Skip to main content

New FX show rekindles addiction to O.J. Simpson

I’m having an affair and it’s all O.J. Simpson’s fault.

Perhaps I should explain. At my house we have a serious relationship with our television programming. We debate each fall about the merits of new shows and slotting them into our TV watching schedule. We divorce shows that we tire of before their cancellation or conclusion. Notable breakups include “Desperate Housewives” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

So now, I’m cheating on my regular dramas with FX’s compelling “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”

I was addicted about five minutes into the first episode of this 10-part series, the story of O.J. Simpson’s trial for the 1994 double homicide of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

During the 16 months from the brutal deaths to Simpson’s eventual acquittal, the action played out day and night.  We watched it on TV and read about it in print. This all happened before everyone had the Internet, before YouTube existed. Still, it was collectively experienced by everyone with no escape in sight.

Based on the book “The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson” by Jeffrey Toobin, the limited series looks behind the scenes at the legal maneuverings on both sides -- the over-confidence of the prosecution and the savvy of the defense -- as well as the LAPD’s history with the city’s African-American community.

“American Crime Story” was developed by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, the team who wrote “Ed Wood,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt” and “Man on the Moon” among other biopics. The series’ second season will look at Hurricane Katrina and the devastating aftermath.

Whether the details of the Simpson case are unfamiliar to you, or you were glued to Court TV as the events unfolded, this bit of 20th century history and '90s pop culture is worthy of the TV miniseries treatment.

The creators did not need to manufacture drama here. All the theatricals of a made-for-TV movie already existed. Plus the all-star cast shines. Cuba Gooding Jr. made me sympathetic for his suicidal Simpson. David Schwimmer plays his friend Robert Kardashian and John Travolta returns to TV as lawyer Robert Shapiro, head of the Dream Team.

Is it too soon to reflect on these events? Was it really the trial of the century, as it was called?

Who cares. I’m loving this blast from the past and its entire cast of characters: Prosecutor Marcia Clark, famous houseguest Kato Kaelin, socialite Faye Resnick, defense attorney Johnny Cochran, the Kardashians as children, and white Bronco driver A.C. Cowlings. I can’t wait until Judge Ito is on the scene.

But just like the slow speed chase down the L.A. freeway, this ride will soon be over. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy it as long as it lasts before I devote my total affection to my regularly scheduled programming.

“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” airs on FX at 10 p.m. Tuesdays through April 5. Watch it live, streaming or on demand.

Maria Shea is an editorial assistant for FlipSidePA. She has been a faithful TV viewer since the Nixon administration.