity aspects of it.
Speaking of celebrities… My biggest complaint about the People vs OJ was the fucking Kardashians. Robert Kardashian is a major part of the story, of course he should be in the story, and you could hardly leave him out, however that same thing cannot be said about Kris Jenner or any of their brood. Why the fuck are they anywhere near this? Kris Jenner is in like two scenes, for absolutely no purpose whatsoever. I could even accept her having a small role but why the fuck are the kids in there? The scene at the funeral, has a specific bit where she tells her kids to stop messing about, it adds nothing to the story, other than for people to be like ‘haha look Gerry! There’s the Kardashians before they were porn stars!’ The other one where they’re sitting round the TV and they hear their name being read out and are like ‘we’re famous!’ It’s probably pretty realistic but it was totally unnecessary, so why was it in there? Why give these fame hungry cows more exposure? I really wonder sometimes.
I was too young to be aware or remember the OJ trial, so a lot of the things I didn’t know if they happened or not, or were being embellished for television (as is normally the case). What I couldn’t believe is that most of the stuff which happened was actually pretty true. Some of the shit was crazy, jurors revolting, a black power sign, flat out racial politics and so many other things. I loved going on and checking the facts afterwards, and every time I was more surprised and the crazy shit that went on in this case, absolutely ridiculous.
Something else which I found ridiculous after watching the show and seeing all the evidence, is how OJ wasn’t found guilty, I mean seriously? I know it is considered one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in American history, however what a glorious fuck up. It’s easy to look back now and judge because DNA evidence was in its infancy, however the DNA evidence basically proves that he did it, and that isn’t even considering things like him having blood in his car, socks and traces of him left at the crime scene. It’s amazing that racial tensions in America were such, that the jurors were willing to let a man walk free despite overwhelming evidence just to stick it to the LAPD and the system.
To be fair to the jurors, if I look at it without my logic hat on and play devil’s advocate, I can see how there is reasonable doubt that OJ did it. First off the detective who found the evidence was a racist, who lied under oath and pleaded the fifth when asked if he tampered with evidence on the day, which doesn’t look too good. The defence made it about race, to a jury of mainly black people in a city which only a couple of years prior had people rioting over police brutality towards black people, so there was naturally going to be animosity there. DNA evidence was confusing back then and I imagine that it wasn’t considered the definitive that it is now, also the crime scene was poorly handled which could have hampered their evidence collection. I think that Juror No.1 said it best when she said that she could see that OJ had done it, but not without reasonable doubt, and I guess you can’t vote guilty in that situation (not quite like the number of jurors who flat out weren’t ever voting guilty, even if OJ had killed their puppy in the courtroom). I understand how they came to not guilty, it’s wrong, but I understand it.
Who knows… Maybe OJ didn’t do it, maybe the 1 in 170 million meant that it was the other guy in the USA who did it and OJ just happened to have the same pattern, or maybe the police really did frame him in the way Marcia set out in that bar... What I found interesting in Gooding’s performance of OJ is the way in which he was adamant that he didn’t do it. This is one of three things; he genuinely didn’t do it and had been frame (highly unlikely), he was such a good actor that he portrayed his innocence fantastically (also highly unlikely) or that he was totally deluded and had convinced himself that it wasn’t actually him.
I really enjoyed the People vs OJ Simpson, it was incredible to relive one of the biggest fuck ups in legal history, to see all the twists and turns happening, it was like something out of a television show. If this didn’t happen in real life, people would be saying how ridiculous it all was, how there is no way that OJ could have got off in the end, how a Nazi loving LAPD cop was first to the scene, how there was too much nonsense going on for it to be realistic, and yet it all was. It is astounding to me that this show is fairly historically accurate and that a man who all the evidence points to was found not guilty based on the colour of his skin, but there you go, history is so often crazier than real life and this was one crazy mother fucking piece of history.
The People vs OJ Simpson is a must watch, it has great acting, twists to die for, the dialogue was sharp and the fact that it is based on a true story makes it all the more juicy, just a really interesting show and a really good watch. It was a great show and should do well around awards season; otherwise it will be almost as big a disgrace as the verdict of the case.
So what did you think of the People vs OJ Simpson? Did it bring back memories of a simpler time, where justice went unserved because of a distaste for law enforcement? Where the Kardashians were known for law and not for shit television and pornos? Where John Travolta didn’t look like a weird melty man face? Well leave a comment and share those wonderful thoughts!